May 2, 2005

On the payroll of Microsoft much?

CIO Today, a "news" organization of which I somehow have never heard, had these choice words at the start of their review of Apple's new "Tiger" operating system:
The bundled Spotlight program included in Mac OS X Tiger is a deep search engine that finds information on local folders. Unfortunately, Spotlight can't "see inside" many programs other than Apple's. For example, Spotlight can search the contents of Word, Excel and PowerPoint files, but doesn't yet see the messages in the Entourage e-mail program.
Seriously, sometimes all you can say is: OMG! ROFL! LMAO! KUNGPAO!

Let's look at this: Spotlight can't "see inside" many programs, other than Apple's. Ok, let's just leave aside that most of the software you're going to use daily on a Mac is actually from Apple: the mail reader, the browser, the chat program, the address book, the calendar, the MP3 player, the photo album... these are all bundled by Apple, and they all work with Spotlight searching.

But let's say it's a concern that the third-party support is limited to Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.

Oh, wait... that's a big fat lie. Every copy of Tiger also can "see inside" mp3s, aiffs, Microsoft WAVs, ulaw and DigiDesign SD2 sound files, VCARDs, Microsoft RTF, HTML, XML, plain text, MPEG-4, 3gpp, mpeg, Adobe PostScript and EPS, Adobe PDF, JPEG, Microsoft TIFF, PNG, Compuserve GIF, JPEG2000, radiance images, RAW images from Canon, Fuji, Olympus, Nikon, Konica and Adobe, Microsoft BMP, Truevision TGA, SGI, and Adobe Photoshop images, Adobe Fonts, Microsoft TrueType Fonts, and, finally, C, C++, and Java source and header files.

You'll notice that the author of the article didn't even bother to list all the Microsoft formats that Spotlight can use, but in fact None of those listed above are "Apple" file formats. (You could maybe argue that MPEG-4 is an "Apple" format because the MPEG standards body ratified the Apple format as their own, but that's like pretending Macs "only work with Apple drives" because Macs use FireWire / IEEE-1394.)

Oh, but wait, with a click of the browser you can also download importers for Delicious Library, OmniGraffle, and OmniOutliner (to mention some programs that my companies have written). Or any of 25 other obscure formats like Mathematica Notebooks. (Note for the sarcasm impaired: yes, I know Wolfram is a bigger company than mine. That's the joke, see.)

Essentially, "CIO Today" managed to find ONE program that you might actually run on Mac OS X that DIDN'T have a Spotlight importer THE DAY Tiger shipped, and then they open their article with that fact. Ignoring that most sane Mac users use the included Apple Mail instead of Microsoft's buggy, ugly Entourage, and, HEY, GUESS WHAT, Mail does use Spotlight, and in fact can create Smart folders using it, which Entourage, notably, can't do.

Now, when you actually read the text of the article, it seems like the writer actually liked Tiger, and it was only when it got to the editor stage that this piece became Microsoft propaganda. Note that the edited article begins with a big, bold, above-the-advertising pull-out quote from a negative comment that was the middle of the article: the business about how limited Tiger's search is. When you read the article, you find out how cool Tiger is despite this, but, hey, what busy CIO is going to read the article when there's a nice boldface summary at the top?

Of course, the more thorough CIOs of today might skip to the last paragraph if they find themselves with a few extra seconds in their go-go-go busy days, just to find out what the final verdict is on this fancy new contraption them Apple folks have put out. Hmm, let's see... is CIO Today willing to admit that Apple's great mindshare, recent increase in market share, and clear technological leadership might actually challenge Microsoft's hegemony?
"I don't think (Tiger) is enough for people who have not thought about Apple to all of a sudden buy an Apple computer," said Munster of Piper Jaffray. "But for those who have been thinking about it, sitting on the fence, this might push them over."



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, Entourage is a very useful program and, as an Exchange client, helpful to very many Macs that might have to co-exist in enterprise environments. Whether it's buggy or not is another story; it has a very complex job to do to support Internet standards based mail and news, as well as work with Exchange.

It would be useful to get Spotlight searches to work in the Entourage database. It appears that Microsoft will try to make something like this happen; see:

Finally, Entourage has had "Custom Views," which are saved searches, for a long time. At least in Entourage v.X and 2004, if not longer. You can save these searches for mail, contacts, calendar, notes, and tasks -- which is also more than Mail and Address Book offer.

May 04, 2005 9:23 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nevermind it's Microsoft's fault for allowing Entourage to save all it's data (calendar, to dos, address book AND mail) in one huge binary; let's blame Apple for being unable to index a proprietary file without any possibility for useful metadata.

If Entourage actually used the mbox standards, indexing it would be no issue.

May 06, 2005 2:28 AM

Anonymous John said...

Why the Entourage hate? It's had "smart folders" for years, since long before Spotlight was a twinkle in Giampaolo's eye. I also don't see any reason to get worked up over the article, and certainly no need to concoct conspiracy theories. Never attribute to malice what can more simply be explained by ignorance. This isn't the first clueless review of Apple software and it won't be the last. Chill :)

May 06, 2005 6:53 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think anyone's really worked up here, per se. Considering Microsoft's track record for paying for "independent" studies, reports, articles and whatnot, this is less "being worked up" and more "here we go again."

Also, smart folders ≠ Spotlight.

May 06, 2005 11:56 PM

Anonymous The Plaid Cow said...

One thing that Microsoft has gotten right with entourage (that apple comes nowhere close with) is AppleScript support. I think that one of the single greatest impediments to the acceptance of AppleScript has been the lack of good support from Apple.

July 11, 2005 6:50 PM

Anonymous Robert Nicholson said...

Does Spotlight do Entourage yet given that use that one big database flie to store all email? That's the stupidiest approach I've seen and why I'll never trust my mail to Microsoft's proprietory database.

October 20, 2005 12:06 PM


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