My first experience with a computer was on my college roommate’s Mac Plus.  One floppy held the OS and the application Microsoft Word 3.0 is memory serves and the other floppy held my data disk.  That’s pretty amazing given there are DLLs that are bigger than 1.44 Mb (or was the Plus’ floppy on 720K?!).  It crashed a lot (on par with Windows 95) but it was fun and beat the hell out of typing papers on a typewriter.

I think it’s hard to not be impressed by Apple’s software.  I was in our neighborhood Best Buy yesterday and saw a software bundle called iLife.  It’s a package that includes iTunes, iPhoto, iMovie, and iDVD.  Every review of the software and Mac enthusiast (is there any other kind?) I’ve spoken with really raves about those programs.  I’ve always wondered how a company which is obviously largely hardware-oriented does such a great job with software when they have to have limited R&D budgets.  The software isn’t nearly as perfect as people make it out to be but it’s still usually a really great experience. 

I think updated versions of Windows Media Player, Movie Maker, and the built in photo services that work with Windows XP are equally excellent and quite comparable to iLife.  The one area that I’m told we fail is burning DVDs.  A few months back a friend spent days trying to get some video that he’d taken with his camcorder edited and then onto a DVD.  I’m not sure if he ever did.  He just wanted to give a DVD to his dad so the grandkids were a click away.  I just noticed that Sonic has some DVD burning software to make this easier and its linked off of the Movie Maker homepage.   It’s about time.  Unfortunately, PCs with RTM Windows XP (no updated versions of WMP, MM, etc.) are not nearly as showing their true potential to their owner unless the newer versions are downloaded.  How do you adverstise the new version without putting people in tray table balloon hell or annoying them with information in the way of what they turned on their computer for in the first place?

Its scary how many people don’t know about the software that’s already on their PC or that they can get for free from lots of web sites (including ours).  How do we, our partners and other ISVs do a better job of giving Joe Average a way of knowing what’s possible without making the startup sequence look like an advertisement?