Windows optimize

Windows 8 closes feature gap with Mac OSX

Erik Eckel sees the inspiration for Microsoft's new Windows 8 features in Mac OS X. Here are the four features that he thinks are most welcome in the new OS.

Apple gained an operability and interface edge over Windows with the introduction and refinement of the OS X operating system and that continues with the impending release of the Mountain Lion OS. Before anyone debates Apple's advantage, know that Microsoft looks to be working to include several innovations already present in OS X within its new Windows 8 operating system. These are some of the new-to-Windows-8 features helping Windows narrow OS X's lead.

No Start button

Rumors and pre-release builds suggest Microsoft is eliminating the Start button in Windows 8. That's because few really use the antiquated launch button anymore. Just as Apple discovered long ago, a dock of commonly used icons (the taskbar in Windows) and popular, customizable desktop items (Windows 8's new Start screen) are what users really want. Microsoft, finally, is catching up with the elimination of the tired Start button, originally introduced in Windows 95.

New Start screen

Windows 8 prelease builds include a new Start screen. The innovative Metro style element essentially mimics OS X's Launchpad feature (introduced in Lion and continuing in Mountain Lion), in which installed apps appear as window icons that can be accessed quickly. Thankfully, the Windows 8 Start screen looks to be easily customizable, which means users will be able to tweak the apps and programs to appear as desired. The Start menu is, in fact, a key component of the Windows 8 Metro interface. Unfortunately, Microsoft's implementation design is proving unpopular to some.

Skydrive

Apple worked over time to evolve its troubled Mobile Me platform into iCloud, a Web-based subscription service that empowers OS X users to store and synchronize documents, email, spreadsheets, presentations, contacts, calendars, photos, and more across multiple devices. Microsoft is getting onboard with the same strategy, calling its new cloud-based storage and synchronization technology Skydrive. Microsoft's cloud-storage solution will be tightly integrated within the Windows 8 operating system, just as iCloud is now woven throughout all OS X platforms.

Windows Store

Microsoft is learning to integrate other features, too. Again, Apple is the apparent source of Redmond's inspiration.

Apple, of course, figured out the beauty of integrating an app store directly within its OS. When it did so with iOS, the company learned it could generate revenue while also controlling the quality of the apps published for its platform. Apple also learned that maintaining its own app store meant it could assist users in tracking the software they purchase, thereby making reinstallation a snap whenever a new device is purchased or a system is reinstalled. Businesses soon saw advantages, too, when Apple integrated its Mac App Store directly within the Lion (and soon to be released Mountain Lion) operating system.

Now, having had its lunch handed to it (Apple customers have downloaded some 25 billion apps from the Mac App Store), Microsoft is integrating a Windows Store directly within Windows 8. Implemented properly, the Windows store offers Windows users an easier way to purchase, install and maintain software programs commonly added to desktops, laptops and tablet computers, including word processing programs, spreadsheet apps, presentation software, photo and video editing suites and similar programs.

About

Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president o...

65 comments
Slayer_
Slayer_

[b]No Start button[/b] Great, so now we are back to quick launch and the frequently used items? But the old XP start menu did that, it moved your frequently used items to the top of the list. I thought this handy. Putting them all in the taskbar used up valuable space for tasks... [b]New Start screen[/b] So? I seriously doubt any typical user will care, it will shock them the first time, but then they will let it sort itself, same as it does in XP. The structure of the start menu has been organizable since windows 95, but few ever did, I expect the same with Windows 8. [b]Skydrive[/b] I'd rather something like this wasn't built into the OS, its a seriously obvious avenue for viruses to steal your data. All they have to do is redirect where the data syncs (hosts file maybe?) and they have your data. [b]Windows Store[/b] This could be nice. But I at the moment can't think of any application I would buy through the Windows store. I already know where my key downloads are, and the rest or CD desktop applications. Microsoft moves the cheese too often, Metro will fall and die like every other attempt from MS. Devs are getting sick of it. I'd rather develop for a platform I know is going to be supported in 2 years.

berry64
berry64

is this an apple advertisement?

Cayble
Cayble

Oh please. "Windows 8 closes feature gap with Mac OSX" What a joke. Where is the feature gap to start with? This is the weirdest article I have ever seen. The title is like reading "New Rolls Royce closes feature gap with FORD Taurus". What is this article? Is it supposed to be tongue in cheek humor? I would hope so or the writer needs to put down the Kool-Aid and go into rehab. Quick. If there is one thing that Windows has over OSX, its features. Maybe not the features Mac users want, but I have seen enough Macs in use over the years to know there is no feature on a Mac I need if Windows doesn't have it already.

