It’s no secret that I love Apple and am generally unsatisfied with Microsoft. I can get into a novel of caveats as to why I’m not a straight-up Microsoft-basher, but that’s for another time. This post’s topic is one of the genes in Microsoft’s DNA — the gene that codes for the product design/documentation divide.
To continue with the corporate DNA metaphor, this gene, like all genes, is exclusive of any other genes which could occupy that area of the genome. You can’t have both the gene for blue eyes and the gene for green eyes.
The Apple gene for the design/documentation divide is starkly reductionist. If you can’t understand it by looking at it, you FAIL. Which is not to say that Apple doesn’t concede losses in this area consistently, rather, the default action, rather than to document, is to redesign.
Not so with Microsoft. I applaud their documentation team — they did a bang-up job clearly illustrating how to open up the Vista box and get the disc out. They are some kind of ancient documentation ninja clan, and I’m sure that if the situation required it, they would rappel out of choppers with high-res digicams, tablet PCs with integrated cellular internet connecting them to their docs CMS, and document the hell out of whatever they needed to.
They do an amazing job… much better than Apple does. They need to. Because Microsoft’s gene for the design/documentation divide codes for heavy documentation, which means that lack of intuitive design isn’t a FAIL.
You could scour Apple’s help site, and you would never in a million years find an article explaining how to open the box in which OS X is sold. By omission, it is an expression of confidence in the intuitiveness of their design. Of the box their software comes in.
Meanwhile, here’s Microsoft, with the vote of no confidence. Our box is so complex, you need instructions to open it. What does that say about their software? Decidedly NOT “Vista, even before you put the disc in your drive, is intuitive and needs no explanation.”
Via Nerdifer (who didn’t blog this, but sent it to me).