December 1, 2006
I'm a Windows user, and I'm out to prove Wil Shipley wrong:
Mac users love their machines; Windows users put up with their machines because they don't believe there's anything really better.
I love the Mac user base because they tend to be people who are into trying out new software and recommending it to each other and giving the little guy a chance. Windows users have demonstrated, ipso facto, that they do not believe in the little guy.
Wil's student talk from WWDC 2005 piles on even more criticism of stereotypical Windows users:
- Windows users like going with the market leader, the "safe" choice.
- Windows users don't want to spend more for quality, so they buy crapware knockoffs of your idea instead.
- Windows users never upgrade.
- Windows users only use three apps: Word, IE, and ITunes.
- Windows users are afraid to install new software due to the massive amount of craplets and malware saturating the market.
Them's fightin' words, Wil Shipley. Well, except for the last part, which is true. 90% of Windows software is absolute unfettered crap which should never be installed on any computer running any operating system. Ever. But I'd also say Sturgeon's Revelation applies to all media, not just Windows software. But our 90% is larger than your 90%. Despite what all the Elise-drivin', iPod wearin', Mac-lovin' pundits would have you believe, it's not all craplets and malware in the Windows world.
As Windows users, we should do our part to fix this. Let's band together and support those small software vendors writing Windows apps that not only don't suck, they ROCK. Let's support the little guy who still gives a damn about creating small, beautiful, useful apps on an operating system that gets no respect.
That is why I declare today, Friday, December 1st, 2006, Support Your Favorite Small Software Vendor Day.
I've used Media Monkey several times to help catalog my self-ripped music collection, and I was blown away by the speed, the ease of use, and the cool features for mass-tagging my music. And, I'm ashamed to admit, I never paid the twenty bucks to register it. Even after using it quite extensively. I'm rectifying that situation right now: even as I type this post, I'm registering Media Monkey.
Check your hard drive, and I'm sure you, too, will find some bit of software written by a small software development shop, maybe even a single developer. Something you find incredibly useful. Something you rely on every day. Something you recommend without reservation to friends and peers. Something that makes using the computer that much more enjoyable. Or at least less painful.
Stop reading this post right now and buy that software. If it's not commercial software, don't let that stop you. Share the love by sending money to the person/shop/organization that created it.
This month it's MediaMonkey. Next month it might be ClipX, or Beyond Compare, or RegexBuddy, or TimeSnapper. It's time to stop floating by on the "free" version and give something back. If I can't come up with the scratch to spend a measly $20 a month supporting the very best work of my fellow independent software developers, can I really call myself a professional software developer? Can you?
As a Windows user, I work extra hard to avoid reinforcing all these negative stereotypes. I believe in the little guy writing cool Windows software. And by "believe in", I mean "pay". And so should you. Whatever operating system you choose to run, try to support the little guys writing the apps you use. We owe it to them. And, more importantly, we owe it to ourselves.
Posted by Jeff Atwood
The last time I bought WinZip, it came on a 3.5" floppy. No lie.
The comparison between Mac and Windows users is flawed: It compares 2 populations of totally different sizes. It puts all Windows users in the same bag even though there are probably 20 times more of them. It is therefore easy to pick Windows users profiles not found in the Mac population and claim that this is "teh typical Windoze user".
I will support total commander and textpad which are the first thing I install on every machine I use - I can't imagine doing without them...
Other applications I always install on my main machine: KeePass, Foxit reader, daemon tools, paint.net and hamachi.
gVim. (a href="http://www.vim.org)"http://www.vim.org)/a Best. Editor. Evar. Register and support children in Uganda!
WavePad (a href="http://nch.com.au/wavepad/index.html)"http://nch.com.au/wavepad/index.html)/a Very cool audio editor; supports mp3,wav,ogg, etc...
Textpad (www.textpad.com), without a doubt. Hasn't been updated for a while but its still indispensable!
Serif Software. Their DTP stuff is way cool, easy to use, very cheap and best of all, they even have a website where everyone can download older (but still fully functional) versions of their programs free...
