Posted by fabriziogiudici
on June 19, 2008 at 1:46 PM PDT
Warning, this is an entirely untechnical entry. Read only if you'd like to waste five minutes (was: Sun should invest more in ... advertising and public relationship).
Warning, this is an entirely untechnical entry. Read only if you'd like to waste five minutes.
As we all know, corporates such as Sun, Microsoft or Apple are producers - we are consumers. They offer us products and we decide what we like and we don't. Customers' feedback is one of the most important mechanisms in the free market for competition and evolution, so I'm always happy when I hear people complaining about things that dont' work, or anyway they don't like, because this enhances the chances to have better and better products (I mean, I'm known to be a continuous complainer and I'm proud of it).
Nevertheless, it seems that there is an irrational component in customers' attitude to criticize. I mean, normalizing the quality of the product, there are corporates that attract more criticism, others are more immune (I'm not considering Microsoft in this picture, since it's - rightly or not - a specific case related to the figure of Bill Gates).
Let's start considering Sun. We all know the big mistakes Sun did in inventing RIAs with Applets more than ten years ago, and now finding itself in the position of chasing competitors. But in the end, in the last couple of years they have changed direction, made a lot of announcements and released new software, working or in preview, addressing the desktop problems. There is a strong commitment and there are proofs of it. J6U10 and JavaFX will be there in a matter of months and all of us will be able to understand whether they are for real or not.
Now, a couple of days ago I read a blog post with this content: hey, J6U10 can't read the proxy settings from the browser (just after installing, it pops up an annoying dialog) hence it's totally crap and it's better I start studying Flex. Now, let me say: it's a bug, it would be idiotic if it makes its way up to the final release, but we are just looking at an early access. If it was bug-free, it woldn't be an early access, right? If all the J6U10 and JavaFX stuff would prove to be a failure next Fall, I'll probably be one of the guys starting studying Flex. Now, I'm just waiting for the right moment. BTW, J6U10 already demonstrates that most of the difficult technical challenges have been addressed with success (kernel, background loading, etc...) and these are the higher risks for the failure of the project. I don't think reading the proxy setting is difficult, so at the moment the thing doesn't worry me. The correct attitude now would be: shit, that's annoying, I'm filing a bug report and watching it - Sun has better to fix it soon. Nope.
Now, the counter-examples. Well, don't let me talk about Apple. Ok, I'll talk about it. I'm not speaking only about the Java 6 infamous question: I'm pissed off by Leopard too, the most unstable Mac OS X release ever, at the same time packed with the most useless bag of new features (and before starting a flame, let's look at the Snow Leopard announce: for the first time in their history they are focusing on stability with no evident new features, this means that Leopard stability is a problem for real). But only a few people criticize Leopard (the others being too busy in saying "ahhh" at Jobs' keynotes); even most of those who criticize would never give back their Apple gear, I mean, they are not menacing to punish Apple by switching to competitors.
Ok, that's for Apple. Want another? Google: they are going to revolutionize the mobile world with Android, but so far nobody has seen a real Android phone. Don't get me wrong: I don't think it's vapourware, sooner or later it will come up and will play a major role in the scenario. But so far it's more or less in the same position as JavaFX: announced since a long time and not ready yet, but it's getting one fraction of the skepticism for this.
Want another? Mozilla. They have just released Firefox 3. One of the announced features was the better integration with the operating system. In fact, Firefox 3 on Mac OS X looks pretty cool, even cooler than Safari. I'd really like to switch to Firefox for a number of reasons, one being the fact that many sites - including my bank - don't work with Safari and I'd like to use a single browser for everything. So I tried it yesterday at lunch break. I was at a customer's office, behind a firewall. Well, Firefox didn't get the proxy settings from the system, I had to set it manually. Does this recall something from the beginning of this post? With the difference that Firefox 3 is a final release, unlike J6U10. But let's go on. Twenty minutes ago I was playing with Firefox at home and set as the default browser. I went to the "Import" menu and saw the option for importing the bookmarks, the passwords and other stuff. Pretty cool - I did it. Bookmarks are here; passwords, no way. And this is really really annoying. Furthermore - but I'm not sure - I don't think it's using the Keychain Access for storing them, but a private repository (this is NOT integrating with the o.s!). And - you bet? - I'm not seeing harsh criticism on that. On the contrary, everything is talking about the Guinness thing about the massive downloads in a single day, pretty cool, but completely useless and irrelevant in the end user perspective.
Blame Sun for that?