February 1998: Dangerous Sports
(or How I Learned to Stop Worrying & Love Microsoft)
by Scott Rose, President of ScottWorld
(Note: This editorial was updated in October 2000 with current information at that time.)
You know what amazes me most about boxing? Those moments where these two gigantic, bloody, and sweaty men, in the midst of beating the living crap out of one another, suddenly lean into each other, rest their heads on one another, and catch their breaths for just a moment. It's a tactical move, of course, because it somewhat prevents the winning fighter from continuing to pound away at the poor loser, but it also represents a very brief moment of peace in the ring. If you were to freeze-frame the shot on your VCR at that one moment, it would look like two long-lost friends embracing each other. For that one moment in time, these two worst enemies are their own best friends: The guy who's trying to kill you is the same one who's letting you catch your one last gasp of air. And of course, once you press the play button again, the fists and the blood (and the ears) start flying again.
At this very moment, our "worst enemy" Microsoft has pressed the pause button on the pounding of Apple, and has given us a gigantic breather. Make no mistake here: Microsoft is our best friend.
Now we all know that the Mac is the best computer on the planet, we all know that we're more productive on our Macs than Windows users are on their PC's (this has been proven in studies), and we all know that Macs are more fun than Windows machines. But Apple is the major underdog in the world of computers, and Apple is struggling because of it.
Luckily, our old dogged competitor Microsoft is out to help us. Believe it or not, Microsoft is now making some of the greatest Mac software under the sun, and as a result, Microsoft is actually strengthening the Mac platform.
Now don't get me wrong. Bill Gates is not doing this out of the goodness of his heart. As you well know, Microsoft is constantly under scrutiny from the government to prevent it from becoming a monopoly in every single industry it's ever touched (I understand that Microsoft is now licensing the English language). And, lucky for us, the Mac OS is the only thing preventing Microsoft from having a complete monopoly on operating systems! If Apple were to die, Microsoft would most certainly be splintered up by the government. And Bill Gates doesn't want that, nosiree Bob! Bill Gates is quite content owning a mere 95% of the market, and he is making damn sure that the other 5% of the market (that's us, in case you weren't paying attention) remains vibrant and healthy.
So guess what? We're the lucky ones for now! For the first time in years, Microsoft is releasing absolutely stunning programs for the Mac. Bill Gates has created a brand new Mac Division and has hired the brightest Macintosh programmers in the entire nation to bring you Microsoft's current lineup of Mac products. And let me assure you: Microsoft's new products are the most breathtaking, ingenious programs that I have witnessed in a very long time.
Well, thanks to Microsoft, it already has happened, and Netscape has now lost the browser war (and not just because Netscape has about 50% less features than Microsoft Internet Explorer). If you're still using Netscape Navigator to surf the Web, you truly have absolutely no idea what you're missing out on. Microsoft Internet Explorer 5 for the Mac (current as of October 2000) is the web browser to kill all other web browsers, it is the best web browser on any platform, and it is one hell of a program.
Available for free, Microsoft Internet Explorer 5 jumps so many cartwheels that I can only cover some of its highlights here. You'll have to download Internet Explorer 5 yourself and experience how extraordinary Web browsing can be for yourself. (Many of the features below were introduced in earlier versions of Internet Explorer, but I list them here for informational purposes.)
Self-Repair Capabilities: The amazing power of self-repair is now standard across Microsoft's entire line of Mac products. If you accidentally delete a Microsoft library from your system folder that Internet Explorer needs (or if you've just performed a clean install of your operatin system), Internet Explorer will automatically reinstall all of its components that it needs to run itself.
A Truly Macintosh Interface: Keeping with Microsoft's newly-renewed commitment to the Mac, Internet Explorer sports a decisively Mac interface, along with a freshly redesigned look and feel. It even lets you change your browser color to match the color of your favorite Macintosh! It also recognizes all standard Mac keyboard shortcuts, like command-period, and introduces some wonderful new shortcuts such as command-~ (command and tilde) to cycle through open windows.
Super Fast & Super Compliant: The first thing you'll notice about Internet Explorer 5 is that it's fast. The next thing you'll notice is that the websites you visit look exactly how they were meant to be viewed. That's because Internet Explorer 5 supports all current Internet standards.
Remembers Your History: Netscape Navigator completely forgets where you've ever been as soon as you close out of a window. If you accidentally close a window before clicking the back button, you'll have to guess where that incredible web site featuring my mom's special chocolate cream cheese brownie recipe was located. Not so with Internet Explorer 5 (IE 5). By default, IE 5 remembers the last 200 places you've visited, and you can increase this number if you'd like. But that's just the beginning of IE 5's history feature. If you click on the "History" side tab (see "Side Tabs" below), IE 5 automatically organizes your recent Web Sites into folders with the dates you visited them! So if you know you visited a site on Tuesday, simply click on the Tuesday folder and it lists all the sites you visited that day. Furthermore, holding down the back button lists a recent history of the web sites you visited in the current window. And, unlike Netscape Navigator, when you go back to one of your previous web sites and choose a different link, the "Go" menu does NOT forget what your "forward" links were: IE 5's "Go" menu simply reshuffles the menu items to retain a COMPLETE HISTORY for your entire session.