Expresso Regular Expression Editor: a href="http://www.ultrapico.com/Expresso.htm"http://www.ultrapico.com/Expresso.htm/a
Good post! I offer http://allwaysync.com/ for syncing files/drives - it's actually free for personal use but I use it so much I went pro...also, good to read some useful suggestions in the comments.
Support Total Commander (www.ghisler.com)
Do I have to mention PDF Creator? Unless you absolutely have to *edit* PDF, this open source, ghostscript-based solution enables you to print directly on PDF, la Quartz sans Adobe Acrobat package :-)
Windows users only use three apps: Word, IE, and ITunes.
Funny, they are the 3 apps I avoid the most...
So, Jeff, I went through my applications and the ones I use everyday and cannot live without, aside from the MSDN stuff, they are *all* freeware: Firefox, AllSnap, Cropper, Winamp, SyncBack, Exodus, Expresso, FileZilla, Ethereal, CCleaner, 7-Zip, KeePass, Foxit, Desktop Sidebar, Windows Live Writer, Reflector, Virtual Server, GhostDoc, CruiseControl.Net, Nunit, Subversion, CommunityServer. And not forgetting all those other free VS and firefox add-ins...
So special props to those medium sized companies that make fantastic software that is worth every penny - RedGate (Ants profiler, SQL compare) and DevExpres and their excellent .Net UI library.
Just remember that this could always backfire.
I bought a lifetime license for ASE(all seeing eye) and awesome game server browser at the time. Developed by a single guy who did amazing work to maintain and add features in a fast manner. To make a long story short, Yahoo bought it, the app is now crap and there's no updates for new features or filters for new games in ages.
- sftpdrive: Cool little app that lets me mount my /home folder on any Linux server as a plain windows drive. It simply works and makes my life easier.
- Textpad: Can't live without having this tabbed power editor ready at hand, used throughout the day on many occations.
- Process Explorer: Finally proces monitoring done right, shows USEFULL live info about resources and processes and allows entire process trees to be shut down in one action. It keeps an eye on whats going on on my two cores.
I'll support Stardock - *looove* windowblinds...
Hard to believe Spybot has not been mentioned.
AntiVir has a great free version, $20 I think for a better one.
UltraEdit is pretty darn good for the money.
Beyond Compare is very good, but if you don't mind spending some money, Araxis Merge is excellent.
A great free editor is ConTEXT.
The highest compliment you can pay any piece of shareware software is to simply use it, because it's worth using.
Different argument. Not the same as open source. Commercial apps typically ASK you for money. And I'm talking about contributing money, not my time. I can't afford to freely give away my time at this juncture of my life-- it's too expensive. Money, on the other hand, is cheap.
I will give another thumbs up for winzip. I have managed to get licenses at past employers, but only on my pc the rest of the floor they didn't see any point in updating. Then again they were way out of license and if my family didn't have ties to the business I would most likely talk to the BSA since they seem to think they are invincible.
Commercial apps typically ASK you for money.
And I'm talking about contributing money,
not my time.
But many OS projects do ask for money. That was the point of the post I pulled that quote from.
So why would you consider contributing to commercial applications and *not* to OS applications, if you are about contributing money over your time?
Not sure if this counts as a small software vendor but I couldn't be without Copernic Desktop Search:
Also, and hopefully this isn't too cheeky, can I suggest my own small software start-up:
We couldn't find a blog reader that was exactly right, so we wrote our own.
Due to your post today, I finally got around to registering Clipboard Recorder, which I find infinitely useful.
Other applications I've registered in the past include Trillian, EditPlus, BeyondCompare and Winamp (before it was free).
But I thought today was "World AIDS Day"...
If you maintain code, you should have Beyond Compare. Best app for comparing code versions. Side note: Talked the company i work for into buying 100 licenses.
Red-Gate SQL Compare. No question about it.
I can't believe no one even mentioned winmerge. Come on people!
great idea! i gonna register total commander right away. i am using it everday and love it.
I also second Red Gate products - any of them for that matter - but SQLCompare has saved my hide a number of occasions.
I also support DivLoc's File Search and Replace tool.
I don't know why it should be a fight or a war. As I told a friend of mine, that's not the point. The point is, I know 3 operating systems, and he only knows 2.
