Daniel Eran Dilger
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Windows Phone 7: Microsoft’s third failed attempt to be Apple

Daniel Eran Dilger

Microsoft’s new Windows Mobile strategy is turning out to be just like its failed strategies for Vista and Zune: a belated, wrongheaded attempt to shamelessly copy Apple too late to make a difference, all while ignoring its own strengths in a delusional, self-destructive bid to be something it is not.
Those who forget the past are condemned to reread it, here. That’s because I like to frame current and future events in a historical context, rather than simply regurgitating the idealism that flows from the tech giants’ own public relations sirens.

This has helped me to be devastatingly accurate in predicting how things are likely to turn out, repeatedly. Microsoft’s latest strategy for its Windows Mobile smartphone platform, which is styled “Windows Phone 7” in line with the company’s hankering for calling a thing by another name to escape its currently disastrous reputation, is no different.

Rather than perpetuating its failed smartphone strategy with Windows Mobile and simply adding a layer of touch features in “version 7,” as the company first announced it would do a couple years ago, Microsoft is now planning to completely replace its existing smartphone platforms (including both button-oriented Windows Smartphones with no touch screen, and its stylus-driven, big screen Pocket PC phones) with a new device “series” that attempts to be as much like the iPhone as possible.

Microsoft Courier: the third weak link in a miserable mobile strategy

Competing with Apple’s past

The problem for Microsoft is that Windows Phone 7 won’t arrive until the end of the year at the very soonest. By then, Apple will have had the new iPhone 4.0 out for six months. Additionally, WP7 is really targeting the features of iPhone 2.0 from 2008. There’s a reason why Apple does not continue to sell iPhone 2.0 software: it’s outdated.

For starters, there’s no third party app background multitasking in WP7 like there is in today’s WiMo 6.x. That’s because Microsoft realizes that the “multitasking” features of WiMo 6.x are completely terrible, and that it makes more sense to isolate its own first party, bundled apps with background capabilities and simply leave third party apps with a simple “one at a time” run option.

That’s what Apple chose to do in iPhone 2.0 when it initially launched the App Store in 2008. But this summer, the iPhone will be moving beyond this early level of sophistication, adding rich abilities to move between concurrently running apps. This feature will be months old before WP7 actually appears with its three year old copy of Apple’s app strategy.

Similarly, WP7 won’t offer the iPhone’s system-wide copy and paste features that debuted with iPhone 3.0 last year. Apple took its time delivering copy and paste as a feature, resulting in an implementation that works far better than Android’s or other smartphones. But when WP7 shows up at the end of the year, it will again be trailing Apple’s strategy book by years.

No amount of apologetic PR is going to cover that fact up. And while Apple was roundly criticized for delaying copy and past features on the iPhone in 2007-2008, Microsoft’s doing so in 2011 is just too much. The world has moved on.

Microsoft’s in-Flash-uation with runtime apps

After trash-canning its existing Windows Mobile platform and apps (mostly written to Win32), Microsoft is hopeful that developers will flock back to create WP7 apps using Flash 10.1 and Silverlight. But both of those runtimes were created to spruce up the web, and have only recently been thrown at the mobile wall to see if they’ll stick.

There is no significant installed base of Flash 10.1 mobile apps, nor of Silverlight mobile apps. There’s also no installed base of users clamoring for Flash/Silverlight mobile content. And once the early Windows Enthusiast adopters see what is available from these ham-fisted, lowest common denominator runtime platforms, they’ll stop taking about these apps with giddy anticipation.

Flash and Silverlight are not native platforms; they’re a thick layer of “runs anywhere” stuff. And if history has taught us anything, it’s that nothing “runs anywhere” very well at all. Flash and Silverlight are the latest permutation of Java on the web or in mobile devices, which is to say, as tasty as vegemite outside of the Australian reality distortion field.

Fraud science used to promote Flash performance over web standards
Flash Wars: Adobe in the History and Future of Flash

XNA: as successful as Zune gaming

The other API Microsoft is associating with its WP7 vaporware is XNA, the company’s proprietary framework based on .NET that is intended for games development. According to Windows Enthusiasts and Microsoft’s own product demos, this will somehow shovel PC games and Xbox 360 experiences into the mobile screen of WP7 devices. This is absolutely ridiculous.

For starters, the Zune has already been supported by XNA Game Studio 3.0 since 2008, but that hasn’t resulted in the creation of any games anyone might want to play. But the idea that real desktop PC or console games will scale down to a mobile screen is simply preposterous.

Perhaps Microsoft can demonstrate childishly simply Java/Flash-type games that look thin on the PC and sort of work on mobiles, but that doesn’t mean developers will actually build them or consumers will appreciate them.

These lame demos are nothing like the pantheon of rich, native Cocoa Touch games that actual market forces conspired with major games developers to create for the iPhone and iPod touch. Two years ago, it was seen as slightly controversial for me to describe the iPhone as a gaming platform. That’s not the case today.

iPhone 2.0 SDK: Video Games to Rival Nintendo DS, Sony PSP

Microsoft’s money is not going to help

Even if XNA was wonderful stuff, the fact that nobody has any good reason to buy a Zune or WP7 phone erases any potential for new games development. The reality that Microsoft spent somewhere close to $10 billion dollars erecting its minimally profitable Xbox franchise indicates that just because Microsoft is rich doesn’t mean that it can create success efficiently.

Apple didn’t have to pay anyone to incentivize the development of iPhone and iPod touch games, nor did it have to deeply subsidize its device hardware or buy up games developers. It simply made great products the market flocked to buy and to create unique software content.

There is no evidence Microsoft knows how to do this or can do this short of spending many billions of dollars to prop up an illusion of desirability. And contrary to the fantasies of Windows Enthusiasts, Microsoft’s billions in cash aren’t sitting there ready to be thrown under the tires of its stuck vehicles. That money belongs to its shareholders, who will revolt if the company continues to eradicate its fortunes in a desperate bid to pretend to be like Apple.

Myth 7: The Xbox Success Myth
Why Can’t Microsoft Develop Software for Zune HD?

This all happened before

If Microsoft’s announcements heralding next year’s WP7 as being all but the match of the iPhone of 2008 sound familiar, it’s because this sort of thing is what the company has done repeatedly over the last decade. This is also the core reason why the company has performed so poorly in expanding its reach over the same period.

In the last ten years, Microsoft’s market capitalization has collapsed from a whopping $590 billion in 2000, back when Apple was valued by shareholders at just $16 billion. But today, Apple has grown to a valuation of $208 billion while Microsoft has settled down to one of just $261 billion.

