Firefox, IE. Tech journalists are a disgrace

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Opinion: Let's imagine for a moment that we're in a strange parallel universe. Many things appear the same, but there are subtle differences. Today, for example, Microsoft launched the new version of its web browser, Internet Explorer 8…


In this other universe, Microsoft is still the leading software company on the planet, but still has rivals, just as it does in our world. IE8 is launched on time, but the company has rushed it out in order to meet its committed launch date. As a result, it contains a few bugs and unfinished bits of code. Nearly 60 of them.


But in this strange alternate reality, technology journalists are, for some reason, reasonable human beings and praise the innovations built into IE8, while explaining that no one can expect complex software to work properly first time and that fixes for the most serious bugs will be ready in a month or so's time.


It's worth upgrading, they say, even though load times are pretty bad and the thing falls in a heap every few minutes. The writers are consistent in their praise for Microsoft and the new features it has brought to the market.


Meanwhile, back in our world, the browser that's launched this week is Firefox 3.5. The new Firefox is launched on time, but the company has rushed it out in order to meet its committed launch date. As a result, it contains a few bugs and unfinished bits of code. Nearly 60 of them.


Our technical writers praise the innovations built into Firefox, while explaining that no one can expect complex software to work properly first time and that fixes for the most serious bugs will be ready in a month or so's time.


It's worth upgrading, they say, even though load times are pretty bad and the thing falls in a heap every few minutes. The writers are consistent in their praise for Mozilla and the new features it has brought to the market.


So here's a question for you. Why do the other universe's writers give Microsoft the benefit of the doubt while ours make excuses for Mozilla? What would our esteemed gentlemen and ladies of the press have written had Microsoft rushed out an unfinished, bug-ridden product like Firefox 3.5?


I think we all know the answer to that - they'd have ripped it a new one.


I've been writing about technology for almost 30 years and working in the industry for ten more before that. In all that time, the automatic reaction of lazy journalists everywhere is to think it's big and clever to write MS with a dollar sign instead of an S. Might have been funny the first time, but not 20 years on.


It's terribly big and clever to criticise Intel, but where are the writers with the guts to point out that AMD is very far from perfect, rather than fainting with excitement when a Black Edition chip is launched that isn't even available to buy?


I sometimes feel I'm fighting a one man war for balanced reporting. If a company does something good, I will praise them. If they screw up, I will point it out, often using harsh language.


What I will not do is automatically praise everything company A does and diss everything produced by company B. Microsoft screws up, Mozilla screws up, Intel screws up, AMD screws up.


What I find unacceptable is that a sizeable number of people with the bare-faced cheek to call themselves journalists have ignored the fact that Mozilla has just released a pile of crap on an unsuspecting world.


Worse than that, they are praising this steaming pile of bug-ridden code, while making hilarious gags about how far behind Microsoft is. What these odious little punks are forgetting is that no one - and I mean NO ONE - in the real world cares about browsers. Most of them don't know which one they use and just eight percent of the people interviewed in Times Square by Google earlier this year could explain what a browser actually did.


So, laugh it up, fellow hacks. Keep cracking your hilarious Microsoft gags. Keep praising the opposition no matter how badly they screw up.


The question these writers need to answer is this: Are you journalists or fanboys?


You can't be both. Not in my world.