Switching from Microsoft to Google

Believe it or not, I’m not a Microsoft fanboi. In fact, there are many non-Microsoft technologies that I like and follow. My affinity for Microsoft is more based on common-beliefs. I believe in the sacrifice of having one proprietary monolith for a leader, in exchange for tremendous functionality. This is opposed to the opposite viewpoint of "not locking in to one vendor", in exchange for the potential ability to move freely about technology and hardware – at the expense of not having products that are as matured. So I have made the choice to follow many Microsoft technologies because I have AGREED with the direction. When you see how Windows + .NET + Visual Studio + TFS + SQL all work together, it makes for a very powerful, compelling suite of technologies – for example.

As far as my pursuit of MS technologies – I liken it to walking down the street holding onto a leash, that is tied to feral wolf that is also walking down the street. To a mere passerby, it would appear as if we are connected, but when I want to turn left and that wild wolf wants to go straight – that is when the bond is tested.

So likewise, there are a couple of times where I really disagree with the strategy from Microsoft and have gone in different directions. Professionally, if behooves me to give them the benefit of the doubt, but after a certain point, I need to just draw the line. I have two recent examples.

Windows Mobile –> Android:
Oh man, where do I start? I’ve eluded to this many times. When it comes to SmartPhones, I’ve had some incarnation of Windows Mobile (even back to the Windows CE days). The idea was great! I could easily write and deploy applications. The problem is, they used styli instead of fingers, the devices were super-heavy, and they had horrible marketing. Oh, and nobody used them either!

So I think in like July of 2010, I finally snapped and got a DROID X, which runs Android 2.2. Man-alive, what a great phone. They just knocked it clear out of the park! Not only is the Market, the OS, the actual phone very useful, it’s got an enormous touch screen. It’s just great, from top to bottom.

I think a month a later is when they announced the Windows 7 Phones. Ugh. Even if I did wait, I am thinking that W7P is just too late to the game. Again, this is where I just completely disagree with their approach.

Hotmail –> GMail:
Today, I had a similar "snap". I’ve been using hotmail for the past gajillion years and have found a couple of fundamental things, just idiotic. Hotmail, today, in the year 2011, does not support IMAP. Are you kidding me? I can’t even begin to understand the thinking behind this.

What does this mean? This means that for ANY mail client other than the Windows Live client, I have to use POP3. That makes it so I can only get the latest mail, I have sync problems between multiple computers, I can’t "store" messages on the server, and if I send from one computer, it’s not in the "Sent Items" of the other computers. In other words, all the problems that e-mail had in like 1998. Idiotic. There is no other word for it!

If there is one thing I’ve learned in life, it’s that there are "systems". If you stay "within the system", you’ll be fine. If you buy an iPod – use iTunes – don’t try to get it to work with Rhapsody. If you do .NET development, don’t try to be productive using Eclipse and some plug-ins – use Visual Studio.

Likewise, checking e-mail on my phone has been such a pain. It too, can only connect to Hotmail via POP3. Also, since it’s Android, there is a nice Android app for GMail, GDocs, etc. My thought was that this would go smoother if I stayed within the Google "system".

So here’s what I did – and if I would’ve known all of this could be done, I would’ve done this a couple of years ago! Here were the things I wanted to solve, and how I solved them:

  • Sending AS my existing e-mail addresses: there is an option in gmail settings to do this. It sends a confirmation e-mail, you click on the link – it’s as easy as that.
  • Getting all of my mail in one place: in gmail settings, I set up additional POP accounts, so when I check mail, it goes and scoops my other e-mails from my other hotmail accounts.
  • Folders for saved messages: while I had both the Hotmail accounts open (in Windows Live mail), and the GMail account (connected via IMAP) – I dragged and dropped my saved folders to gmail.
  • Universal Inbox: I want to have a gmail-based universal inbox for all of my e-mail. So I set up my gmail account in Windows Live mail (because that’s a decent little mail client – and supports IMAP). Now that is the only account listed, all my messages go through there. Even better, on my phone, it’s much easier for notifications, etc to just have one account – and especially to have it be a gmail account.

Just like how I let out a huge sigh of relief when I got a "real" phone, I finally feel free of this hotmail MESS! I mean this whole POP3 business has been plaguing me for years, just dragging me down. It feels so liberating to join the 21st century and have a real, IMAP account again! I’ll still keep my hotmail address to log into Microsoft things (my XBox Live and MSDN subscriptions are linked to it) – but I can still do that, through gmail.

So there you have it, two examples of how I’m not a Microsoft fanboi. If you need more, don’t get me started on Windows Media Player! Bottom line, if you use a hotmail.com or live.com mail address for your primary e-mail – do yourself a favor, get a gmail account, have it suck in your POP3 messages (if you don’t want to close or cancel that account) – and use a real mail system! It’s 2011, you deserve it!

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Posted in Organization will set you free, Professional Development, Uncategorized

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