This didn’t happen because Apple hoodwinked consumers with splashy devil marketing as Windows Enthusiasts like to suggest. It happened because Apple performed brilliantly while Microsoft not only lost sight of its core strengths but actually destroyed itself by chasing after Apple in hopes of stealing what was making Steve Jobs’ company great.

What Happens When Apple Passes Microsoft In Value? Yes, When. (Tech Crunch).

Part I – Windows

Recall that back around 2003-2005, Microsoft was running years-late into the Longhorn project, the successor to Windows XP that had run aground as a project management mess. It wouldn’t ultimately emerge as “Windows Vista” until the end of 2006, and it wasn’t really ready for general consumption until the end of 2007.

By that point, Microsoft had slipped from being the only real option in PC operating systems to being the vendor of a hysterical joke of an operating system that was now being unflatteringly compared to Apple’s Mac OS X at every mention, even by the formerly Microsoft-adoring tech media.

Why did Microsoft bungle Vista so badly after having essentially ruled the roost in PC operating systems since the IBM DOS PC arrived in 1981, and particularly since having stolen Apple’s Macintosh crown in the mid 90s with Windows 95?

A key reason was that Microsoft stopped doing what the company was good at, and attempted to copy the success Apple had created for itself with the development of Mac OS X in 2001, which was based on Steve Jobs’ NeXTSTEP software from the late 80s.

Windows 95 and Vista: Why 2007 Won’t Be Like 1995
The Vista Myth: Why Windows 7 Won’t Turn Microsoft Around

XP: How to successfully rip off Apple

In 2001, Microsoft was successful in stealing Apple’s “X” branding to associate its Windows “2000+ /5.1” product with the buzz surrounding the new NeXT-based Mac OS X. By branding it “Windows XP,” Microsoft successfully syphoned off some of the value of Apple’s work without actually straying from what it did well: shipping an OS that PC makers could put on their systems to avoid having to do their own operating system development.

Windows XP was a great upgrade for both consumers running the dreadful, DOS-based Windows 98/ME, and a significant jump for business users of the NT-based Windows 2000. It wasn’t anything spectacularly groundbreaking, but it didn’t need to be.

Microsoft’s OS monopoly was deeply entrenched and didn’t need to prove itself to users. Most users simply had no other choice and nothing else to compare Windows to in terms of technical sophistication. Most of the world had no idea that 2001’s Windows XP was in many respects less sophisticated than NeXTSTEP from 1988. The Microsoft-enraptured tech media certainly wasn’t about to criticize its largest benefactor in anyway.

After XP, Microsoft stopped trying to carry on with the minor feature upgrades and bug fixes that it had been successfully selling to its PC OEM licensees every year or two and instead made a terrible mistake: it decided to copy Apple. The problem is that Microsoft was nothing like Apple, nor was Windows anything like the Mac in terms of its audience of users and resellers.

Why OS X is on the iPhone, but not the PC

Vista: Microsoft’s disastrous Mac OS X clone debacle

Court documents reveal that Microsoft’s executives and managers began a delusional enrapturement with beating Apple at its own game. This involved designating Longhorn’s key features in imitation of Mac OS X, starting with a system-wide compositing graphics engine modeled after Apple’s Mac OS X Quartz Graphics. That feature alone all but sealed Vista’s ultimate failure and rejection in the market.

The problem was that Microsoft wasn’t selling Windows to Mac users (professional graphic designers and customers seeking a glossy, fun desktop experience on their premium-priced computers); it was supposed to be selling Windows to frumpy PC makers with no interest in flare, no appreciation for aesthetics, and really no desire to do anything but poop out easy to market, low quality, cheap PCs.

Microsoft’s PC making partners didn’t want Windows to be great, they wanted it to minimally facilitate their hardware sales as cheaply as possible. Microsoft was making astronomical profits on Windows licensing, but its insatiable greed pushed it focus on nailing down casual piracy while raising the price of Windows and introducing artificially limited “editions” with Vista in hopes that its captive PC audience would pay even more for even less than they had been.

ZDNet’s George Ou Exposed as Ignorant Microsoft Shill (Quickdraw to Quartz)

Copied to death

Vista’s fancy graphics layer copied from Mac OS X (albeit six years late) only resulted in making it slower and less compatible with XP’s games and apps and the existing hardware the PC users expected to use it with. Combined with a few other disastrous engineering mistakes, including an entirely new driver model that introduced all sorts of initial hardware issues, Vista tanked right from the starting line and never recovered.

In retrospect, Microsoft clearly should have delivered “Windows XP 2003/05/07” (or otherwise rebranded a series of nominal improvements however the company’s marketing wonks thought best) and simply replicated its wild success in the 1990s, when it excreted regular new editions of Windows, each often worse than the last in some respects, but new enough in various ways to allow the company to inhale billions in revenues for its half-assed efforts at stalling the progress of technological advancement.

That was Microsoft’s core competency; creating a fancy OS that challenged the market and asked consumers to “Think Different” and “Get a Mac,” were elements of Apple’s playbook that Microsoft had no business trying to act out. The result is that, today, the most valuable portion of the global PC market is quickly slipping from Microsoft’s grasp, even as the overall PC business lumbers toward obsolescent erosion as handheld mobile devices increasingly take over.

SCO, Linux, and Microsoft in the History of OS: 1990s
SCO, Linux, and Microsoft in the History of OS: 2000s

This all happened before: Part II – MP3 players

While Microsoft was busy converting its ironclad Windows monopoly into the crumpling laughingstock of Vista, it also managed to squeeze in a second, equally disastrous effort at beating Apple at being Apple, despite being completely unqualified to be anything like Apple at all. This time it was Microsoft’s attempt to clone Apple’s new iPod music player.

In the late 90s, Microsoft was scrambling to find some use for Windows CE, the mobile operating system it had created to run clamshell “Handheld PCs,” which were intended to serve as cheap laptop replacements. After the HHPC failed to elicit any attention, Microsoft retargeted its product at the Palm Pilot, hoping that it could steal the PDA market.

In a way, the company did snatch away an expensively waged victory from Palm in the PDA arena, but only after it had become obvious that PDAs were headed nowhere and that victory in PDAs post-2000 was a bit like cornering the buggy whip market in the 1940s. The future of PDAs was clearly going to be delivered by smartphones, but there was also a lot of work left to be done before that market would emerge.

