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Microsoft Businesses Apple

Why Microsoft Should Fear Apple 576

jcatcw writes "Computerworld's Scot Finnie says that Microsoft should be afraid because Apple has gotten smarter about how it competes. He says that it's the Parallels Desktop software that has been truly transformational for the Mac. Finnie did a simple three-month trial of the Mac last in the fall and realized four months later that he wasn't going back. Since then he's received hundreds of messages from readers who've also made the switch. 'In the end, this is about perception. It isn't about Apple's market share or even its quarterly sales numbers. (Apple's notebook computer sales for the fourth quarter were 4.1% of all portable computer sales, according to DisplaySearch.) What this is about is that Apple is reaching the right people with its product, winning new converts, Windows user by Windows user -- and creating buzz. How do you measure buzz? You don't. It's something that experienced people in this industry can just feel. And that's the condition Microsoft should fear. Because buzz can turn into something much harder to combat than sheer numbers.'"
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Why Microsoft Should Fear Apple

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  • by mdboyd ( 969169 ) on Friday March 30, 2007 @11:48AM (#18544131) Homepage Journal
    Microsoft shouldn't be too worried until Apple begins to sell OS X for installation on hardware besides theirs. When OS X can be put on all kinds of hardware, I will gladly purchase it and I'm sure many others will as well.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by faloi ( 738831 )
      Microsoft shouldn't be too worried until Apple begins to sell OS X for installation on hardware besides theirs. When OS X can be put on all kinds of hardware, I will gladly purchase it and I'm sure many others will as well.

      Sell their OS for standard hardware, even if they won't give the same warranty protection as if it were on their hardware AND court more game publishers to convince them to release more games for OSX, and I'd buy it.
      • by Gr8Apes ( 679165 ) on Friday March 30, 2007 @12:43PM (#18545065)
        Both you and the GP have it wrong. Neither of those matter. How many of the machines out there play games vs how many are used just to browse the web, word process, and play with those nifty digital pictures all those cameras pump out?

        But let's put aside the consumer market for the moment. There's something much more important afoot. Remember Ballmer's little prancing mantra? "Developers. Developers! DEVELOPERS!!!"? Guess what? There's a ton of Java developers out there. Their code does not run on MS OSes in general in production. Their tools are generally OS agnostic as well. In fact, in general, their tools run better on non-MS OSes. (Something about case-sensitive file systems)

        Enter a nice, lightweight, reliable laptop (MBP) which about half the Java programmers I know have moved to over the last 6 months. Everyone that has loves them. There's the additional advantage that it's a *nix subsystem, which happens to mesh nicely with our targeted deploy environments. Add to that the hugely user friendly user features, and a bunch of us have come to realize that with Macs we get work done, we're not working on our systems. We don't have to do maintenance, configure them just so, or wait for them them to boot forever when they've failed to recover from a sleep/hibernate situation.

        Now let's tie this back to Ballmer's rant, even though I'm discussing Java developers here. The developers I'm talking about are your top end developers, the ones who have to design and document architectures and give presentations. They start using user friendly non-MS applications that do what they want. They don't suffer embarassing BSODs on waking from sleep, or during their presentations. Lastly, they're also generally multiple language programmers, including C/C++ (and now add Objective C to their arsenal) and all of a sudden, there's more developers for Apple than MS.

        Another draw is multi-media editing software. The software on OSX just works better and easier than anything I've seen on an MS system. Even software that covers both systems, Photoshop and Capture One, the Mac version either runs better or there is an equivalent Mac version that's just plain better.

        As for making your own system with your own hardware, Apple sells their software already and if you're willing to hack it, you can run it on other hardware. It's just unsupported, which reduces Apple's liability. They're very successful at what they do, and it should be interesting to see where they go. I personally hope to see them use the best hardware and improve their threading issues in the OS in the future. I'd love to see a 16 or 32 core Mac Pro in the near future - imagine the processing ability of such a system. :)
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Foolhardy ( 664051 )

          There's a ton of Java developers out there. Their code does not run on MS OSes in general in production. Their tools are generally OS agnostic as well. In fact, in general, their tools run better on non-MS OSes. (Something about case-sensitive file systems)

          NTFS is perfectly case sensitive. The Win32 interface to it generally isn't, but can be if you ask for it. AFAICT, Java is the one that decides to use filesystems in a case-insensitive manner, because that's what it asks for when it calls functions like C

      • by Amiga Trombone ( 592952 ) on Friday March 30, 2007 @12:48PM (#18545147)
        Sell their OS for standard hardware, even if they won't give the same warranty protection as if it were on their hardware AND court more game publishers to convince them to release more games for OSX, and I'd buy it.

        Well, the integration between the software and the hardware is an integral part of the Mac experience, and Apple wants to protect that. While I doubt you'll ever see Apple license OS X for generic hardware, I wouldn't be surprised if at some point they licensed it to a couple of other manufacturers of premier hardware, such as HP or Lenovo. That way they could ensure the hardware/software integration while at the same time offering Mac users more hardware options.
      • by AJWM ( 19027 ) on Friday March 30, 2007 @01:44PM (#18546023) Homepage
        court more game publishers to convince them to release more games for OSX,

        Since almost all PCs (including Macs) these days are x86 based (including x86-64), I'm surprised that game publishers haven't taken to releasing games on bootable discs with their own OS. Would game players really care if they have to boot their PC from the disc to play? Plenty of bootable live-OS examples out there to choose from.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by CastrTroy ( 595695 )
      Couldn't MS just limit their software to running on Non-Macs, just as Apple has limited their software to running on only macs. It would be a dirty trick, but If Apple can do it, why not MS. Sure MS is a monopoly, but if Apple wants to play the game of what software can run on which hardware, then I don't see why MS shouldn't have the same priviledge.
      • by profplump ( 309017 ) <zach-slashjunk@kotlarek.com> on Friday March 30, 2007 @12:29PM (#18544847)
        Maybe because they don't sell PCs? I'm not saying that it is or even should be illegal, but it's not really the same. And MS does say you can only play Xbox games on Xbox.
      • by guruevi ( 827432 ) <`moc.stiucricve' `ta' `ive'> on Friday March 30, 2007 @12:41PM (#18545027) Homepage
        The difference between Microsoft and Apple is that Microsoft is mainly a software company (Windows, Office, ...) while Apple is mainly a hardware company (Mac's, iPod's) and recently also a multimedia distributor.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by mstone ( 8523 )
          Actually, Apple is a vertically integrated systems vendor. The hardware's where they make the money, and the software is what makes the hardware worth buying.