Customizable Favorites: IE 5 handles Bookmarks (known as "Favorites") much better than Netscape Navigator. Not only does the editable Favorites menu work just like the familiar Finder's interface, but you can also customize your browser's toolbar by dragging your favorite webpages right onto the toolbar of your browser! That way, whenever you open up a new browser window, all your favorite links are already on your screen, just one click away. You can also open up the new "Favorites" side tab to have a persistent list of your favorites always viewable while you're surfing the Net!
Plain English Addresses: Okay, so let's say you're searching for the 5-day weather forecast for Los Angeles. Would you rather type in "http://www.weather.com/weather/cities/us_ca_los_angeles.html" or type in "Weather"? With IE 5's new and enhanced AutoComplete Feature, you only need to START typing in the word "weather", and Internet Explorer automatically fills in the rest of the word for you and takes you to the Web Site. You don't even have to see the unwieldy address! (This feature only works with Web Sites that you have added to your Favorites Menu, or places that are in your History).
AutoComplete Part 2: But let's say you start typing in "We" and "We Are The World" comes up instead of "Weather". You can either keep typing until a match appears, or simply use your mouse button to click on the intuitive pop-up list that appears of all matching web sites whose English name starts with "We."
AutoComplete Part 3: Of course if you're one of those people who actually LIKES to type in the entire web address of a site just to impress your friends, you can start typing in "weather.com" and once again, IE 4.0 will fill in "/weather/us/cities/CA_Los_Angeles.html" for you automatically! (You can always continue typing to ignore IE 5's suggestions)
AutoComplete Part 4: And for those of you who didn't know, you can always save time by typing in a new web address without the "www" or the ".com". (For example, type in "apple", and you will be connected to "www.apple.com").
Subscriptions: An ingenious idea, IE 5 allows you to "subscribe" to any Web Site that you'd like. As soon as the Web Site changes, you're alerted through e-mail, through a dialog box, or through many other alert choices. You choose how often you want IE 5 to check a Web Site with its very advanced scheduling features. Don't subscribe to news pages like the L.A. Times or Time Magazine: they change too often and you'll be alerted all the time. But you may want to subscribe to a site like Roger Ebert's Web Site, so you know when new movie reviews are posted. You may also want to subscribe to your friend's web pages so you're up-to-date on every little change, or to a software web page so you're alerted when a new version of a program comes out.
Side Tabs: IE 5 also includes a wonderful interface concept known as "Side Tabs", very useful tabs running along the left margin of your screen. When you click on them, an additional window scrolls onto your page. When you click on them again, they tuck out of your way. Once you use the Side Tabs, you'll fall in love with them. The tabs conveniently display your favorites, your history, a search engine, a scrapbook (to take "snapshots" of web pages in their current state), and more.
Download Manager: IE 5 has a built-in Download Manager that lets you view recent downloads as well as reload downloads that you canceled.
Works With All Your Other Internet Programs: Unlike Netscape Navigator, IE 5 launches your favorite email program and your favorite news program when you click on "mailto" links and "news" addresses. That's because IE 5 has been designed to complement your existing programs, not to take over your entire system! How ironic, given Microsoft's penchant for bullying over everybody on the PC side!
Remembers Passwords: If you visit restricted sites, you know what a pain it is to always type in your passwords with Netscape Navigator. Your solution has arrived! IE 5 automatically remembers your passwords for you, and you can always turn off this feature if you'd like.
More user-friendliness: Internet Explorer 5 features pop-up balloons to explain what you're pointing to on the toolbar, along with great built-in help pages. Also, if there's a problem loading in a page, IE 5 will not only alert you that it can't load in the page, but it will tell you if there's a version in your cache that you can revert to if you'd like.
Easy to Switch From Netscape: IE 5 can automatically import your bookmarks and preferences from Netscape, making the switch-over as easy as possible. Speaking of preferences, consider setting http://my.excite.com as your home page. It's one of the best customizable home pages available.
And More: There's so much more, including customizable buttons, built-in security, built-in ratings (to prevent pages with sex & violence from successfully loading), a "Save As Archive" feature to save a web page (or site) and all its images (movies, sounds, links) to your disk in one easy operation, interactive dialog alerts, a speedy find command in the History and Favorites lists to locate sites quickly, and much, much more! And did I mention how incredible fast & stable Internet Explorer 5 is?
With all these new and exciting developments in Microsoft Internet Explorer 5, how can anyone think it's funny to throw a pie in Bill Gates' face? C'mon, Mac users! Let's stand up for Bill Gates! Let's convince him to press charges! Let's fight back for Bill! After all, he's our new best friend in the ring, and Round 15 has just begun.
ScottWorld is the leading Certified FileMaker Developer in Austin & Los Angeles.