Schwieb Random blatherings

June 4, 2006

Trusting the MacBU

Filed under: All,MacBU — Schwieb @ 1:37 am

Scoble posted yesterday on trusting your friendly neighborhood blogger. He talks about communicating without solely thinking of ‘business’. I like that. I think part of why I’m posting so much about work and the things I’ve been involved in with the MacBU over the years is that I’d like to see people trust us a little more.

Ok, now that you’re done laughing and have wiped the milk and cereal off your monitor…

No, seriously. While it was before my time, Mac Word 6 really struck a blow to Microsoft’s credibility on the Mac, and the MacBU has had a long row to hoe to get any of it back. I’d like to think that we’ve done so with everything we’ve produced over the 10 years that I’ve been here. John Welch commented(warning: he’s a bit opinionated!) on the MacBU’s recent work in light of the new 5-year agreement that we signed with Apple in February, and I think that while he’s a little rough on Tom Yager, John does call to light everything we’ve done.

Every day I see so many rants and conspiracy theories and panic attacks and oh, just silly comments made by people. Ever read the commentary on Remote Desktop Connection? The vast majority of the feedback is really positive, and then there’s this one. Sins of the father, I guess?

That’s why I’m here; to give people a chance to see more of MacBU. We’re Mac folks, we’re human, and hopefully you can see us as that, and not simply as a preconceived notion of the Evil Empire. I guess what I’m saying is if people trust me, maybe they’ll start to trust the MacBU a little more.

I’m not asking people to trust us in the hopes of making more sales, or because I’ve got some marketing message to push; I’m asking because I’m a developer who likes what I do and who likes the people I work with, and I’m proud to have contributed to our products over the last 10 years.


  1. I am really enjoying the blog, good work. One question though: Who is responsible for the atrocity that is Windows Media Player for Mac? Is that the higher ups intentionally not letting you guys fix that so Windows looks better?

    Comment by Ian — June 4, 2006 @ 9:32 am

  2. Ah… WMP… Well, this one being one of my favorite topics, I suppose I can try to bring the answer myself; WMP is the work of some developers of the Windows WMP team. Someone at MS probably told them one day that MS needed to come up with a Mac version of the player and a couple of developers had to devote some time working on it and go back to their usual work aftere that. This application is awful and even the most trival bugs were never addressed – clearly a rushed-up job. The MacBU was never in charge of this application.
    Most people assume that because it is an MS application, the MacBU was in charge. I think this app did almost as much harm to the reputation of the MacBU (even though they never had anything to say about it) than Office 4.2 for Mac :-\

    Comment by cortig — June 4, 2006 @ 9:56 am

  3. I always felt bad that the Mac BU got the blame for WiMP:Mac. There’s no way they would have written such a piece of excremement.

    Yager was being a Dvorak, got called on it, and then carped about it for days. Wah.

    Comment by jcwelch — June 4, 2006 @ 3:03 pm

  4. So everyone agrees that it sucks. Why hasn’t the MacBU fixed it?

    Comment by Ian — June 4, 2006 @ 8:37 pm

  5. Talking of products that ‘suck’, is there any chance that if the Mac’s market share grows, that we might see a better Mac Messenger client that offers more features comparable to the future Wiindows Live Messenger? I’m aware there are issues with stuff like Video Codecs, but it would be great to be able to make the most of the built in iSights these new Intel Macs are coming with!

    Love the insight into the MacBU – keep the great work up both with the blog and the MacBU’s products!

    Comment by Nik — June 5, 2006 @ 6:32 am

  6. I think it has less to do with mistrusting MacBU and more with mistrusting “Microsoft:The Company” or “MTC” for short.

    While most of the public figures that I’ve seen involved with Microsoft seem to be nice people (with the exception of Ballmer, who is clearly mentally ill), MTC does some amazingly evil shi^H^H^Hstuff and some incredibly stupid stuff (does anyone who has seen the Vista charts think that they AREN’T just hoping to get a lot of people to spend more money than they need by buying the “kitchen sink” version?)

    Mac IE, for example, was the premier web browser on *any* platform. It was actually one of the programs which first made me *want a Mac*!

    MTC killed it. Or ignored it until it was irrelevant and then killed it.