          Meanwhile, Microsoft is more like a component vendor to OEMs than a software house per se. Most people don't buy Windows, they get it bundled when they buy a computer. Most Office licenses (Microsoft's only other product that generates a profit) are N-hundred-seat deals, paid for by companies whose IT departments lay their own bundled software insta
    • by UnknowingFool ( 672806 ) on Friday March 30, 2007 @12:01PM (#18544367)

      Microsoft shouldn't be too worried until Apple begins to sell OS X for installation on hardware besides theirs. When OS X can be put on all kinds of hardware, I will gladly purchase it and I'm sure many others will as well.

      Others have detailed the practical and financial reasons why Apple will not do that. Namely, they make money on hardware not software. One of Microsoft's problems is to attract developers, Windows supports a wide range of hardware with a minimum of requirements. Unfortunately that has meant that the quality of third party drivers has been less than desirable. That combined with MS 40,0000 (not including undocumented) APIs have made turning solving this issue difficult.

    • by nine-times ( 778537 ) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Friday March 30, 2007 @12:06PM (#18544469) Homepage

      Microsoft shouldn't be too worried until Apple begins to sell OS X for installation on hardware besides theirs

      If their smart, they'll worry much before that. First, unless you're some sort of a Mac-ophobe, there isn't a real reason why you can't buy a Mac if you want to run OSX. You can buy one machine and gain the ability to run OSX, Windows, Linux, and whatever else runs on x86 hardware (EFI aside). Contrary to what you hear, Macs aren't really expensive for what you get, so if Apple gets some more market segmentation, most of the reasons to buy a Dell with fall away. The only market they'll be missing are the homebrew people, which is a market I'm sure Apple can live without.

      And, of course, Apple doesn't need to get a majority market-share in order to be a danger to Microsoft. It's sufficient that people will start saying, "So why doesn't Windows let me do [such-and-such]?" Microsoft has relied on vendor lock-in for years, and any competitor gaining even a significant market share means that there will be market forces for them to open up a little more. To explain it a different way, if you see Macs creep into everyday life a bit more, you'll find a lot more heterogeneous environments. If Microsoft doesn't use open standards in order to interoperate with Macs, it will be clear that they are blocking productivity and the people maintaining those environments will be more likely to choose something more open.

      So, in this sense, a single Unix-y alternative OS getting through the doors will probably open the door for others to come in, too. By gaining 10-15% market share, Apple might actually increase Linux adoption as well.

      Right now, Microsoft is feeling pressure on many fronts to use open standards and open formats, and that can only be a good thing.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by tomz16 ( 992375 )
        FYI, a friend of mind was looking for a laptop a month or two ago. Based on prior experience, I would have bet that the apples would be more expensive. It turns out that for all the configurations we tried, Macbooks and Thinkpads were pretty much neck and neck when it came to price/specs. Still a far cry in price from your cheapo budget Dells with stackable coupons, but I'd say that the build quality of macs and thinkpads is on the same level.


        • by nine-times ( 778537 ) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Friday March 30, 2007 @12:43PM (#18545055) Homepage

          I've done various price comparisons at various times in the past few years, and I would say that generally the price of Apple hardware is comparable to similar hardware from other companies.

          What I mean is this: if you pick an Apple laptop model, and then you go to Dell and price out a similar model to have all the same features, the price will usually be pretty close. Sometimes Apple was even a little cheaper, usually slightly more expensive, but close.

          I'm sure there are loads of people who will claim I'm full of it, but those people usually aren't doing what I described in the last paragraph. For example, they'll point out that you can get a Dell laptop for $600 while the cheapest Apple laptop is $1100. However, the Dell laptop they're citing will be much thicker and heavier. The Dell won't have a CD-R drive or a built-in camera. The Dell won't be as fast or have a good-quality screen.

          When you price out a machine with the same quality of parts, the same features, and the same form-factor, you generally find that Apple is competitive with all the major players (Sony, Dell, HP, IBM, Toshiba). However, Apple doesn't offer el-cheapo machines. They just don't have a $300 machine where they've cut every corner to bring it to market at cheaply as possible. They don't offer a $600 laptop. They also don't offer a general mid-grade mini-tower or micro-tower. The only machine that you can really expect to be upgrading is a Mac Pro, and as the name suggests, it's an high-end workstation more than a general desktop PC.

          So that's why I was talking about market segmentation. Apple might be able to expand their market into these areas, but it seems like they don't want to. I'm not sure why not, but I have some theories.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Kjella ( 173770 )
        If their smart, they'll worry much before that. First, unless you're some sort of a Mac-ophobe, there isn't a real reason why you can't buy a Mac if you want to run OSX. You can buy one machine and gain the ability to run OSX, Windows, Linux, and whatever else runs on x86 hardware (EFI aside).

