Is it just me?

While in IT class, I noticed how deeply Microsoft has penetrated the minds of people. Certain generic terms have been substituted (mostly by classmates) by product names. Sure, I’m being anal, and apart from that the course has been pretty educational, but I think we should be careful with our use of terms, especially when in a learning environment.

Example #1

Instructor: And when you want to set up a web page, what do you do? You write a program –

Me (interrupting): No, you write a document which you upload to the web server!

[At this point I got overruled because it turns out he was referring to web editing software. Still, you don’t need to use web editing software to write a web page. But I decided to shut up after that.]

Instructor: (continuing to addres the class) “You use Frontpage…”

Aaaaaarrghhh!!! Well, I know most people would’ve heard of Frontpage and therefore would understand his explanation better – although as a professional I still view it as an inferior product. I felt he should have said, you can use either a [generic term] web editing program or even Notepad to write a web page.

Example #2

Student: So when I want to register a domain name, I go to Singnet or Pacnet or Microsoft … ?

Example #3

Instructor: And when you want to surf the Internet, what do you use?

Student: You open up your IE!

(Student proceeds to substitute the generic term, ‘web browser’, with IE for the rest of class.)

Example #4

Student: But don’t most people prefer Windows OS because it is the easiest to use?

Me: (mildly surprised and trying to be polite) No, I think most people prefer Windows because that’s all they’ve ever used. It’s because they’re familiar with it. But if you want something that is really easy to use, I’d go for the Mac OS.

Is it just me being fussy, or is this disturbing? Are geeks like me so far removed from the reality of life (‘MS Life’) that I can no longer speak the same language as other human beings? Has the rest of humanity resolved themselves to the fact that there is no alternative operating system or browser in this world?

Anyway, I’m going for an afternoon session today, followed by the usual jazz piano lesson, so I’d better do some revision now.


  1. tiggie

    oh Van,
    yes i think it’s just that people haven’t had the experience to use anything more than windows and it is sad. because there are very many other operating systems eg. unix or linux which are more useful in other ways…and perhaps more stable! i realised how brain-washed i was when i had to learn to use a different OS and that really made me realise how much i have taken for granted…

  2. stef

    yes microsoft has invaded the main stream and as long as it is most available to the average man on the street, that is what will come up mostly. but you’re right, the instructor should try to be more generic and explain that microsoft is not the highway, & only way. i’ve taught microsoft office classes but i try to tell them that this is the only desktop software available.

  3. Kristen

    at least you are doing your bit to reveal the non-microsoft alternatives that exist. :o) it’s always good to widens peoples field of vision.

  4. Jason Wall

    Frontpage? *shudder* I won’t bother to argue with you on the Mac vs Win thing. If you compare XP to OSX, in terms of uability, I don’t think there’s much difference. There are tradeoffs for sure, but usability isn’t an exact science. Win excels in some things the Mac does not, and vice versa.

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