The Spectacular Failure of WinCE and Windows Mobile

Success to copy: the iPod

In 2001, Apple released the iPod as a sophisticated MP3 player after determining that was the most valuable way to expand its business in mobile devices. By 2004, Apple was gaining new recognition both as a consumer electronics maven and as an emerging player in digital media sales and content distribution with iTunes.

Rather than plugging along being a boring vendor of software, Microsoft decided it would simply take away Apple’s position much like it had a decade prior with Windows 95. The problem was that mobile devices bore little resemblance to commodity PCs of the previous decade.

Mobile EEE PC, UMPC, and Internet Tablets vs the iPhone

History only repeats for those who ignore it

Apple wasn’t selling the iPod as a premium priced, specialized tool for creative professionals (as it had with the Mac in the late 80s); it was targeting the iPod at the broad consumer market. Microsoft really had no experience in selling mobile devices and no real success in marketing a Windows-like software layer to mobile device makers.

Over the past decade, Microsoft’s HHPC had failed, Pocket PC PDAs had gone nowhere, Windows Mobile phones were still in early draft stages, and other ideas for applying Windows CE (including the fiasco known as the Gizmondo handheld gaming device) had similarly shown little potential.

The software platform licensing model that had worked so well for the PC wasn’t working at all in mobile devices, but Microsoft and its supporters refused to consider the possibility that, perhaps, Microsoft would be just as bad at pushing “Windows” into mobile devices as it had been in pushing “Windows” into copiers, pens, and tablets in the 1990s. Which is to say, completely and utterly ineffectual.

The inside track on Apple’s tablet: a history of tablet computing
Microsoft uses adware model to pay for Zune HD apps

If you can’t beat em, clone em

Microsoft desperately worked to set up an ecosystem of device makers and music retailers, apparently unaware that there would be no real money to be made in selling software to MP3 device makers, and no real money to be made by store partners who planned to sell and rent digital content to MP3 device owners. Apple appeared to realize this, and so it operated its iTunes Store at break-even just to support sales of its integrated hardware-software product.

Once Microsoft’s “PlaysForSure” effort had become an obvious failure, the company decided to dump everything and pounce upon Apple’s iPod strategies, just as it had blindly copied the strategy for Mac OS X to create the failure known as Vista (and just as it is today doing in ditching Windows Mobile to flatter the iPhone with some weak efforts at imitation in its WP7 strategy).

In doing so, Microsoft would eclipse the connotation of disastrous incompetence that it had branded into the tech world’s notion of the word “Vista,” and capture an even more intensely profound sense of inept failure in “Zune,” the nonsense word it had unwittingly selected for such ostracism.

The problem with Zune wasn’t that Microsoft had created a completely terrible product; the device was actually developed by Toshiba, and worked serviceably as an MP3 player. The core problem with Zune was that it wasn’t really competitive with the iPod in any respect. That was a critical problem because by 2006 the iPod was already firmly entrenched as the standard in MP3 players.

Microsoft frets Google’s Nexus One will suffer Zune’s failure

Why Zune failed

Microsoft’s Zune effort targeted where the iPod’s puck had been in 2005, not where it was headed. At the late 2006 Zune launch, Apple flexed its component pricing muscle to undercut Microsoft’s original asking price. Additionally, Apple had a series of mature iPod hardware and iTunes software features that Microsoft simply didn’t have time to match by the Zune’s debut. Then, just a few months later Apple debuted the iPhone, which instantly rendered the Zune a laughably outdated relic.

This happened despite the cries of Microsoft Enthusiasts who insisted that the 2006 Zune should only be compared to the 2005 hard-drive based iPod, because that’s all the vision Microsoft had exercised in developing the Zune as a product.

However, the market realized that Apple had a far more advanced idea of what it planned to debut in 2007; that included the iPod touch later that year, which dropped just as Microsoft attempted to push out a slightly improved, second-generation but still third rate Zune lineup.

By the time Microsoft followed up with its third generation Zune HD a year later, Apple had already established the iPhone and iPod touch as a strong software platform with lots of developer support creating apps and a vast installed base of users ready to pay for them. There was no real reason for any iPhone OS users to defect to the Zune HD; it wasn’t cheaper, it didn’t really do anything of value better, and lacked both the developer interest and an installed base that might ever change that.

There was also no real market for “fancy MP3 player” users outside of the one Apple had created for itself. The market was no longer emerging; it was mature. Microsoft was simply too late, and offering too little to make up for its lost time.

Strike 3: Why Zune will Bomb this Winter (2006)
Why Microsoft’s Zune is Still Failing (2007)
Zune Sales Still In the Toilet (2008)

This is all happening again: Part III – the smartphone

When Apple first announced the iPhone, Microsoft’s chief executive smirked at its price and directed attention to his own company’s low cost alternatives, including the simple Motorola Q, a cheap button-oriented device without a touch screen. Microsoft was also attempting to sell more expensive, PDA-based Pocket PC smartphones with a touch-sensitive screen, but these used an old fashioned stylus, not the multitouch-savvy, finger sensitive capacitance screen of the iPhone.

Over the next three years, Microsoft failed to deliver anything other than minor bug fixes to its Windows Mobile platform even as the iPhone decimated Microsoft’s smartphone market share. Windows Mobile 7, which was originally promised to arrive last fall and bring multitouch features with it, ended up being delayed for WiMo 6.5, a minor upgrade hailed in a marketing partnership with LG last year. Since then, WiMo sales have only tanked further, even as the company struggled to clone Apple’s iTunes App Store under the name Windows Marketplace for Mobile.

When that didn’t immediately result in success, Microsoft announced WP7 as a new strategy intended to wipe out the failure associated with WiMo by delivering something with flashy print-style graphics reminiscent of the Zune, as if begin at all like the Zune was even a good idea.

Microsoft sells restrictive new WiMo Marketplace via iPhone ads

Microsoft eats its partners, slaps its users

Just as the Zune stomped on Microsoft’s PlaysForSure partners, WP7 will destroy the existing WiMo platform and obsolesce all of the titles created by Microsoft’s existing third party software developers, as I anticipated last August.

This type of thing would be bewailed as completely outrageous if it were pulled off by any other company, a true testament to the lack of credibility among the tech world’s blindly gullible pundits who spew Microsoft’s press releases without criticism, in anticipation of their next box of free products from the company.

WP7 will also relegate all those (often very expensive) WiMo 6.1 and 6.5 phones that Microsoft did manage to sell to users over the past three years into the dusty old gadget box, as the company has no plans to or interest in supporting its existing users on the new smartphone platform via a software upgrade.