        Except for Windows, you get all the limited selection of OS X hardware. Want a better graphics card for your Windows games than what the Mac can offer? Oh sorry, can't do that. Would you like a motherboard that offer o
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          Thats only really relevant if your talking about a Mac Mini. iMacs allow for graphics card upgrading via MXM, and Mac Pros are standard desktops with a crap load of processing power. As for motherboards with different features? Theres not really any features a Mac doesn't have already I've been able to really see on a normal x86 board (with the same form factor) that I wanted. That kind of hardware nitpicking only really matters when your dealing with choosing between a Via & ASUS board kind of deal. Ap
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by brunascle ( 994197 )

      this has been my personal stance on apple for years: i dont have anything major against them, but i'm pretty much going to ignore them until i can use their software without having to buy their hardware.

      i personally have no urge to buy their hardware, i build my own thank you, but i wouldnt mind giving OS X a go. in fact, i would absolutely love it if after apple did this OS X took majority desktop market share. if the top desktop was unix-based, it would make multi-platform compatibility so much easi
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by pilgrim23 ( 716938 )
      I purchased my first new Mac in 2002. I have been in IT for some years having first worked on IBM Mainframes so being older, my opinion will be suspect:
      PCs I have used since the 296 days; building them, upgrading, running various operating systems from GEMM and DOS to OS/2 and all flavors of Windows, BeOS and Linux ( Debian, RH, and Slackware so my distro experiences is somewhat limited, but RH 5.2 kernel 2 on a SCSI box was quite educational). Macs I never used, and through osmosis of my pe
    • by Ephemeriis ( 315124 ) on Friday March 30, 2007 @12:35PM (#18544943)

      Microsoft shouldn't be too worried until Apple begins to sell OS X for installation on hardware besides theirs. When OS X can be put on all kinds of hardware, I will gladly purchase it and I'm sure many others will as well.

      Actually, I'm not sure if I'd be that excited about standalone sales of OS X. Yeah, it looks pretty... Apple's got some nice applications available... But I'm not sure that I want just another OS available to me. I can get fairly close to the OS X experience with Vista or various flavors of Linux. What really makes Apple shine is the same thing you are lamenting - lack of hardware choices.

      In the PC world you've got hundreds of PC manufacturers, thousands of hardware vendors, billions of combinations of components that are all supposed to work together...

      Sure, I'm a hobbyist and I like to tinker. I've built my last dozen machines myself, by hand, from individual components. I like that level of control. I like to sift through benchmarks and reviews to find the motherboards that work best for me. I like the feeling of pride in having a quality PC that I built.

      But my sister doesn't care. She wants to go in, buy something off the shelf, and just have it work. She isn't even completely clear on the fact that HP, Dell, IBM, Gateway, etc. all make computers that are called PCs. She sees stickers that say "Mac Compatible" and wonders why there isn't a "Dell Compatible" sticker. And to her, buying a Mac is simpler and more straightforward than buying a PC. She can understand that OS X 10.3 is newer/better/faster than 10.1 She knows that if it says "Mac Compatible" it will likely work. She doesn't need to wonder about whether the printer has a Parallel interface or USB. It just says "Mac", so she's safe.

      And I really think that's part of the appeal of Apple products. They're simplified to the point where they just basically work most of the time.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by truthsearch ( 249536 )
      They're growing just fine without making such a change. Apple market share doesn't mean OS. It means computing market share (software and hardware). What most people really care about is having a good computing experience, which Apple provides by controlling the software and hardware together. People such as yourself aren't who they're after, so I'm sure they don't mind if you take your business elsewhere.
  • Apple - Great Image (Score:5, Interesting)

    by chris09876 ( 643289 ) on Friday March 30, 2007 @11:48AM (#18544139)
    People are talking about the Mac throughout the industry. Admit it: Whether you love it or hate it, you're talking about the Mac at the water cooler.

    Apple certainly does have a great public image. They are in a great place right now - they get huge amounts of publicity for free. This just didn't happen by accident though, they've done a good job creating their image, and creating products that people want to get excited about. Actually, some Mac ads are so good, that I enjoy watching them. (I love those "I'm a PC" and "I'm a mac" ads!). Apple has the momentum.
  • rolls eyes (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 30, 2007 @11:49AM (#18544163)
    How do you measure buzz? You don't. It's something that experienced people in this industry can just feel.

    Sounds like the "reasons" I'm given to believe in Jesus. I really wonder if people believe in this "exists but not quantifiable in any form" business?
  • control group (Score:5, Insightful)

    by flynt ( 248848 ) on Friday March 30, 2007 @11:52AM (#18544211)
    Since then he's received hundreds of messages from readers who've also made the switch.

    The problem is, he hasn't received millions of emails from people who haven't made the switch. This is why "buzz" is misleading instead of using real data. Maybe the "buzz" leads to more people switching to Apple, but if you don't actually measure it, how would you know??
    • The problem is, he hasn't received millions of emails from people who haven't made the switch.
      He doesn't need to. The fact of the matter is that the number of people who write in such e-mail are a small sampling of those who actually do switch. That's why people who write legislators have more influence. Legislators figure that for every letter they receive about an issue, there's easily a few thousand more people in their district that feel the same way.
  • by dpbsmith ( 263124 ) on Friday March 30, 2007 @11:52AM (#18544215) Homepage
    Speaking as a certified Macintosh fanboy who bought his first Mac in February, 1984... gimme a break. If there's anything more boring than an Apple-is-doomed story, it's a Microsoft-is-doomed story.

    (Yes, I know he says Microsoft is not going to die... then at the end he says "Nothing lasts forever. The bloom is coming off the rose on Microsoft. I would never put it past the software giant to come up with a way to remake itself in a better light. But the current course doesn't appear to me to lead in that direction. As much as Apple is doing things right, Microsoft is doing things wrong." How is that anything but a weasel-worded version of "Microsoft is doomed?")

    Speaking as a certified Macintosh fanboy, Microsoft copies the Apple OS a lot... and, you know what? Apple has, for a long time, been returning the favor. The two companies borrow ideas from each other promiscuously, and only the blinkered view of the fans of each camp prevents them from seeing it. Of course, one idea Mac OS 9 borrowed from Windows was making windows resizable by dragging at all four edges. I just wish Mac OS X had borrow that from Mac OS 9!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nine-times ( 778537 )

      First, I'll admit that I might be a bit of a Mac "fanboy". I don't think I'm irrational, but I do like Macintoshes quite a lot these days. To put it in perspective, I spent most of my life using Windows and thinks anyone who was a an of Apple in the '90s was an absolute head-case. However, these days they're basically the same hardware as the other guys, a form of Unix, and a nice GUI. They're hands-down the easiest desktop operating system to set up and maintain on a small/medium scale. (I've never man

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 30, 2007 @11:58AM (#18544325)
    to run parallels. microsoft could give a flying fark where you run their os, as long as you buy one.