Crash2100
Crash2100

I have used both Microsoft Windows and Apple products for many years, and I have never understood why people argue so much over this. Take whatever you like, one works one way, the other works the other way, and (most importantly!) they don't have to look identically! To me, it seems more like Microsoft is starting to assume that people want everything to look like the suddenly more popular Apple tablet products, which is not true.

markavo
markavo

You're seriously joking right? How can you SERIOUSLY believe Microsoft copied Launchpad when Launchpad is CLEARLY just desktop shortcuts? I find it hard to read most Techrepublic Apple fanboy slop but this one is absolutely hilarious. Make sure to tag this article with "Humour" so that other's that read it get the joke too. WOW.... I suggest fixing the Skydrive reference (which the comments section have already pointed out is totally wrong) but I also suggest you rethink you're "Microsoft stole Desktop Shortcuts...er, I mean Launchpad idea too. Then again, you wouldn't have an article and couldn't call Microsoft a copy cat. By the way, do Launchpad icons have live, updatable data that can be viewed without having to "enter" the application? No? Live Tile's do and they're nothing like Desktop icons. Didn't OSX Lion introduce re-sizing a window from any corner not just the lower right? Apple must have invented that too and MIcrosoft got in iApple time machine and stole that from 2011 for Windows 95.

dmeador33
dmeador33

I, and about everyone I know, uses the start button quit a bit.

jong
jong

That's it? You must be kidding.

KBabcock75
KBabcock75

Having been in IT for some time, this is nothing new. I remember the tee Shirts back in 1998 that said "See Windows 2000 today...buy a Mac". Windows for its whole development cycle has followed Mac's innovations with very few exceptions. This model seems to be rolling strong today with MS's attempt to get a foot hold in the Mobile market. Their mobile technology had been a flop for years and not till Apple figured it out and they finally started to copy it did they stand any hope of being a player here. The real question is are they to late to the table this time.

thegreenwizard1
thegreenwizard1

I don't see why it's a gap? We are speaking from apples and oranges, they are not identical products. Each one is made for different customers. One for an "wanna be elite" and the other for working people.

bmerry
bmerry

These are all the things about Windows 8 that make it confusing and difficult to work with. Bring back the start button, and the desktop. These are easy to navigate, and allow the user better control over there computers and what is on them.

derekb108
derekb108

I'd wish MS would stop copying apple

gtmchris
gtmchris

Skydrive has been out for years and was part of WP7 before iOS. My old HTC HD2 had the windows marketplace 3 years ago, again nothing new. Sounds like this has been writen my another apple fanboy.

firstaborean
firstaborean

I guess I must be odd, indeed, in that I don't wish to be seamlessly "in the cloud." I desire to know when I'm seeking information on the Internet, and not to be sent there unrequested. And, if I'm ever stuck with Windows 8, I'll be able to restore a Start button, as I really do use it, and frequently. Besides, if I'd desired a Mac, I'd have bought one. I also use batch files and other means of doing things my way, not someone else's way. Screw Metro!

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"Rumors and pre-release builds suggest Microsoft is eliminating the Start button ..." Regardless of my opinion on the subject of the Start button, it is neither rumored nor suggested that it will be eliminated. It's gone, and that's been apparent for months. I had to check the date on this article, expecting to see it was posted in the summer of 2011 instead of 2012. If the Metro Start screen is what Apple users have become accustomed to, I'm glad I was never tempted to join them.

