Bite me, Microsoft

Friday, March 07, 2008

The company I work for recently upgraded Outlook Web Access from “borderline intolerable” to “still pretty bad”. It’s still a piece of junk, light years behind Gmail, but it’s an improvement. Until I tried to save an attachment in Firefox. A coworker sent me this PowerPoint about the mortgage crisis. OWA gives you the option to “View as Web Page”. Cool, I thought. I don’t have to save this file to disk and open it. So I did that. It was too slow. The PowerPoint is 45 pages or something, and the page transition time was getting annoying. So I decided to download it after all. I mean, it’s not like hard drive space is at a premium these days. There’s a little hyperlink that says, “MortgageCrisis.pps(2MB)”. So I clicked it. Firefox will generally handle things like that well - if you click a link to a file type it can’t open itself, it gives you the option to open it with a program you have installed, or save it to disk. That’s fine. Not with the new OWA. It just gives me an error message that this type of attachment has to be saved to disk. This is annoying, but not unexpected. Microsoft has never played well with others. So I right-clicked the file to “Save Link As”. None of this should be shocking to anyone who spends a lot of time online. This is where Microsoft punched me in the face. “Save Link As” attempts to save “attachment.ashx” instead of the PowerPoint. For those who don’t know, .ashx files are idiotic proprietary Microsoft script files for handling HTTP requests. It doesn’t matter if that’s Greek to you. The point here is that, once again, Microsoft has decided that the way everyone transmits data on the internet is wrong, and the way to really serve the needs of internet users is rewrite the rules so that nothing else is compatible. There are agreed-upon standards for transmitting data on the internet. Microsoft repeatedly defies them in order to make competing technologies incompatible with Microsoft products. It’s absolutely unconscionable, and one of the primary reasons I switched to Ubuntu Linux as my home operating system. BTW, “unconscionable” is a totally awesome word. It may be Microsoft’s only redeeming quality that they create so many opportunities for me to use it. Well, only redeeming quality other than Bill Gates' newfound philanthropy. That’s pretty cool, too.

Posted in: complaint , technology , the devil