It's easy to complain about specific Microsoft products--heck, we've probably written a million words on our gripes about Windows alone. But for this list, we dug deeper into the things about Microsoft the company that just push us over the edge. For instance, the Blue Screen of Death isn't here--because it's already spoken for in our companion piece, "10 Things We Love About Microsoft."
1. The Name Game
If you find the name of a particular Microsoft offering confusing and clunky, just wait--chances are, the company will relaunch the product with a new name that's even less euphonious. Examples are legion, from Windows Live Search Powered by Virtual Earth (formerly MSN Virtual Earth) to ASP.NET Web Service (formerly Managed C++ Web Service). But all these name switches do have one thing in common: They never result in a better product.
Compare that approach to Apple's, which favors simple one-word names to such an extent that it's given the same moniker--iMac--to three quite different computers over the last decade. At least Microsoft knows that it has a problem: This famous video--which theorizes that if the iPod had hailed from Redmond, it would have been the I-pod Pro 2005 Human Ear Edition with Subscription--was produced by Microsoft itself.
2. Standards, Schmandards
No one likes to read standards documents because they're so boring. Maybe that's why Microsoft routinely ignores the Web guidelines set forth by the World Wide Web consortium when it comes to its Internet Explorer browser. (Or maybe it's the fact that they own over 70 percent of the browser market, according to a recent Janco Associates report.)
Since IE doesn't follow the rules, Web site developers have to write code that matches (at least) two standards; otherwise, pages won't display properly if you use the "wrong" browser. C'mon, Redmond! Would it really be that hard to play ball with the rest of the kids on the Internet playground?
On a side note, how can a company with as many coders as Microsoft has manage to create pages that don't work in Firefox?
3. They Can't Learn to Let Go
We're sure that writing the first version of Windows required lots of pizza-fueled all-nighters. And creating Internet Explorer couldn't have been a walk on the beach with the Shangri-Las either. So we can understand being a little reluctant to throw that work away. But at some point--say, a decade or two later--it's surely time to start fresh with a new product. In Redmond, though, that time never seems to arrive.
We still have Windows teetering on its creaky old Registry. Instead of starting over fresh to replace something as flawed as Windows' user security, Microsoft retained XP's basic setup in Vista and "updated" it by tacking on the exceptionally annoying User Access Control.
Same goes for Internet Explorer 7. Microsoft kept about half of the program code from IE 6, arguably the most widely attacked program in the world, instead of dumping it all and starting over. And it didn't take long for hackers to find flaws that left both IE 6 and IE 7 vulnerable. Granted, starting afresh means losing compatibility with some older programs. But if the payoff is a more stable, more secure system, we'll take it.