Monday, 4 June 2007

What do people really really want?

What do people really really want?

If you run a SoE (standard operating environment) you spend a certain amount to time debating what people need in a the way of a base applcation install.

Usually it comes down to:

  • a text processing application (that interworks with Word [.doc]
  • a spreadsheet that can handle excel files
  • a presetation viewer that can display powerpoints
  • a web browser that supports javascript
  • various viewers and plugins including something to deal with pdf files
  • a mail client (with or without calendaring functions - people swing both ways on that)

and that's about it. You can build a mac based environment. You can build a linux based environment. You could build a thin client environment that does it. You could do it through X-Windows, basically there's more than one way to skin this cat.

But from bitter experience I can tell you that you end up using Microsoft products.


Not because they're cheaper, or necessarily better, though some are pretty slick, but because Microsoft have convinced the 97% of the populace that don't do this for a job that they put the Word in Wordprocessing and that you can't possibly use anything else.

Now along comes a geek with an old 1980's Mac and a super duper up to the minute dual core AMD box who does a comparison between various applications on the Mac and his hot box. Now it's really a bit of fun and not that valid a comparison, but it does beg the question 'how much functionality do you really need?'

And with my retro/recycled computing hat on I've got to say I concur - not that much and not tat much need for expensive bloat ware. The problem is however user education. Because Excel is effctively a synonym for spreadsheet users are locked into the mindset of having to use Excel. And in a sense who can blame them - the shelves at Borders groan with 'How to do it with Excel' books but bugger all in the way of 'Open Office Calc for fun and profit'.

And that's it. People don't care what they have as long as they can get ther job done. People know thay can get the job done with Excel, and know there's a whole backup in terms of training, self help books, web forums and the rest. It's the comfort thing. And a support website run by geeks who no nothing and care less about muti currency cost accounting doesn't cut it - peopel want the reassurance factor, they don't want to be heros, especially where their job's concerned ...

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