    DELL or other pc manufactureres should be scared of macs.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      My coworkers are all switching to Macs. We write various web apps, and having three operating systems right there is a lot easier than VNCing into a system and possibly having to wait for others to finish testing.

      And quite a few people around the office have considered switching their personal computers to Macs because the experience is so good. And every Mac purchased by our company is money Dell isn't getting from us.

    • When I worked as a programmer years ago, I had a 3270 terminal emulator I ran on my PC to get some work done. I don't have that emulator anymore...

      If people start using the Mac as a primary system, and have to specifically load Windows/parallels on it - there may come a day when they are doing a new OS installation and realize, hey - I don't need to install parallels anymore.
    • by landonf ( 905751 ) <landonf@plausible.coop> on Friday March 30, 2007 @12:47PM (#18545125) Homepage
      Parallels has allowed our company to begin the migration away from Windows by providing support for specific, required applications on the platform of choice:
              - Business users receive Macs, and use Parallels (and sometimes Boot Camp) for specific applications.
              - Engineers have the choice between either Mac OS X or Ubuntu. They can also run Parallels or VMware for Windows applications, though they rarely do so.
              - Artists run Windows, since their singular, primary application is 3d Studio Max -- Windows only 3d software.

      Parallels has allowed us to make a long-term platform decision (Mac OS X and Linux) while continuing to support the short-term software requirements (Running Windows software). As more cross-platform software is made available, we will migrate away from the Windows-only solutions.
    • All these "Microsoft don't care where you run Windows" comments overlook the fact that a user switching already has a copy of Windows. One of the best parts of Parallels is that a user switching can simply run an application on their old system that will copy everyhing over to their Mac.

      The OS
      All the applications
      All the settings
      All the data

      Running the application to replicate the old environment is trivial. It's much easier than upgrading to Vista--or even another version of Windows XP. Think abo
    • That's assuming Microsoft is happy for their software to compete on its own merits.

      Which, er, historically, hasn't always been their first choice...

  • Wedge (Score:2, Informative)

    by kadema ( 929400 )
    Look around at any codefest, hack day or industry conference and you'll see a great many macbooks. This is the leading wedge in a sea change for Apple that could translate into market share in the enterprise over time. The real question is - can Apple master the enterprise sales challenge toe-to-toe with Microsoft.
  • Baloney. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Weaselmancer ( 533834 ) on Friday March 30, 2007 @12:01PM (#18544363)

    Pure baloney, Scot Finnie.

    How do you measure buzz? You don't. It's something that experienced people in this industry can just feel.

    Would you buy stock in a company based on "buzz"? Doubt it. At least these days, in the post dot-bomb world anyways.

    What Apple does currently have is momentum. They keep making good decisions and carving out markets. And that's why MS should fear them. MS is already losing in the junior leagues (Zune vs. iPod). Enough of that, and maybe MS will start losing in the big leagues (OS and Office).

    • Re:Baloney. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by smaddox ( 928261 ) on Friday March 30, 2007 @12:33PM (#18544921)

      Would you buy stock in a company based on "buzz"? Doubt it.
      Do you know ANYthing about the stock market? Did you not read the article about those stock market mass email spamming ventures. The stock price goes up 5-10% (I forget the exact number) just because someone sends out a bunch of email!!! The stock market is COMPLETELY about "buzz".

      Also, I would like this chance to point out what I like about Macs. It is nice and simple:

      I can't stand touchpads. Everytime I use a laptop, I have trouble with the damn touchpad. They are POS's compared to a mouse. However, the Macbook touchpads are slightly better. They have multiple touch response, which allows you to scroll down a page by sliding two fingers across the touchpad (functioning like the mouse wheel).

      Mac's have lots of tiny little additions that by themselves, don't mean much, but all together, add a lot of functionality and increased productivity.
  • by Chas ( 5144 ) on Friday March 30, 2007 @12:03PM (#18544405) Homepage Journal
    Okay! So you bought a Mac!

    You bought something MacOS. Yay for you! YOU REBEL!

    Now you use Parallels and buy a copy of Windows to put in there.


    *MICROSOFT* doesn't care what HARDWARE you run their OS on. Running Parallels on a Mac doesn't hurt MICROSOFT in the slightest.

    Both Apple AND Microsoft pull a profit off this. Microsoft even moreso, since Mac heads are likely to buy a RETAIL copy of the OS, meaning higher margins for Redmond than they'd get from a traditional OEM copy.

    Who it's a mark against? The other PC vendors.

    Seriously. Why does everyone turn stupid non-issues like this into a zip-gun fight between Redmond and Cupertino?
    • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Friday March 30, 2007 @12:35PM (#18544935) Journal
      Not really. When I got a Mac, one of the first things I did was buy (second hand) a copy of VirtualPC, which came with a Windows license. I installed it, used it for a couple of apps (the speed wasn't great, but it was okay). Then, a few months into owning the Mac, I just stopped bothering. Since then, I've bought an OS X upgrade and a new Mac. I have bought nothing from Microsoft.

      Sure, you may run XP in Parallels now, but will you buy new Windows software? Will you buy anything that says 'Vista only' on the box? Or will you just slowly replace your old XP apps with Mac apps, and then forget about your VM? I would guess that the latter is more likely for most switchers.

  • by moore.dustin ( 942289 ) on Friday March 30, 2007 @12:08PM (#18544495) Homepage
    Apples has a much better marketing department and Microsoft has a much better business model for its shareholders. Both make the companies money in different ways and both companies are different in how they approach making money, but Microsoft's model has been proved to work. Apples great image is dependent how the mass market views its marketing campaign. Marketing can get you into the industry as a competitor, but it can only do so much for so long.

    This is not to say that Apple does not make quality products though, both companies do. I just feel that Microsoft has something that will outlast the fad Apples marketing department has created. As Apple branches off into new markets where specs are more important, we may see a new take on Apple advertising. If not, then we will see iPod type ads for the iPhone, which will not resonate well at all to people looking for smart phones where, of course, specs are the name of the game.
    • by odyaws ( 943577 ) on Friday March 30, 2007 @02:01PM (#18546315)

      Apples has a much better marketing department and Microsoft has a much better business model for its shareholders.
      Who has a better business model for their shareholders? Have a look at the 5-year stock chart [yahoo.com]. Looks to me like Apple is up 700% while Microsoft is essentially level.

