TAB – Microsoft Longs For the Golden Age of FUD

So I’ve been unwinding in Vegas the last week (yeah, I know, “unwinding” and “Vegas” do not belong in the same sentence). Now I’m back catching up on my news feeds only to see that Microsoft has attempted a return to the good ol’ days.

The Way They Were

Back in those good ol’ days, Microsoft pretty much ruled the tech press and resulting message. They pre-announced products to kill or freeze competition, and sold Bill Gates’ vision as the path to the future. We know now, of course, that the path Mr. Gates saw was one no one ever traveled. Truth is, Microsoft’s last real innovation was when they bundled a suite of apps all designed to work together and called it Office…

Read the rest of this article on theAppleBlog >

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Paul Thurrott Thinks Apple is Bad. Imagine That.

Paul Thurrott’s Supersite Blog apparently firmly believes at least two things:

  1. Apple is “bad”.
  2. Newsweek is a credible source for Apple commentary.

The former is nothing less than Paul has always thought, despite his claims of being unbiased, etc., even as he calls those who support Apple names every chance he gets. The latter, however, is especially telling, since of course Newsweek was little more than an Apple tool until now.

As Paul himself explains it:

Now that Apple fanatic Steven Levy is gone, apparently Newsweek can tell it like it is about Apple.

So if you support Apple, you’re a “fanatic” (there goes Paul’s name-calling again). If not, then you’re just telling it like it is. Gotcha, Paul. Thanks for the tip.

I’ve learned something about the way Paul works. Notice that this article is not on the Windows Supersite home page, but rather Paul’s blog. Paul thinks he’s safer (and less vulnerable to attack) when he puts his more egregious comments there instead of the Supersite proper. He’s wrong, of course, since they’re part of the same site, but Paula will take what he can get in terms of “shelter” from those calling him on his crap.

Paul’s record of ignoring (or rewriting) Microsoft’s history is quite clear, yet he imagines an Apple currently running as Microsoft used to. His post, and the Newsweek piece he linked to, provide nothing to support the theory that Apple is bad. Apple’s popular. The iPod and iTunes command their market. Big deal. This is already known and there is nothing wrong with commanding your market.

Microsoft’s sins were in abusing their position (you know, like threatening to displace competitors from markets), not in being popular. Google’s Eric Schmidt summed it up nicely just recently: “Microsoft has a history of favouring its own applications and I can give you 500,000 pages of court testimony, document web blogs and so forth and so on about that”.

Aside from popularity, the articles here have nothing to say about Apple being “bad”. Apparently, it’s supposed to just be understood.

For example, Paul says:

It’s about Apple. Apple becoming a much more dominant player. Apple exercising its market power and getting some push back from companies that don’t like being abused and customers who don’t like being treated like they don’t matter.

Paul and others do not like Apple becoming a big player. It threatens their livelihood. Otherwise there’s no clue given as to why it’s “bad”.

Regarding Apple “exercising its market power” to abuse companies, where are the examples? Adobe? Is it because their pathetic Flash player has been left to rot on the Mac so Apple doesn’t want it on their iPhone? Most other mobile phones don’t allow it either (no, Flash Lite is not the same). The record labels? You know, the ones who are all but colluding against iTunes by providing their music DRM-free everywhere else? Other music stores? Like Amazon and eMusic, whose music is 100% compatible with the iPod?

Apple is in fact still being treated like a second-class citizen by most of the major players, something Paul champions, since he’s quick to remind us of Apple’s 3.5% global market share. Just look at Google’s new Chrome browser, which won’t be available on the Mac for several months. Yet this is the company Paul says is abusing its power? Please.

As for abusing their customers, that’s even more laughable. Consumer Reports and every survey has shown Apple blows other tech companies out of the water in terms of customer satisfaction. Try another tack, Paul, you’re sinking.

Paul’s writings are full of flowery multi-part prose about Apple’s products and services filled with misinformation or half-truths. As just one recent example, in Paul’s four-part MobileMe “review” he claims you cannot export contacts in any significant way because you must do so one at a time. Nonsense. He points out that when you export as vCard the selected account is exported, but — either through ignorance or deliberate suppression — does not bother to mention that you can select them all and export one vCard with all the information.

