Windows Myth Maker
Monkeysoft lies to promote iMovie apeware
by Joshua Daniel Thorpe

In its relentless quest to ape the innovations of Apple's great software products, and keep its own users content with hand-me-down technologies, Monkeysoft has updated its Windows Movie Maker application and presented it with great hype to generate interest. And, as has become habit for the Redmond Gorilla, the marketing is replete with lies stating how much better this imitationware is than the original Apple iMovie.

The myth-making takes the form of a feature comparison chart pitting WMM2 against iMovie. The presentation of features is rather simplistic, with no explanation of the sometimes cryptic terms given on this page. It is yet another example of Monkeysoft using clever phraseology to confuse its audience into a state of awe.

The first lie told is a whopper, and a sneaky one at that. It is one of those Clintonesque "lawyerly" lies that is based partly on truth, but masks and convolutes that truth beyond recognition to leave an entirely different impression upon the audience's minds (which is undoubtedly Monkeysoft's intention). The chart states that WMM2 supports analog cameras as well as digital, while iMovie does not. The astute reader will immediately wonder "what is meant by 'supports analog' cameras?" The answer is not stated, but I can explain in a phrase: Motion JPEG. Motion JPEG is one digital video format that WMM2 apparently supports, and MPEG is another which is also supported by iMovie. While M-JPEG is popular in high-end professional video work for its fidelity in capturing analog video, it requires more disk space and faster hard drives than MPEG, and is not well suited to consumer grade work. MPEG, on the other hand, is the format used by DV cameras to encode video into a digital file. iMovie can accept DV streams (which also include the movie's audio track) directly from a DV camera or from a DV-format digitizer (a card or breakout box that converts analog movies to digital), as can WMM2. iMovie is merely missing the ability to work with M-JPEG video, which users of iMovie and WMM2 are not likely to be using anyhow. Since analog cameras must hook into a PC through a digitizer, and since plenty of DV-format digitizers are available (and cheaper than M-JPEG digitizers), using an analog video camera with a Macintosh and iMovie is really not a problem.

The myth: iMovie does not work with analog cameras.
The reality: No PC movie editor works directly with analog cameras, but rather indirectly through digitizers, and iMovie can accept input from analog cameras through DV-format digitizers. This is the ideal solution for amateurs anyhow.

The next lie is also lawyerly (come to think of it, they all are). In fact, lies 2 through 4 are related, so let's look at them as a group. They relate to the built-in editing abilities of WMM2 and iMovie. Monkeysoft conveniently lists the number of transitions, title effects, and special effects contained in the two programs. This leads to the impression that iMovie comes up short in the effects department. Not so fast. What Monkeysoft doesn't point out is that iMovie has a plugin architecture that allows Apple and third parties to provide any number of (read: unlimited) different transitions, titles, and effects as plugin packages. Apple provides a set of plugins for free from its website, and there are several free and inexpensive third-party plugin packages available as well. I found no mention of plugins at Monkeysoft's WMM2 site, so I must assume that WMM2's effects capabilities can not be expanded beyond the limited set of canned effects Monkeysoft provides.

The myth: iMovie doesn't provide the user with as many effects as WMM2.
The reality: iMovie's effects capabilities are limitlessly expandable by Apple and third-party developers, while WMM2's abilities are limited to its own built-in features.

Moving along, we get to the subterfuge. Monkeysoft touts WMM2's "industry leading compression technology" and iMovie's lack thereof. Again, no definition is given for "industry leading compression," so we are left to guess the meaning. I take it to mean that Monkeysoft thinks Windows Media Player is the "industry leading" format (by whose standards, I am in the dark), and since iMovie lacks WiMP output it thus lacks "industry leading" technology. Of course the industry is actually lead, from a technical point of view, by the MPEG group whose superior MPEG4 video compression standard is supported by Apple's QuickTime6 and several alternative movie player programs. Save your iMovie projects as MPEG4 movies using QuickTime6, and you have true industry leading compression. Monkeysoft makes no mention of file formats in its WMM2 hype, perhaps so it doesn't scare people away with the proprietary WiMP format.