Gwyneth Llewelyn
Gwyneth Llewelyn

As a long-time Unix user, I always found the way Linux/FreeBSD distros are so easy to update, maintain, and search for software that actually runs perfectly well. This is probably thanks to Red Hat, which introduced — at least for the masses! — the idea of a centralised (or federated...) repository of software, from where one could download everything, and have a relative assurance that anyone contributing to that repository would have gone through guidelines of best practices to make sure it would work out fine. No more hunting down for that lost link which had the correct sequence of packages to install! Apple and Microsoft, of course, have done the same for their [i]own[/i] software. Nothing is easier to install and maintain than system software that auto-updates regularly. But I was always pissed off in the last decade that each different application vendor needed to have their "own" system. Why couldn't I get Photoshop upgraded from Microsoft Update? Why would I have to install Adobe's Java-based installer, running separately? HP, on my Mac, insists on adding a complex, outdated, prone-to-error "software maintenance" sub-system, which interferes with all the rest. Not to mention some brands of anti-virus software which "freeze" the whole machine while they search for the latest updates. And when installing one thing and another "maintenance" application suddenly decides it's time to upgrade at the same time — havoc ensures. Then the iPhone came out with the App Store. The functionality was ludicrously simple to understand and use: look for whatever application you wish on a [i]single[/i] place. Apple validates what gets pushed into the App Store, so you can rest assured that it will eventually work with your iPhone/iPad. Vendors can have their own sites, of course, but they will redirect to the App Store. And, of course, every day I can check which software application needs to be upgraded — no matter what vendor has written it, the update/upgrade comes from a single source, a single place, and uses a single mechanism. What Linux/FreeBSD had for years, iOS offered finally as a standard way to install/maintain applications on your mobile device. Needless to say, Android went the same route — well, not quite: Google Play competes with Amazon, and you can install software from other sources as well (not to mention your own smartphone supplier). When Apple introduced the App Store for Lion, it became clear that this would be the way to go on desktop/laptop computing as well. 25 billion downloads? I'm actually amazed, as 99% of the applications I've installed on my three Macs actually don't come from the App Store — not yet. But eventually they will. In 2-3 years I'm sure that even the dreadful Adobe and HP "installers" will be gone forever. Needless to say, I was fully expecting Microsoft to do exactly the same. They're not stupid. By providing an unified mechanism to search, download, maintain and upgrade applications, they can make sure that all applications running on Windows 8 are "legitimate". Over a few years, so-called "Microsoft-approved" applications will only be installable via the Windows Store — and what that means is that if you wish to run a "safe" environment, be it at home or at the office, it means making sure that you [i]only[/i] download "approved" applications from the Windows Store. In 5 years, it might even be impossible for Windows or Mac users to install anything on their desktop/laptop computers outside Windows Store/App Store — unless, of course, you "jailbreak" your desktop/laptop. Which should be fine: people are allowed to live dangerously and assume full responsibility of breaking open their operating systems to trojans, virus, and damaged/incompatible software. But the lesson from the Linux/FreeBSD crowd should be clear: if their is a single "official" source for all your needs, you're basically insane (or have too much free time on your hands) if you wish to do everything on your own. You can certainly trash a wonderful Ubuntu installation by downloading an "unapproved" version of whatever software and compile it on your own — it's part of the fun (if that's your idea of fun). But if you don't have time, patience, or a different sense of fun, you stick with the official repositories. Bringing that same concept to the masses of Windows and Mac users make all the sense. A couple of weeks ago I was discussing with some people the merits of embedding huge applications inside a Web browser or installing it separately as a native, stand-alone application. A large crowd was all for Web-based applications, because they live inside a sandbox environment which, however, is easier to upgrade: many campuses and business networks prevent installation of native applications for security reasons, and Web-based computing is the way to go. I questioned this approach because there is always some extra overhead of running something inside a Web browser — there will always be some limitations and shortcomings. Native applications have less overhead and can take advantage of certain hardware or operating system facilities unavailable on a "generic" browser-embedded application. Sure, the problem of being actually unable to install applications on high-security environments is an issue against native applications. But I predicted that this issue would soon be a thing of the past: as Apple moved to follow the Linux/FreeBSD crowd by providing a single point of "safely" installing applications using an uniform and universal mechanism, I predicted that Microsoft would jump into that model as well. It makes a lot of sense from their perspective. Apple, of course, is all about control; Microsoft less so, but I'm sure they don't discard the ability of enforce some more rules, if that means less people using a crippled Windows (due to conflicting software installed) and less customer support calls... I, for one, am wholly for this approach. And I'm sure that a small fraction of highly technical-minded individuals will "jailbreak" their desktops and laptops of 2020 to be able to install whatever they wish. But 99.9% of all Mac/Linux/Windows users in 2020 will not care about that and prefer to have a single source for searching, installing and upgrading the applications on their platform, be it desktop-based or mobile.

mswift
mswift

Live Tiles are a rip off of TopView, demoed by IBM at CP/M 85 :)>. I bet those Standford students went to that show.

aakash777
aakash777

lol I was thinking.. "This is ridiculous. Let me read ahead it will get better.." NOPE! This article is laughable.