Thanks for a partial call to rationality, anyway.
I can't think of any right at the moment. (I've been at work for 10 minute and alas have had no caffeine.
Not only is this a great post I must thank everyone for mentioning their favourite software. I can't count the amount of hours wasted looking for some utility or another. Now we all have a great list of free software to try out.
OOOoo! thought of one that saves me all the time. AngryIP! great little port scanner. (used for ligit purposes, I swear!)
One of the things that blew me away when I switched to OS X was the insane amount of really helpful shareware apps. On top of that, reasonably priced and with less nagware than most common windows shareware I was using.
The stuff is usually so cheap that you have a hard time coming up with excuses to not pay for the license.
I would like to mention Aqua Data Studio, by http://aquafold.com . ADS is available free for personal or educational use, or a very cheap license for everything else. If you have to work in a mixed environment with MS Sql Server, Oracle, MySQL, PG and others at the same time, ADS allows you to manage them all and do query analysis from a unified interface. On top of that, the developer is in daily contact with his users through his yahoo group, and he damn well listens to us a lot better than Microsoft or any other big company.
Another mention is Connect360, it allows your mac to impersonate a Windows Media Center, which means that you can listen to your iTunes, watch videos and page through your iPhoto libraries from your Xbox 360.
If you'd like to grab streaming audio, TotalRecorder is well worth buying.
Definitely support the small guys, as their apps tend to be better designed and crafted. They're often an original idea, a port of a cool idea from another OS, or an alternative to a bloated or poorly designed de facto standard app. A small dev team often has the vision, focus, brains, and drive to create something great instead of mediocre. Plus, the apps are usually inexpensive.
There's great stuff happening on all platforms, but it's especially interesting to check out some of the great indie apps on the Mac platform for ideas and inspiration on approaches to turning out a great product.
Back in June, I decided it was time for me to become a "little guy who writes cool Windows software". That's why I also started encouraging others, though I still use a lot of free/OSS stuff.
Should we create a discting OSS day?
iTunes *is* malware. I downloaded QuickTime, and I find that the automatic update for QuickTime keeps trying to install iTunes on my system. But I don't want iTunes, I just want the frequent security fixes for QuickTime. Any app which installs itself is malware in my book.
As a former Mac partisan of some public prominence, I shocked many when after doing some Windows work I started to say Windows itself isn't crap and it's not impossible to build good applications for it. In fact, I said, what the Mac has going for it is primarily cultural; it's the application developers who suck less. The crap ratio on the Mac really, honestly is a lot less than 90%, though as JA points out, that doesn't mean there's more good Mac software than there is Windows software. Whether it's better to be a Windows partisan or a Mac partisan is, as always, a matter of what you need from a computer, but I think it's a far better option to be a partisan for neither and focus on the quality of the apps you use.
Wow, I just finished reading those articles... There's somebody who doesn't know anything about what they're preaching against. I don't even know what flaws to point out in his argument, it's just crazy!
One of the good OS X apps I've seen lately is iShowU ( http://shinywhitebox.com/home/home.html ), which is a lot cheaper than Snapz Pro X and offers a lot of the same options.
Not all of us Mac developers are driving Elises, though I'd take one if one were offered -- certainly a trade up from a beat-up Golf.
Expresso and Regex Buddy? Try Regulazy and Regulator.
If you don't like the mouse, you will *love* SlickRun (more than just app launcher).
Also, if you don't have a PDA, Chaos Manager is very useful.
Always check www.tinyapps.org for any utility first. The software is typically freeware, and most do not require any form of Windows installation.
I think the difference between Windows users and Mac users is that Mac users are using a product specifically designed for them, while Windows users are using the lowest common denominator.
Patrons of a high-end or niche restaurant are going to be more satisfied than an Applebee's patron, but they have different missions. Applebee's has to be accessible to a great number of people; the Canadian fried sushi restaturant doesn't.
Even for the "free" apps, please consider contribute some money to the author!
Beyond Compare is the mutt's nuts.