The myth: iMovie does not support sophisticated movie file compression.
The reality: iMovies can be saved in the most sophisticated compression format available using QuickTime6 and MPEG4 export, while WMM2 projects appear to be limited to export in Monkeysoft's own monopolistic file formats unless you publish to DVD or tape.

"Publish directly to the Web" is the next feature Monkeysoft claims that iMovie lacks. A quick look at Monkeysoft's own directions for publishing to the Web from WMM2 reveals some rather complicated instructions for publishing to subscription-based movie hosting services. First, I know from experience that most of the people I have ever known in my life would find it frustrating to use this method, and probably wouldn't try (meaning I'd have to do it for them...GRRR). Second, so long as we're talking about subscribing to personal web hosting services, why not look into a .Mac account? With a Macintosh, iMovie, and .Mac one can easily put his movies on the web. Just save the movie into your preferred format, drag it from your Movies folder (or wherever you saved it) to your iDisk, and it's now in your iDisk for friends to see. You can even use the .Mac web page tools to dress up the presentation. Now that's something even my grandmother could figure out (too bad she has a Wintel system).

The myth: iMovie projects can not be published easily to the World Wide Web.
The reality: iMovie and .Mac make it easier to publish movies to the Web than using WMM2 and some third-party host.

Dishing out more meaningless catch-phrases, Monkeysoft touts WMM2's "automatic movie creation" and "task based interface" as though everyone grows up with the definitions of these terms burned into his linguistic memory. Of course we don't, so what do these phrases mean, and how does iMovie qualify as lacking these features? We may never know, as one can only imagine how "automatic" movie creation works (does the software read my mind?), and by the simplest definition it would seem that every program ever written has a "task based interface" to it.

The myth: iMovie lacks amazing productivity features found in WMM2.
The reality: iMovie likely contains the same degree of productivity features, if not more, though we won't know until someone with better literary skills than Monkeysoft's editors writes a review of the WMM2 program.

Monkeysoft also points out that iMovie lacks WMM2's "easy to use" wizards that automate common procedures. While this may be true, Monkeysoft neglects to mention that iMovie is just plain easy to use in and of itself, and thus it probably doesn't need a legion of wizards.

The myth: iMovie is difficult to use.
The reality: iMovie's ease of use is legendary (no pun intended).

The next bit is hilarious: iMovie is not compatible with WiMP. Funny stuff, Monkeysoft...funny stuff. The idea here is that WMM2 and the Windows Media platform make for a superior cross-platform multimedia experience. How is WMM2's QuickTime compatibility coming along? Are all the QuickTime import/export features in place? No, you say? How about MPEG4 support? Monkeysoft wants us to believe iMovie will lock people into the Apple Way, but it is Monkeysoft's products that are truly restrictive.

The myth: iMovie is proprietary and not compatible with alternative media formats.
The reality: iMovie and QuickTime6 make for a more cross-platform friendly movie making experience than WMM2 and Windows Media.

Finally, Monkeysoft tries to sneak in one more lie by noting that "additional" DVD burning software is required to publish to DVD from WMM2 and iMovie. Of course no mention is made of iDVD, the DVD mastering software included for free with every SuperDrive-equipped Macintosh. At least Monkeysoft gives iMovie credit for DVD publishing, as well as publishing to tape.

In typical fashion, Monkeysoft has used cleverly vague and misleading statements to convince people of the superiority and consumer-friendliness of its quite inferior and restrictive software products. Monkeysoft seems fond not only of aping the development activities of Apple, but lying to consumers to make their imitation products look better. The sad truth of this is that many people will continue to be duped into using Monkeysoft's monopoly pieces to play the game, only to find in the end that the bank owns them all.

©2002 Joshua Daniel Thorpe, all rights reserved, if you pirate this I will hunt you for sport

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