bkblake
bkblake

We aren't talking apples and oranges, we are talking green apples or red apples. Buy a Mac or buy a Windows PC, they are both mainstream PC's. Apple makes macs more reliable simpler to use with LESS options. Windows PC's are made for people who want to do all their own configurations, customizations, tweaks, and then troubleshoot all the problems that follow, just so they can say they can. Macs are made for people that don't care about all that and just want to get in, get something done, and move on. I have been an IT professional for a very long time, and I used to build all my own PC's. But anymore, the gains are so insignificant compared to the headaches, it's just not worth it. The bottom line is the Apple GUI stays out of my way so I can get to what I need quickly and easily EVERY TIME. Open a browser and it's the same world wide web either way. open MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook - same, same, same... In fact, you might notice a few extra little built in features in the Mac OS that make typical application experience even better. Try printing to PDF from ANY application (without having to download, buy, or install ANYTHING). Try reloading your Mac and enjoy the web based OS installer with NO licensing interference. Then reload your PC and then fail the activation, call Microsoft, enjoy the automated activation conversation with 500 numbers to repeat and reenter. Then enjoy finding out that the OS installer you used isn't compatible with the license key you have because it was from a slightly different disk, and enjoy not being able to find your original installer... Enjoy NOT using iTunes and developing your own "less restrictive" music and movie solution that takes you hours and hours to perfect, and not actually have time to enjoy the content. Enjoy not using iPhoto and bouncing between different third party photo and video management solutions that never quite do what you want anyway. Then use your Mac to image a Windows HD, RDP into your Windows server, host your Windows VM's, Skype, watch Netflix, etc. and see how much less "different" it really is once you are actually doing what you intended to do, transparently. Yes, Windows is more open and customizable, but why? It's like being able to buy a loaded new car, but getting the bare model instead so you can add all your own upgrades from all different manufacturers because they might be 2% better. A Mac is like a Porsche - well made, well designed, efficient, fast, sexy, and expensive but worth every penny. A Windows PC is like a custom tuner street rod - if built and customized just right, it might outperform the Porsche. It might be well designed and well made, or it might not. It started out cheap, but became more expensive than the Porsche to get it to the same level or performance and sexiness. You spent months getting it to that point and will probably never really be finished with it. The Porsche was done when you bought it and you actually have time to enjoy driving... Just get a Mac and enjoy your extra free time...

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

However, it seems that one's market is getting invaded by the other.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

Interestingly, every single Windows user I know (including a lot of IT people) have found that OS X is easier--once they get used to the changes. Apple has always made things inherently obvious to the way people do things on a physical desk as compared to Windows' 'our way or no way' mindset.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

... than use something that works. Better that Microsoft at least realizes they're wrong than keep bashing their heads against a stone wall.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

... from those older versions. iCloud started as dotMac almost 10 years ago and the iOS App Store is 4 years old; the OS X app store is merely an extension of that. So really, who's following whom?

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I wasn't sure about SkyDrive or the Windows Marketplace since I don't use them, but I thought they had been around for a while. Your third point, however, is unnecessary and unsupportable.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

You haven't even tried any of those features; how do you know they'll be as bad as you fear?

OurITLady
OurITLady

I work in support and half of our teams conversations have "can you just go to the start menu and click...........)". I really hope you can restore it quite easily and permanently as the people I support aren't exactly tech-minded and I dread having to try to describe the tile (or whatever they're calling it) to someone who can barely log on half the time. We're in the middle of a win7 rollout now and the only way we find out in conversation what version they're using is to ask whether the Start button says actually says Start or if looks like a round button.

hacker_jack
hacker_jack

In the version we had set up for demo in work you called it up using the windows keyboard key.

Tea.Rollins
Tea.Rollins

I would care more about your opinion if it wasn't totally anonymous. Also, when did you magically become able to run updates on linux? Generally speaking, running updates automatically is the easiest way to frag a server. I don't know anyone that doesn't micromanage yum.

Railroad Buff
Railroad Buff

>>In 5 years, it might even be impossible for Windows or Mac users to install anything on their desktop/laptop computers outside Windows Store/App Store unless, of course, you "jailbreak" your desktop/laptop.