Other must haves:
Small guys I've supported with my dollar:
- As we speak I'm using FeedDemon to read this. Great RSS feed reader.
- You could say I support the "smaller guy" because I also use Borland's Delphi to write Win32 desktop apps.
- Winamp, and was using it even before AOL acquired it. Paid for the Pro version to get full-speed ripping and was worth every penny.
- WinAVI Video Converter does a great job of transcoding media.
- Mp3Tag is my music tagger of choice and it rocks.
- ColorCop for picking colors from anywhere on the screen, small, clean UI that does exactly what it's suppost to and does it well.
- Snippet Compiler, serious one of the great .NET tools for playing around with bits of code.
Even though I'm a Linux bigot, I very quickly paid up for a few Windows apps that make my everyday life /so/ much better:
www.getright.com/ -- sophisticated but easy download manager. I even use it on broadband.
www.musicmatch.com/ -- great MP3 jukebox
Life is too short to not pay for wonderful software.
Paid and registered not only at home, but also at my last two working places. I start my day by starting it, and end the day when closing it. I don't even know how to use Windows Explorer anymore :-)
And if you cannot donate money for the application you like, maybe it is open source. Donate some time and add a feature, or fix a bug (and submit it, of course :-)
The highest compliment you can pay any piece of shareware software is to simply use it, because it's worth using.
Just gave to Maxthon http://www.maxthon.com - Best browser (for me at least) and most used software. Been meaning to donate for a while.
Well Textpad for one (http://textpad.com/) it is the very first thing I install on any computer I use. I keep a copy on my pendrive, just so I have it around.
mIRC (http://mirc.com/) is another nice program, if you use IRC there is no better choice on windows. The only down side is that it's getting a bit long in the tooth and still has a Win16 feeling to it in places.
There is also CRT (http://www.vandyke.com/) one of the best Telnet clients out there. The company also an FTP client and a secure verison of both. I have no idea how big the company is, but it dosn't act like a large company.
An added benefit for Media Monkey. It stores all it's information about your media in an Access database. That's about as open a format as you can get on a Windows box. Niiiiiice. Now if I want to move all my media to a different location, I can just run an update script.
The Zero Assumption disk space visualizer is the nicest explorer plugin I think I've ever seen. ( http://www.z-a-recovery.com/ ) I don't know if they count as a "little guy" though. But it is a beautiful tool.
2nd for RedGate's tool set. And thanks for the post. As a Windows user who has moved to Mac, I usually have to go to an apple store every 6 months or so for a reminder to stay free of The Cult.
waiting for version 1.0 of firebug!
I'll back the Firebug comment, but I think Firefox and its extensions are a no brainer.
I got to give a shout out to one of the early pieces of great freeware a href="http://www.winamp.com"http://www.winamp.com/a
I still use it to this day and can't stand any other music player, especially iTunes.
Next, I got to give a mad shout out to a piece of software that has saved me more frustration than tabbed windows a href="http://www.foxitsoftware.com/pdf/rd_intro.php"http://www.foxitsoftware.com/pdf/rd_intro.php/a
I hate, HATE waiting for PDFs to load. This happy PDF reader solved this problem to a tee.
Finally, I need to give a shout out to a piece of software that I just discovered yesterday to help save a client hours WebShot (a href="http://www.websitescreenshots.com/)."http://www.websitescreenshots.com/)./a This nifty little piece of software will create JPGs of an entire website. Very useful for demonstration purposes.
Remember, sometimes a web link is worth almost as much as small monetary value. Traffic is worth money and as developers, we usually command a decent amount of traffic on our site. Give back by providing a link and recommendation that maybe someone will discover the software that might not have even known such a thing existed.
Crap, I put the wrong URL and app in my previous comment. DiskView is the one that I meant to talk about. http://www.diskview.com/ It's $40 for the cheapest version, but it's made by an ISV.
I'm the only person I know who actually bought WinZip. I've worked at 6 places in the last 15-odd years - the Evaluation screen was a constant presence. Sad, really.
Oh, and if someone re-implements Beyond Compare for the Mac, I'll pay $30 for that, too. So far I've been unable to find anything close to it. Probably it's time to roll up the sleeves and write the damn thing.