Who exactly will be buying new WP7 phones? Will it be the old WiMo customers Microsoft kicked to the curb? Will it be the weak minority of Zune fans who weren’t able to rescue Microsoft from embarrassment over the past three years of its trying to sell that? Will it be iPhone users who want to revert back two or three years into the past technologically?

Why Microsoft Will Slaughter Its Windows Mobile and PC Partners

I know Apple, and you Microsoft are no Apple

Microsoft seems to think that if it builds the WP7 platform of devices, a market will create itself. But that wasn’t really the case with HHPC, nor Pocket PC, nor Tablet PC, nor ten years of Windows Mobile, nor PlaysForSure, nor Spot watches, nor Mira terminals, nor “Origami” UMPC tablets, nor three years of Zune, nor this year’s Slate PC.

Microsoft needs to recognizing that it’s simply no good at being Apple because it’s nothing like Apple. Sure, it was able to rip off the Macintosh in the mid 90s, but that was because both companies (back then) were being run by salesmen. Microsoft was also able to rip off Netscape to create the Internet Explorer monopoly and emulate Sony in creating the Xbox franchise, but both of those companies were weak or poorly managed, and nothing like today’s Apple.

Today’s Apple is creating something that neither entrenched smartphone leaders nor the top consumer electronics firms have been able to match. So why does Microsoft, which has never had any real successful presence in marketing technology directly to consumers, think it can play in this arena?

This company needs to go back to doing what it does best, which is apparently ripping off the enterprise with outrageously expensive software licensing tied to a proprietary trap. That core competency just doesn’t translate into the smartphone business.

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  • FightTheFuture

    I’m actually looking forward to see how WP7 will perform in the market. There has been nothing but hype surrounding Google’s Android, the Droid, and the Nexus One for the past 6 months. I’d like to see how the mobile wars rage on when WP7, Android, the new Symbian OS, and Blackberry (when it launches it’s new WebKit browser) face off on different phones at once. Whether we like to admit it or not, the alternative user experience is getting more sophisticated – eventually the line between the feature set of the iPhone and any other smartphones will become blurred.

    I’d also like to see how Apple responds come June. If Apple spent so much money on the A4, I’d like to see what they can do with it. There’s no way Steve Jobs didn’t foresee this current rise of smartphones replicating the iPhone’s features. They have to have SOMETHING cooking that will make the iPhone stand above the rest, hardware or software… And no, multi-tasking is not a killer app.

  • Jenz

    “Those who forget the past are condemned to reread it, here.”
    Hah, spot on!
    I too am watching the Market with interest, wondering how it will play out with WP7/Droid and the rest. We’re living in interesting times for sure (wasn’t that supposed to be a ancient curse?)
    Anyway, liked the “scatological references” in your article, worth the wait ;-)

  • broadbean

    Hey, leave Vegemite alone! Just because you guys don’t know how to eat it (hint – don’t spread it like peanut butter!), doesn’t mean Vegemite won’t grow on non-native Australians.

  • Mike

    Well done. Although I think it’s a bit of a hyperbole to call reputable pundits cheering for Microsoft, because clearly even enthusiasts have a hard time explaining how starting from scratch is a good idea for Windows Mobile, other than to say that the previous version sucked. It’s basically an omission that your product was so lousy that even the company selling the product decided to scrap it altogether. Of course, the problem with trying to out-Apple Apple is that no one has successfully done that, and there’s definitely no proof that Microsoft can do it. But I guess this is where you differ, saying that Microsoft just can’t compete with Apple on the iPhone. It’s actually questionable what company can… besides the Android alliance… of an entire industry working against Apple.

  • Norman

    Hi, been a long time since your last post, but it was worth the wait.

    Interestingly, after Jobs’ return, the first thing he realized was that for Apple to succeed, it had to stop trying to be a better Microsoft. So it seems, Apple has learned its lesson early – the same lesson Microsoft continously fails at.


  • Ludor

    Awesome to have you back, Daniel.

  • wings

    “Whether we like to admit it or not, the alternative user experience is getting more sophisticated – eventually the line between the feature set of the iPhone and any other smartphones will become blurred.”

    It’s not the list of features. It’s the software that makes the real difference.

  • gplawhorn

    Apple = Willy Wonka. Microsoft = The Man Behind the Curtain.

    Microsoft continues to succeed because users of Windows, Zune (yes, there are a few), WinCE (my favorite MS acronym of all time), et al, believe what they are told, without asking embarrassing questions, like “is it supposed to be this green-brown baby poop shade?” The “Wizard of Redmond” insults them in advertising, and they line up to buy.

    At the same time the “Cupertino Candy Man” is busy making everything satisfying and delicious, granting us our childhood wishes (you can even eat the dishes). Apple fans* can taste the quality in the product. That keeps us coming back for more.

    *there’s an article for you – no one ever calls MS users “fans.” Maybe it’s “the Apple users” and “the Microsoft used”.

  • rufustfirefly

    Good article – repeats themes from previous ones. Daniel – I think with your awareness of the players and the available approaches that you could gaze into the future with an article about where the next 10 years will take computing. Will the failings of Microsoft, the weakness of Palm, the uncertainty of things like Droid, mean that Apple will slowly achieve market dominance due to its product excellence, the integrated approach, and just as important, the lack of any serious challenger with similar skills? It could happen. And if it were to happen, would a movement build to dismantle the emerging Apple monopoly? The next 5-10 years will be fun to watch. Good article, Daniel.

  • Geoduck

    The most important part of the whole piece is this:

    “In the last ten years, Microsoft’s market capitalization has collapsed from a whopping $590 billion in 2000, down to one of just $261 billion.”

    There should be an absolute stockholder revolt. Ballmer and everyone else at the top should be out on their ear. Is there any other company that lost over half of their companies MarketCap because of a decade of complete incompetence that hasn’t either had a top down management housecleaning or collapsed and cost their investors dearly?

    This has all the hallmarks of another GM only this time I hope nobody is stupid enough to try to prop up a failing incompetently run company with public cash.

  • FreeRange

    “Whether we like to admit it or not, the alternative user experience is getting more sophisticated – eventually the line between the feature set of the iPhone and any other smartphones will become blurred.”

