Could we stop laughing at Microsoft?

by Francois Joseph de Kermadec

Since January of this long, very long year, Microsoft has been the target of all laughs and criticism. Vista is late, the Zune is a disaster, the company does not innovate... The list of all they do not do, in the eyes of the public, seems to grow daily. Yet, we seem to have forgotten to ask ourselves what we, in the Mac world, have done.


2006-12-18 13:35:17
The company is a bully, and no one likes a bully.
2006-12-18 13:35:53
I think many critics also miss what Microsoft have achieved in the last 5 years - from multiple versions of .NET to Visual Studio and SQL Server to the XBox 360 to their PDA and mobile editions, they've had a lot of successes outside the desktop OS business.
2006-12-18 13:52:44
Glad to see I am not the only person who thinks Apple has been stagnating for a while now. Mind you, Ilove Apple hardware and the MacOS, and I still thinkthe iPod is nicer then the Zune (I've tried both) but frankly, Apple hasn't had a "wow" announcement for well over a year. Pretty much everything theyhave done in the past 18 months has been small, incremental improvements. Even Leopard looks to be more of "Tiger 1.1" then anything really new and exciting.

Nothing wrong with this. It is a sign of maturity and stability. And in a way, very Microsoftian.

Simon Hibbs
2006-12-18 14:04:05
I think it's just the delayed effect of the shift to the intel platform. That must have taken a huge bite out of the schedules of the hardware and software divisions, and it's reasonable to expect to have to wait a year after that before the next projects they work on bear fruit.

On the applications side Pages and Keynote are looking really good. i haven't taken the plunge yet, but I'm tempted. Aperture is also a very interesting app and is coming along nicely after some early bad publicity. As for the iPod, why mess with a successful (the most successful) formula?

I disagree with Mike about Leopard. I'm really looking forward to Time Machine - backup is a dull subject maybe, but when you need it and don't have it, boy does life suck. There are plenty of interesting things in there I think it's going to be a great update.

2006-12-18 14:07:38
Ok... Once people admit Mac's are better and Microsoft Admit they want to be Apple we will be alright.

(This Post is going to get me slagged off so many times! lol)

2006-12-18 14:09:10
Even Leopard looks to be more of "Tiger 1.1" then anything really new and exciting.

Really? Time Machine is about the coolest thing I've seen in an OS ever. I'm really excited about the prospect of ZFS (with ZFS snapshotting and cloning), and being able to use DTrace to see what applications are eating my bandwidth.

2006-12-18 14:24:18
Are our expectations of Apple so high that anything short of revolutionizing our technological lives every quarter begets dissapointment? I would rather Apple make the measured evolutions that has kept it well ahead of the game. I will wait for OS XI for revolution. I think it would be darn-near impossible for any company to live up to the news/rumor/hype that Apple garners--but they do nearly.
2006-12-18 14:25:38
I really do feel that Apple have become a little stagnant. Lots of the usual rumours, but no glitz/glamour from Apple for a while now. I'm looking forward to Leopard, but I want something new and shiny :)
John C. Randolph
2006-12-18 14:26:08
If Tiger bores you, then ante up for the ADC select membership, and start living on Leopard.


2006-12-18 14:28:16
"If you do things right, people won't be sure you've done anything at all. "

Apple has migrated all it's (great) computers to Intel, added videos to iTMS/iPod, released 10.4.x, dropped the price of video production....while making it look easy...

2006-12-18 14:29:26
Right on. There is nothing that great about apple products IMO. There are some things that apple products do well and somethings that they do not do well. The market decides how well apple products work for a given population segment.

If you accept that the market decides, we can clearly see that ipods are really the only thing that apple does well at a price point that people can accept.

2006-12-18 14:39:02
You're kidding, right? Apple manages the transition to a completely different chip architecture without a hitch and you're bored?
2006-12-18 14:56:39
Well, yeah, but Microsoft has stiffed other companies in the field by using dirty tricks like vaporware announcements. The point here is that they have made so much money by promising so much and delivering so little. And, more importantly, those fake promises have been at the expense of others. They also have a DOJ ticking off to their credit - if "credit" is the right word. And it's currently alleged that they leveraged their relationship with the OEMs to put Be out of business. Now there was innovation - and Microsoft's role, it seems, may have been to stamp on that innovation.

Sorry, I'm not going to cry foul because Microsoft are being laughed at and twitted. It is richly deserved.

Besides, I'd not say that Apple news isn't continuing to intrigue us - isn't the new revelation about ZFS enough for you?

2006-12-18 15:34:37

It is true some of Microsoft's business tactics leave a lot to be desired... Then, of course, a company is a company and I am sure Apple's record is, overall, no better and no worse.


2006-12-18 15:35:19

That is very true. Not being a Gamer or a .Net person myself I tend to overlook these improvements but they do, in the grand scheme of things, exist.


2006-12-18 15:36:38

I do like Apple a great deal too. My complaint focuses on their over-hyping "innovations" as a marketing scheme more than anything else. I do agree about Leopard, even though I may be tempted to call it 1.5 because of the very real backend improvements it should bring.