      I don't understand why everyone is always obsessed with Apple's (or anyone's) market share. Apple isn't in the market share business, they are in the making money business. Sure your market share needs to be bigger than zero to make money, but Apple has been doing just fine with the few percent they have. Better than fine, actually - 700% gain in 5 years (3 years, really - the first 2 were net flat) is nothing to shake a stick at. Seems like Apple currently has both better marketing and a better business model for their shareholders.
  • by michrech ( 468134 ) on Friday March 30, 2007 @12:10PM (#18544535)
    I (and quite a few others) have said it before, and I'll say it again. I have Age of Empires (the first, through AOE3), Rise of Nations (the base game and the add-ons), Rise of Legends, City of Heroes/Villains, etc. Not one of these games (and hundres of others) works in OSX (without emulation -- that doesn't count).

    Yes, this is changing, but not fast enough for me or thousands (millions?) of others. Yes, WoW is available, but most games aren't. Until game studios start porting their software to the Apple platform, MS really has little to worry about.

    Add to games, the fact that everyone and their sister seems to be glued firmly to MS Office, and MS is sitting in a pretty good position.

    As a side note, I'd happily purchase a copy of OSX so I could poke around, try things, run it as a main desktop for a while to see how I like it. But I'm not going to purchase *another* PC (I have too many in my house as it is) just for the "privilage". I'm not the only one. Until such is possible, I'll just have to deal with the limited amount of exposure to OSX that I receive while at work (we have a few iMac "workstations" students can use, but mostly they sit empty (the original ones, before the silly white rounded base with "floating" LCD)).

    Man, I'm tired of seeing these "MS should be worried about Apple!" articles. Do everyone a favor. Write one up when MS's quarterly/yearly profits are FLAT or NEGATIVE. Untill then, I won't even read your articles (so that you don't get paid for the ad views).

  • by pulse2600 ( 625694 ) on Friday March 30, 2007 @12:10PM (#18544543)
    After skimming TFA, it seems like the #1 reason the author claims Microsoft should fear Apple is due to Parallels on OS X. I don't quite get why this should make Microsoft shake in their boots. Parallels does not somehow allow Windows apps to run without a Windows installation (i.e. what WINE is attempting to accomplish). Therefore a license for XP/Vista/whatever is still required. If anything Microsoft should be happy that Mac users still need to own a Windows license to run apps in Parallels. It may mean that more people will buy Macs because they like the hardware and OS X, but simply owning a Mac with Parallels does not remove the user's need to run Windows apps, and therefore pay Microsoft for a license.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by amper ( 33785 ) *
      One point that I find rather interesting...if you want to run Boot Camp or Parallels to run any version of Windows, you have to buy a retail copy of Windows. This means that Microsoft is then obligated to provide you with technical support. Microsoft's main business is selling OEM copies to hardware manufacturers, and under the agreements they use, the OEM is the one responsible for technical support of Windows. The retail license is also transferrable in a way that the OEM licenses are not, so this means t
  • Why should Microsoft fear something like parallels when you are running THEIR software via it. In fact its increasing Microsoft's market share in the process.

    They don't sell hardware, so anything that incerases the number of users is a good thing for them.
  • The Anti-Buzz (Score:5, Interesting)

    by starglider29a ( 719559 ) on Friday March 30, 2007 @12:13PM (#18544585)
    Worse than a pro-Apple buzz, is the Anti-Microsoft Buzz. As another Switcher appears at the watercooler, smiling like Smilin' Bob, the DIS-satisfaction of Microsoft will grow. What will happen is that Windows users will become increasingly frustrated with their inabilities, the road blocks, the busted drivers, the paths out into the 'Net they now FEAR to tread. Every "Cancel or Allow" will toll in an image of the Apple commercial's sunglassed security monger. The "Sad Realization" will grow.

    Like one who looked into the Palantir, the emotional illness will sink in. And they will be trapped. Every mouse click will make them sicker, sink them deeper. Their happy, released Mac User associates will shine like a white wizard among the Orcs.

    And every trick that Microsoft will try to rejuvenate their relationship will be transparent to them. Zune the iTune killer will make them laugh sadly. Every promise of liberation and innovation will fall flat before it is delivered. Every

    The numbers will lie, like the percentage of marriages that last longer than 7 years... it belies the number of dead marriages still lingering. Microsoft will retain 90%+ of the market, but those will be wretched zombies, entombed in their own fear and loathing.

    Microsoft's "WOW" will become "woe", from which they are unable to escape. And like Gandalf, betrayed by a friend and mentor, they are marooned atop a tower which promised great vision, but a broad horizon of darkness, gloom and malevolence is their only vista.
  • by davevt5 ( 30696 ) on Friday March 30, 2007 @12:13PM (#18544591) Homepage Journal

    I am writing this in Firefox in Vista on my MacBook Pro. One year ago (almost to this day) I made the switch because I had bought into the hype. I told myself I'd give it three months to make my decision. When the time came I was struggling to be as productive as when I was in Windows. However, I realized that I had not yet learned everything I needed in the Mac to give it a fair shake. So I extended the test. Finally after 10 months I made the Switch-back.

    What about all of us that gave it a try and end up switching back? We just get modded down because of the anti-M$ sentiment. I'm no M$ lover -- I run all Linux servers and refuse to deploy Active Directory in my organization because I believe it is a gateway to "everything M$". However, many people like me may find that they are actually more productive in Windows.

    • No problem! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Jeppe Salvesen ( 101622 ) on Friday March 30, 2007 @12:43PM (#18545063)
      I personally don't think it's the OS that makes you productive, but the software and how you use it.

      That, and the amount of time you don't spend on stuff you shouldn't have to spend time on.

      If it adds up, then PC is for you. No biggie.

      But for most people I know (that are below average technically able), they convert to Macs and rave about them afterwards :)
      • Get Out Of My Way! (Score:3, Insightful)

        by gidds ( 56397 )

        I personally don't think it's the OS that makes you productive, but the software and how you use it.

