Open Source

Going the extra step but not the extra mile

I've always been a big fan of going the extra mile with error messages, it's a good way to show that you actually care about the product to take the time to customise it even when things are amiss -- and yes, things will go wrong, you will not create the perfect application.

I've always been a big fan of going the extra mile with error messages, it's a good way to show that you actually care about the product to take the time to customise it even when things are amiss — and yes, things will go wrong, you will not create the perfect application.

The most recognised example would be the custom 404s that appear all over the Web. A good 404 can impress the user and take a little bit of pain away from finding missing content.

This brings us to Microsoft's Photosynth, a project that looks to take photo stitching up a notch. Being a Microsoft project, it should come as no surprise that it only works on Windows.

When going to install the software from a non-Windows machine, the following error message appeared:

If you're not on Windows then you are too cool — works for me. (Click to enlarge)


It's a nice witty jab at Apple and Linux aficionados alike — good to see some 'tude out of Redmond.

The error message did the rounds at the weekend and Microsoft updated the message to explicitly speak to Mac users.

But it's Linux! We don't care about Mac versions *sigh* (Click to enlarge)


There's one problem with this — you'll notice that I am using Ubuntu, yet it still speaks about Macs.

If you are going to take the extra step of targeting a previously generic message, test it against all use cases. Some OS detection wouldn't go astray on that page.

What a nice switch statement with a default clause could do to help Microsoft out in this instance.

About Chris Duckett

Some would say that it is a long way from software engineering to journalism, others would correctly argue that it is a mere 10 metres according to the floor plan.During his first five years with CBS Interactive, Chris started his journalistic advent...

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