Forgive the Harry Potter-inspired title, but perennial Clarity heroine Lucy Kellaway is on the BBC’s website today, suggesting that one of the reasons Apple has been more successful than Microsoft recently is they use language better. You can read the full article here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-11811150
I have to agree with Kellaway. Reading through Microsoft’s IE9 Product Guide this morning, I was struck by how repetitive and unimaginative it was – definitely negative qualities for a product supposed to provide a brand new way to browse. I even found myself questioning the syntactic sense of some of their claims, such as:
“Internet Explorer 9 is site-centric and meets users where they are today.”
They use “site-centric” as the opposite of “browser-centric”, but I fail to see how a browser can be anything other than “browser-centric”. I think they’re trying to convey the idea that they display the site as the author intended, not as the browser parses the code actually written (which browsers have been doing for years), but the way they’ve phrased this is simply terrible.
I also quite like the idea of the browser somehow meeting you somewhere you aren’t today. I imagine the browser showing up late and out of breath and apologising for waiting around where you were yesterday. It’s a faintly ridiculous image.
The section of Apple’s website devoted to Safari is, in stark contrast, simpler and friendlier (although they lose points for using ‘leverage’ as a verb on this page). Let us hope that, for the reader’s sake, they continue their seemingly unstoppable march across the world of consumer technology.
All that remains is to criticise Kellaway for suggesting in her final paragraph that “words are finished”. They’ve been going strong for about 5000 years and I don’t think that portable video on the iPad is going to kill them off.