[OS X TeX] Macintouch report on TeX versus Word

Alain Schremmer schremmer.alain at gmail.com
Tue Jan 20 23:51:24 EST 2009

On Jan 20, 2009, at 10:20 PM, David Derbes wrote:

> On Jan 20, 2009, at 7:54 PM, Jean-Christophe Helary wrote:
>> On mercredi 21 janv. 09, at 10:13, Alain Schremmer wrote:
>>> Funny, I always thought I was an optimist … I still do not think  
>>> you are right. Macs are an infinitesimal part of the market to  
>>> begin with.
>> Alain, they are not anymore.
>> Recent surveys indicate that Appel machines have about 10% of the  
>> computer market share (by checking web access data). I can't find  
>> the reference anymore but Apple laptop sales were simply huge  
>> compared to the other makes, on the US market.
>> http://www.tuaw.com/2009/01/02/apple-market-share-tops-10-windows- 
>> share-lowest-since-tracking/
>>> OpenOffice was so bad to begin with it sure couldn't get worse.  
>>> And, on the Mac, it still is clunky. Not to mention NeoOffice.
>> I use both for work. Clunky, but do we compare that to Word 2004 ?  
>> To me they compare very well (at least the 3.0 version of OOo and  
>> NeoOffice). I had to buy Office 2008 yesterday and it may be a  
>> different story here. But by the time a new version of Office is  
>> released, they will have catched up. I have no worry about that,  
>> their development model is so vastly different.
>>> I don't think LaTeX is going to die, just that it severely risks  
>>> becoming a quaint hobby for the very few. Like, say, polar bears.  
>>> They won't die. There will always be a few in zoos.
>> No, I think that markup languages are definitely not going to die,  
>> even if they are not XML dialects. They address a different kind  
>> of market.
>> People who buy (and use) "Office Suites", especially the modern  
>> ones à la iWorks, are not in need of LaTeX. What they want is nice  
>> looking templates, text placeholders and a print button. There is  
>> a huge market for that. The rest of them are cheated into using  
>> the suites and when they find LaTeX, either they take the dive and  
>> they are thankful, or they find a way to manage their frustrations...
> I remember when DOS (or its even earlier ancestor, CP/M) was all we  
> had for personal computers. Most people today do not use command  
> line interfaces. My guess is that down the road we'll have an even  
> more user-friendly version of LaTeX than we have now. Though I use  
> Macs exclusively, I don't really care what platform I use down the  
> road, only that it be reliable, affordable and intuitive.  
> (Increasingly true, IMHO, of Ubuntu and Mac OS X, increasingly not  
> true of Windows.)

I completely agree. But then we seem to be contemporaries. CP/M  
indeed. When did Bytes die?
> As Jean-Christophe wrote above, the Mac installed base is now in  
> the US about 10% in the US. I remember when it was about 3%, so I  
> think things are improving with respect to Apple. Apple laptops  
> seem to be the dominant platform on the ritzy US campuses these  
> days (the Ivies, U of Chicago, Johns Hopkins, Stanford, etc.) Part  
> of this is the halo effect of the iPod and IPhone, and part of it  
> is frustration with Windows-seeking viruses. Whether or not Apple  
> or IBM or Microsoft survive, I feel certain that personal computing  
> is here to stay. Perhaps stupidly I believe that LaTeX is so  
> superior that it too will be here indefinitely, though it might be  
> in a form we would not immediately recognize were we suddenly  
> brought twenty years into the future.

There is a lot in the ideas underlying LaTeX that I find extremely  
good. For instance, the idea of package. Back when I used Word, I had  
to use a monolithic monster of which I was using perhaps 5%. The  
remaining 95% were constantly in my way. Someone not using tables  
shouldn't have to see anything relating to tables anywhere in the  
menus and thus stay with a very simple interface. If and when you  
decided you needed tables, you would click on a button "install  
tables" that would attach a package to do this.

Where LaTeX is totally lacking is that the interface of the front end  
should then reflect the addition of the table package with new and  
appropriately modified menus.

While people and small groups could continue to develop packages, the  
infrastructure is beyond any individual or even small group effort.

> Maybe it's the Obama administration, but I'm optimistic about a lot  
> of things lately.

The mood is definitely different.


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