A Look Into the Future: Apple > Microsoft

Written by rob on May 2, 2006 – 8:06 pm -

I am going to begin by saying I use Microsoft Windows. In fact, I use it as my main operating system on my main computer, and I enjoy it. I have been running it for as long as I can remember, and aside from some issues that were Dell’s fault a few years back, the OS has never failed on me. There are occasional (once a year or so) issues: most recently, my Windows XP user profile became corrupted. My files were all fine, but logging in took five to eight minutes, literally, which was completely unbearable. I followed the tedious, yet working fix on the Microsoft Knowledge Base, and it was soon resolved. I haven’t had a problem since then, which was like six months ago.

Despite my successes with Microsoft Windows, I am well aware that most users are not in my shoes. Not taking proper precautions (like, for example, opening an unknown e-mail attachment or not running anti-virus software) can yield extremely bad results, like your entire computer not booting anymore. It just seems that, generally speaking, Windows is a high maintenance operating system, when it definitely shouldn’t be. Undoubtedly, Windows’s largest user base is home users, who are, on average, not technically proficient enough to assess the authenticity of phished e-mails, etc. That being said, the focus of the operating system should be ease-of-use, above all else, but that is really where it falls short. If you put a person who has never touched a computer in their life in front of a Windows computer with no direction whatsoever, it is extremely likely they will have no idea what to do or how to operate anything, especially transferring pictures from a camera or other day-to-day tasks that are made difficult due to the shortcoming of the Windows operating system.

Simply put, Windows is a flawed operating system compared to its current peers of today. It has not evolved in any large way since Windows 95. I use it because I have no problems with it given my ability to navigate the system, and also because I have to. Being a fan of computer games, I am virtually locked in to Windows. Mac gets games years after they are released on Windows, and Linux only gets certain games from certain developers (namely Unreal Tournament, Quake, etc.).

Now is when I introduce the “other side”. Mac is really Windows’s complement. It is ease-of-use and UI perfection translated into an operating system. The underlying interface paradigms of the operating system make more sense to the average person. More importantly, some things “just work”. Someone once described it to me by saying Macs are smarter than PCs, which I think is true. Plugging in a digital camera launches iPhoto, which, with one click of the mouse, will transfer all the photos to your hard drive. The same functionality could be configured on a Windows PC, but it requires user intervention. And that is the whole point… it shouldn’t have to. Computers aren’t meant to make things difficult, and it just seems like Windows introduces too many hurdles that the average user needs to overcome.

This was just supposed to be a brief comparison, and it is getting a little too verbose for my liking, so I’m just going to dive right into the point of this article.

Apple, now using Intel processors, is getting huge press with the ability to run Windows and Linux on their hardware, previously a difficult proposition. The fact that they use similar hardware to Windows, and the rumors that their next OS update (10.5 Leopard) will be able to run Windows apps, will bridge the gap between platforms. When both Windows and Mac can run the same applications, then what would everyone choose? Whatever interface is better. Apple needs to deal with the fact that they are the only ones making computers that can run Mac (in other words, let OSX install on any x86 platform). What is all comes down to is that Apple is as innovative as always and moving forward.

Microsoft, on the other hand, is just trying to keep up. Beating Apple to the punch, they had a head start, which made them lazy. But much like in the tortoise and the hare tale, you should never take a rest, even when your winning the race. In Microsoft’s case, they can’t stop innovating just because they’re making a lot of money today. Who knows what tomorrow brings? And with Apple growing every day, the tortoise is getting closer and closer to the finish line.

The bottom line is this. Microsoft has a great product, but its once-awesome features are quickly beginning to show their age, and it has usability issues that need to be resolved (see Spyware article for one of the biggest issues Microsoft needs to combat). All the while, Apple develops newer features that keep everything feeling fresh. I use both Windows and Mac on a daily basis, and wouldn’t give up either. The day will come, though, when Windows is no longer my main operating system, and by the looks of things, that is going to be a lot sooner than I had imagined.

I am going to close with links to two articles.

John Gruber, on his blog site, Daring Fireball, rebuts the media’s recent attacks on the security of Mac OS X.

Gartner, over at Reuters.com, theorizes about another possible delay in the Windows Vista operating system.

The themes of these two articles reverberates what I am saying. Microsoft Windows is lagging behind while Apple Mac OS X is keeping its status as fresh and secure while growing quickly.


Posted in Tech | 8 Comments »

8 Comments to “A Look Into the Future: Apple > Microsoft”

  1. Bryan Says:

    Typo in “Computers are meant to make things difficult, and it just seems like Windows introduces too many hurdles that the average user needs to overcome.”

    Shouldn’t it be “Computers [i]aren’t[/i] meant…”?

  2. rob Says:

    LOL. Yeah, thanks. I actually started using Spell Check on those posts, but as you can tell, it doesn’t catch stupid things like that. It would be pretty wild if Office 2007 actually did stuff like that, in addition to the complete UI rehaul.

  3. Bryan Says:

    That would require like insane lifelike AI, to be able to pick up that you said computers are meant to make things harder, decide that computers are meant to make things easier, and change it.

  4. rob Says:

    Indeed it would. But in a future like that, I doubt Apple and Microsoft will still be around.

  5. Bryan Says:

    Unless they both screw up really bad, theres a good chance they’ll still be around, and widely used. Just look at the countless companies that are still around from the late 1800s. Just like how windows xp will probably still be widely used 5 years from now, unless microsoft somehow deactivates everybody’s windows xp somehow in the future (doubt it though).

  6. rob Says:

    I just think the Computer industry is so fast moving, that if a company makes one wrong move everyone else will blow by them. Just look at video cards: S3 Savage cards, and the Voodoo 3dfx were the biggest things on the block ten years ago. But they’re nowhere now. I’m not saying Microsoft and Apple are just going to disappear any time soon, but once computers change dramatically (I’m not talking a new UI… I mean, holographic displays or something), new companies will spring up to make new OSes that support the newest technology the best. Then, as time passes, the old stuff will fade.

    The U.S. Government is particularly interesting, in that they use things that are either really old or really new. They still use Cyber70 mainframes (70 as in the 1970′s), yet use biometric scanners instead of passwords all over the place. It shows that old technology will never be gone, and something as huge as Microsoft Windows isn’t going anywhere. But eventually the company is going to have to give up on their system when it isn’t making enough profit, like if a new guy shows up.

    With the recent emergence of projects like AjaxOS, and generally a lot of the stuff Google is doing with Web 2.0, the future seems interesting. It is very viable that the future OS will simply be a way to boot into a high-tech web browser that will connect to a company’s server that will emulate OS functionality with AJAX.

    But the bottom line is that things are always changing, and I think… some day… Windows will be a thing of the past.

  7. Jolie Says:

    Just thought you’d like to check this out:

    link

  8. rob Says:

    Wow. 8O If I didn’t have such an affinity for bears (as well as monkeys), I’d probably go hunt down these bears and then kill & eat THEM…