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Why Are Micro-Softies So Defensive? Relax, Go Wash Your Honda

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First, Apple's Get a Mac ads were voted among the best ads for 2006 according to The Wall Street Journal, and then Steve Jobs stole the show from CES (Consumer Electronic Show) with the iphone and Apple Tv, holding in his hand the future of electronic convergence while Bill Gates just stood there at CES talking about it. Now micro-softies are really getting nervous and defensive (or at least more nervous and defensive than usual).

Apple | Oil on Canvas | Eva Soukoreff | Copyright © 2006 Underground Art Project. All Rights Reserved.

What they really need to do is relax, stop fighting (why can't we just all get along?) and read Steve Job’s Stanford commencement speech (highly recommended reading which you can find here. It explains why Apple is always on the cutting edge of industrial and technological design. Once Bill Gates (before the messiah complex hit and he decided to resign as CEO of Microsoft and save the world) was posed with the question, “what is your vision?” He replied: “to see a personal computer on the desktop of every home.” Good one Mr. Bill, but hardly what one would say is visionary (it was kind of obvious that would happen).

Apple, on the other hand, seems to have no such simplistic vision. They innovate instead of follow. They reinvented the mp3 and now the smart phone. Their products are far more than technology, they become part of our lives, they even become our friends. (Yes, even minimalists need some kind of friendship.) They say that it was Steve Jobs who insisted that the Mac Plus have no fan as the noise took away from the beautiful design and user experience. (Turned out to be a lesson in form follows function as the solder joints would fracture. Of course, hard core minimalists were few and far between back then… come to think of it, we actually still are… I guess that makes us kind of minimal… you don't have to read anything that appears in parenthesis by the way.) Of course they have had their other failures (the bright colored clamshell notebook with a handle was kind of embarrassing), but when something comes together, wow, it really comes together. Just like great art. (I know, I know, a very weak link to art. My goal in life is to write a whole article in parenthesis and make Penn Jillette proud.)

Of course the micro-softy masses always rely on the same old argument that if Macs are so good, then why do they have such a small market share. (Love that one, because then you have them right where you want them.) Based on that same logic, they should all be driving Honda Civics. Porsche has a very small market share. I guess then it is a failure as well. (Don’t get me wrong. Honda makes respectable cars that sell very well, but no one compares them to Porsches.) Bill Gates and Steve Jobs are both very rich men. Both companies are doing very well. Which one is bigger, richer, or sells more, is of no consequence. (At least to us peons who get excited about finding 25 cents on the street.) One has a rather simplistic vision that has already being accomplished and doesn’t seem to know what’s next (except of course to continue copying, borrowing or buying other people’s ideas), while the other, continues to innovate.

Why are Micro-softies so defensive? Relax amigo, we don’t really care if you choose to use inferior software on less than appealing hardware. No one is twisting your arm and forcing you to change. We are happy to keep quietly driving our Porsches and when we pass you by in your Honda, we will even give you a friendly smile. You see, we CAN all just get along. Stay original… Porsches are.

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About Bill Soukoreff

  • Bill,

    Good point, well made 😉

  • All Tech companies have to innovate or they will last about 5 minutes. I think the difference with Apple and Microsoft is that they do it in very different ways. As you pointed out Microsoft seems to excel in the tech side of things while Apple focuses more on the user experience. These discussions usually revolve around Job’s versus Gates. I can’t really think of any other examples where the CEO’S play such defining roles.

    For example, in your recent and excellent Pentax Optio A20 Review here on Blog Critics you mention how you have been a Canon User. I am as well. Yet, you gave the Pentax a good and totally unbiased review. I do not know who are the CEO’s of either company and do not care. But somehow, I do care when it comes to Apple and Microsoft. I don’t know why. Funny isn’t it?

  • Points well made, however Push mail (although not new, agreed) was brought to the masses and made to work in a usable way by MS.

    Vista? Have you forgoten Server 2003, not only by far and a way the most secure Microsoft OS product to date, the most secure server platform if you look at the security announcments. Also there is SQL2005 (no flaws so far) and ISA Server the only Firewall on the market without a serious security recall/patch. And that’s just the ones of the top of my head.

    Clear Type, OK I’ll give you that, HP invented it (along with a lot of other things), but MS brought it to the desktop, and portable device, can you imagine using an iPaq/WM5 device without it now?

    I’ll give you that Microsoft don’t perhaps inovate as openly as some companies. But neither do Apple, they have even ‘inovated’ themselves onto the Intel platform after all. 😉

  • I will just comment on the ones I know about:

    Push Email was not innovated by Microsoft.

    Security has only started to become ‘secure’ with Vista, which is not because of innovation but because of enormous public and corporate pressure on Microsoft. I have lost count of how many security companies they have bought out or back stabbed to just get to where they are today.

    Clear Type has potential, but again is not new, it is borrowed from tech from the 70’s. The problem of course is Microsoft’s lame implementation of new ideas. It only works if your monitor supports it, if not it make reading fonts even worse. It needs to be properly set up. 90% of the time it is not. They could use some further innovation in it’s implementation.

    For the size and billions they spend and lose to drive other companies out of business, one would expect more innovation.