    They bought VirtualPC for Mac and then let it hang on the vine. How long did G5 support take to come, and then how bad was VPC still? Thank God for Parallels.

    MTC will keep MacOffice alive as long as it makes financial and strategic sense for them to do so, and not one second longer. I’m hopeful that the next version of MacOffice will be as good or better than WinOffice. It’s a great program and quite frankly a near necessity to a lot of Mac users. But of all the companies which I fear will drop Mac support and tell people “Just use Parallels” MTC is at the top of that list.

    I’d say it was irrational except that I’ve seen how MTC works (at least from the outside) and I’ve seen how great people (like MacBU folks) can have these sorts of decisions made my pointy haired higher-ups (MTC).

    It happens everywhere. It could happen at Microsoft.

    I’ll enjoy the next 5 years of MacOffice, and I’ll hope for another renewal after that. All in all it’s a good deal, there’s not much in life that comes with a 5 year promise (which I assume/hope means at least 2 more versions of MacOffice).

    Oh, still waiting for some way to at least read those dreadful MSPublisher documents (which people often email me) on Mac. And is there a way for Mac users to deal with MSAccess files? I don’t use that program so I don’t know.

    Anyway, keep up the excellent work. I daresay that MacOffice may be the best “competition” that Microsoft Office (on Windows) gets! (OpenOffice has promise, but, like Linux, it’s not yet a promise fulfilled.)

    Comment by TjL — August 10, 2006 @ 11:23 am

  7. […] Great Expectations (Sorry, Charles.) Hiya folks!  I’m Erik Schwiebert, one of the development leads here in the MacBU.  I wanted to jump in here quickly to set some expectations based on some of the comments I’ve seen here about our team blog. A number of people have said that the content they really want is stuff like “When will MacBU release a universal binary of Office?” or “Where’s feature X and why don’t you have it NOW?”  These are great questions and we always appreciate the feedback, but I think you are unlikely to see answers to them here.  Feature announcements (both new items and removals, such as Windows Office 2007 file format support and the removal of Visual Basic) will generally always come out first as a true press release or official statement.  Once things have been formally announced, we are able to discuss them both here and on our personal blogs. So, if that’s the case, then why are we here?  Well, as Chris noted in our inaugural post, “We are developers, testers, user assistance managers, product managers, usability engineers, product marketers and executives who offer different perspectives but share the same passion for Office and the Mac. We hope this blog provides you with a deeper insight into our work and who we are, and we’re very excited to be out here talking to you!”  At the risk of committing a faux pas by linking to myself twice within one post, I personally want to show you that we really are human.  Whether you actually trust us or not (hopefully you do), I believe we’re here simply to show you who we are, what we do, and why we like it. I think you’ll find over time that this blog really is not about marketing fluff.  Brad’s post on debugging through VPC gave me an idea for my first real post with content, and neither of us is likely to write an official press release any time soon.  So, stay tuned for the harrowing tale of the newbie developer and the heisenbug! (Sometimes I kid myself that it might have been worthy of Kon and Bal…) Published Saturday, September 02, 2006 8:52 PM by Schwieb Filed Under: Other […]

    Pingback by Mac Mojo : Great Expectations — September 2, 2006 @ 9:20 pm

  8. It wasn’t just Word 6 — it was the attitude that came with it.

    Word 5 was great, and I was happy to share that info with others. Word 6 was a pig, but MS didn’t apologize and work to improve it; instead, they published a series of white papers basically trying to explain why they were right and we were wrong.

    One of these left a particularly bad taste in my mouth. It tried to explain the bloat by saying that when Word 5 (I think that was the example) came out, the average hard drive was 80MB, but when Word 6 debuted, the average hard drive was 500MB, so *percentagewise* Word was using less space.

    Percentagewise?! Since when did I give MS a *percentage* of my hard drive??

    Yes, I know that was then, and this is now, but to say that Word 6 “really struck a blow to Microsoft’s credibility on the Mac” is putting it lightly.

    IIRC, Word 6 was also about making a uniform code base between the Mac version (then at 5) and the Windows version (then at 2). I understand that this is no longer the case.

    I’m very glad to hear that the developers at MacBU are passionate about the Mac. Those are the people who both expect and put forth great products. I hope to be able to work with such a group one day.

    Comment by Glenn — September 10, 2006 @ 10:45 pm

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