Daniel Eran Dilger
Random header image... Refresh for more!

Why Can’t Microsoft Develop Software for Zune HD?

Zune HD

Daniel Eran Dilger

An iPhone developer has reported that Microsoft promised it “a bucket of money” if it could port its Twitter app to the new Zune HD. The obvious question is, if there’s so much money in writing Zune software, why can’t Microsoft write its own simple apps and pocket all that potential for wealth itself?
The bottom line: Microsoft knows there’s no real money in Zune software and doesn’t want to invest its resources (the company has plenty of cash) in developing low value software. The problem: mobile developers have no incentive to leave the iPhone App Store in order to support the Zune HD, and consumers have little reason to buy the Zune HD without any software.

Yet, oddly enough, Microsoft’s fortunes have come solely from software licensing, not from developing a platform and selling hardware. So why is the company now abandoning its apparently proven Windows Everywhere business model to chase the Apple’s hardware-oriented business, the complete opposite, with the Zune?

Microsoft is admitting that its Windows Everywhere fantasy/strategy, as advocated and championed by Bill Gates, is over. Rather than being a superior life form that won out over Apple, Microsoft is admitting that all along it was really only a parasite that could only thrive while blindly leaching off the colon of a sentient host like Apple.

After briefly leaving its host to set out on its own, Microsoft has discovered that to survive it must scamper back into Apple’s shadow and leach upon its host for direction. The questions now are: can Microsoft pull this leeching business off again, and will Apple allow it?

How Microsoft Climbed On Top: Software.

Microsoft knows quite a lot about how to extract money from the tech industry. Since the late 80s, the company has been inhaling the lion’s share of profits in the desktop PC world. It has done this by focusing on software, leaving PC hardware makers to battle over increasingly smaller hardware margins as PC prices fell and competition ramped up.

Similar competition in software has not occurred however; prices have largely remained stagnant or even risen. The price of Office has only recently dropped in the face of competitive pressure from Google Apps and OpenOffice, and the cost of Windows, where there is little effective competition, is now two to the three times as much as it was a decade ago.

Microsoft’s domination of the PC software market started with its 1981 deal with IBM to license PC-DOS. IBM lacked the foresight to recognize that the value of its original PC was largely delivered by DOS, particularly after Compaq and other companies began copying IBM’s hardware, turning the PC design into a basic commodity used to run DOS and its DOS-demanding apps.

IBM tried to release a greatly improved PC design under the name PS/2, but Compaq and other cloners had already depressed the prices of “IBM PC-compatibles” to the point where there was little room for real innovation in the hardware space. Through 1995, competition kept hammering PC prices down while Microsoft’s lucrative DOS business began to attract attention from its own audience of cloners.

How Apple Is Changing the PC Software World… Back

Microsoft’s Monopoly Maintenance.

With Windows 95, Microsoft destroyed the market for DOS by tying and embedding its own version of DOS to the Windows environment, a clear violation of anti-trust laws. Microsoft also used the launch to blindside DOS developers such as Lotus and WordPerfect, neatly leveraging its DOS monopoly to migrate users from their existing DOS software to Microsoft’s new Office 95, thereby creating a secondary monopoly in desktop PC software.

Throughout the 90s, Microsoft continued to destroy one market after the next, taking over Netscape’s web browser business by simply bundling its own Internet Explorer browser in Windows and working to similarly destroy other businesses, including Apple’s QuickTime. Microsoft used its monopoly position to block competitive bundling deals, break competitor’s compatibility with Windows, stop rivals from introducing compatible alternative offerings, disrupt efforts to build alternative platforms, and prevent other products from reaching the market, both directly through exclusive business deals and indirectly through misinformation campaigns spreading fear, uncertainly and doubt.

Apart from a vocal minority of critics, Microsoft was largely congratulated by the tech media and its punditry for continuing its successful streak of anti-competitive behavior. Had Microsoft been competing against an array of larger rivals, its ability to profit and remain popular would have been worthy of accolades. But Microsoft wasn’t playing fair and was actually breaking the law. Additionally, Microsoft owed its success to the companies it later turned on, starting with IBM and then Apple.

Back then, Gates complained about patent protection law preventing competition. Once Microsoft was in the position of owning patents and using them to stifle new competition, it changed its tune. Microsoft became a great parasite that had developed an intolerance to parasites of its own. The problem: the company had no capacity to do anything original apart from extracting the value created by others.

SCO, Linux, and Microsoft in the History of OS: 1990s
Office Wars 4 – Microsoft’s Assault on Lotus and IBM
Microsoft’s Plot to Kill QuickTime

The Floundering Parasite.

Even worse, it started to become obvious that Microsoft wasn’t even able to do that anymore. When Apple, nearly sapped of its revenues by the Windows parasite, coughed up the Newton Message Pad as its last great hurrah of the early 90s, Microsoft set out to deliver its own tablet computing ideas. Palm stepped in and delivered a more cost effective and popular platform with the Palm, causing Microsoft to shift its parasitic attentions to a new host. But all of Microsoft’s efforts to suck the life out of the mobile PDA market floundered throughout the 90s.

Realizing that the future of the PDA was to be fused with mobile phones, Palm began pioneering its Treo smartphone. Microsoft again shifted its mobile efforts from clamshell Handheld PCs and Pocket PCs to Windows Mobile, yet after years of trying, the company simply could not deliver an attractive product.