        Perhaps that's how it should be. Certainly, the OS should get out of the way and let you get on with something productive. However, in practice, we're not always very close to that ideal.

        I use XP at work every day, and every day it gets in my way in countless little ways, from snatching focus when I'm typing, to making my Explorer windows bigger each time, to taking unnecessarily long to unminimise ap

    • by 0100010001010011 ( 652467 ) on Friday March 30, 2007 @01:16PM (#18545583)
      What about those that switch back with out giving examples? I've seen plenty of switches tell us WHY they switched and stayed. Apps crashing, better programs, more intuitive UI.

      I haven't met many switch-backers that say WHY they weren't as productive. Could you not find programs you liked? Did OS X do something different that you didn't like?

      I don't have a problem with you switching back, it's just the lack of a reason WHY weren't you as productive.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Wudbaer ( 48473 )
        I think it's really hard to say why I "switched back" (I never really completely switched, as I use my Macs (I also own a G4 Mini) in parallel with Windows machines and Linux). It's not that OS X is a bad OS IMO, also the hardware is adequately priced, seeing that you only recently got able to buy machines comparable to the MacMini from other vendors that are usually not much cheaper if at all, and that noone has an all-in-one machine comparable to the iMac.

        On the contrary, OS X is really nice looking and a
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by toddestan ( 632714 )
        I tried it out a while ago. I am cheap, so I, umm, acquired a copy of OSX and put it on a P4 HP computer I already owned, figuring if I liked it I would get the real deal. After hacking around a bit, I got the sound, network, etc. working. As someone else put it, I basically traded a bunch of Windows nonsense for a bunch of OS X nonsense. Except that I already know how to deal with the Windows nonsense. I quickly grew a hatred of Finder, which quite simply sucks compared to Windows Explorer. Little th
  • Microsoft doesn't sell hardware, they sell software, and the last time I looked the one "Great Thing" about the new mac hardware is that it runs Windows.

    Now, I know many (many many) people will run windows without a license, but it will be the same percentage that run windows without licenses on non-apple hardware. People will buy more licenses for Windows because of the great mac hardware.
  • by gelfling ( 6534 ) on Friday March 30, 2007 @12:16PM (#18544645) Homepage Journal
    My kids are college students and always prefer Mac laptops to Windows machines every single time.

    1) They don't care about the internals at all. Makes zero difference
    2) They see Macs as an integrated whole without having to dick around with things
    3) They see the hardware itself as being more solid
    4) They see the integrated whole as being more compatible with their iPods, cameras and whatnot
    5) When or if something breaks they walk it in to the Apple store, where that is the ONLY thing they fix and drop it off for repair or upgrade
    6) Most college courses are online not installed so it makes little if any difference what the machine runs on its own
    7) They look cooler

    Don't argue with me about this. This is what people who look at a PC as an appliance like a microwave or a TV see when they see a Mac.

    I am a laggard. When my XP Home machines eventually become worthless I will replace them either with miniMacs or whatever is what those are at the time, and/or Ubuntu or equivalent machines at that time. I expect this to happen in the next 3-4 years if not sooner. I have no intention of moving to Vista. Not for ideological reasons but because there will be cheaper better alternatives by then.
  • by Bender0x7D1 ( 536254 ) on Friday March 30, 2007 @12:20PM (#18544693)

    With the ability to boot into Windows, or run Windows in Parallels, Apple has eliminated the biggest barrier for people to try a Mac. If someone doesn't like it, or a vital app won't run, they aren't stuck with an expensive brick - they can switch to running Windows. Less risk means a lower barrier to entry which means more people buying a Mac.

    This gives Apple a chance to compete on the merits of its OS instead of being hampered by the number of applications that don't support it. Users can easily switch to Windows, run their apps, and switch back; and switching isn't even needed if you use Parallels. I claim that after a few weeks on a Mac, users will get annoyed when they have to deal with a Windows machine, and somewhere in Cupertino a bell will ring as another Mac user is born.

  • the shift (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bigwavejas ( 678602 ) on Friday March 30, 2007 @12:20PM (#18544699) Journal
    I entirely agree with the article, the "buzz" or shift has begun to lean towards Apple. Don't believe me? I'm a student and over the last few years I've noticed Macs starting to pop-up more and more in class. My feeling is with all the problems people have had historically with Windows viruses and now Vista and its incompatability, people are just getting fedup with Microsoft. Eventually a person can only take so much before they think "There's got to be something better!!!" and... there is.
  • by Theovon ( 109752 ) on Friday March 30, 2007 @12:23PM (#18544751)
    Apple users want to gripe all of the time about flaws in Apple hardware and software. If you read the online discussions before buying a Mac, you might get scared. But the fact is that Mac users are an elite club of really obsessive people. That's not a slight against them. They have incredibly high standards. As a Windows and Linux user, however, my experiences with the Mac were a huge breath of fresh air. It's nice to finally use a computer that's clearly been well-engineered. From simple things like how the keyboards are made to the way MacOS X manages application-related files, you can tell that Apple wants to do things well and isn't afraid to do it.

    I recently was in need of a notebook computer, so I did some investigation as to what my options were. I put notebooks from various manufacturers side by side and compared based on processor speed, FSB speed, memory (size, speed), graphics (GPU power, shared memory, etc.), display resolution, and numerous other factors. While things appear to have changed slightly in the recent past, at the time, the MacBook Pro was less expensive than any PC notebook with comparable capabilities. How's that for risk management? I was nervous about getting a Mac... what if I didn't like it? No problem. The hardware is great, and I can install Linux or Windows on it if I feel like it. Turns out that I really like MacOS too and run Windows and Linux using Parallels.