    This may be true, but the real issue is that they can’t duplicate or compete against the entire Apple ecosystem which includes the Mac, the iPhone, the iPod, the iPad, iTunes, OS X and all the great software that Apple provides with every Mac purchase! Once people have their digital lives loaded on any of these Apple devices, which all work seamlessly with each other, why in the world would they switch to anything else? Plus users keep beating the drum to everyone that will listen that Apple provides a far superior user experience. That it provides the absolute best user experience. Match point.

    Welcome back Daniel – we missed you!

  • berult

    A Person’s mind lives within the impervious and yet fully interactive wall of its own body. This organic shell is a basic and fundamental protection, enabler, and enhancement to the thought process.
    It is the cradle of a free mind.
    There is absolutely no need for a replacement solution to this evolutionary wonder. Unless you wish to collectivize, reengineer it for you profit.

    Nature developed Enclosed Openness. Job and Apple are models of consistency in that regard; they extend Nature’s bequest to the efficient, highly integrated but intimately personalized future Human endeavors.

    You do your own thing but in an intuitively cooperative way. Without subservience. With full respect for the Will to opt out.

    People who follow Nature’s Model more closely are bound to be successful; by definition.
    People who follow People who follow Nature’s Model closely are bound to be ignorant of the Original impulse; they are out of the Organic loop and chronically gate-crashing Human’s noble Fate.

  • rufustfirefly


    You say, “Nature developed Enclosed Openness” – Nature is not a being with a will to develop, or an intellect to give it the appreciation of the virtue of “enclosed openness”. Nature is the world as it is. What created the “enclosed openness” you refer to is something else.

  • http://macsmarticles.blogspot.com Derek Currie

    Kick ass Dan! An excellent piece of exposé. Your mastery of the tiniest details of fact and history consistently astounds me. I hope you are healing up nicely. Please play safely and live to write another day!

  • http://macsmarticles.blogspot.com Derek Currie


    How (or why) does one eat Vegemite? The story of Dr. Seuss’ “Green Eggs and Ham” keeps reeling through my brain. Perhaps as the frosting on a cake for Bill Gates’ birthday? ;-)

  • John E

    no mention of Windows 7? which is of course the 2nd of version of Vista, the one that “doesn’t suck” because it is an even more obvious knock-off of the OS X UI … would have fit the theme of the article. except … it doesn’t suck.

    isn’t WinMo 7 still CE underneath? i don’t think MS really built a whole new mobile OS. can it be scaled up for tablet devices?

    looked at Amazon. the Zune is up to #11 in sales ranking! with iPods 9 of the top 10, plus one cheap Sandisk. wonder how many Zunes have been sold … and how many still actually in use (bet few pre-HD ones survive). why does Amazon give the Zune equal hype with iPod on the landing page? some deal with MS?

    watching the battle between WinMo 7, Android, and Symbian3 will be very interesting starting late this year. right now they aim at the iPhone – but the iPhone is in a class by itself really with the complete Apple package (so is RIM, although its niche may slowly shrink). so instead they will have to fight among themselves for the rest of the market. which means dozens of models, low prices, lots of telco branding/monetizing, with massive fragmentation and minimal profits overall. and no cross compatibility, so consumers will hate it all when it comes time to get a new phone that can’t use any of your old apps …

  • Maniac

    @Geoduck: “There should be an absolute stockholder revolt. ”
    Especially when you compare Microsoft’s market cap slide against Apple’s relentless gains. I think much of Microsoft’s attempt to mimic Apple is a reaction to major shareholders screaming “Do something! Anything!”

  • Chipotle

    Will the failings of Microsoft, the weakness of Palm, the uncertainty of things like Droid, mean that Apple will slowly achieve market dominance due to its product excellence, the integrated approach, and just as important, the lack of any serious challenger with similar skills?

    I think this makes an assumption that Google is not a serious challenger with sufficient, if not necessarily similar, skills. It’s fun to bag on Android, but it’s got some pretty serious firepower, and the people I know who have Android-based phones like them a lot.

    The big challenge ahead for Apple is to avoid a repeat in the mobile space of what happened in the PC space (using “PC” in its original “personal computer” sense, not the “IBM PC compatible” sense). MS-DOS and Windows–particularly the 16-bit Windows series–weren’t nearly as sophisticated as the Mac OS, but they were “open” in ways Mac OS wasn’t: any OEM could produce a machine that could run them (and they could even write drivers for new hardware if they wanted to), and development tended to be cheaper and easier.

    There are big differences: Apple has much greater weight already in the mobile space than they did in the PC space, and even though you can only get the iPhone OS on an Apple iPhone, this “vendor lock-in” doesn’t translate to higher prices for hardware–you’ll spend about as much for an Android phone as you will for a comparable iPhone.

    On the other hand, the Mac was just as “open” in terms of software as the PC was, and the iPhone is not. So far this battle has been chiefly of interest to geeks, not average consumers, but I’m not as sanguine as Mr. Dilger seems to have been that this is going to remain true. I simply don’t think the “single gatekeeper” approach Apple has been taking can scale indefinitely, and as long as they try they’ll experience minor-to-medium PR blowups on a regular basis–not something a company as brand-conscious as Apple wants.

    I don’t really think there will be a repeat of the Mac-vs.-PC battle of yore, but I don’t think the iPhone is going to be an unstoppable force crushing all opponents, either. Despite the legal battles with HTC, I don’t expect Android to lose any momentum. The latitude its OEMs have with shaping the user experience is often painted as a negative by iPhone partisans, and there’s some truth to it, but it also means that the user experience can change radically if the legal landscape requires it. And if Microsoft decides to stay in this for the long haul–and sharing DNA with the XBox and the Zune suggests that intent–don’t count them out. (The Zune hasn’t set the world on fire, to be sure, but the XBox has been whomping the PlayStation and recently even edging out the Wii for the #1 console spot.) A big mistake a lot of people have made in blithely dismissing the iPhone and now the iPad has been to assume that what Apple is shipping at any given point in time is the Way It Will Always Be: that the OS will never support third-party native apps, or cut-and-paste, or task switching. Likewise, don’t assume that what we’ve seen of Phone 7 so far is what Windows Phone is going to always be.

  • beanie

    Daniel Eran Dilger wrote:
    “devastatingly accurate in predicting how things are likely to turn out, repeatedly”

    Like how you predicted Windows 7 is the next Zune. Or like how you predicted Android hype would crash in 2010. Windows 7 is such a hit, Apple has stopped running a “Get a Mac” ads. The last “Get a Mac” ad was on Win7 launch day. Android U.S. marketshare has increased from 9% to 17% since the beginning of the year.