Meanwhile, the invigorated Apple began selling the iPod, catching Microsoft’s attention yet again and resulting in a series of missed hits that continued through PlaysForSure and into the Zune. Microsoft was also busy trying to copy the success of the Sony PlayStation 2 in fears that console gaming would kill a major artery feeding Microsoft’s PC monopoly.

Despite growing all these tentacles in efforts to leech away revenues from anything successful around it, Microsoft’s new businesses related to the Zune, Xbox and Windows Mobile have all consumed more resources than they’ve earned. So why is Microsoft pursuing these hardware businesses rather than sticking with its software success?

Because it knows the PC business is maturing, and once the potential for growth ends, Microsoft will end up stuck on a dying island. PC sales will of course grow into emerging markets, but these offer little opportunity for Microsoft’s historically fat software profits. India and China are rife with piracy and are willing and eager to substitute their own operating systems and desktop software based on free and open source technology for Microsoft’s expensive alternatives.

Microsoft’s third leg of profitability, server software, was a similar parasitic attack on Unix and Lotus Domino/Notes, an effort which handsomely repaid Microsoft’s efforts in developing Windows NT/2000/XP and Exchange Server. However, the enterprise market is also maturing, and as companies see opportunities to shift to free and open software, the allure of paying through the nose for Microsoft’s proprietary solutions is also leading up to stagnant growth potential there, too.

Microsoft’s Outrageous Office Profits
The Spectacular Failure of WinCE and Windows Mobile

Eating Up Time.

Over the past decade, the company has simply grown desperate for ideas. Windows XP attempted to head off any interest in Apple’s Mac OS X, and the company promised repeatedly to fully deliver its own version of Apple’s technologies in the development of Longhorn. That culminated in the greatly disappointing Vista after too many years on the drawing board. Now Microsoft is getting ready to relaunch the software as Windows 7, hoping that the release will make up for the lost decade.

The problem there is that time ravages all organisms. The last decade has stripped Microsoft of its perceived immunity, omnipotence and omniscience, giving it a tarnished brand while its once weak competitors and former hosts have regained their strength. Commercial Unix has been reborn as Linux, and has gained a new respect in the enterprise that no amount of Microsoft-fueled misinformation campaigns can now slow.

Apple has adapted faster legs in retail, enabling it to keep well ahead of Microsoft’s tentacles as computer sales in general grow stagnant outside of Apple’s retail outlets. Apple’s retail efforts are now approaching ten years old and are growing as fast as the company can manage to expand.

Microsoft has announced plans to open two stores, making it years away from profitability in retail on top of having no track record in direct sales, no competency in building out retail stores, and no product lineup that has any potential ability to do anything but embitter its existing retail channel. Even if everything works out swimmingly for Microsoft (and of course, things won’t work out well for Microsoft’s retail stores), it will remain a decade behind Apple in retail.

Why Windows 7 is Microsoft’s next Zune
Microsoft to open new retail stores like Apple

Moving At The Speed of Zune.

Clearly, Microsoft has to move fast. It’s now the third year of the Zune, which failed miserably despite the company’s best efforts to apply its monopoly power and disgorge rivers of false information from every pundit pore. The failure of the second year’s Zune models only proved the fact that Microsoft’s hubris was the act of a naked emperor. Apple kept one step ahead throughout, delivering the cheap video Nano to embarrass the original Zune and the iPod touch to humiliate the second generation.

Now, Microsoft is launching an iPod touch clone (again substituting various useful iPod features with a radio, something that didn’t work over the last two years, either), but it is missing a critical element: third party software. For the last year, Apple has been building up its iPhone/iPod touch mobile software platform and now has 65,000 apps available. Microsoft has two options to compete against this juggernaut: develop a series of useful applications itself, or copy Apple’s attempt to harness the power of third party developers to do this for it. Microsoft is choosing the latter.

This is a grave mistake. There are no historical examples of companies who arrived late to the party with a copy-cat minority platform (even ignoring platform maturity and quality), and subsequently took over. IBM crushed the fledgling pre-PC market (mostly CP/M), but only using its monopoly power in business machines. Apple’s Mac launched rather weakly, and ten years later was overwhelmed, not by the cheaper Amiga or Atari ST, but by the much larger Windows/DOS PC monopoly wielded by Microsoft. With Microsoft’s attempts to leverage its monopoly power now failing more often that succeeding (PDAs, web search, gaming, mobile phones, MP3 players, etc) it’s completely non-sensical to think that Microsoft’s minority Zune will somehow be able to sap any strength from Apple’s iPod/iPhone/iTunes business.

Additionally, this time Microsoft doesn’t have the support of its army of hardware partners. The Zune killed off Microsoft’s MP3 partnerships, leaving it pitted against a variety of rivals in addition to Apple, from other smartphone and MP3 player devices to competing devices like Nokia’s Internet Tablets and the indirect competition for attention posed by netbooks and handheld gaming devices. Expecting developers to flock to the Zune HD in ways they haven’t flocked to the already existing Zune APIs is rather naive.

Zune Sales Still In the Toilet

Doesn’t Microsoft Write Software?

Most puzzling is the fact that Microsoft already has a proven business model to copy, and given that copying others’ ideas is what the company does best, it’s hard to understand why it hasn’t taken a better look at how Apple delivered the iPhone.

