TAB – Apple and Microsoft: The Difference in OS Sales Models

In a previous article I discussed Apple’s approach to cloning and how far they should go in shutting down that business. This led to the question “why can’t I just buy Mac OS X and install it on any hardware I want?”, which led to a pretty typical answer that the boxed OS X is sold as an upgrade, not a new (or full) license. This answer is sometimes challenged, and brings up the idea of what an “upgrade” is in the Mac world as opposed to Microsoft.

This is not an Apple vs. Microsoft argument. It simply attempts to outline the difference in each one’s approach to OS sales, and why each uses the sales model it does. Rather than claim one is “right”, I believe each is right for the business model it supports. 

Read the rest of this article on theAppleBlog >>

TAB – Microsoft Windows 7 Sooner Rather Than Later.

When Bill Gates mentioned in January, rather arbitrarily, that Windows 7 may ship “next year”, a general consensus was that a more reasonable delivery would be 2010. With that in mind, many expected it would then “slip” to 2011, as Microsoft’s deadlines are known to do.

I was, and have been, always of the opinion that Microsoft needed it sooner. I wasn’t alonein this thinking among some of the Microsoft observers at the time, though we felt so for different reasons. 

Read the rest of this article on theAppleBlog >>

I Think I’ve Got This Microsoft ‘Windows vs. Walls’ Thing Figured Out.

Who would’ve thought Microsoft would use such symbolism? I guess when you cough up $300 million for an ad campaign you really get what you pay for.

Below is the image displayed alongside the Microsoft “manifesto” in their new print ads:

What does it mean? I was initially puzzled, but now I see it. The message from Microsoft is obvious:

  1. The dark, enclosed room represents Windows Vista. The user is trapped.
  2. The power saw represents the Microsoft technology that can be used to free the user from his trap.
  3. Utilizing Microsoft’s tools, the user “breaks out” of Vista, finally seeing the light. He has escaped!

And what does the user see beyond the confines of Vista that will save him? What is he longingly gazing at “outside” that will restore his freedom?

Well, it looks a lot like this…

Clearly, Microsoft is saying that a downgrade to XP is the best move a Vista user can make. No wonder the ads don’t mention Vista, it’s not the “Windows” Microsoft is talking about.

Microsoft Navajo (a.k.a. Vista): If you don’t install it, or configure it, or use peripherals, or care about performance, or aren’t bothered by dubious security warnings, and use it for just a few minutes in a controlled environment, then Vista is great!

Oh brother. Aside from the silly “flat earth” ad, Microsoft apparently has some simplistic ads in the pipeline about Vista.

Bottom line is that Microsoft took people who’d heard bad things about Vista, showed them a “new” OS called “Navajo” and they were impressed. Ta Da! Navajo is actually Vista!

This is similar to the old Folger’s ads where great coffee at an upscale restaurant was secretly swapped with Folger’s instant coffee crystals and nobody noticed! Or the more recent Pizza Hut ads were pasta dishes at a fine restaurant were actually supplied by the pizza chain. Does anybody really believe this stuff?

At any rate, the above ads relied primarily on the customer thinking they were getting something upscale due to their surroundings, but the Microsoft campaign simply ignores all of Vista’s issues! In other words, the very reasons for the bad press Microsoft is trying to dispel are completely ignored in the new campaign! From the article:

To be sure, the focus groups didn’t have to install Vista or hook it up to their existing home network.

Of course not. They didn’t have to use it long, either, or setup their peripherals, etc.

To put these ads in perspective, it’s clear they’re designed as if the typical bad Vista press goes like this:

The OS installed flawlessly with no interaction on my part, identifying my hardware on the first try. After the reboot all peripherals were identified and worked just as with XP. Installing my old apps was a breeze and they worked just as before. Performance was snappy (at least as good as XP) on my X-year old hardware. The system contains many productivity improvements that made my daily work faster and easier. More enjoyable, too. Security was much tighter, with the extra protection taking place in the background while I simply did my daily work. However, despite all the above I cannot recommend Vista because it’s kind of ugly and doesn’t really make me say “wow”. You should skip this and buy Mac OS X.

If the above was a typical Vista review, one could argue that this steaming pile of “Navajo” marketing made sense. Unfortunately, the typical Vista review pans it for the exact opposite of that imaginary review. Many people think it’s graphics, desktop, etc. are attractive. Big deal. Installation is bad, peripheral support is bad, it’s slow, it needs new hardware, the UAC security “warnings” are a joke, and at the end of the day there’s no six-year improvement on XP. The “Navajo” campaign will simply ignore that.

As one might expect, a campaign designed to ignore the actual reasons for Vista’s bad press and reputation meets with Paul “iShill” Thurrott’s complete approval. That alone ought to be enough to convince anyone what a sham it is.

Paul, of course, takes a shot at Apple’s “Get a Mac” ads and says they “lapse into outright lying”, yet this ruse out of Redmond is blessed and praised by the Window SuperSite.

