Friday, July 24, 2009

Microsoft Changes 'Laptop Hunter' Ad After Apple Complains | John Paczkowski | Digital Daily | AllThingsD

Brian: The main reason you can't run OS X on a PC is that Apple doesn't want you to. Apple could claim unique use of hardware when they ran PowerPC chips, and they could have done some fairly interesting high end things in that realm, but they chose to make Apple computers more like PCs, and in fact there is very little difference in the technology. There are supercomputers made from PowerPC chips, all the game consoles use them (for speed) and there is a lot of commonality in PowerPC and the chips used to build IBM mainframes. But no, they weren't “good enough” for Apple.

Now, to show I'm an equal opportunity hater... It's clear now that Apple's (or Jobs' anyway) goal was to comoditize the Apple computer, make it MORE like a PC, and thus cheaper to stamp out by the thousands in some far away country, just like Dell and HP do. Other than unibody Aluminum enclosures and chicklet keyboards, there is less and less that is unique about an Apple computer with every revision. Apple is instead turning to innovation in total user experience, making computer, multimedia, phone, and online products that seamlessly (or more seamlessly than the alternatives anyway) integrate.

Why does Microsoft have to advertise products (PCs ) that they don't even make and hardly mention the part of it they are responsible for? Well, I think that question answers itself. There is nothing new and exciting about operating systems, any of them, and there isn't really much that is new an exciting about the hardware either. We are finally approaching the cliff that turns our interaction with computers into something akin to our interaction with TV sets and refrigerators. A greater reliance on hardware standards (an idea pushed early on by Microsoft of all companies) has made the technology differences in PCs (including Apples) minimal which means that the OS has less covering up to do. That coupled with a greater reliance on the Internet, means that prices on both hardware and software will continue to erode. This will force both Apple and Microsoft to make uncomfortable changes to heir business models. Microsoft is responding by becoming more of a network player. Apple is playing a move ahead by concentrating on non-PC technologies, while at the same time milking the high-end market for all it's worth. Neither of these strategies are sure bets however.

As details of discreet vs integrated circuit boards and variations on Dolby are no longer the subject of talk by any but the most fanatical audiophiles, in a few years nobody will be talking about which operating system you use. There may never be an OS XI or Windows 8, or if so they will go unheralded by most people. There will also be less talk about losing all your e-mails, personal photos or music files, because most of that stuff will be “online”. Even most large businesses now forbid employees from storing important thtings on the local hard drive. E-mail and documents worth saving go on networked drives, making the desktop system easily re-formatted with no backup-restore. You have to wonder why you would need a $400 OS for such a task.

In the early 90s when some of my mainframe colleagues proclaimed PCs just a fad they were right, it's just that the fad lasted a lot longer than they thought it would. Thankfully it is coming to an end.

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