Gwyneth Llewelyn
Gwyneth Llewelyn

Windows as a "tuner street rod", Mac as a Porsche — you have hit the nail there :) And oh yes, you most certainly can tweak Windows to give far better performance than OS X — sometimes even on the same hardware. But is it worth the price tag, at least in labour costs? Sure, if you do that as part of a hobby or consider it entertaining. I have to say that 15 years ago I was pretty much agnostic and used whatever OS they would put in front of me. Then, a decade ago, I was being paid for the hour. Windows was going through the horrible transition era between Windows 98 (good), Win ME (awful), Windows 2000 (acceptable), and ultimately Windows XP (very good). Suddenly my monthly income was dropping as never before. Why? I figured out that of the eight normal working hours, I would be spending on average four tweaking Windows, because something constantly didn't work right: it might be constant crashes, it might be a failed driver, it might be the printer refusing to work, it might be unexpected slowness... whatever it was, every day there was something new that would make me spend a few hours fine-tuning Windows again, or recovering backups after a bad crash — which became increasingly common — and waiting for restarts and so forth. I was aware at that time that I was actually enjoying myself doing all that tweaking and dealing with the crashing; I was even learning something along the process, and being able to help others to go through the same sequence of steps to fix their own Windows setups. But I also realised that this was costing me a *lot* of money every month. Sure, what I did was to push those hours of "Windows fixing" outside the working hours, and do it on my "spare time", working 12 hours a day, 8 of which for customers (who would be billed), and 4 on "fixing Windows" (who would not be billed). It was at that point that I thought there had to be a better way of doing things. Linux was not yet an option due to the lack of compatible applications — it was good for the servers, bad for the desktop. Mac OS X was relatively new at that time, so I gave it a try — and all those hours of constantly tweaking and fixing problems magically disappeared. It just worked. Windows XP had by then been released, and I certainly tried it out and found it stable enough for my purposes, but it was too late for me: I didn't turn back. I knew that Microsoft, sooner or later, would break things — and that certainly happened with Vista, another nightmare as bad as Windows ME. While in the mean time I was enjoying the extra time I had working on a computer that "never" crashed and "never" had any problems. It was simply a question of productivity. Later I saw this phenomenon spread to small software houses, who very reluctantly moved to Mac. I remember at least a place where developers were driven nuts — changing their environment to something completely different, having to re-learn everything, nothing made sense any longer. They complained, and complained, and complained. But after a few months the board just saw the results: there was never again any issue of employees needing to pause their work to fix their computers. No more excuses of missing deadlines because "Windows crashed and it took me three days to recover my work". Developers might still grumble and complain after many months or years, but they also had to agree that it's far better to spend time doing what they are paid for — developing software! — than in constantly fixing their operating system during working hours. Aye, Macs are low-maintenance Porsches. They just work and never stop. Granted, after a decade, and looking back, the average Windows-savvy user can have a perfectly stable experience with Windows XP and work year after year without a crash. My own roomie at home runs Windows XP on a desktop and won't change it for anything else (she has an abandoned old PowerBook G5 which she seldom turns on, just to read books in bed). Her setup never crashes — not due to Windows, anyway: it's more frequent that the computer stops because of hardware failure (blown up power supply units, failed hard disks) than because of Windows — yes, that means that she crashes perhaps less than once every year or so. While I have to reboot my Macs more often than that — a few times per year at least. So, sure, Microsoft has gone a long way to make the Windows experience far more stable than it was a decade ago. But the point here is that every Windows PC user needs to be their own car mechanic to keep their machine running smoothly; while Macs just work by themselves. It's pretty much like "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance". Bikers are of two kinds: the first, loving their bikes, are constantly tweaking their own bikes to get the best possible performance, and enjoy fiddling with their machines as much as riding them. They frown upon the second class of bikers, who love to *ride* and want their bikes at top form, so they occasionally send them to an expert mechanic to fine-tune them, and spend the rest of their times on the ride — and have just rudimentary mechanical skills, which they find less important than having free time to ride. Both attitudes frown upon the other group. Windows users are bikers of the first kind: the love to tweak their PCs is as important as actually using them. Mac users need to work (or play...) on their stable hardware/software combination and have no time left to spend time tweaking their Macs, and cannot understand why a "personal computer" user needs to waste so much time kicking their hardware into submission. And oh yes, you can certainly fine-tune your Mac as well :) But be prepared: it's harder than it seems, and it will quickly consume even more time than doing the equivalent procedures than on Windows. It's like fine-tuning a Porsche on your own, as an amateur: you can do it, but don't expect it to be as simple to do as on an old Fiat.