    As a Free Software enthusiast, I am bothered by the fact that so much Apple software isn't Free. But I'm an activist in many ways. I'm an activist for Free Software. I'm also an activist for GOOD software. And my computer is my computer, and I'll run whatever apps make my life easiest. As such, I'm going to use commercial software when it's clearly superior in design and quality to the Free Software. (Notice how I'm implicitly dismissing Microsoft as anything worth talking about.) Then I tell people which apps are the best and why. This way, the Free Software enthusiasts can take notice and improve their designs

    I think I won't be much interested in using Linux as a desktop OS until some Ubuntu comes with Beryl by default. And I'll NEVER like the fact that Linux applications have their files spread out across different sections of the file system (/bin, /usr, /etc) and how config file are plain-text in a way that makes it impossible to do upgrades cleanly. That's annoying as hell. Linux architects need to get their heads out of their asses, group all files for a given app into one place, and use mini XML registries for config options. This is just simply good engineering!
  • Not MS, OEM (Score:4, Informative)

    by fermion ( 181285 ) on Friday March 30, 2007 @12:25PM (#18544789) Homepage Journal
    People tend to confuse the software with the machine. As long as most machines runs MS Windows, it does not matter if they run it on an Apple machines, or Dell machine, or HP machine. In all cases, if the user has a copy of MS Windows or MS Office, MS rakes in the cash. In fact, MS probably does better selling an Apple user MS Windows because they get the full price, and it will likely use less customer service because the machines are not made from whatever fell off the back of a truck.

    Now, the concern is for the OEMs. I have been saying for a long time that by concentrating on price, they are playing the MS game, which is to maximize profit at MS and minimize profit on the hardware. For example, the Apple switch to Intel is not so interesting for Apple, but does indicate that Intel learned that MS has no interest in hardware profits, and that if Intel continued to focus on MS, it would continue to be has been chip maker.

    So, MS is stemming the flow that will hurt it's business in the near term, namely there are no fully compatible OS products, and only allowing virtualization of premium priced products. In the long term, who knows. At some point there has to be a competitive compatible OS. Apple would do well to create the OS and run it as layer in the next Apple OS. But the only danger to MS is that the hardware vendors will wise up and stop cutting their own throats so that MS can make a profit.

    Indeed, we have seen many OEMs go away as they can no longer make cheap enough boxen. We are really going to be down to Dell, HP, Lenova and Sony. The later two are more or less premium manufacturers. HP has the experience with HP/UX to rebrand it's PC as *nix workstations, but Dell will continue to be at the mercy of MS, and I feel sorry for them as Apple continues to earn 20% per machine, while squeezing Dell's margin to zero, especially now that the Intel kickbacks seem to be a thing of the past.

  • by GaryPatterson ( 852699 ) on Friday March 30, 2007 @12:31PM (#18544883)
    In the last year I've seen a number of blogs from former Microsofties, as well as the infamous Mini-Microsoft. Many of these talk about top-heavy management, unhappy staff, projects leading nowhere, ladder climbers and bleeding money through some product lines.

    In isolation, individual blogs may be just some people blowing off a bit of steam, or may be representative of a few dissatisfied staffers.

    Taken together, they paint a picture of a company that's in danger of losing its way.

    It's hard to know just how representative the sum of these blogs is. They're all pretty self-selecting, after all. If they paint a relatively accurate picture, then Microsoft is missing some key things Apple's recently gotten right:

    * Management who understand their products at every level and pitch them well. Anyone who's presented to a large crowd knows how hard this is, but Steve Jobs is a complete master at it.

    * Getting the product's look and feel right first time. Pick up a new Apple product. Touch it. Look at the surfaces. They always look great. People react to this, equating professional finish with professional products.

    * Focus on product lines, with no products bleeding more money with every unit sold. There's no Apple product I've heard of where each unit sold is a loss to the company. The units both R&D and then start to generate profit. Even iTunes with its razor thin profit pays for itself. This shows solid business planning, solid budgeting and is very well respected by the investors.

    * Staff who keep pretty damn quiet about the internal stuff. Apple have a policy on communication, and very few staff feel they need to start some kind of Mini-Apple in response. Few companies allow staff to communicate, as it's just too easy for staff to send the wrong message. The company I work for is vast beyond the dreams of Apple or Microsoft, and we train all staff about external communications (in normal policy & procedure training). The impression Apple gives is that of a tightly run company.

    Apple present as a company focused on a few core lines - home computing, professional media/art computing and entertainment. It's easy to see how just about everything they do fits those lines.

    Microsoft are all over the place. Their core is clearly Windows and Office, but they've dipped metaphorical toes into media, gaming, tablet computing, robotics, handhelds, peripherals, mobile phones, web searching and more. Some non-core lines are very successful (XBox-360) but they all seem to be in the red, only able to be pursued due to the huge cash reserves brought in by the core lines. Few businesses would do this, even very rich businesses (such as GE) demand each product or division runs a profit and improves year on year. That's sustainable business practice, but Microsoft seems to believe deep pockets last forever.

    Microsoft are looking tired, but they can pull things together. Cut some of the non-core lines loose - sell them off. Get out and understand how people want to use stuff before building a product (Zune wireless sharing is a notable failure here). Savage the management layers to shake out dead wood at *all* levels, review all current projects with a view to killing most of them and refocus the (smaller) company on the smaller range of product lines.

    Microsoft can waste energy competing with Apple and Google, but they needn't bother. Neither is a threat and the market's easily big enough for everyone. The biggest enemy they seem to have is themselves and their existing products.

    To recap a film metaphor - remember when Luke Skywalker went into that cave near Yoda's house on Dagobar? He met Darth Vader, then fought and killed him. The mask covering the head exploded, revealing Luke's own face. His greatest enemy at that point was his own nature.
  • Making The Switch (Score:4, Informative)

    by lazarus ( 2879 ) on Friday March 30, 2007 @12:49PM (#18545159) Homepage Journal
    I recently switched my wife [wikipedia.org] back from OS X to Windows (Vista). She is a language geek and works as an editor and occasional writer in the financial sector. The experience of having her as a Mac user was completely maddening, something you wouldn't expect given her profession. She lasted almost two full months as a Mac user. There were two deciding factors to the switch back:
    • Microsoft Word was not fast enough on the Mac
    • Microsoft Word was not 100% completely compatible with Microsoft Word on the PC
    Let me tackle each of these in turn (put down your flamethrowers right now).

