64 bits, Adobe, Apple and Microsoft. kinda.

I find it hilarious to read some of the comments in news stories on technology companies, especially from folks who don’t write software for a living.

A lot of the evil that people accuse Microsoft of is really incompetence, short sightedness, tunnel vision or good intentions misinterpreted. People hate Microsoft, so they choose to see evil in it’s every decision. Most of the folks at Microsoft are smart, hard-working, honest people that want to make really cool software. Of course, I’ve met many MS folks who are testosterone-driven idiots without a creative bone in their body that just want to kill every other software company in existence. Too often, people mistake a move by the former folks as a scheme by the latter. This is horrible for the good folks at MS, but if that company wanted to fix its image, it wouldn’t have made a chair-throwing, hyper-aggressive salesman to be the CEO.

When John Nack posted about Adobe’s decision not to do 64-bit Photoshop for OS X in the next release, he knew he was going to get attacked for it. I thought he did an awesome job going through the reasons behind the decision without throwing blame around. I thought he gave real insight into what happened. He was open and up-front about everything and completely clear. Yet, you read the comments on the various sites and you can see that people read what they want to read and will interpret any decision within the context of what they want to believe. I’ve had more visibility into the decision-making hierarchies at Adobe than any other company I’ve ever worked for, and I can tell you that the people I work with always want to do the right thing for the people that use our software. No one is playing political games with Apple. Just because Steve Jobs says something is easy doesn’t actually make it easy. If it was always that easy, Final Cut Pro would be a 64-bit cocoa app already.

People who don’t write desktop software don’t understand why it might be harder than checking a checkbox to port from the PowerPC to Intel. People who don’t write desktop software don’t understand why it might be hard to write a new operating system from scratch or why having 100s of engineers doesn’t make it go faster. People also don’t understand that in an application where performance is paramount (like a media editing application), porting to a new operating system, hardware platform or compiler is a lot trickier than it seems because a lot of code is there doing tricky platform-specific stuff that has been hand tuned over years. People who don’t write software don’t understand what kind of effort it is to port millions of lines of code built in C++ against Carbon into Objective-C using Cocoa.

Maybe people shouldn’t care. It’s probably a bad idea to see how the sausage is made, right? This is probably true up to the point that people claim something is easy when they have no idea of the actual effort involved.

Apple isn’t evil. Apple is secretive. This is fun as a customer. This is evil as a developer. Microsoft will promise something for years, deliver betas and then pull the plug. Apple will be silent and then spring a huge change on its developers and then chastise them for not rewriting their apps from scratch again.

I don’t know if there is much of a point here except to say that before you accuse a company of screwing over their users for some political end, you might want to try and understand the real issues.

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