Gwyneth Llewelyn
Gwyneth Llewelyn

I definitely agree. I'm yet to find someone who, after going through the "adaptation phase", find it very hard to leave Mac OS X and return to Windows. But I can remember many cases where the "adaptation phase" was long, tedious, and frustrating, with constant complains :) Then, after a while — sometimes months — it sort of all clicks into place.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

that not copying Apple is getting left behind. Different isn't always better.

mswift
mswift

First thing I tell new Windows 8 testers is don't even try to learn anything about the operating system. Press the windows button on your keyboard, if you don't see the tile you want, or don't want to look for the tile you want, type the first letter or two of what you want, you'll be pleased. for long time Windows users just make the first tiles Desktop, Windows Explorer, Internet Explorer followed by their most used applications. I have those, plus Office, plus our line of business applications on the first tile set invite somebody's kid to come in with an x-box

khiatt
khiatt

Just bury your mouse pointer in the lower left corner of the screen, then click the Start Screen Icon that appears.

Gwyneth Llewelyn
Gwyneth Llewelyn

You didn't click on my LinkedIn profile link, did you? :) Anyway, at least you now met one person who does, indeed, update some of their Linux servers automatically. Not bad: I actually know several, and I don't mean the Ubuntu developers who tested the feature out, but actual IT sysadmins who do that all the time. Granted, I don't do that on mission-critical systems. But not all Ubuntu servers in the world are mission-critical systems.

Bruce Epper
Bruce Epper

.. the conversation has been about client machines, not servers. Can't run updates on Linux? Since when? I've been doing it for years. Nothin' magic about it.

Gwyneth Llewelyn
Gwyneth Llewelyn

... because they would never allow that. I'm sorry, I was perhaps over-enthusiastic or completely forgot what the Windows world is :) But I'm pretty sure Apple would love to do just that. It's pretty much the right mindset for them.

gscratchtr
gscratchtr

I was going to post something similar, but the focus of this is clearly individual-user, desktop/tablet applications; not server-based or 'enterprise-wide' system software.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

Wouldn't you like to have additional--external--verification of your software? With this app store model, you get both Microsoft and Apple performing functional tests of your software which could reveal a bug you overlooked.

Tea.Rollins
Tea.Rollins

I can't think of a single thing I'd actually use that OS X has and windows doesn't. I can however think of a dozen things that OS X doesn't have that I can't live without. I don't see a startling amount of originality in anything Apple, I just see a lot of clean design.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

I won't argue that Microsoft needs to come up with their own features too, what I'm arguing is that they don't seem able to.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

not in my professional capacity, I only have one device. No synch'ing necessary.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

iCloud simply makes those files sync automatically to all other associated devices.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Actually, you can't click the Start screen icon itself. As soon as you move your cursor out of the corner, the icon disappears. You have to click while leaving the cursor in the corner. This initially drove me nuts. The icon appears, I attempted to move the cursor onto it, and it went away. None of my previous Windows experience prepared me for this new 'hot spot' behavior.

