Microsoft Surface

iPhone and Surface: The moment Apple and Microsoft diverged

In June 2007, both Apple and Microsoft were poised to reinvent computing. Only one of them delivered, and it changed the destiny of both companies.

When the news broke recently about Microsoft launching an $8,400 version of its multitouch tabletop, the Microsoft Surface, I couldn't help but shake my head and remember how much promise the Surface had when it was first unveiled over four years ago at the D5 Conference.

That was the same D5 Conference where Microsoft's Bill Gates and Apple's Steve Jobs made their historic joint appearance (right). But, in retrospect, the Jobs-Gates interview wasn't the only historic thing about D5. If there was a single moment where the destinies of Microsoft and Apple diverged, it was D5.

Nearly all of the buzz of D5 was centered around two products: 1.) The Microsoft Surface, which Steve Ballmer unveiled to the public on the opening day of the event, and 2.) The iPhone, which Apple had announced earlier in the year and which was about to go on sale a month later.

There was a sense that these two products were ushering in a new era in computing where multitouch devices would finally displace the old keyboard and mouse as the easiest and most common way for the masses to interact with computers. That optimism would later get tempered among technophiles -- especially when tablets launched a few years later -- but, at the time, multitouch had the tech world dreaming big dreams.

Tech enthusiasts were already anticipating that Apple would eventually bring the iPhone's touchscreen interface to the iPod and to an Apple tablet (there were already rumors). Of course, Apple did both -- the iPod Touch and the iPad -- and they turned into wildly popular products. Some even suggested that Apple would turn Macs into touchscreen devices. That never happened, but with oversized trackpads, Mac OS X 10.7 "Lion," and a full array of new touch gestures, Apple has taken some baby steps toward bringing multitouch to the traditional computer.

It may be difficult to believe today, but at the time of D5 it was generally expected that Microsoft would take the Surface and run with it to build a line of multitouch products to revolutionize desktop computing. It looked like the two big computing giants who had done battle at the birth of the PC were about to go head-to-head again to take the PC to whole new level

For Microsoft's part, while the tech world was jazzed about the Surface, the excitement wasn't about the Surface itself, but the fact that Microsoft was working to embed computers into natural surfaces so that the future of the PC might soon break out of the model of dedicated machines sitting on top of a traditional desk.

"The view is that every horizontal and vertical surface will have a projector," said Gates at D5. "Your desk can be a surface that you can sit and manipulate things." In other words, the desk itself would become the computer instead of the computer sitting on top of it.

Unfortunately, that vision turned out to be too abstract and expensive to implement. The Surface itself barely trickled its way into the market, mostly in a few casinos in Las Vegas (until the recent news about broader availability). Microsoft never translated the Surface's technology to its core product lines. The company's one big multitouch project turned out to be the HP TouchSmart line of touchscreen appliances, which no one ever really figured out what to do with.

Microsoft would later bring multitouch devices like the Zune and Windows Phone 7 to market, but these were essentially "me too" products that followed in the footsteps of Apple's devices. Microsoft completely missed its big opportunity to take the PC market by storm with multitouch.

In the meantime, Apple has sold over 250 million iOS devices -- iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad -- and overtaken Microsoft as the world's most valuable technology company.

Although the divergence between Apple and Microsoft began at D5 in June 2007, when both companies had a promising multitouch future, it took years for the events to play themselves out. It wasn't until three years later on May 26, 2010 when Apple ($222 billion) passed Microsoft ($219 billion) in market value (a.k.a. market capitalization) that the tech world did a double-take and realized that Apple's decade-long comeback was no fluke. It had turned the tables on its old nemesis.

To put this in perspective, when Gates and Jobs shared the stage at D5, Microsoft was worth about $300 billion and Apple was worth about $100. As I write this article (November 21, 2011), Microsoft is valued at $210 billion and Apple is worth $343 billion. Take a look at the chart below, which shows the market value of Microsoft and Apple, from June 2007 to September 2011. (I recorded the market cap in three-month increments based on the stock price on the first day of the month.)

Some of you will say that the stock market is not necessarily a fair indicator of the value of the two companies. After all, the stock market is a future indicator. It is totally based on how the public feels about the future of a company. Fair enough, then let's look at the quarterly revenue of the two companies.

What we find is a similar story. In June 2007, Microsoft was making about $14 billion per quarter while Apple was making $5 billion per quarter. In Q3 2010 -- the quarter after Apple passed Microsoft in market cap -- Apple also passed Microsoft in quarterly revenue with $20 billion for the quarter compared to Microsoft's $16 billion. The disparity has only increased since then. In the most recent quarter, Q3 2011, Microsoft made $17 billion and Apple made $28 billion. In the chart below I've compiled quarterly revenue for the two companies for every quarter since Q2 2007 when Jobs and Gates did their thing at D5.

All that said and even with tablets eating away at the PC business, I don't think things are totally hopeless for Microsoft in terms of innovating in multitouch. Its vision of touch-based surfaces was simply an idea that was ahead of its time, and there's evidence that there are still people inside Microsoft thinking about and working on this stuff.

But, the company still desperately needs a product leader. My ZDNet colleague Ed Bott and others seem to think Windows chief Steve Sinofsky is that guy, but I'm not convinced yet that Sinofsky is a breakthrough innovator. I haven't seen anything in Windows 8 that makes me think it will change the way people use computers for the better. I still think Microsoft's biggest opportunity is to grab leadership in PC-smartphone convergence, even though I doubt the company will have the courage to do it since it would mean potentially cannibalizing some short-term Windows sales. But, if Microsoft doesn't make that kind of bold move, it certainly won't be in the same league as Apple again, at least not any time soon.