2006-12-18 15:41:53

No doubt the switch to Intel took a lot of their time and I have no problem with Apple going through a year of consolidating assets and preparing for the future, even if it means not releasing as many "breakthrough" as one could expect. I just wish they had not chosen this very year to push "innovations" that do not exist instead of focusing on the strengthening of their position that is, at the moment, very much taking place. A great marketing message could be built around that too.

Keynote is an outstanding application, without doubt. To me, Pages is summed up by a "Saving..." progress bar when hitting Apple-S after typing three lines of text: I want to love it but it does not love me back. Aperture is definitely very impressive though I have only limited first hand experience with it and, hence, cannot really talk about it.

As far as the iPod goes, it definitely is the winning formula and there is no need to mess with it. But there certainly is no need to call every Flash player with an apple on it a revolution in digital music. A great improvement, yes, a revolution, by no means.

Time machine looks both promising and scary. Promising in thought, scary in implementation, at least from what I gather about it. Having automatic backups of my data happening in real time scares me from a security and recovery point of view. Then, I may be pointlessly paranoid, only time will tell!


2006-12-18 15:42:15

Hehe ;-)


2006-12-18 15:43:06

ZFS in Leopard would be very nice. Let's see however, where it goes... Until Leopard is released, at least.


2006-12-18 15:44:17

I agree, there is no need to revolutionize the world every couple months and the industry is playing a very dangerous game by trying to make mere updates pass as revolutions. There comes a time people are too burnt out to see the real breakthrough when it arrives - though maybe that is the real point of it all?


2006-12-18 15:45:27

Thanks for sharing! Shiny I am sure it will be and I am sure Apple engineers want it to be as stable and powerful as possible: these people really do an outstanding job. Let's just hope marketing constraints will leave the OS enough time to reach the point of stability and robustness!


2006-12-18 15:46:56

It is the marketing that bores me more than the technology. Even the Leopard world is boring to death if one focuses on Time Machine, Desktop switching and RSS. Of course, there is a lot more to it but how come it is slipped under the carpet quickly at the bottom of pages?


2006-12-18 15:49:09

Amazing accomplishments of course, and ample material to talk about. Apple has done plenty of things this year and I am certainly not denying it!


2006-12-18 15:51:44

I would have to, respectfully, disagree. Apple products are plenty great, at least most of them. It's the dichotomy between the products and the marketing that bothers me most. Our office is still stocked with Apple hardware and should remain so for a long time to come as we have not been able to find better elsewhere.


2006-12-18 15:53:22

I am afraid we misunderstood each other. What Apple accomplished this year surely is great and required lots of effort. None of it however, was a revolution. 2006 has been a key year for Apple and required lots of sweat from very dedicated engineers. It was however focused on backend work and preparing the future, maybe possibly some actual revolution to come. On the grand scale of computing however, I fail to see how Apple transitioning to Intel chips changed anything - it itself, that is.


2006-12-18 15:58:36

ZFS is really intriguing but I feel Sun deserves most of the credit here. If Apple successfully implements ZFS into Mac OS X, then I will be the first to cheer and applaud them, as I have done in the past for many things. I'm sure they have plenty in store for us for the months to come.

Also, I am not saying Microsoft is good and Apple is bad. Just that maybe, just maybe, we should not forget to forgive once in a while.


2006-12-18 19:39:19
Anyone who thinks Apple is stagnating is living in a crackhouse. What you're experiencing is just accelerated expectations -- you get news faster than you used to, via blogs, IRC, and IM instead of magazines. Things always took this long to gestate. Mac OS X didn't arrive immediately upon Steve's reverse takeover of Apple. The iPod took years to gather steam. Really. Relax.

Look, every year from 1980 until circa 2000, it was an article of faith in the business press that Apple would be out of business within the following year. I think we can afford to be a little triumphant. We're collectively progressive Democrats; we won the election; let's celebrate.
Signing off, as somebody who has used every version of OS X from the original Developer Preview forward, (and the 1G iPod) -- and who remembers that at the time of 10.0.3, very few people had a CD-R drive built into their Mac.

2006-12-18 19:52:46
"Microsoft has spent the past year taking first steps." - Wow, I almost took you seriously until I read that.
2006-12-18 20:35:33
You remind me of a comment Dvorak made in his column many years ago about Mac users. Apple delivers a taking dog and all you can do is complain about his enunciation.
2006-12-18 22:10:46
I think that the Nike+ Sport Kit qualifies as innovative.
2006-12-18 22:12:35

I do not think Apple is stagnating, on the contrary. I do believe however that 2006 was not a year for revolutions at all and it was wise of them to understand that. Why then, claim the contrary instead of making the current position clear? Out of fear it would be misunderstood? Out of a lack of communication between marketing and engineering?