One I don't think I saw was Audacity (http://audacity.sourceforge.net/). I use it a lot simply to rip audio from streams to listen on my mp3 player (though the BBC have started using podcasts now).
Its useful too for cutting up mp3s and things like that.
Plus its really good for lots of audio editing.
I think the whole concept of shareware is a shame. Software should just either be pay up front, or get for free and donate a sum later. It's a shame people have to add messages and dialogs and "please sustain us". But that's freeloaders ruining for you, and they'll always be there...so meh.
I'm Jeff on this - my time is waay too expensive to give away profligately. Money I have... and those free projects also appreciate your money. Some of them have ridiculously low bounties for new features, so it can actually be a lot quicker to cough up $50 for the thing you want rather than coding it yourself.
I've bought a few things like www.textpad.com and donated to quite a few free projects. www.7-zip.org is my current favourite. I note that WinZip apparently supports the format now.
Amusing anecdote: we posted a big test data dump to our outsourcing crew as a 7zip archive, and got the predictable WTF from them (in the middle of our night), but by the next morning they'd worked out how to use google and downloaded the program to unzip the file. The outsourcers (outsourcees?) are not normally that quick on the uptake.
FWIW, 2GB of unicode text was ~60MB of 7z but ~100MB of zip file (lots of digits).
I don't actually look for software that's made in the shareware or crippleware realms. I use almost strictly open source/freeware projects with large user/developer/support bases. I use stuff like Celtx, NVU, Blender3D, Inkscape, Irfanview, Audacity, CDex, Microsoft Visual Studio Express, Wink, CDBurnerXP Pro, FileZilla and AbiWord. When I can, I do try to kick these developments some money to keep them supported and encouraged. But for the most part, I use software that is written for love of the software itself.
But that's not to say I won't pay for a great app when I get one. I like to make little beats sometimes, to quell the inner beatnik trying to escape the gossamer constraints I've placed on his frail form, I use the program Rhythm Rascal, for which I did pay $19.99 via PayPal. I'll support good software when I can. But I won't use independent wares if I've got a more viable choice in open source.
And the reason I use Rhythm Rascal instead of, say, Neuromixer or Hydrogen? They're overkill for what I need. I'll pay for simplicity.
Btw: If you're looking for a very good dvb application, have a look at www.dvbviewer.com - its awesome and not that expensive.
I use PureText all the time to copy text from IE or anywhere and paste it only as text (no formatting) into Word or the like.
I also use mTail http://ophilipp.free.fr/op_tail.htm to tail log files. Have not found anything better to use.
I can't believe no one mentioned Notepad2. This is the single best freeware utility that exists in Windows world. Nothing else comes close. Hook it up with Consolas font, and replace Notepad with it.
This is written on a Mac, BTW. If someone re-implemented TextMate on Windows, I'd pay $50 for that, too.
Is iTunes, in fact, installed in your computer now? Apple just offers you to install it, as iTunes + Quicktime has been a downloadable bundle since looooooong time ago.
iTunes won't install itself if don't choose so. Correct me if i am wrong, but you can install only iTunes, or OTOH, only Quicktime.
do you have any software for making cursors and icons?
A few points. First off, Wil Shipley has posted a reply here: http://wilshipley.com/blog/2006/12/quel-horreur.html
Ok, now I'm an indie developer, a Mac one. Now I know that there is good shareware for Windows out there. iPodSoft.com is a great example of that. And you can do really well off shareware for Windows. The thing is that I just think it's easier to get started on the Mac. Windows users are used to being able to go to a shop and pick up software, as such that is usually where they'll go. Of course this isn't all Windows users, but it's the vast majority of users who don't know much about computers. Mac users are more used to going to the internet and download sites to get their software, it's just the culture.
Indie developers, on whichever platform, are always much better to deal with than big companies. To be able to pay a small amount of money, for a high quality product, from which you get maybe a year+ of free updates which are more than just bug fixes and often a direct dialogue with the developer is an amazing experience. I like interacting directly with customers, for one it allows me to get fixes done much quicker as I'm not going through several layers to find out about the bug.