I used the above method to export all my contacts and then import them into Windows Live contacts in about three minutes. And it only took that long because I milked it out and took a couple of breaks.

The above is just one example of what Paul obscures in his “reviews” of Apple products. But when others give positive reviews Paul just calls them names, as Steven Levy learned today, and as others have learned before him.

For an excellent rundown of other Microsoft faults Paul chooses to ignore, read this piece. [Though a single political paragraph taints the piece.]

Thurrott Fun With Headlines: Holiday iShill Edition.

Paul Thurrot’s occasional Fun With Headlines posts are usually pretty harmless. Sure, he uses them to get in one-sentence jabs at Apple now and then, but despite his claims to the contrary that’s his job, so no big deal.

Today, however, he must be unusually mad at Apple, so let’s see what his 4th of July Edition has to say:

Leopard is the buggiest OS Apple has put out since System 7.5
This line will be appearing in the next Switcher ad, I’m sure.

Paul, it’s not the Switcher campaign. That was years ago. It’s the Get a Mac campaign, and calling it by its wrong name doesn’t belittle it, though it does belittle your commenting on it.

Apple’s Snow Leopard. What’s The Point?
It appears to be a tacit admission that Leopard is horribly broken.

The only tacit admission by any company ever that their OS was horribly broken was when Microsoft dropped everything on Vista (then Longhorn) to code XP SP2 in the hopes of making it at least somewhat secure. They failed. It took them the better part of two years and, as they clearly acknowledged when Vista was finally released, XP SP2 was horribly broken. Yet it’s still preferred over Vista.

Thinking Like a Cocoa Programmer
Just think, “I’m going to sell 6 copies of this application!”

Paul is falling back on the classic Microsoft “argument” of just trying to overwhelm people with big numbers. But the numbers are falling, Paul, even as Apple’s rise, so it’s really not a good tack to take.

80% of companies using Macs
Unfortunately, they’re only using them 1.5 percent of the time

Foot in the door, Paul. Foot. In. The. Door.

An effective way to treat Web 2.0 vulnerabilities
Blame Microsoft?

Why the question mark? Aside from uneducated (read: Phished) users, the majority of attacks stem from vulnerabilities in IE (6 and 7) and IIS. The latter being a dirty little secret Microsoft (and their chief iShill) doesn’t talk much about.

Opera patches multiple bugs in flagship browser
Opera is fixing Firefox bugs now?

Paul, How can Firefox be considered a “flagship” browser when it lags behind IE in user base by a huge margin? Are you admitting it’s possible for much smaller numbers to be achieved by the better platform? If so, what about Apple and all your silly claims about market share? Oh, that’s right, Apple can never be better, regardless. Analysis, critical thinking, and their actual products need not apply.

What product category should Apple tackle next?
Maybe you should grab more than 1 percent of the cell phone market and 4 percent of the PC market before getting too excited about the next big thing. Just a thought.

Coming right after the Firefox comment above this is laughable. Not long ago Paul had this to say:

Now, in increasing numbers, people are turning to Macs–especially mobile Macs–at home, and especially so in the US, and especially in higher education. The iPhone is the hottest smart phone of the past 12 months, and the new iPhone 3G should make even more of an impact.

But now, apparently, Microsoft has reminded him of his directive, and it’s back to ignoring the US, just using global share, and claiming it isn’t worth spit. Oh, and the iPhone went from being the “hottest smartphone the last 12 months” (and it’s only been available for 12 months) to just having a mere 1 percent of the “cell phone market” (i.e., he no longer acknowledges a smartphone market).

This Microsoft “big numbers” argument cracks me up every time. As if Microsoft wouldn’t trade every Windows Mobile device right now for the iPhone.

Why I Still Use Windows Despite the Peer Pressure
You’re not a trend-following lemming who can think for yourself?

I thought the “big numbers” argument was the worst Microsoft (and Paul) could do. But never underestimate the power of desperation. So, if I understand this correctly, the OS Paul slams for having only 4 percent market share and being horribly broken is the one he’s claiming has the peer pressure and lemming support?

Did you really just say that, Paul? You wrote it with a straight face? Seriously?

Paul’s made some ridiculous comments, but this has gotta be in the top five.