  • Innovations, OK. But I really did not want to get into a slanging match…… I Do like Apple, no really, I’ve owned my fair share of iPods over the years, and Mac’s as it happens. But hey…

    Microsoft Innovations Recently :

    XBox 360 – First High Def Game Console
    Xbox Live – First Console integration with social interaction etc. Ok so the Dreamcast was probably first, but that was Microsoft powered anyhow.
    Push eMail – First to offer it to mobile devices, yes I know everyone (in the US) like their Crackburies, but it’s not like it was new. It’s just until recently Windows Mobile (CE) devices were considered ‘Techy’
    Terabyte DB – Microsoft were the first to show off a Live Terabyte Database to the world.
    ClearType – Not one that most people will even know is happening. But it improved the computing lives of those with eyesight difficulties no ends.
    Security – Yes Microsoft get a right kick in for security, but the Mac out of the box does not even have the firewall turned on. Microsoft are one of the largest spenders in the IT security arena, and then share those findings with other Security vendors. Take most of Vista’s security for example.
    PhotoSynth – If you want a product to look at, go look at that.
    Media Center – Come on iTV (or Apple TV) cant even do 1080i, let alone be a proper home media center, Microsoft have been doing it for years.
    And one not many people realise. That mouse you have under your hand, with the nice optical tracker on it, well the grandady of that was the InteliMouse, and that was a first.

    For a little look into exactly how much Microsoft do innovate.

    Plus, did you ever try to use iTunes on a PC back in the beginning? I did and it was not fun, to be fair it’s not fun now, but that’s because iTunes is just plain rubbish on anything but a Mac.

  • Jared, you are right. Apple needs to address those issues. Do not give up engaging these debates. The squeaky wheel gets the grease. Maybe another reader can even mention some alternatives that work on a Mac right now. I have no knowledge of such issues.

  • Let a Microsoft Exec answer your claim that the iPod was “JUST pretty.”

    The head of the Microsoft division in charge of Windows, Jim Allchin said in an email (dated 2003) that is now all over the Internet: “I think I should talk with Jobs. Right now, I think I should open up a dialogue for support of the iPod. Unless something changes, the iPod will drive people away from [Windows Media Player.”

    Another quote: “I have to tell you my experience with our software and this device is really terrible… I expect you already knew this but I had not personally experienced it. Now I spent last night really playing with it. My goodness it is terrible. What I don’t understand is that I was told that the new Creative Labs device would be comparable to Apple. That is so not the case.”

    There’s even more: “The physical device is not even in the same league as the iPod. I mean it is ugly.”

    Yes, the iPod gained market share because it “was pretty”, but more importantly it’s user interface was so friendly and easy to use. It was like ‘magic’ for PC users. Back in 2003 and even today under XP, syncing any device is a horribly unreliable and frustrating task.

    Do a little survey and ask how many normal people (not computer techs) how easy it is to use their cell phone. I have done it and 5 out 5 say it’s super frustrating. That is why the iPhone received such incredible publicity. People are tired of poorly designed products that are hard to use. The user experience on a Mac or iPod is unequaled. Remember when Jobs had a PC IT guy paired up against a kid to see you could unpack and set up their computer (PC versus Mac) and connect to the internet first. It wasn’t even close.

    You say that Microsoft has innovated way more than Apple in the last few years. I must have been living under a rock, I can’t see that. Can you list them as Mark said? (Take out all the TECH that they simply bought or ‘borrowed’…) How many times has Mac brought out a new operating system in the last 10 years compared to Microsoft? How many years did it take before Internet Explorer actually came out with tabbed browsing? And they wonder why people are turning to Firefox or buying a Mac to run Safari?

  • Mark Saleski

    yes, that is another debate. so let’s list microsoft’s ‘innovations’…

    we’re waiting…..

  • Microsoft have inovated more in the past few years than Apple have.

    But that’s another debate.

    I’ve only got a G3 and a Quadra, so nothing modern, but I used to work for the Mirror group newspapers and I’ll be honest, the PC is just easier to support, Easier to run and more reliable.

    I do however like Apple products (they hire English designers so cant be too bad). They do however have a habit of creating beutiful products that just do what others have already done.

    Let’s be honest, even the iconic iPod was nothing new when it got realeased, it was just pretty!

  • There was a time when I actively participated in these debates.

    But my view is warped. After all, Apple has never and probably will never give accessibility the time of day. So, like it or not, I’m left with Windows. Since it, uh, supports screen access technology.

    And don’t give me Voice Over. It’s little better than Narrator. And, of course, the iPhone will be unusable if you can’t see the screen. Just like every variant of the iPod save one.

    And that’s where Apple and I’s relationship falls apart. They think they have the capacity to make the ideal machine, device, etc. for everyone. They don’t. They never will. Until they open up and allow some level of meddling with products as important as technology, entertainment, or multimedia centers, they are doomed to second fiddle. Microsoft has, at least, learned this. No, they’ll never be the innovators. What they will do is either build on a foundation laid by someone else or create some sort of groundwork that others can enhance and refine. Either way, the end result is more practical.

    I guess I’ve participated again. Oh well.

  • Ashleigh, actually the comparison was just a numbers thing. They both have similar market shares. I was going to go with Lotus, but of course Mac Laptop sales now have more than 10% market share of the US market, so I went with the Porsche. Mustang? Are you serious, what Macs do you have?

  • I’d have a Honda S2000 over a Porche Boxster any day of the week.

    That said the 911 is faitaly flawed (like a lot of Apple Products). The only reason it works so well is it’s engineered by Germans.

    Even saying all that I own 2 Mac’s and enjoy them. I do however own 12 PC’s and let’s be honest, they are better overall machines, especialy now Vista’s hit the market. OSX is no longer the pretty OS.

    However it’s horses for courses, compairing a heartless German supercar to an American Marketed, Englished designed computer is a bit of a stretch. The Mac should be better compaired to the Mustang, Looks good, Sounds good, but underneath is a bit of a squidgy mess.