Gwyneth Llewelyn
Gwyneth Llewelyn

Apple is doing that for iOS for, what, 6 years now? I fail to see a lack of willing iPhone/iPad developers who go exactly through that process to sell their applications... What my point was is that these days "personal computers" and "mobile computers" are pretty much just convenient labels to separate between devices which pretty much do the same thing and with almost the same hardware. When we start listing the real differences between a "notebook" and a "high-end tablet", there is little to list. The main difference is really having a different operating system, today, and a different model of distributing software. I don't think it's far-fetched to believe that Mac OS X Lion might be the "last" Apple operating system that still acknowledges that difference; the forthcoming one (or the next after it) might just be... iOS. Isn't jumping across the artificial chasm between "tablets" and "notebooks" what Google is attempting with their own operating system as well? I can only grant you that Microsoft might not follow Apple's lead, at least not for a while, because of the variety of hardware Windows needs to run on. Android has a similar problem. But Apple has no such issue they can certainly bridge the gap, and do it quickly, since they have no problems in annoying lots of people by completely changing the operating system and the way it handles applications. They have a long track record of doing exactly that remember the Mac OS 9 vs. Mac OS X wars by the turn of the century? Not to mention PPC vs. Intel... and know how to provide "legacy support" for a few years, until everybody just stops complaining and buy the new, shining stuff. It takes a few years of angry commenters, but Apple always pulls that off. From a marketing point of view, the ability to control all software that gets deployed on a notebook, laptop, or even desktop would be a strong selling point for Apple in terms of "security". Deliberately under quotes: it would be mostly a marketing ploy, but one that would attract the media's attention, influence buyers, and raise the value of Apple's shares even if ultimately it wouldn't be "more secure". In terms of sales, it would mean adding another slice to the US$ 8 billion made through the iTunes/App Store. In terms of software distribution, I'm pretty sure that software houses developing software for the Mac would think twice about abandoning Apple's model in disgust, using yours and @palmetto's arguments, and just going along with the rest of the crowd and reach an even larger market than before there is a limit of what audience your own website and distributors can reach, while Apple's App Store reaches *every* Apple user, no matter what hardware mobile, tablet, notebook, desktop they might own. Yes, I'm aware the same might not happen under Windows soon. But Google will also try hard to fight on this arena against the Microsoft super-giant and the Apple heavy-weight, and most certainly expand their own Play store to cover both "tablets/smartphones" as well as "personal computers" running Chromium. And one day Microsoft will also have to do the same. Perhaps 5 years is too soon and I was optimistic; but I'd be very surprised that it doesn't happen in the next decade or so. Paradigm shifts are always annoying to the ones making a living of the status quo that's why they're called paradigm shifts. I still claim we're going through that. Look at what Steam is doing for the game business, not to mention Big Fish Games. They have started that model of software distribution a long time ago. I haven't heard software developers complain so aggressively about using that software distribution model, and games definitely require a lot of testing on different hardware, too...

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Why would a developer want to give MS / Apple / whoever a cut of the profits? It makes sense if you've written a nickel and dime app and have no method or skills to market it. If you're a bigger player, you'll have to raise the overall price if you're going to maintain your profit margin after the store operator takes his slice. As a customer, why would I pay an MS surcharge for something I previously bought direct from AutoDesk for less?

Railroad Buff
Railroad Buff

That's the issue/projection I was latching on to. If anything that is allowed to run on Windows/OSX/... is forced through a store approval process, the OS is dead for our business. We're not going to ship a $100k+ machine to the store owner so they can actually perform the testing of the software, or have them come in to do that (at whose expense?). Besides they're lacking the technical expertise to even judge whether things work as desired and thus will be prone to misinterpret observations, with all the negative ramifications that this may induce (no ill will suggested). And we're talking about small numbers of machines with the software being sold - we're well under a hundred a year, and even at a few hundred, the additional cost and delays would hit us fairly hard.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

Then again, not even all OS X apps go through the app store yet. If you're working an in-house app system, it never would, either. The app store concept is designed to let the user find apps more easily. Just as not all OS X (or Windows) users know all the apps available for Apple products, not all Windows users (Or Apple) know all the apps available for Windows. The app store simply offers a one-stop shop and buy location for commercially-available apps. I doubt that either will be totally exclusive considering all the tech market download sites all over the place that most consumers don't even know exist.

rustys
rustys

Not at the price they want for it. Not only monetary, but the need to supply source code etc.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

We manufacture a wide range of custom printed circuit boards; literally thousands with more added weekly. We have at least one test program for each of these. We have a couple of dozen systems that run the test programs on each circuit board for quality control purposes. Many of these programs are updated each time an engineering change order is issued for a board. In order to be sure the test systems are running the latest version of a test program, the programs are loaded into RAM as needed from an in-house server; they're never installed locally on the test systems. Moving those programs to a third-party server would be grossly inconvenient for the developers. It would also introduce a point of failure beyond our control (the Internet connection to the app store) into our manufacturing process. We lose connectivity at least once a year due to clumsy construction projects in the nearby city where all our traffic is routed through. No, we're not typical, but I also bet we're not unique.

mswift
mswift

Yes, MS or Apple might find a bug in an unreleased program if that bug has to do with overruns and security. If you are making a technical product it is unlikely that a new product would appear first in the app store. Our last one went through nearly a year of beta testing at customers with different work loads. The MS and Apple testing is more in the realm of making sure the app does not hog resources, does not affect the OS, and does not affect other running apps. For example Microsoft Phone apps must come up within specific parameters and screens changes must happen within certain time limits. The hands on testing is more limited to metrics presumed to affect the oobe. Testing of functionality and fitness for purpose is entirely outside of their realm.