The success of the iPhone is best understood by comparing it against the Newton Message Pad. With the iPhone, Apple released a device with lots of included basic functionality, not just lots of potential features that third parties could someday deliver, if the device were to gain a sufficient enough installed base to warrant such investment. Apple wrote a series of apps for the original iPhone, enough that the first 5 million buyers were sold on it even before Apple announced any plans to deliver third party APIs.

In contrast, Microsoft has still not sold four million Zunes in nearly three years of trying. The Zune HD is starting the installed base over at zero because it uses its own development platform. That’s what Apple did in the shift from iPod to iPhone, but the critical difference is the fact that Apple managed to sell more than five million iPhones in the first year before making development APIs available. Therefore, there was immediate interest and a significant installed base to incentivize application development from the start.

Newton Lessons for Apple’s New Platform

The Problem with Third Party Developers.

Android, the Palm Pre, and the Zune HD are currently all inviting developers to write software for a negligible installed base, an uphill battle Apple already experienced back in its Newton days (and something Steve Jobs experienced in launching both the Mac and NeXT platforms). That’s a really tough sell. It’s especially tough once you realize that third party developers are not necessarily aligned with you. They’re independent third parties, meaning they’d happily stab you in the back or desert your platform if a better deal presents itself.

That’s something else Jobs and Apple know about first hand. Back in 1981, Jobs invited Gates to develop for the Mac platform as an opportunity to enter the application development business where Microsoft had little previous success. Once Microsoft realized it had tremendous leverage against Apple as the key developer of several important Mac apps, it used this to extort rights to Apple’s Mac technologies and then used these against Apple, both in developing the copycat Windows and in successfully thwarting Apple’s efforts to defend its software copyright in the Look and Feel lawsuits.

Microsoft then abandoned Apple anyway, leaving Word and Excel on the Mac to stagnate as Microsoft put all its development efforts into Windows versions. Gates also refused to write software for NeXT, knowing that Windows wouldn’t stand much of a chance if Office apps were available on superior platforms. Microsoft still only makes the most feeble attempts to deliver the appearance of supporting Mac Office apps, and Apple tries diligently to maintain that Office for Mac is anything other than half-assed trash while it shores up its own iWork suite.

Android, Palm’s WebOS, and the Zune HD will similarly only retain third party developers as long as their respective platform developers can both deliver compelling enough hardware to attract buyers and good enough tools for developers to use. The first problem is by far the most serious. And beware Google and Palm: your top developers are ready and willing to abandon you to start their own basic platforms on a Linux kernel; easy come, easy go. Watch for China, it is especially good at taking your technology and nationalizing it. Good luck and all.

Office Wars 3 – How Microsoft Got Its Office Monopoly

Again, Doesn’t Microsoft Write Software?

This all means that Microsoft should be delivering the Zune HD with an impressive assortment of clever mobile apps to rival the iPhone and iPod touch. It isn’t. While CNET regulars are gushing over the very basic version of Internet Explorer 6 (!) included on it, once the device hits the street it will be compared against a real mobile browser and users will wonder why Windows Enthusiast rags were blowing so much smoke up their… Zune.

In reality, the Zune’s web browser looks terrible. Its virtual keyboard (previously reviled as a concept by Windows Enthusiasts when it appeared on the iPhone) covers more of the display and looks clunker, while its zooming, panning, and general navigation are so bad Microsoft refuses to demonstrate it in public. In contrast, Apple showed off the iPhone’s new browser in depth six months before it hit the market, and even Android and Palm demonstrated theirs well in advance. Both were based on WebKit, and therefore already proven. The Zune HD goes on sale in a month using a browser formerly known only to drive Windows Mobile users nuts and send them off to download Opera.

If Microsoft’s web browser is this bad, you can imagine what else is wrong. The general navigation is that same awful list of text that trails off the edge of the screen, something that did not seem to create excitement in the first two generations of Zune devices. The Zune HD is Windows Mobile without a phone. Think about how bad that is. No really, pause and reflect for a moment. Wow.

What does the Zune HD offer? HD Radio and HD video output, both features that, while unique, have no known demand. In contrast, the original iPhone delivered, well, a phone, but also contact, calendar and mail features and access to weather, stocks and other widgets. Subsequent versions have added push messaging and photo and video recording. All of this is well within Microsoft’s capacity to deliver. The company just doesn’t think it needs to do anything. This again is a huge mistake.

Zune HD’s Bing-powered Web browser | MP3 Insider – CNET Reviews

Why Isn’t Microsoft Developing for the iPhone?

It is also telling that Microsoft has not delivered any software apps for the iPhone, the most successful mobile software platform over the last year and a half. Microsoft is so blinded by trying to maintain its dying monopoly that it is failing to identify real opportunities to innovate its way out of oblivion and irrelevance.

The only reason Microsoft delivers Mac Office is to fulfill contractual obligations with Apple and to prevent the appearance of a rival Mac office suite that could work its way to Windows. Attempting to attain or maintain monopoly control was also the reason Microsoft delivered a version of Internet Explorer and Windows Media for Mac. Once that motivation passed, so did those products.

Recall that even at its most beleaguered, Apple cranked out ClarisWorks on the Mac and then Windows and quickly claimed the top spot in integrated productivity software against Microsoft Works. Apple then let its Claris subsidiary fall apart, but that demonstrates the potential for incubating threats against Microsoft on the Mac platform. QuickTime survived because of being on the Mac platform. The reinvigorated Apple later revived QuickTime cross platform and used it to deliver iTunes for Windows, followed by Safari for Windows and then MobileMe for Windows.

