The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Thursday, January 08, 2004

Tired of using Microsoft Office? The people behind NBOR, a new multimedia software interface, hope you are so you'll buy their wares.

NBOR--the name of both the product and the company--stands for No Boundaries Or Rules, reflecting the potential usability of the program, which I admit sounds intriguing (enough so that I'll probably download the preview version when it comes available). However, if these guys are serious about their ambitions to sell this program and challenge Office's position, then I have a more apt name: NCIH, as in No Chance In Hell.

Simply put, programs like Word and Excel are well-established standards, and that's not going to change anytime soon. Tech heavyweights like Sun Microsystems and IBM have tried for over ten years to eat into Microsoft's dominant position, to no avail. Sun has failed even when it tried to give it's stuff away for free. There's no way a rinky-dink little startup like this will come anywhere close, even if they do focus first on the more-penetrable education market. Charging $299 for makes it even less likely; if they were giving it away, they'd at least have a chance at slowly building a userbase (but of course, it's hard to run a business that way).

Speaking of rinky-dink... NBOR's website is unbelievably amateurish, which gives me serious doubt as to the substance of this whole thing. There's little on there but loads of text and PowerPoint-like graphics, guaranteed to induce some serious snoozetime. And the writing is horrid. Get a load of this garble, from the home page, no less:

But what if there really is a better way? What if something really has come along that could truly improve the way you work with your computer in a highly meaningful way? We're not asking you to merely believe our words.

For a project that's supposedly taken a decade to develop, I get the feeling they should have spent some of that time on some professional-level copywriting and design. This is their first impression, and the impression it leaves to potential customers is that this is a skeleton operation that doesn't bother investing in its storefront, may not be around for too long after I give them my money, and whom I probably wouldn't want to do business with in the first place. I hope for their sakes that they're going to roll out a more professional-looking site soon.