    The current version of Word on the Mac is compiled for the PPC and runs through Rosetta. While most people report that Word runs "just fine" through Rosetta, the fact is, it doesn't for people who work like my wife does. Fast. Demanding. Has a lot of work and isn't going to wait around patiently for her last action to complete. Yes, I did all of the tweaks to speed up her Mac (the best MacBook Pro money could buy (2.33GHz Core 2 Duo, 2GB RAM, 160GB disk)). Yes, I even allocated more RAM for Rosetta.

    And before you ask, yes, I ran Word 2003 in Parallels. Yes, I ran it under VMware Fusion. And yes, I ran in under Crossover for Mac. The sad, but obvious fact is that Word runs fastest natively under Windows on a PC (in this case a brand new Vaio which I had to buy to replace the MacBook Pro). Both of these computers had exactly the same specs.

    As for the second problem, it cannot be over-emphasized. You cannot submit a report back to a client which looks like trash in *their* version of Word. Word 2003 is *not* Word 2004. And the upcoming Word 2008 will *not* be Word 2007. Any alteration in a document which is advising investors to spend billions on a particular equity is not acceptable. No, she couldn't use Open Office. Or anything else. And yes, she also tried to save the document using compatibility mode.

    RANT: ON
    We both hated to go back. She loved the Mac. Anybody who thinks that Microsoft should be really worried about Apple is a little delusional. Microsoft doesn't make software, they make money (which explains why their software sucks - ask me about this sometime). They've also invested heavily in Apple (when Apple makes money, Microsoft makes money). And they are releasing and continuing to develop Office for the Mac, because it is profitable for them. And will continue to be. Sure, Microsoft would like to own every single aspect of the computing market, because that would make them the most money. But when they can't, they hedge their bets (Corel, Apple, most recently Novel).

    By the way, moving from Microsoft Entourage to Microsoft Outlook is a total pain. You would think this would be straightforward, but no. And if you're one of those who think Micosoft tries to make it hard to move from the PC to Mac on purpose, just try moving back. It's even worse. Ultimately I just set her up with IMAP and had her re-create all her folders (she had hundreds) and copy her mail up to one of my mail servers. Mail is better that way anyway...

    As for the MacBook Pro, I'm downloading FC6 right now :-)

    • by 0100010001010011 ( 652467 ) on Friday March 30, 2007 @01:40PM (#18545959)
      Why not just run XP?

      I know the deed is done. But why did you spend the money on ANOTHER laptop? You could have just formatted OS X off of the drive and run XP. (Un) Surprisingly Apple writes some awesome drivers for XP (from what I've seen in the few times I've had to dual boot). Everything I've tried works great: camera, two finger scrolling, etc.
  • by xxxJonBoyxxx ( 565205 ) on Friday March 30, 2007 @01:00PM (#18545341)

    What this is about is that Apple is reaching...and creating buzz. How do you measure buzz? You don't.

    Looks like the newbie stick has been smacking SlashDot authors again.

    First, "buzz" is a marketing issue, and it's been pretty well defined for several decades. Look up the phrase "AIDA" (attention, interest, desire and action). "Buzz" is roughly equivalent to "interest": people are interested in the product, but don't necessarily desire the project yet.

    Second, measuring levels of attention, interest, desire and action is extremely EASY to do. In addition to decades of university-level research that contribute to our understanding, there are hundreds of marketing and polling firms that can monitor these levels of interest in commercial products fairly accurately.

    (If you don't think Apple is employing marketing firms to generate and monitor AIDA, including "buzz", I'd like to sell you something too.)
  • by s_p_oneil ( 795792 ) on Friday March 30, 2007 @01:02PM (#18545365) Homepage
    ...Microsoft should be afraid of all its competitors. Vista is so bad that they should be very afraid. Too many of its features go against what users want and slow the OS down in the process (http://it.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/03/27/03 8227&from=rss).

    Anyone who claims Vista is faster is either lying or barely using their computer's power. As a developer, I beat the hell out of machines, and Vista is terribly slow compared to XP. On a laptop, it is unbearable (much slower, lower battery life, crashes on suspend or hibernate).

    If Microsoft tries to force users to upgrade to Vista, I will switch to anything else. I like XP, but I don't think I'll be switching to Vista (even after a few service packs).
  • by MarkWatson ( 189759 ) on Friday March 30, 2007 @02:11PM (#18546513) Homepage
    I still own 5 computers used for my consulting business, but I now just use a MacBook with Parallels + Windows + Linux -- works for me for about 95% of my work. I don't even bother (usually) using my Mac as an X Window client for Linux: now, I just run Linux under Parallels, as needed. Same for Windows.

    One thing: Microsoft still makes money from this arrangement (the Windows license fee) so it is not like this is a totally bad situation for them.

    Being able to copy and paste between Windows and Mac applications is useful, as is an optional shared file system.

    For software developers not focussed on the Windows market, this is a great setup. I use Common Lisp, Ruby, and Java - all portable to many OS platforms, so I usually work on OS X.
  • by Enrique1218 ( 603187 ) on Friday March 30, 2007 @04:34PM (#18548827) Journal
    I don't think crushing Microsoft is part the business plan. Let's put aside Apple's consumer electronics push as symbolized by the dropping of "Computer" from the company name for a moment. First, Apple can happily double its market share off the switchers disgruntled with Microsoft woeful security issues or its convoluted and belated Vista solution. Apple would not rule the market but it would show growth and delight investors. Second, Apple has not or does it show any intention of partnering with the other big OEMs to offer OSX with their desktops. Moreover, they show no signs of switching the kernel to Linux to take advantage of the pool of OS drivers necessary for releasing Leopard in the wild. They are not including a win32 compatibilty layer, releasing a fully feature office suite, making a concerted push into enterprise computing, or doing any other action to throw down with Microsoft. Lets not forget that Microsoft can afford to screw up for a long time before there is any appreciable exodus. Thus, I don't the see logic behind any assertion of the end of Microsoft dominance but I understand the sentiment. Microsoft has woefully proven it does not deserve to be the de facto desktop standard and Apple arguably does have a better OS. But, all the posting on slashdot will never change the status quo.

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