[OS X TeX] OT: latex2rtf: A developer's perspective

Gerben Wierda Gerben.Wierda at rna.nl
Mon Apr 26 01:25:38 EDT 2004

On Apr 24, 2004, at 17:01, Thomas Schröder wrote:

>>> I think I know why it works for Adam and not for Thomas.  This is
>>> a feature of Word.  When fields are used in an RTF document their
>>> arguments are separated by commas.  However, the designers of Word
>>> decided that in countries that use a comma as a decimal point, that
>>> commas should not be used to separate entries.  Consequently, field
>>> arguments must be separated by semi-colons instead in these 
>>> countries.
>> Word never ceases to amaze me. In a bad way.

I could not resist. From today's AtAT episodes:

Calm down, folks; we know you just can't enjoy your weekends without 
your jolly dose of AtAT's traditional Wildly Off-Topic 
Microsoft-Bashing Day, and we're getting to it, we promise. But you 
really ought to bring up this compulsion at your next therapy session, 
because we're pretty sure it has something to do with a repressed 
memory of some awful childhood trauma of some sort. Like maybe your 
parents left you with your uncle for the day and he took you down into 
his soundproof basement and made you-- we can barely bring ourselves to 
say it, here-- use Windows. Or maybe even (choke) DOS. We hope in the 
name of all that's good and decent that it's not true, but if it is, 
you really should deal with the issue head-on. The first step to 
healing is admitting there's a problem. We're here for you, buddy.

Anyway, on to the heaping helping of therapeutic anti-Redmond abuse, 
which Microsoft has made all too easy this time around. It's true, 
folks; you don't need us to point out Microsoft's many flaws, because 
the company has done a pretty thorough job of cataloging them itself. 
Faithful viewer jkundert notes a CNET article (by way of MacDailyNews) 
about that "Redmond Justice Goes to Europe" miniseries that's been 
stretching on for a while now. Apparently the European Commission's 
300-page report justifying why it's fining Microsoft €497 million for 
antitrust violations contains a doozy of an email message to Bill Gates 
from one of his many minions. Aaron Contorer, who was Microsoft's C++ 
General Manager in 1997, admitted to Bill at the time that "end users 
stuck with Windows, despite the operating system's shortcomings, based 
on the high costs of abandoning heavy investments already made."

Moreover, the guy mentions why third-party software developers keep 
writing software for Windows. In Aaron's own words, "the Windows API is 
so broad, so deep and so functional that most ISVs would be crazy not 
to use it. And it is so deeply embedded in the source code of many 
Windows apps that there is a huge switching cost to using a different 
operating system, instead. It is this switching cost that has given the 
customers the patience to stick with Windows through all our mistakes, 
our buggy drivers, our high total cost of ownership, our lack of a sexy 
vision, at times, and many other difficulties. Customers constantly 
evaluate other desktop platforms but it would be so much work to move 
over that they hope we just improve Windows rather than force them to 
move... In short, without this exclusive franchise called the Windows 
API, we would have been dead a long time ago."

Quite a series of admissions, hmmm? Now, legally, all this email does 
is provide further evidence that Microsoft does indeed hold monopoly 
power in the operating system market, which doesn't mean much since 
that fact has already been proven in court over and over again. From a 
Microsoft-bashing standpoint, though, it's pure gold. This is the 
smoking gun, people: a Microsoft exec admitting (albeit seven years 
ago, but still) that Windows is buggy, expensive, and lame, and that 
the only reason people stick with it is because they're trapped 
financially by their existing investment. And that, too, is nothing we 
didn't already know-- but it's nice to hear Microsoft unwittingly admit 
it. So here's the question, then: now that it's clear that Microsoft 
knew how badly it sucked even as it continued to rake in billions of 
dollars from its long-suffering customers, doesn't that make the 
company even more evil?

We'll give you a hint: three letters, starts with "Y," rhymes with 
"mess." And "darn tootin'" is an acceptable alternative.

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