    Daniel Eran Dilger wrote:
    “Flash and Silverlight are not native platforms”

    The key is that they are the full APIs of the desktop runtimes allowing easy porting between platforms. No native apps means any CPU can be used. For example, x86-based Intel Atom CPUs can be used for WP7 OS devices.

    Danie Eran Dilger wrote:
    “XNA: as successful as Zune gaming”

    XNA SDK for Zune HD only has 2D and no marketplace for games. But XNA for WinPhone7 has 3D and marketplace.

    Roughlydrafted predicts Windows Phone 7 failure. Yeah, right. Silverlight and XNA extend the desktop, which Microsoft dominates, to smartphones which are computers with little screens.

    Daniel Eran Dilger wrote:
    “”shamelessly copy Apple too late to make a difference, all while ignoring its own strengths””

    Microsoft is licensing the WinPhone7 OS and services and making available the development tools. So they are staying in there core strengths. It is not too late. It is now obvious to see that .NET is the future of both desktop OS and smartphone OS from Microsoft.

  • enzos

    It’s a savoury spread, Derek, made from beer dregs; sugar free and chockablock full of B-group vitamins, which is we’re so virile, healthy and good-looking (and modest!). Try a little on hot buttered toast with strong english tea – you’ll be hooked in no time.

    Vegemite in an “Australian reality distortion field” … well I guess that’s a step on from the old “I expect you Ossies see plenty of kangaroos in the Backout when you’re walking along upside-down” we used to get greeted by in Britain.

  • Ludor

    beanie: “Windows 7 is such a hit, Apple has stopped running a “Get a Mac” ads.”

    I’m sure there’s a correlation there. Might depend on which camp you favor. Yes, Windows 7 sells in hundreds of millions just as Vista did, but isn’t that mostly because of the widely accepted monopolistic way that Microsoft dominates the desktop segment? Where Dilger aimed to prove Windows pundits wrong, best as I recall, was the notion that Windows 7 would give Microsoft back its marketshare of the late nineties, that people would start making the informed choice to buy a PC because Windows 7 was much more awesome than OS X. I can’t see where he went wrong in that prediction.

    “The key is that they are the full APIs of the desktop runtimes allowing easy porting between platforms.”

    But the problem is that they perform badly on handheld devices, which I hear is all the hullaballoo these days.

    “XNA for WinPhone7 has 3D and marketplace.”

    But no market.

  • Ludor

    oops, missed a “not”, as in “I’m not sure.”

  • Ludor

    Google images of Vegemite, for humor and confusion.

  • http://info-tran.com/ Dave Lindhout

    Daniel, a little constructive criticism…

    Don’t get too full of yourself. Your batting average is due to Apple’s success, not your ability to successfully predict market acceptance. Don’t take the credit yourself. One Apple misstep, or one Microsoft success, and your “devastatingly accurate” predictions comes to an end.

    You have already won the hearts and minds of the Apple enthusiasts. You need to be less biased to gain stature in the Microsoft community. You present plenty of facts to substantiate your position. You don’t need to bitch slap the competition. You will reach a larger audience by saying less.


    I enjoy your contributions, I appreciate the facts you present, and I appreciate your commentary. And it reads like your hand is getting better. Keep on truckin’…

  • Chipotle

    @beanie: The argument for XNA/Silverlight’s superiority you’re making seems to be predicated on the notion that developing apps that use a single, standard API that runs on a VM and thus can run anywhere the VM has been ported to is demonstrably superior to developing apps that use a single, standard API that… can run natively anywhere the API has been ported to. Apple’s development tools are already very well-designed for compiling to different architectures; if they ported the iPhone OS to the Atom, it would be another checkbox in XCode to compile to it.

    While Microsoft may “dominate the desktop,” Silverlight and .NET are hardly dominating. Most Windows users I know who are aware of .NET at all aren’t fans of it (the very popular RSS reader FeedDemon at one time listed “not built on .NET” as a selling point), and Silverlight has not exactly been setting the world on fire. Let’s be honest here: we’ve heard a lot of bewailing about Flash, but how many pundits have you seen predicting the iPad is going to fail because it doesn’t have Silverlight? That would be, I believe, zero.

    Of course, this all belies the minor point that XNA has already been demonstrated running on the iPhone:


    Oh. And remind me, how’d that whole VMs-are-the-future thing work out for Sun?

  • iLogic


    This is your best buddy – dude, seriously I would throw down one grand to smoke the green while you come up with this crap! :DDD

    Thank you Daniel, thank you…

  • ShabbaRanks

    Marmite rules, Vegemite sucks.

    God, I can’t believe it’s come to this…

    Nice article Dan.

  • enzos

    > God, I can’t believe it’s come to this… <

    A yeast extract Atheist! Which figures for someone who prefers Marmite.

    Might be wrong but I took “devastatingly accurate predictions" as tongue-in-cheek braggadocio.. a bit of Clayton's swagger. Something that's usually followed by a warning about tickets blowing off and ending in a more serious dialogue.

    The conclusions of the article itself are almost self-evident to anyone who knows the track record of MS.

    Well articulated, Dan!


  • FightTheFuture

    @ wings
    “It’s not the list of features. It’s the software that makes the real difference.”
    & @FreeRange
    “the real issue is that they can’t duplicate or compete against the entire Apple ecosystem”

    which is all the more reason why we need more competitors to duke it out. it’ll highlight how the iPhone does smartphone “the iTunes way.” right now, a lot of people don’t understand the difference between the iPhone and the Nexus One. they both have similar hardware and software. one might say the Android software is almost as good as the iPhone’s and not an issue.

    if it where Android vs WP7 vs ‘new Symbian’ vs ‘better Blackberry,’ we would really see how the Apple digital lifestyle separates from the pack. how does the experience of syncing files with the Nexus One or Droid fare with users anyway? all I read from them is 128MB vs 256MB, OLED vs LCD…

  • gctwnl

    Nice article.

    The use of Microsoft’s market cap spike in 2000 is a bit unfair, though. Microsoft has hovered around $B270 market cap before and after the spike. This chart shows how Microsoft grew end grew and has been stagnant since 1998 or so (not counting the dot com boom)


    Microsoft has been an average performer compaired to the Nasdaq over the last 5 years. It is Apple that is the odd one out:


    That last one doesn’t show the last rise of Apple to its current $226/share or so, btw.