Wouldn’t an intelligent non-shill realize that all the momentum and peer pressure, by far, is still on Windows’ side? It’s not even close. Windows is still unquestionably the 800 pound gorilla in the room.

Remember, Paul, you yourself referred to Windows users as those who should “care about the systems you support now, your jobs, and your very livelihood” (emphasis mine). I’d call that pretty major peer pressure, and your implication otherwise is nonsensical.

It has always been Apple users who have fought peer pressure (and IT pressure), analyzed something “different”, and thought for themselves. Period. In fact, most Apple users know Windows, and have used it. The same is not even remotely true of Windows lemmings.

I can see why you posted this on a holiday, Paul. The fewer people who read it, the less foolish you look. I can’t wait to see what Microsoft makes you post on Labor Day.

Windows SuperSite: Microsoft Debates, Apple Lies.

A pair of articles on the SuperSite clarify just what a Microsoft bias this site carries, as well as highlighting its love of Apple-bashing.

Microsoft Debates.

First, there’s the small matter of emails from Microsoft uncovered in the trial regarding the Vista Capable certification program. These make for fascinating (though occasionally boring) reading, and make it clear that the more technically and customer-inclined at MS felt this was likely a disaster in the making (and just flat wrong), but the powers that be went ahead anyway.

Numerous outlets have reported on this — and will continue to do so despite the SuperSite — but Paul Thurott blows it all off like it’s nothing:

No offense, guys. But “yawn.”

C’mon, Paul! That’s all you’ve got to say? Wow. I’m glad the court takes it a little more seriously than you do. Not every email is damning, of course, and there’s definitely some back and forth, but surely there’s more to it than just “debate”.

As for the emails, it’s hard to pick a favorite, but below is one of mine. When a concern was expressed that even the Intel 865 chip set would qualify as Vista Capable, and would there be any help in not allowing this to happen, this reply was received (quoted in full):

“Based on the objective criteria that exist today for capable even a piece of junk will qualify. 🙂 So based on that yes 865 will qualify.

For the sake of Vista customers, it will be a complete tragedy if we allow it. I don’t know how to help you prevent it.”

Turns out it didn’t require 865 certification after all; 915 certification was more than enough.

There are a lot of emails to go through, but it’s worth a read to see just how all the dissent from people concerned about the customer or Independent Hardware Vendors was brushed aside as they pushed through a choice anyone with a little rational thinking could see would be a mistake.

No, ultimately this was not “debate”. Had they honestly debated the issue they wouldn’t be being dragged into a class action suit now for doing something so obviously stupid and short-sighted. Perhaps it passes for “debate” at Paul’s table, but reasonable people would have to disagree.

Heck, even Joe Wilcox from Microsoft Watch is taking a proper stance on these emails, but Paul “see no evil” Thurrott spins it as simply nothing to see here, move along. Debate, indeed.

Apple Lies.

Meanwhile, the hard-hitting Apple reporting that Paul is so famous for is brought to bear. It’s been reported movies for rental (100 in HD) by the end of February that Apple promised is well short of that goal.

There are barely over 350 (91 in HD).

Had there been, say, 850 or more I might not be that critical. However, I’ll be the first to admit that 350+ is way off the mark, and likely even an indicator that something’s wrong. This is especially true since those 350 have been there for weeks. It’s almost as if they got that many up, and then stopped. Was there a tech issue? A licensing issue? One has to wonder.

Paul, of course, thinks it’s just Apple lying. After all, they had plenty to gain by offering a new feature and then falling so far short of a stated number in such a small timeframe… er, wait a minute, no they didn’t.

What had Apple to gain by “lying” about the number of movies they’d provide? If they knew they only had 350, did they believe more people would rent from that pool if they thought more were coming? Of course not. It’s not like suckering someone into recurring revenue.

Personally, I think something went wrong, and if Apple doesn’t see it getting fixed soon they had better say something. But I don’t see any reason why Apple would have lied about this at the outset. There was simply nothing to be gained by lying about this particular figure when it was so easily verified in such a short amount of time.

Windows SuperSite Blog Tries to Explain Mac Fanatics.