Apple isn’t afraid to develop key apps for rival platforms that offer opportunities. So why is Microsoft, desperately in need of new opportunities as its core monopolies stagnate, not jumping on the opportunity to define excellence in mobile apps on the iPhone? Certainly, if Microsoft could deliver a variety of “must have” iPhone apps, it could use those to lead users toward its own Zune and Windows Mobile offerings. Is the company stupid and just unable to deliver?

Office Wars 1 – Claris and the Origins of Apple iWork

Failure to Launch.

I think the company is unable to deliver. Back at the launch of the Mac, Microsoft was late in delivering MultiPlan (later named Excel), and ever since, even up into recent versions of Office for Mac, its offerings have always seemed both late and rushed. A look at the Windows Vista debacle indicates this isn’t something limited to its Mac offerings.

In fact, Microsoft only looks competent in areas where there is nothing to compare it to. The Zune looks fair in a vacuum, but next to the iPod it’s at least a year behind in hardware and further back in software. Back in 2000, I similarly observed that Windows CE devices looked fair only without making any comparison to Palm. Being forced to use Office on a recent project left me frustrated and angry, largely because I had grown accustomed to iWork, software designed to work for you rather than to maintain Microsoft’s monopoly.

If you look at Microsoft’s customers, they’re only satisfied when they don’t look at alternatives. And most of its core customers are Windows Enthusiasts and Microsoft shop IT departments that are careful not to examine alternatives out of fear their faith might be shaken if exposed to some reality.

I think if Microsoft attempted to develop iPhone software, it would only expose how comically incompetent the company is. The majority of the problem is management. When I talk to Microsoft employees, they express frustration and irritation with how badly and incompetently products are managed. This reflects a top-down desire to maintain the status quo rather than rebuilding to try new things. That’s also what killed Apple in the mid 90s.

Why Apple Bounced Back

Death is Always the Answer.

Life knows better than to embrace the status quo. We, and everything around us, are programmed to die. This forces us to make tough decisions and do more than just lounge around passively. More importantly, it erases away our ability to hold back the forward momentum of the gene pool and of civilization.

The older we get, the more resistant we are to change and the more conservative our outlook becomes. If we lived to 200, our entire global society would be as backward and delusional and hesitant about making any progress as the middle of the United States is specifically. We’d have whole generations of naysaying, Civil War-era veterans adamantly insisting on turning back the clock on Civil Rights and Suffrage, rather than just a minority of superstitious people who have invented a fondness for living in the imagined glory of the past.

The only way to break from the past is to kill it off along with all those who prefer to live there. Nature has devised a grandly elegant way to do this by giving us clocks that coldly kill us so that are children are limited in what they can learn from us while making their own way forward, rather than forever living under our perceived notions of what is true and right. Without death, there would be no revolutions, no exploring beyond the flat edges of the known earth, and no attempts made to leave a lasting legacy behind. There would also be no hope of escaping from under the current dominations of the less qualified.

Death kills everything that does not regerminate with a fresh mix of DNA and rise from its former ashes to try new things. In the mid 90s, Apple had to die to live again. And today, Microsoft is a large cancerous parasite being leached to death by a series of attacks launched by quicker and more innovative rivals.

Today’s Microsoft will die, just like the old IBM monopoly and the British Empire and the Caesars and the dinosaurs. The only question is, will Microsoft reinvent itself and live on in a new form, or sink into history as one of the most troublesome diseases to ever hold back the progress of our society’s technological advancement?

  • tinytim09


    Hm, that one line about the brown zune made me chuckle.
    Hope you didn’t take my comments in an offensive manner because thats not what I intended for them. I enjoy this site and have been reading for a few weeks. My only issue is Daniel seems to have a tremendous grudge against Microsoft and all he does is paint them in a negative light when they have made great strides in technology.
    Windows 7 is marvelous as is the Zune HD.

  • ulicar

    @ Daniel Eleran Apple broke public APIs heaps of times. Google it, or ask some Mac developers. As for the terminology, iTunes have PUBLIC UNDOCUMENTED APIs that Pre is using. Pre is using them legally as if they were PUBLIC DOCUMENTED APIs. There are no private APIs. They do present themselves as iPod, and that is legally and every other way right. If it was illegal, guess where Apple lawyers would be right now.

    Even if Apple did not have those APIs in place, each operating system allows you to automate applications that do not have APIs. For example on windows you can call win API sendkeys etc… Mac offers the whole automation platform for you. You do not need a permission from Apple to automate their software or use their APIs.

    That is the story of development. You can sniff what the other application is doing and then use the same APIs. That is how people got hold of PUBLIC UNDOCUMENTED APIs on windows. I am using them almost every day.

    As for your misunderstanding of Netscape soap-opera. Netscape 3 was great. Netscape 4 was a shithouse on ALL platforms (I have used it on UNIX, LINUX, WIN). Show me a person who liked Netscape 4 and I will show you a mentally ill person. Comparing IE 4 and Netscape 4, IE 4 wins hands down. IE bundling did help Microsoft to get Netscape market share, but in whole fairness Netscape did help them a lot.

    As for your explanation of the word hysteric, tell to your mother that she has to reevaluate her hysterical position and then tell me how she reacted, when your mouth stops bleeding.

  • JohnWatkins

    ulicar, are you a troll?
    It appears to me that little of what you say makes any sense.
    Apple is unlikely to sue because it’s easier and cheaper to make a few changes to iTunes that foil their attempts to masquerade as an Apple product. Don’t worry, if Palm persists they will do so at great risk to their company.

