There is an assumption that businesspeople are smart, and the bigger the business, the smarter they are. This is so not true as has been demonstrated time and again, and in this particular rant, as demonstrated by the New York Times.
I was surfing Salon.com, and being a cheapskate, I used the “Free Day Pass.” Watch an ad, then enter the site. Not a bad deal, and one of their main advertisers is my favorite bookstore, Powell’s. So I often click on the ad and purchase too many books. Today’s ad was an offer to receive a downloadable edition of the New York Times. It has the same look and page layout as the printed version. You can download it to read offline at your leisure, and have it delivered every day like a “real” newspaper. That sounded like a cool deal, so I clicked on the ad to give it a try.
It took a fair bit of digging to find out that it requires Windows and Internet Explorer. This is not mentioned up front- in fact they take pains to make it sound like it works on any PC. You may read it in Netscape, but the reader software requires IE .dlls.
Why are businesses so extremely clueless when it comes to computers? The same managers that argue over the price of paper clips and Post-Its blithely sign software “licensing” agreements that cost them gazillions, and give “permission” for invasive “license audits” that they must pay for, and they don’t even get a warranty or assumption of any kind of vendor responsibility in return. This particular deal must have been expensive to develop and implement- you’d think someone would ask, before they spent all kinds of money, if it would work for everyone just like a printed newspaper?
There is no shortage of cross-platform data formats. The whole point of the Web is universal availability. The New York Times (or any other business), by requiring the customer to use Windows/Internet Explorer demonstrates that:
1. They have a callous and inexcusible disregard for their customer’s PC security
2. They have zero concern for the users of other computing platforms. Yeah, we’ve all heard that “Windows owns 95% of the desktop PCs. ” I do not believe it. Linux and Apple alone account for far more than 5% of desktop users. My own guesstimate is at least 10%, and outside the US it’s a lot higher. And it’s pointless to exclude anyone in any case (see “no shortage of cross-platform data formats,” above.)
My money goes to businesses who don’t require the use of the most insecure computing platform on the planet, and who do not erect barriers to my being a customer.