[UPDATE:] The original headline was “John Dvorak Writing For Windows SuperSite?”. Reader Scott took me to task for using a headline and premise that substitutes John’s work for Paul’s. His comment struck me, and I realized he was right. My critique of Paul’s post is still 100% valid, but the over-the-top headline and two-sentence opening have been struck. Also, my apologies to both John Dvorak and Paul Thurrott for the mis-characterization.

There’s a new article post on Paul’s SuperSite Blog for Windows attempting to explain Mac fanatics. Since it’s the usual Dvorak drivel I won’t link to it.

Problem is, I don’t see John’s name anywhere on it. Yet it fits his M.O. to a tee, so maybe he’s ghostwriting for Paul Thurrott?

I’m a little surprised Paul took this direction, people don’t pay as much attention to John’s stuff these days. Also, for an article ostensibly about Mac fanatics it spends quite a bit of time telling us how impartial, fair, etc. Paul is. Wonder why he thought that needed explaining?

I tend to call Paul out on his Microsoft biases. Like his claim that Apple releasing a major maintenance patch for Leopard in only three months is somehow “bad”; as opposed to MS taking over a year for an SP1 that still isn’t ready and, as I pointed out, already has problems and will slow down the very system it purports to improve.

Paul’s differing views of these two companies’ major maintenance releases is a great example to seriously question his claim that he’s objective about Apple and Microsoft products.

But why waste time with a Dvorak-style hit piece? Whatsa matter, subscriptions down? Maybe those who read SfW in 2006 and got suckered by Paul’s original Vista review finally had enough.

As for the article itself, it’s a pretty weak (and old) tack to fall back on Artie MacStrawman, but maybe that’s all the ammunition Paul has.

It actually gets worse after the article. Paul states in the comments that Windows fanatics are a myth, almost non-existent, and he’s not sure he ever met one. Oh please. He owes me a new keyboard and monitor from the beverage I spewed upon reading that claim. Why would Windows fanatics reveal themselves to you, Paul? You speak their language! If MacDailyNews claimed there were no Apple fanatics, or they had never met one, would you take that as gospel? It was a dumb comment.

But then again the entire article is silly, and incredible stinky bait. On the plus side, it might be a good example of the maxim “None proclaim their innocence so loudly as the guilty”.

There’s biased opinion — of which Paul has plenty — and there’s trolling. Paul’s latest is an example of the latter, and all the proof one needs to conclude not only that Microsoft has “fanatics” as bad as any Paul decries for Apple, but that some of them have large blogs with wide readerships.

[UPDATE:] Though the piece in question is on the SuperSite for Windows, Paul pointed out that it wasn’t an “article”, but rather a “blog post”. This seemed to matter a lot to Paul, so I made a correction in the opening paragraph. Paul also linked to the post in the comments below.

Apple 2.0: Outside Reality, As Usual.

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Philip Elmer-DeWitt rarely writes anything that makes much sense. He jabs at Apple, but his best shots are the kind Mohammed Ali would be throwing today.

Most of the time I just ignore the guy, shaking my head. Still, every now and then he exceeds a threshold and I feel like I should point it out.

Recently Philip decided that he didn’t like what Apple’s charging for storage. After showing prices for the iPod touch, he brilliantly asks this:

On second glance, however, there seems to be something wrong here. Why does a $100 bump in price buy you 8 GB of memory in the the first instance, but an extra 16 GB in the second?

Then, intrepid reporter that he is, he looks at iPhone prices, determines that Apple’s charging $100 for 8GB just like the touch, and asks another deep, probing question:

Why does Apple charge $12.50 per gigabyte in all models except the 32 GB iPod touch, where it’s $6.25 per gig?

He’s got Apple reeling now. Will they ever be able to wriggle out of his clutches? Ha! Before they can even try, he moves in for the kill:

Why does Apple charge $999 for the 64 GB solid-state drive in the MacBook Air? If you do the math, that’s $15.60 per gig of NAND Flash memory, more than double what Apple charges for the same stuff in the new iPod touch.

Philip’s hard-hitting expose is complete, and all the tech world trembles at what he might reveal next.

Well, except for one thing…

I think Philip Elmer-DeWitt is insane.