  • HCE


    I don’t want to discuss what Microsoft and Apple have or haven’t done in the past. In this instance, though, I don’t see that they have done anything wrong.

    Palm gets the Pre to talk to iTunes by pretending it is an iPod. They have a pretty cynical reason for doing this. They know that after a while, people will assume that iTunes will sync with the Pre and will blame Apple if the sync ever breaks. Apple doesn’t want to see this situation arise, so they try to block Palm. It isn’t as if Palm cannot sync with iTunes content some other way.

    The could write their own sync software like RIM is doing (http://na.blackberry.com/eng/services/desktop/mac.jsp)

    Or they could license any one of several commercial sync products like DoubleTwist (http://www.doubletwist.com/) or Missing Sync (http://www.markspace.com/).

    They could even contribute to an Open Source project like Songbird (http://getsongbird.com/) and distribute that.

    There is absolutely no reason for Palm to go with this kludge. At least when the Samba developers tried to mimic Microsoft’s SMB protocol, they did it because they had no other choice. Palm has enough choices and more. The only reason why the persist with this strategy is because it gets them PR – not for any good technical reason.

    That said, Apple shouldn’t have tried to block them – not because it would have been unethical or anything but because the whole episode brings them bad PR. All they should have done is to pop up some kind of warning each time someone tries to sync their Pre with iTunes and then let the sync proceed.

    – HCE

  • ulicar

    @ JohnWatkins No I am not a troll, I just know what I am talking about, unlike most of people here and obviously you. There are legal ways to reverse engineer the way iPod is talking to iTunes. It is called “Cleanroom” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reverse_engineering#Reverse_engineering_of_software Apple can’t sue anybody who is automating their applications or who is using their undocumented APIs. They can be angry, as they are, they can try to break Pre compatibility, as they do, but then if Apple is doing something that was considered dirty trick when Microsoft did it, should be considered the same for Apple as well.

    @HCE IMHO Apple is free to do whatever they want, but, if they do whatever, and that was considered bad when MS did it, then it should be considered bad in the case of Apple. I do not have Pre I will never have a Pre nor any other Palm device. I am happy with iPod and iPhone. But I do have something that is called a standard. If MS does something wrong, and Apple does the same thing, then it is wrong in that case as well.

    Let’s talk about SAMBA the same way you were talking about Pre. SAMBA could have developed their own server that could be installed on the windows machine that does everything SMB does? So, why is that not the same as forcing Pre to create it’s own app/server/whatever? They did OK thing by reverse engineering as much as possible SMB protocol, and now MS have SAMBA ppl working in Redmond on SMB documentation. Apple should at least learn from that particular incident that they cannot win this. They are bullies in their microcosmos, and they will start getting treatment bullies get, from Google most possibly sooner than they expect.

  • HCE


    > Let’s talk about SAMBA the same way you were talking about Pre.
    > SAMBA could have developed their own server that could be installed > on the windows machine that does everything SMB does?

    It isn’t the same thing and you know it. In the case of the hypothetical Palm sync software, all that the user would have to do is to install a piece of software on his own machine. That is not the same as requiring *others* to install software on *their* machines so that your machine can talk to them. Not to mention the fact that there exists enough free/open source sync software that Palm can distribute to users at little or no cost to them.

    Technically, it is a ridiculous decision on Palm’s part. The only desktop sync software that Palm “supports” is iTunes – a piece of software that doesn’t support it!! Not to mention the fact that Windows users who don’t have iTunes will be forced to download this piece of dubiously “supported” software to get a desktop sync tool. The whole thing is being done by Palm for PR reasons – I for one, see no reason to get so upset at Apple for blocking someone else’s PR effort.

    – HCE

  • yasmar

    All this arguing, including from our host, makes me think you people are as dumb as Midwesterners. If you can’t learn to get along and quit this moronic fighting, we will have to send you to the re-education camps, or maybe worse, Cleveland. So, stop. Act like good coastal, urban, hip, trendy, metroreplicating (or maybe not), Prius driving, vegans. And then we can be one big happy family.

  • ulicar

    @ HCE
    If Pre wants to talk to machine A they must install their application, not use iTunes
    If Pre wants to talk to machine B they must install their application, not use iTunes
    If Mac wants to talk to machine A they must install their own software, not use SAMBA
    If Mac wants to talk to machine B they must install their own software, not use SAMBA

    Tell me where is the difference? I am sort of trying my best to find it, but I can’t.

    I do not have Pre, nor I ever will. I do not care what either company does as long as it doesn’t affect me, but…

  • HCE


    Let us see if I can spell this out. iTunes software on a computer talks to devices that are plugged in to that computer through a USB connection. SAMBA is a network protocol which allows two computers to communicate and share files over a network.

    As I smartphone owner, I will typically plug my device into one, maybe 2-3 machines at most – all of which are either owned or controlled by me. It is easy for me to install software on those machines.

    As a user on a network, I have to talk to tens, maybe hundreds of machines most of which I have no control over. I cannot expect the owners/admins of these machines to install my software on each of these.

    – HCE

  • ulicar

    You still did not show any reason why it is different. It is the same difference. Simply put you want machine A to communicate with machine B. The fact that you have 2-3 machines on one side vs 10-100 machines on the other, or USB on the one and any other way of connection on the other, does not make any difference. No difference in technical, nor legal, nor moral, nor any other aspect.