    Anyway, with respect to copying. In my opinion, Microsoft is trying pretty hard not to copy Apple with Win7, but only as far as this is possible. Choosing limited multitasking, for instance, is just plain sense given battery limitations, Apple just realized this earlier than everybody else and built an infrastructure to get around most of the disadvantages (e.g. push notifications). I find such copying less irritating. And this idea of having the ‘desktop’ run off the screen (by showing only a part of what is there) thus letting the screen be a view on a larger space is new in smartphone UI. The living tiles are not new (OS X had them for a long time in the Dock and NeXTSTEP before OS X), but their use in a smarphone is new too, I think. It seems to me, the WinMo 7 team is trying to go for user experience, which is something Microsoft never has been particularly good at and Apple has a huge, huge lead. Microsoft not producing an unlimited-multitasking phone OS is something new: in the past they would have gone for useless technical things (like unlimited multitaksing) but this time it seems they have learnt a lesson.

    The question is: is it enough and not too late for Microsoft? Because as has been pointed out in these articles, WinMo 7 has to compete against a more or less free Android (not truly free, you need to invest resources) if it wants to offer WinMo 7 to other manufacturers and if it goes vertical by only supporting its own hardware (going the Apple route) it is very, very late to the game of building a marketplace and a polished product.

    Anyway, while Microsoft clearly follows Apple’s lead, the question is if all that Microsoft does may be called copycat behaviour. If there are no true alternatives, what should any competitor do? Give up?

  • JohnWatkins

    Very nice! Your post is like a little slice of “The Enlightenment.” I like the metaphor, the analysis, and the language.

    And to Daniel,
    Nice to see you back at it. Two excellent articles. Way to go. Very informative and interesting.

  • muttys

    @broadbean There is a reason you have to spread veggiemite so thinly, it’s because it’s disgusting! :)

  • harrywolf

    “Whether we like to admit it or not, the alternative user experience is getting more sophisticated – eventually the line between the feature set of the iPhone and any other smartphones will become blurred.”

    No, actually the user experience ISNT getting more sophisticated because they run crappy software and rely on ‘feature’ sets instead of thinking about how smartphones are actually USED.

    Windows is finished, but will take some time to decline.
    Apple is ready to drop prices by 25% and take a higher market share.
    The war is still on and I dont think Steve Jobs will rest until he dominates the PC market – again.

    As for Daniel E. Dilger – is there really ANYONE out there who gets it better than he does?

    Answer: NO.

  • edster

    I hate the modern use of “decimate” to describe wiping out a significant portion of something.

    In my mind, decimate simply means a 10% reduction. We need a term like anti-decimate to mean wiping out 90%.

    (Decimate was a Roman military practice of literally killing every 10th soldier as a form of discipline, as in 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-dead-1-2…)

  • gus2000

    Select “decimate”, right-click, select “Look Up in Dictionary”:

    “USAGE: Historically, the meaning of the word decimate is ‘kill one in every ten of (a group of people).’ This sense has been superseded by the later, more general sense ‘kill or destroy a large percentage or part of,’ as in : the virus has decimated the population. Some pedantic jerks traditionalists argue that this and other later senses are incorrect, but it is clear that these extended senses are now part of standard.”

    Oh, these kids and their modern word use! I probably shouldn’t even ask you about “chillax” or “ginormous”. :P

    Back on topic: Dan’s reasoned analysis has proved to be far more accurate than the wild “hooked on hystrionics” predictions of the sycophantic tech media. Go back and read the RDM archives, they’re quite enlightening when read under the bright lights of hindsight.

  • shadash

    Well Microsoft might not be able to out-Apple Apple, but Google might. The link below shows to me that the abysmal experience on AT&T’s network is eating into Apple’s share of the mobile web pie, and portends future gains by Google in sales as well. Android not better than the iPhone OS, but “good enough” on a much better network to get some people who would have considered an iPhone to get a Droid or Nexus One instead. I for one am done with AT&T, but I haven’t decided whether I’m going to jailbreak my iPhone and put it on T-Mobile or get a Droid.


  • http://themacadvocate.com TheMacAdvocate

    Reading this is like watching pre-Douglas Tyson montage. Brutally efficient. I’d put this up there with any of your synopses. Well done.

  • http://ObamaPacman.com ObamaPacman

    Perhaps you don’t realize that Apple’s 2007 iPhone sold many times more than the best Android phone, the nexus one?

    The freetards have a lot of free time, but don’t really have the money to buy actual products.

  • shadash


    Android phones as a whole might – and I stress might – eventually outsell the iPhone. It is a viable substitute for the iPhone if you don’t want to be on AT&T. As much as I love my iPhone, I have been on AT&T for almost 3 years and I am done with dropped calls and no reception anywhere I use my phone. If Apple doesn’t move this summer I am moving on, sadly.

  • SteveS

    @Dave Lindhout:
    I agree completely. Daniel blindly defends any product Apple produces or action Apple takes and attacks whoever is out of favor with Apple at the time. Seeing as how things have gone Apple’s way for the most part is the exact correlation for his “devastating accuracy”.

    “Windows 7 is such a hit, Apple has stopped running a “Get a Mac” ads. The last “Get a Mac” ad was on Win7 launch day. ”

    Have you seen any Mac ads recently? No. Have Mac sales continued to increase since the debut of Windows 7? Yes. Are 50% of customers buying Macs from an Apple store still new to the platform? Yes.

    Windows 7 will do better than Vista. Yes, it’s a better product than Vista is. It will sell well. Microsoft has a monopoly and customers don’t have a choice. The company I work for will be moving to Windows 7 in 2011 because they don’t have a choice. MS won’t license XP beyond 2010. Bravo, Microsoft sells well to a captive audience. However, none of that changes the dynamics of how Windows competes with OS X. OS X is still a better operating system and Apple’s market share continues to increase.

    As for Windows Phone 7, expect this to enjoy about as much success as the Zune HD. Sure, the Zune HD is a much better product than previous Zunes, but it was a day late and a dollar short. MS did the right thing by dumping the legacy Windows Mobile, but the best you’ll be able to say about Windows Phone 7 is that it now has a more competitive user interface, but at the cost of basic features like cut and paste. Apple was able to get away with this in 2007 because it introduced a ground breaking, innovative new interface to this type of a device. People were willing to cut Apple some slack on the missing features because the overall experience was still that much better. WP7 does nothing more than put MS back into the hunt from an interface perspective, but it still trails at the feature level and as of yet, has no real support from third party developers.