Hey, Paul, if Apple did the same thing with MobileMe, showing a group of users who’ve heard bad things about it a controlled environment to disparage the bad press, while ignoring setup, mail, sync, and usability issues, would you approve or would you take Apple to task? Don’t worry, the question is rhetorical so there’s no need to spin a response. We both know your answer, and that differing view is the line between your Microsoft leg-humping and Apple bashing.

Meanwhile, I suspect this campaign will win over as many converts as the previously mentioned Folger’s and Pizza Hut ads did. I’m sure some people will be fooled, but it won’t be enough. Other people might be tempted to give Vista a try. Microsoft will not win most of those people over, however, because for them the truth behind Vista’s extra efforts for little gain over XP will simply be re-affirmed.

Thoughts on Business Switching Windows Desktops to Linux Instead of Mac OS.

There’s an article on Roughly Drafted about a pilot program at IBM “designed to study the possibility of moving significant numbers of employees to the Mac platform.”

The article is a worthwhile read, and includes comments from users in the program, and what IBM’s next steps will be.

What I’m writing about is not RD’s article, or even the program itself, but rather a comment made by a user in the program:

“If the remote connection and Sametime issues are worked out, I think that Mac users can be productive in IBM. However, if I had to recommend a non-Windows setup, I would recommend Linux on a ThinkPad. I see the convenience and reliability of ThinkPad hardware as superior, and the Mac OS is still a proprietary OS that seems to require a Windows license for some tasks anyway. I don’t see enough of an advantage in the Mac OS to be worth the incompatibility issues when collaborating with my colleagues.”

Why focus on this one comment? Because it’s the kind that initially looks like a reasonable, devil’s-advocate type of argument. However, upon parsing it makes less and less sense. Let’s take this thing one line at a time…

“If the remote connection and Sametime issues are worked out, I think that Mac users can be productive in IBM.”

An admission that maybe the biggest issue is that some Windows Enterprise apps do not run natively on the Mac. Presumably, if they did we’d be all set.

“However, if I had to recommend a non-Windows setup, I would recommend Linux on a ThinkPad.”

Oops. The honeymoon in the first sentence is over. Apparenly it isn’t about the Mac, it’s about going “non-Windows”. But that’s not the same thing, and may betray a bias of the commenter.

The real head-scratcher is that surely the Enterprise apps that don’t work natively on the Mac don’t work on Linux, either. The commenter says not running these apps is a problem for Macs, but doesn’t mention the same for Linux.

“I see the convenience and reliability of ThinkPad hardware as superior,”

This is just an opinion. I liked the ThinkPads I’ve had in the past, and believe their reputation is good and well-deserved. However, Macs are no less so, and also have a good and well-deserved reputation. It’s not made clear how the user sees “superior” convenience and reliability away from Mac hardware.

“and the Mac OS is still a proprietary OS that seems to require a Windows license for some tasks anyway.”

This one is my favorite. At first blush it may seem like a reasonable argument. Hey, if we’re leaving Windows let’s go with something “free”. And if we need to pay for Windows anyway, then why mess with another OS? But what it really does is take a big Mac advantage (i.e., the ability to run native Windows apps) and tries to make it a disadvantage.

First, switching from Windows (especially in large corporations) is not as much about money as many people think — or as it should be. The IT budget for such licenses is pretty much on auto-pilot. If the money paid to Microsoft for licenses was really an issue, these companies would have gone with alternatives (especially in servers) long ago.

Second, what will be used to run the Enterprise apps on Linux? There are several fully-supported options on the Mac. In half a sentence the commenter blows off the Mac’s advantage as some sort of hindrance.

Third, even if “free”, there are costs associated with supporting any OS. In fact, initial price for the license is generally the smallest incurred cost over the life of a PC. (Remember, we’re not talking about servers here — which are more secure and fewer in number — we’re talking about desktops.)

“I don’t see enough of an advantage in the Mac OS to be worth the incompatibility issues when collaborating with my colleagues.”

What incompatability issues? If you’re running under Windows then presumably there are none, and even if running native Mac equivalents these can be few (it depends, and no specifics are given).

This seems the usual chest-beating about everbody running the same exact thing. Yet companies frequently ignore this. It’s not uncommon after a new product upgrade is available that files sent from an upgraded user don’t open correctly for a non-upgraded user. If the sender was on a Mac, the receiver might blame the computer. But if he’s on a PC it’s all about hitting up your IT group so you can get the upgrade, too.

It’s not my position that this particular commenter was an Apple basher or Microsoft zealot. I’ll just assume a typical user, and he or she was simply expressing a view and likely not thinking it through. The reason for this post isn’t to blast the commenter, but rather the comment itself. It’s a “sound bite” argument someone can put forth that sounds intelligent while others nod their heads in agreement without any critical thinking applied.

Windows 7 Sometime in 2009…

Bill Gates says Windows 7 may be released “sometime in the next year”. 

Of course it will! I mean, at the very least, they’ll say it will. I wrote this before. Mind you, whether it’s actually delivered by the end of 2009 is highly debatable.

The fact is Vista stinks, and they have to wash the taste out of everyone’s mouth as soon as possible. Talking about Windows 7 is all they have, and 2009 sounds a whole lot better than 2010.