    This should be my EOD. No time to continue. C U Later :)

  • http://www.lowededwookie.com lowededwookie


    “I still use windows because to me it’s more functional than a mac “with a wider user base therefore having more apps developed for it”.

    I refute ALL of these because I work in the IT industry repairing computers and maintaining systems. Windows is NOT more functional than Mac OS X in any way shape or form.

    Mac OS X’s firewall is infinitely better than Windows even if we don’t have a GUI for ALL the features. Mac OS X’s smart folders is non-existent on Windows and Windows’ search tool is left wanting compared to Spotlight.

    Windows’ backup utility is poor compared to TimeMachine and its networking features are a joke compared to Mac OS X unless you have Ultimate which few do which defeats the purpose of having Ultimate in the first place.

    The only thing that Windows can do out of the box that Macs can’t do is play Solitaire and I’ve played the new Solitaire in Windows 7 and you’d better have a decent graphics card in your machine because I’ve got an NVidia 9800 in mine and it can’t handle it… though it could be more a driver issue which Mac OS X rarely has.

    As for more apps. More apps do not a better platform make. The reason Windows has more apps for it is because there is a market for fixing issues that should never be there in the first place. Why are there 6 versions of Windows when there is only one of Mac OS X – two if you count the multi-license Family Pack?

    More choice does not necessarily mean good.

  • John E

    legally, for the Pre to intentionally mimic an iPod to display itself as an iPod within the iTunes pane (or anywhere) is an obvious trademark infringement. As to the iTunes EULA, it probably does not prohibit this kid of hack/spoof yet by iTunes users of all kinds, but probably will soon if other device makers attempt it too.

    more likely Apple will roll out some firmware update for all iPods/iPhones/Touches that simply makes this fakery impossible. Legal action would just give Palm what it wants most of all now – more Pre publicity – while taking years before Palm inevitably ceases and desists. Tactically Apple likely realizes it is smarter to just let the Pre wither and die – as it is doing rapidly – on its own.

  • JohnWatkins

    Reality check, ulicar,
    “No I am not a troll, I just know what I am talking about, unlike most of people here and obviously you.”
    Clearly you are the worst kind of troll — one that doesn’t even realize he is a troll (but thinks most everyone else is!)

  • Pingback: Letters from Microsoft: An Employee Tosses His Zune — RoughlyDrafted Magazine()

  • http://www.jeffself.net jeffself

    Microsoft has one last hurrah in it. That is SharePoint. Corporations are sucking up SharePoint fast. Microsoft has an incredible sales force and marketing show going with this. And the CIO’s are pissing in their pants over this. Unfortunately, SharePoint sucks balls, and in 5 years, I think the honeymoon will be over and companies will be running for the exits.

  • Shunnabunich

    Ulicar, you’re pretty hilarious. I’m not sure if you’re merely hiding behind the language barrier or genuinely don’t understand what people are saying (er, typing) to you, but responding to a post which meticulously details what makes two things different from each other by saying “you still did not show any reason why it is different” is tantamount to saying “I know you are, but what am I?”.

    Oh, wait a sec…“No I am not a troll, I just know what I am talking about, unlike most of people here and obviously you.” I guess you already have taken that approach.

    For Palm to deliberately cause their Pre to quite literally lie about what it is, in order to illegitimately gain access to a service (syncing) which Palm could very easily, and should, obtain elsewhere by honest, legitimate means, is not ethically sound. If Apple and Palm made an agreement to add Pre syncing support to iTunes, I’m sure that’d be great for Palm, as they could let the Pre piggyback on the success of iTunes instead of having to push it into the market on its own merits.

    It wouldn’t be so great for Apple, as they would then be responsible for maintaining support for someone else’s product, with no real gain for themselves. There’s probably a good reason iTunes didn’t support third-party player syncing after the initial smattering of Rio devices and whatnot early on in iTunes’ evolution. (Hint: they didn’t have the iPod yet back then. iTunes had to play nice with the other kids until it and its product ecosystem could grow up and move out.)

    Apple’s smart enough not to enter into such a fruitless arrangement, but instead of sucking it up and making their own way in the world, Palm has decided to leech off iTunes’ success anyway by dangling the fruit of iTunes syncing, pilfered straight from Apple’s kitchen, in front of its customers.

    What Microsoft did with Netscape, regardless of the relative quality of Netscape and Internet Explorer, was make it so much easier to access IE that most people were too lazy to look for alternatives. They tied one product, a web browser, to another, more widely used product of theirs, the Windows operating system, to push it out to all Windows users without having to let IE compete on its own merits. Sound familiar?

    Microsoft was able to do this, anti-trust laws notwithstanding, because they owned both of those products. They were going to have to support them both, whether they were tied together or not. In the case of iTunes vs. the Pre, Palm is trying to attach (or at least strongly correlate) their product to someone else’s, and leave the poor suckers in the other company to deal with supporting their own iTunes product AND syncing with the Pre. Apple has the right, the ability, and the responsibility to cut this off before it entangles them. Palm has so many other options open to them for Pre syncing that they have no good excuse to keep doing what they’re doing.

    iTunes is not a public service, nor does it make any claims to be. It’s designed to work with other Apple products, and that’s it. People know this when they install it. No outside company can just walk in and say differently, because iTunes isn’t their product, it’s Apple’s.

