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Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Mac: Apple's Onetime Opportunity: Vista

If you've been covering my Apple vs. Microsoft articles, here's the reprieve. My personal belief is that Microsoft is making a huge mistake by trying to make a big technological break from XP. Firstly, the history of unix tells us that if the primitives are right, an OS foundation is as good for as long as you want it to be. Secondly, geeks and nerds always overestimate how important geeky new technology is to the average person, and business. There are a whole generation of new computer users who would be completely happy with a turnkey computer that had a state of the art web browser (for access to all their communication apps), instant messaging and Photoshop. They could give a damn about whether it's the Dock or the Windows taskbar. But I'm sure they would appreciate it if it fits in their pockets. Because of this, I believe the Winning strategy for Microsoft/Windows is a 20 year plan of incremental improvements in stability and performance. A hybrid 32/64 bit OS will be fine. Windows 3.1 proved that. So did DOS extenders. Computer users care little, or nothing about how many bits are used to achieve functionality. It's amazing how nerds can look on while "next-gen" Itanium tanks and not see the writing on the wall.

Computer operating systems are not gizmos like iPods or cellphones. It's a huge mistake to take this approach to building and marketing them. Operating systems are more like the power grid, railroad or freeway systems. Once you get the basic design right, you could spend a century just making extremely small improvements that accrue, over time, toward increased profitability and customer satisfaction. For instance, as far as Leopard goes, I could do without the gratituous OpenGL "time travel" backup and have a laundry list of items from Jaguar, Panther and Tiger that I would rather have, exactly the same, but work twice as good (like amazon.com). Take spotlight for instance. The longer you own your machine, the worse Spotlight becomes. Eventually it gets to the point where it would be faster to upload your harddrive to the internet, let google index it, and then use Google to find things on your local drive. This one aspect of OSX, without ANY new features, could be systematically improved for 30 years. If the nerds at Apple and Microsoft were allowed to design automobiles, every year we would have a new "steering wheel replacement". Advanced technology! Makes the old steering wheel obsolete! Steer faster than ever before! Steer by thinking about it! Steer by talking to your car! Steer by the smell of your armpits! Ad infinitum.

Personally, I will know that one of Apple and Microsoft have actually deployed an "advanced" operating system when the "crash log reporter" programs can be left at home in the labs. It's unfortunate that the adverts from Apple are promoting the "crash-free" nature of OSX, because clearly, as ~/Library/Logs/CrashReporter will tell you, Apple is not really any better in this department than Microsoft.

Anyway, this NYtimes headline quote simply cracks me up. It might as well read: "Is unix near the end of it's run? It's been almost 40 years now, it's time to retire C and unix (taking down the entire world's computing infrastructure in the process), and we think it's a little tired."

Is Windows near the End of it's Run?
Q. What was the lesson learned in Windows Vista? After all, it wasn’t supposed to ship more than five years after Windows XP.

A. No. No, it wasn’t. We tried to re-engineer every piece of Windows in one big bang. That was the original post-Windows XP design philosophy. And it wasn’t misshapen. It wasn’t executed, but it wasn’t misshapen. We said, let’s try to give them a new file system and a new presentation system and a new user interface all at the same time. It’s not like we had them and were just trying to integrate them. We were trying to develop and integrate at the same time. And that was beyond the state of the art.

Tags: apple | cocoa | carbon
By : NeXT!0x0000DEAD Apple's Onetime Opportunity: Vista



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