Here are some questions for you, Philip:

  • Why has every hard drive since the beginning of time provided more storage/$ as you go higher in capacity? I mean, if you “do the math” you’ll see more GB per dollar in a larger drive than a smaller one of the same make/model/manufacturer.
  • Why have I not seen the 64GB SSD drive available as a laptop option for less than $850 (and as high as $1,300)? Everyone is selling them for “more than double” the price of NAND Flash memory. That’s because it’s a new type of device, not just a big 64GB stick. You should really let that market mature a bit before criticizing the prices.
  • Why has Apple’s iPod line always provided more storage/$ in similar models as you move up the line? Yep, just like with hard drives.
  • Why has everyone else’s portable devices done the same?
  • Why does a 2GB RAM stick not always cost exactly twice that of a 1GB, and why does a 4GB not always cost twice that of a 2GB? (Don’t even get me started on 8GB sticks.)
  • Why does a 512MB SD (or any other storage card) not cost half that of a 1GB card?

Clearly, I could go on. The point is that Philip has not brought anything new to light. Had he bothered to “do the math” on just about any memory/storage prices he would have seen this.

OK, maybe Philip isn’t insane, but then he’s certainly ignorant of storage prices — no matter the medium, size, or reseller. I know he’s just trying to cast Apple Steve Jobs in a bad light, but it can’t be done from what he published.

ZDNet Gets Blackfriars’ Marketing Memo: No Apple Loss Leaders.

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Carl Howe at the Blackfriars’ Marketing wrote a great piece on Wednesday refuting all the garbage about Apple having to slash prices and sell loss-leader products. It’s fitting the headline began “News flash to reporters and analysts”, because a few of them appear to have read it.

The very next day we got a re-cycled version from ZDNet’s Adrian Kingsley-Hughes. Let’s see:

  • Use the same headline as Carl (well, skipping the “news flash” part).
  • Link to the same two articles as Carl.
  • Draw similar conclusions to Carl.
  • Don’t mention Carl.

True, where Carl says this about Apple selling at a loss:

…it would undermine the marketing value of their products that they have labored for decades to build up.

Adrian says this:

…rather than looking for new features, customers get hooked into looking at little more than the bottom line.

But come on. That Carl’s article was the real motivation for Kingsley-Hughes’ piece is obvious. Adrian doesn’t get into the depth Carl does, but that’s only because he’s out of his.

I’m glad you got Carl’s memo, Adrian, but the proper thing to have done was:

  1. Link to it,
  2. Say you agree,
  3. Contribute anything worthwhile you have to say (which, let’s face it, would have ended at step 2),
  4. Add your little online poll.

As it is, you tried to give the impression you can make an analysis your past writings have shown you wholly incapable of. Pretty weak stuff.

The Microsoft Security Redefinition Campaign Rolls Onward.

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Just as they did at the 90, 180, and 270-day mark, Microsoft has cherry-picked and juggled statistics to arrive at the conclusion that Vista is more secure than XP, Red Hat, Ubuntu, and Mac OS X. Oh please.

That’s right, UNIX’s legendary reputation for security is all a sham — despite years of empirical evidence to the contrary. Vista is in fact the one, the true, perhaps even the only, truly secure OS. How could we have been so blind? Repent! Convert to Vista now.

In order to pull off this stunning revelation each quarter, Microsoft has to modify what might be considered reasonable measures of security. For example, attacks in the wild don’t play into it at all.

Luckily, some are calling Microsoft on their BS, but this thing will still get far more positive press (basically, just a repeat of Microsoft’s conclusions) than it deserves.

This is just reinforcement (for those who had forgotten) that Microsoft is still the 800-pound gorilla that can throw their weight around wherever they damn well please.

With all of Apple’s latest successes, there have been a few really stupid articles and discussion about how Apple is somehow the new Microsoft, has a monopoly, etc. That’s utter crap. Apple (and Linux) supporters would be well served to remember that they’re still only around 3% of the world’s computing platform. Microsoft still rules over 95%, still gets their press printed with little (or no) critical analysis, and still has the ear of most tech pundits and columnists.

I wrote about the Microsoft Security Redefinition campaign (MSRC) at the 180-day mark; that entire article is every bit as valid today. It appears MS will play this game every quarter, and continue to do so until enough people call them on this nonsense.