    If you don’t understand why we believe Microsoft was cheating and Apple is defending itself, that’s fine, as long as you strive to LEARN why. That’s not what you’re doing. What you’re doing is stating that fundamental differences (which were just explained to you) are the same thing as no differences, which, in short, is the behaviour of a troll.

  • donarb

    I think the main reason that some MP3 players were initially supported in iTunes was because iTunes came from SoundJam, which already had support built-in for those devices.

    To answer another critic in this thread, this is one of the reasons that Daniel offers links to past articles in his current ones. You can easily look at the history that went before in order to understand what is currently going on.

  • ulicar

    I did say my EOD, but I have to reply to your post.

    There is nothing different in SAMBA and PRE approach, except small technical (one is using USB, the other whatever). The fact that YOU or anyone else say it is different, doesn’t make it different. You might not understand why I say it is the same, but that is going under the umbrella of me knowing what I’m talking about and you not.

    Palm with PRE is doing everything legitimately. If you say it is not, try making Apple lawyers sue them. You are funny.

    As I said, IE bundling did help Microsoft to get Netscape market share, but Netscape 4 was such shit product that I guess even without bundling IE would win. I had IE and Netscape 4 installed on my machine and I switched to IE. Now I am using more Firefox than IE.

    And now, please do not take this as an insult, but are you dense on purpose? PRE and iTunes cannot be compared to IE and Windows. What you are trying to do is stupid. I have said numerous times Apple has every right to break the protocol. That is not the issue. The issue is when Microsoft broken the protocol it was considered a dirty trick, but when Apple breaks it, somehow you think it is not dirty trick? Again, are you dense on purpose?

    Any company can go in and use iTunes the way they see fit, as long as they do not break any laws. I gave you all links to educate yourself about this, but I guess reading is not your strong side.

    Apple is doing this for the same reasons Microsoft was doing it. I did not say the following, but I second them.

    “Apple will face a user revolt in the coming years based upon Microsoft, Google and other yet-to-be-formed companies, undercutting their core markets with cheap, stable and open devices. Apple’s legendary comeback ability will be for naught if they don’t deeply examine their anti-competitive nature.

    Making great products does not absolve you from technology’s cardinal rule: Don’t be evil.”

    Now my real EOD

  • HCE


    > There is nothing different in SAMBA and PRE approach, except small
    > technical (one is using USB, the other whatever).

    The key difference is that what the Pre owner is being asked to do (install a small piece of software on his own machines) is possible and easy. What the Samba user has to do to avoid reverse engineering SMB is impossible – it is not practical, not to mention illegal to install my own piece of software on several hundred other machines not owned/controlled by me.

    In one case, there is an easy and practical alternative completely supported by Apple, in the other case, there is no practical alternative – period. Or are you telling me that installing my own software on several hundred machines most of which are owned by others is practical?

    I don’t pretend that Apple are saints but what they are doing this time is not “evil” in the least. There is a simple, supported way for pretty much every mobile device to sync up with iTunes and a lot of mobile phones out there make use of it. Palm alone has chosen to go with the “pretend I’m an iPod” route – not for any techinical reason but because it gives them publicity.

    – HCE

  • ulicar

    And again me

    Nope. What you are asking PRE users is to install a piece of software on every machine ‘B’ that they want their machine ‘A’ (pre) to talk to. Machine ‘B’ is not necessarily theirs, nor are they necessarily administrators (i.e. office PC).

    So in SAMBA world, if you want to talk to machine ‘B’, you would have to install a small piece of software on machine ‘B’. The same difference, and now you I hope can see that.

    How do I kill the e-mail notifications?

  • HCE


    > Machine ‘B’ is not necessarily theirs, nor are they necessarily
    > administrators (i.e. office PC).

    Er .. they have to install one piece of software anyway – iTunes – for the sync to work. No office PC that I have seen comes with iTunes preinstalled. If their office policies allow them to install software on their PCs, they will be able to install iTunes and also their own sync software. If their office policies are highly restrictive then they won’t be able to install iTunes in the first place and the whole discussion becomes moot.

    Anyway, looks like you are determined to paint Apple as evil. If you haven’t seen the distinction between these two cases yet, you never will.

    – HCE

  • donarb

    > How do I kill e-mail notifications?

    And now, please do not take this as an insult, but are you dense on purpose?

    If I were subscribed to some thread, I would probably look somewhere for a link on the page that said “Manage your subscriptions”. I’m thinking that link would be about 1/2 inch below where I’m typing this right now. At least that’s where it is in Safari, I don’t know, maybe they do it differently on Windows.

    Or maybe I’d RTFE, where the last line in the email would read something like:
    “To manage your subscriptions or to block all notifications from this site, click the link below:”. But again, I’m on a Mac, so with Windows, that link could be anywhere.

  • ulicar


    You are confusing two things. You are confusing how something is easy/hard, feasible/unfeasible for the user and how some things are technically and legally the same.

    Yes, I admit it is easy for me to install something, unless that something is not in our office allowed applications list, but that is totally not the argument in this discussion. It just shows that you can’t see forest for the trees. It does not make any difference if something is applied to two or twenty two millions of machines. Principal stays the same and technical rules, laws governing them and ethicality are the same.

    Apple did the same rotten thing MS did, bad decisions that in MS case returned to them as a boomerang. Apple might get the same pretty soon.

    @donarb tnx for the info

  • HCE


    I’m afraid it is you who are not seeing the forest for the trees. There is a simple way for Palm to achieve its objectives (something that a lot of others are using) but it insists on going through the back door. All that Apple is doing is blocking off that back door.