I think that the problem is that Windows indie developers don't seem to have the same presence on the web. If you look at the most influential people on the Mac web, a vast list are indie Mac developers. They have blogs that lots of people read. They are a huge part of the Mac community. Windows indie developers don't seem to be as big a part of the Windows community. Of course this isn't all down the the developer, again it's down the the difference in culture on the Mac vs Windows. It's probably one of the benefits of the Mac being a small userbase compared to Windows, it's easier to reach it all.
I only use windows at work really, and all the stuff I use is already paid for by the company I work for Mainly VisualStudio etc. I would probably find some usefull apps in the realm of shell customization (to provide some more visual cues here and there) if I went looking though. Despite what a lot of us Mac users would have you believe, Windows ain't all bad at all, and some Mac users are simply blind to the real world. Good post.
Servant Salamander (http://www.altap.cz/salam_en/index.html). Like Total Commander, but a lot more awesome and just works. Bought the license years ago.
One more for Ultramon (licensed) and Notepad2.
And yeah, I would pay Apple to withdraw iTunes from the market. It's a shame.
Actually, not iTunes, but QuickTime. I have no experience with iTunes.
I couldn't agree more.
The type of applications that I usually support are those that are...
a/ Reasonably priced.
b/ Regularly updated.
c/ Simple to use.
d/ Used all the time to save myself time and grief.
The two that come to mind are TextPad and BeyondCompare.
The cost of registering such programs is easily justifiable by taking your hourly rate, multiplying by the amount of time (Each week) that you save by using the programs and then comparing the two figures. (No brainer in most cases)
Software really should be treated like any other commodity - if you use it, you should pay for it.
FlashDevelop and Sepy will get my lovin money.
Altap's Servant Salamander - unique name and fantastic file explorer with endless features via plugins! Been using it for 4-5 years now.
I regret not reading this post earlier... I think most of the apps I thought have been covered, but there's one that although isn't a developer tool, has brought me and my friend hours of fun for free
I love my foobar.
Foobar is a really small mp3 player which does just what it advertises, ie. play mp3's. No radio station, visualization, bells, whistles, skins, themes and all such crap. And the most beautiful part is, it loads up lightning quick, occupies a fraction of the memory that biggies like Winamp and WMP(should that be WiMP?) and has cool playlist support -a no frills, no nonsense music player. Check it out at a href="http://www.foobar2000.org/"http://www.foobar2000.org//a
e (TextMate for Windows) http://www.e-texteditor.com
I bought it the day the beta was announced. TextMate was the main thing i missed when using my windows box.
All of the greatest stuff I use is freeware.
IZArc whoops 7-zip's butt and has a WinZip-like interface.
Process Explorer by Sysinternals - absolute must have for any developer, love the usage histograms for each separate process!
SysMetrix - skinable computer monitoring app. I use this side by side with Process Explorer for the overall view of whats going on.
MultiMon Taskbar - puts a separate taskbar on your second monitor.
Notepad++ - I don't use this that often, but I am thouroughly impressed with it - especially the code folding capability.
Audacity - sound editor and recorder, fast, simple , intuitive
MZTools Visual Studio add-in - invaluable when working in VB6 or VBA
Paint.Net - a really cool program that duplicates a lot of Photoshop functionality with the simplicity of MSPaint
CCleaner - definate must have if you try out as much freeware stuff as I do
Of course Firefox and Thunderbird - Firefox 1.5 did away with the need for about a quarter of the extensions I had in the last version.
Simply the best archiver available for Windows: http://rarlab.com/
It's one of the few shareware apps that I've registered.
I also primairly use freeware whenever possiable,
and so firefox, thunderbird, notepad2, wamp, openOffice, ect.
I however feel the need to both add and agree,
avoiding all large companies.
winRar is briliant http://rarlab.com/
as is silo http://www.nevercenter.com
Firefox didn't "start out" on Windows. It's been cross-platform from the get-go. As someone who uses Macs, Windows, and Linux daily, I can tell you that it takes a lot more work and research to find decent Windows freeware and so forth than on either OS X or Linux. Sorry, guys, but it's true.