    MS’s partners have largely abandoned them in favor of Android. Ironically, WP7’s best chance of success comes from Apple. If Apple is able to successfully go after HTC (and the rest of the Androids will quickly follow pending the outcome of this trial), then vendors won’t have a choice but to run back into Microsoft’s waiting arms. Aside from that, the Microsoft Mobile image is tarnished. Just putting out a competitive product won’t be enough. Look at Palm. The Pre is better than Android, but not making it due to lack of support (and of course lack of sales).

  • http://armchairtheorist.com armchairtheorist

    “Apple didn’t have to pay anyone to incentivize the development of iPhone and iPod touch games, nor did it have to deeply subsidize its device hardware or buy up games developers. It simply made great products the market flocked to buy and to create unique software content.”

    Yup. I’m sure the billions and billions of dollars Apple spends on advertising and product placements don’t have anything to do with it. Right.

    [Are you for real? What a fascinating response. There is a difference between marketing your products (as Apple does) and marketing products that nobody buys, subsidizing software development, buying development firms, and then subsidizing the hardware to a marginal installed base of non-critical users, all paid for by your Windows/Office/Server monopolies (as Microsoft historically has in its CE group). Which is the point of course – Dan ]

  • thepolicy

    Ok so thus far in reading through your posts I have been pretty much on board, that is until I read this one. I’m not sure how you can be so completely one sided on every subject you approach. Everything has it’s place, pros/cons, and its purpose. Now don’t get me wrong I’m a huge Apple fan myself but there are certain things Apple just cant touch. Which brings me to your clouded thought process. You think everyone who uses a computer does nothing but edit images, produce videos, build and manage music libraries, and just play in general. Unfortunately this is not the case I manage a network for a fairly large business I am IT here. Every computer we have in our workforce is a windows machine, each machine requests information from MICROSOFT’S SQL database server, and in turn receives email from MICROSOFT’S Exchange server. MICROSOFT’S Active Directory allows all of our employees to log into any computer on my domain at will as if they were sitting at their own desk.
    Now on some levels I somewhat agree. Vista was garbage, but it worked on a vista machine I have total access to my network as I would if I was running 3.1. However you did forget to mention one thing, I cant gather how you overlooked it despite the fact that this article was written post release. Windows 7! It deserves its own sentence, outstanding performance, amazing productivity, total integration to windows server 2008/2003/Win NT. My point in all this is Apple will never take away Microsoft’s ability to OWN business, and yes you can run Mac server but that’s a little hard to choke that down but lets weigh that out in a current windows server business environment. Xserve starts at $3000 before configuration. My server room houses seven servers each of which’s performance in numbers are substantially stronger than Apples entry level. Not to mention my SAN (storage area network) but here it is a whopping $118,000.00 and I still haven’t met the exact performance bench mark I have currently set, and I still have to buy an Apple machine for all 117 employees that use one. This endeavor would probably cost around half a million dollars. And you think companies will spend this kind of money to stray from windows? NO! never mind the small no name software corporations who don’t write business specific software for Mac (because business doesn’t use it). From where I sit I see Apple as a toy as it will always be.
    Don’t get me wrong I have a MacBook, I purchase a new iPhone every year and I have owned 15 iPods probably. But without the PC I use and the “WINDOWS” servers I manage at work I couldn’t afford to purchase these toys. If you want to reference a company that fails you should spend some time with Google and the name Sony. Here is the epitome of copies, patent infringement, and failed ideas. Mini Disc 91’, SDDS 93’, SACD 99’, and lest we forget the PSP/UMD fiasco. They throw their money around releasing things other people designed. Samsung has manufactured all their lcd panels for years and just lost Sony’s business to Sharp. But wait… just on the horizon. Blu-Ray holy shit! Home run release the PS3(Sony’s inferior garbage). A design encapsulated by their saving grace “BD technology” to maintain their place kicking the heels of who? Oh right Bill Gates one more time and his ever-present XBOX360. Do you own a Blu-Ray player Daniel, PS3 included? If you do I say you are a hypocrite living the bullshit that you preach. And to touch on your title to this misguided blog “Phone 7” will increase business productivity in the workplace do to its enhanced exchange features and ability to create/modify Office docs. Theres more about an operating system than fun. Sometimes underlying features that feeble minds cant ascertain supersede a cool graphic user interface and the ability to play words with friends.

    [What does anything you say have to do with the fact that Microsoft is clearly failing in its every attempt to be a consumer electronics leader like Apple?

    Clearly, Apple is also not any good at being Microsoft, but it does not appear that Apple is struggling to remain relevant by copying the things Microsoft is good at and Apple isn’t. It’s not like Apple is burning through its cash to create an Exchange Server clone; it’s leveraging Microsoft’s existing product. Apple has a server product, but it is clearly not the focus of the company, and Apple has scaled back its Server efforts to pick the low hanging fruit in the iPod/iPhone/iPad world.

    So Apple seems to get what its good at, while Microsoft doesn’t. And what Apple is good at offers the company vast potential for expansion, while Microsoft’s core businesses are plateauing and finding new competition from FOSS and other sources.

    We’ll see if Microsoft can somehow turn WP7 into the product that WiMo 1-6 claimed to be but never actually delivered: that enterprise fantasy that meshed so well with Office and Windows Server. Right, yawn. – Dan]

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  • ksfrogman

    I post with fanciful optimism that someone from Microsoft will listen to the needs and wants of the public at large, made up of the individual consumer like me. Products will succeed if they are received well by individuals who spread the news by word-of-mouth to their friends, and those friends tell their friends, and so on. Movies are good examples of this phenomenon.

    The consumer wants a product that is not only powerful and versatile, but simple. Some argue that Apple is successful, because of creative marketing that sells non-innovative (i.e., a copy of something else) product wrapped up in a cool, shiny package. I disagree. We are not talking inexpensive plastic with a couture name brand, as one might see with sunglasses. Apple products sell, because they are simple. I said “simple,” not “easy to use.” Microsoft’s attempts at making software “easy to use” often wind up adding pop-up windows that suggest what their programmers think the consumer may want to know. This gets in the way of the user. Microsoft always adds bells and whistles to their software under the misguided assumption that this is an improvement. However, this often is contrary to the concept of simplicity.

    We the consumers want nice, simple, reliable products that are SIMPLE TO USE, and yes, tidy, cool packages.

    Maybe Steve Jobs was right when he said there is nothing wrong with Microsoft. They make great programs. They simply have no taste. Microsoft, stop adding features and thingamajigs to your software unless you can do so in a way that is unobtrusive to your users. I don’t want to search through hundreds of options to find out what I need to use. The new MS Office is a prime example.

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