    Shutting the back door and forcing people to come in through the front door is qualitatively quite different from shutting all doors and forcing people to climb in through the window. The former restriction causes me next to no inconvenience while the latter causes me a lot of inconvenience. And you are trying to say that both amount to the same thing!!

    Apple is ethically obliged to give other mobile phone makers easy access to its platform. It has done so through a supported method. I don’t see that Apple has any ethical obligation to allow Palm to hack into its software in a way that was never supported – particularly when there is an extremely easy method of access that is available to all, Palm included.

    – HCE

  • ulicar

    “The former restriction causes me next to no inconvenience while the latter causes me a lot of inconvenience. And you are trying to say that both amount to the same thing!!”

    Yes! Finally! You are talking about convinience, not about legality and ethics. I am talking about legality and ethics, not convenience :) In terms of legality and ethics, Microsoft blocking their protocols is the same as Apple blocking theirs. No question about it. Convinience does not play any part in this. To fix either one blocking their protocols you either must reverse engineer the protocol (SAMBA/PRE) or set up separate system that would give you the fuinctionality you need (what is offically proposed by Apple and you).

  • HCE


    Please read the very next paragraph after the one you quoted. If you mean to say that Apple is being ethical only if they support Palm’s half-assed hacks then you have quite a strange idea of ethics.

    – HCE

  • ulicar

    Well, what is a half-assed hack is not important for this discussion. The fact stands, Apple breaks protocols the same way and for the same reasons as MS breaks protocols, hence if MS is bad and unethical, then Apple is bad and unethical.

  • JohnWatkins

    And in the Weather today, we will likely see a high in the 80′s with a warm and trolly afternoon and a touch of ogre by evening.

  • HCE


    > And in the Weather today, we will likely see a high in the 80’s

    Well, I certainly don’t intend to take it into the high 80s. I’ve made my last post on the subject.

  • ulicar


    It is interesting how somebody who beats your argument (?) as if you had one, is called a troll by default? Do you actually know why are you calling me a troll? Tell me, please I would like to know how your brain works. Is that all you can do, when no arguments are left unbeaten? Pathetic.

    No hurd mentality, but open mind and scepticism is what you obviouslly don’t get and call trolling. I guess that using your head for something more than wearing a baseball cap backwards is too much for you.

  • HCE


    You didn’t “beat” anyone’s argument. You seem to think that imposing *any* kind of restriction on how developers use your platform is some great ethical violation. Most of the rest of us on this page have absolutely no issue with some restrictions so long as developers are given easy ways of implementing the functionality they need.

    We can agree to disagree and let the matter rest.

    – HCE

  • ulicar


    That was not the discussion I was in. The discussion I was in was “If Apple did the same thing Microsoft did, should it be marked bad, the same way Microsoft was”. In that discussion, yours and everybody elses arguments were “not, because Apple is the Apple of my eye”, which is not quite acceptable argument anywhere except in the schoolyard, hence I was a troll(?) Funny.

  • http://wet.atari.org kovacm

    Hi, I must ask you something :) are you by any chance Uli R. from http://www.papyrus.de ??

  • http://wet.atari.org kovacm

    no, you are not :/
    I read all your comments now…

  • gplawhorn

    Microsoft has followed Apple for decades, but reading your article put it all together for me, a la “Twister.”

    Apple is Bill Paxton’s Bill Harding character. Apple has a feeling for the sky, and nothin’ gives Mac-heads (think Dusty) a better feeling than watchin’ Apple watch the sky: “We got greenage!”

    Microsoft is Cary Elwes’ Jonas Miller character. As Jo said, “He’s got no instincts.” Jonas watches to see what Bill will do, and then does that.

    Hopefully it won’t end with a radio tower ramming through Microsoft’s front windows and taking out Eddie the driver.

  • JohnWatkins

    @U, I think you hit it on the head saying,
    “The discussion I was in was ‘If Apple did the same thing Microsoft did, should it be marked bad, the same way Microsoft was.’ ”
    But since nobody bought your assertion that “Apple did the same thing Microsoft did,” you were really talking to yourself in your “discussion.”
    Perhaps this is our ‘hurd” mentality.

  • hmciv

    “[...I don't agree with the part about killing people though, that sounds like a Nazi/Republican idea. - Dan]”

    The Nazis killed an estimated 31 million people prior to and during the Second World War. Which Republican philosophy is so hateful it is equivalent to gassing, shooting or starving entire nations within their grasp?

  • nelsonart

    I’ll take the older Apple over the younger version. Ditto for Steve Jobs.

    I haven’t played with a Zune, but I’ve seen youtube videos. It really disturbed me that ‘Marketplace’ was cut off.

    Once again, Microsoft has no class.

  • Pingback: How Microsoft Got Bing, And Why It Is Failing to Matter — RoughlyDrafted Magazine()

  • Pingback: Apple’s 2009 iPod Event — RoughlyDrafted Magazine()

  • Pingback: Is Apple tying all media to its proprietary iPhone platform? — RoughlyDrafted Magazine()

  • Pingback: From OLED to Tegra: Five Myths of the Zune HD — RoughlyDrafted Magazine()

  • Pingback: Exclusive: Pink Danger leaks from Microsoft’s Windows Phone — RoughlyDrafted Magazine()

  • Pingback: Android hype vehicle set to crash in 2010 — RoughlyDrafted Magazine()