2006-12-18 22:13:33
Maybe Apple was to busy converting the Macs over to Intel in 2006. Now that the conversion is over, we can wait for MacWorld to see what they will have for 2007.
2006-12-18 22:14:09

Irony, I see... Well, I am no Microsoft fan, own as few of their products as I possibly can and would not touch Windows XP with a 10 feet pole (well, almost) but still, one would have a tough time arguing Microsoft did not try a lot of things this year.


2006-12-18 22:15:37

Well, if a company puts a talking dog on the market, one would expect it to function properly, would not one? My problem is not with what Apple delivers but what Apple claims these days. Their deliveries are very fine and dandy, actually.


2006-12-18 22:16:52

Ah... Yes, one I forgot. Not something I use so it slipped my mind - and something I am not overly fond of - but it definitely was met with great enthusiasm from users. Thanks for reminding me!


2006-12-18 22:17:13

That is the general feeling indeed. And the conversion certainly was no little feat!


2006-12-18 23:48:50
so when does M$ need apologists? we don't laugh at M$ because they haven't ever done anything good, but rather because their failures are so monumental. we love to laugh at the bully who gets beaten up...we love to laugh at the rich guy who still envies what the normal guy has...and i don't know what these "first steps" are...first steps toward what? toward being more like Apple? well, you're wrong about that, because it's something like the fifth or sixth step by my count.
2006-12-19 00:12:46
I think 2006 was Apple's year to hold back and see Vista emerge. Innovating too much in 2006 would give away too much to Microsoft.
2006-12-19 01:15:46
"ZFS is really intriguing but I feel Sun deserves most of the credit here. If Apple successfully implements ZFS into Mac OS X, then I will be the first to cheer and applaud them, as I have done in the past for many things. I'm sure they have plenty in store for us for the months to come.

"Also, I am not saying Microsoft is good and Apple is bad. Just that maybe, just maybe, we should not forget to forgive once in a while."

Well, Francois, I don't know why you printed your response to me but not my comment.

But I never said that Apple deserved the credit for Sun's innovation. All I said was that it was intriguing and exciting to find Apple apparently using it.

Furthermore, note that if this had been Microsoft, going on past form, they would have announced they had something better when they didn't - to stop people jumping ship and using someone's else's product when it actually existed. Alternatively, they might have made a bad copy, which would, furthermore, be under their control and whose details would probably not be open and available.

As for "forgiving", it's not up to me to grant forgiveness to someone for a wrong they have committed against *someone else*. I'm not God.

2006-12-19 01:21:01

Apologies extended for any confusion. My reply to you is higher up in this thread. The reply to "Mike" I posted and that you quoted is a reply to a comment that had apparently been held back by the SPAM filters. Somehow the comment did not get published after approval, hence my words coming out of nowhere. It should now be fixed!


2006-12-19 01:26:01

Let's agree to disagree, then... While Microsoft is by no means perfect, I believe they have made a few steps in the right direction this year - along with a lot of steps in the wrong direction, but that is another story and they do not necessarily cancel each other out.

It is true Microsoft's blunders are monumental but then, anything they do it: they are so large and so powerful it is difficult for them to go unnoticed. I do hope Microsoft will never be like Apple, both for Apple and for Microsoft!


2006-12-19 01:26:32

There is a lot of truth in what you say!


2006-12-19 03:09:39
In reply to some of these comments, let me know when Apple innovates. UNIX has been around for years, I've had a hardware MP3 player before the iPod was released. As for Microsoft being a bully, I don't recall MS having a Chinese sweatshop that caused a couple reporters to lose their job. On top of that there's the Jobs & the stocks, Apple suing companies about trademark issues, Apple & Creative Labs lawsuit, etc. I could go on but seriously, what is MS guilty of that Apple hasn't done as well? I love my Windows, Mac and Linux computers but the hypocrisy among platform and software loyalists is on par with how our politicians act.
2006-12-19 05:02:38
am afraid we misunderstood each other. What Apple accomplished this year surely is great and required lots of effort. None of it however, was a revolution

We didn't misunderstand each other. Let me suggest that you have an odd definition of "revolution," indeed.

2006-12-19 05:11:39
An operating system is supposed to be boring. If it's interesting, it's not doing its job. Windows is exciting, that's why it sucks so much.
David H Dennis
2006-12-19 06:27:51
Total writes: "You're kidding, right? Apple manages the transition to a completely different chip architecture without a hitch and you're bored?"

I think this is the problem. They did the transition so smoothly and with so little drama that we barely give them credit for it happening.

Really, Parallels almost gets more credit for this than Apple, because they delivered the primary benefit we want, the ability to run Mac and Windows applications together on the same computer.


2006-12-19 06:58:13

While UNIX has been around for years, I would be inclined to say Apple did push the envelope pretty far in terms of usability, flexibility and interface, something other distributions seem to have more trouble doing - though the gap is narrowing.


2006-12-19 07:04:48

Maybe we do indeed have different definitions of what constitutes a revolution... In any case, thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts!


2006-12-19 07:06:12

There is some truth in what you say, definitely...


2006-12-19 07:07:34

I do give a lot of credit to Apple for managing the transition smoothly. Technically, it is a considerable achievement, no doubt about it!