About

Jason Hiner is the Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He is an award-winning journalist who writes about the people, products, and ideas that are revolutionizing the ways we live and work in the 21st century.

83 comments
rberger
rberger

Microsoft is irrelevant today. They only have impact on legacy environments. No one is planning the future with them as part of it. And they deserve to fade away. People (who were not really involved with tech) think Microsoft ushered in the Golden Age of computers. In reality they created a Dark Ages and set back computing 10 - 20 years. There were much better platforms available when DOS became predominant. Gates was brilliant at identifying when opportunities knocked on his Door and he would pursue them with brilliance and savagery. Like having IBM asking if he had an OS they could use when Digital Research didn't respond rapidly enough, or faking out the author of QDOS which in itself was probably a rip-off of CPM/86, Having a Dad who was the top IP lawyer in the Northeast write the MS/DOS contract with IBM while IBM wasn't concentrating, Sucker Punching the ISV industry by saying OS/2 was the future while secretly sabotaging OS/2 and creating Windows and Office, Obfuscating all the Windows APIs so it was impossible to make clones, Sucking out the Air from Netscape and so on. Note that the brilliance was in being a super aggressive businessman, not in tech. All MS Software after Basic was hacks, optimizations to maintain monopoly and late copying of other's innovations. So now Microsoft's monopoly is dissipating and they have nothing to offer. They are subject to the Innovator's Dilemma and have very few creative fibers in their corporate DNA.

Godlikesme
Godlikesme

There are three major issues that need to get resolved for Microsoft to be competitive and innovative again. 1. Getting rid of Balmer. 2. Getting rid of Balmer. 3. Leveraging the popularity of the Xbox and Kinect to drive Windows Phone sales. They can't play "me too" with Windows Phone and they also can't design something that is just different for the sake of being different while ignoring any sense of usability standards. I have seen and used Windows Phone Mango and it is not good. My views regarding Steve Balmer are shared by not only most industry experts but by many, many Microsoft employees. Everything started going down the crapper when Microsoft got too big and the power and decision making flowed through Balmer and his minions of sales people whose only goal was to drive revenue. Bill Gates was a nerd, tech enthusiast and a programmer at heart. Even if he hadn't programmed in 20 years the focus of the company was different when he was at the helm. Balmer is the last person on earth that people should be associating with Microsoft. He represents everything people hate about evil corporations and mean bosses. He is almost the perfect charicature of the worst boss ever -taken right out of a movie script. he should not be giving keynote speeches at technology conferences standing in front of the press with his shiny bald head, red sweater and arrogant grin. The board at Microsoft has some real soul searching to do. They need to find young blood to run the company and demote Balmer to a less public role. He is not, was not and will never be a visionary or a leader. He must go!

jwaustin
jwaustin

Do you remember when General Motors had that huge market share in the 1960's. It was almost 50% at one point. It (may have) bottomed out at just under 20% in January 2009. That's what is coming for Microsoft if they continue to make all of the mistakes that GM made. The ones like 'good enough' quality and planned obsolescence and my favorite one of all: "We don't compete with Ford (or Dodge...)".

PositiveMojo
PositiveMojo

Steve Jobs has been crowned the King of Innovation, while most people see other companies, like Microsoft, struggling with innovation. The big question is how and why was Jobs so successful, while others seem to be spinning in circles? The truth is that all of us have innovative ideas. For example, most of us have imagined a car that will automatically drive us to work while we sit in back reading, watching a movie, etc. It would eliminate the headache of dealing with traffic. If you examine the technology to invent such a vehicle, it is all there - today - right now. But it has not become a reality. Why? Because of the cost and the fact that the infrastructure that would be needed has not been built. My point is that just because something is innovative and a great idea, it doesn't mean that you should begin spending money to build it. The genius of Steve Jobs was that he was able to analyze the opportunities for innovation and how he could apply technology in the real world. The iPhone or the iPod weren't really all that much of an original idea. Microsoft's smart phone was way ahead of the game. The difference was that Steve Jobs saw how to integrate iTunes into his products and revolutionize the music industry. Don't forget that Napster was being sued by the music producers over copyright infringement. It was Jobs who worked out a deal with the music companies and invented the 99 cent download. Apple did not invent, or even think of, the technology, they just integrated it into their products in a way that satisfied an industry. The genius of Steve Jobs was iTunes. Another innovation was the "App" store. Mobile devices have run applications for many years but Apple was the first to figure out a streamline way to deliver apps and charge very little money to the user. What would the iPhone be without Apps? Not much. Microsoft made it possible for developers to create apps for smart phones for many, many years but they did not connect the dots. The genius of Steve Jobs was the AppStore. Steve Jobs wasn't so much of a creator of new inventions as he was an innovator who figured out what it takes to make things work for people in the real world. He was brilliant in his ability to analyze technology and the needs of people and make technology useful.

cbci
cbci

is in devolving their OS, and their PC market share, to try and grab some elusive smartphone market in which they've shown little ability to raise any interest. As a wall-street owned law firm, MS has become the king of "just good enough". Granted, the inherent pricing of "just good enough" has appealed to most businesses and the masses. But, when it comes to competing for smartphone and tablet market share, JGE simply won't cut it. These users know what they want plus they have this internet thingy and word gets around fast. So, while it may be smart to go after a new goose that may or may not lay golden eggs, don't neglect the one you've got. It got sick a couple of years ago and hasn't fully recovered.

JavaJobber
JavaJobber

Multi-touch is hardly a make or break feature in and of itself otherwise the HP TouchSmart would have captured the PC desktop market. HP had to deliver a lot of custom apps to provide a reasonable user experience. The key to Apple's success is the relative seamlessness of support across popular applications. For their part, Microsoft made touch UI game-changing moves starting with Office 2007's Ribbon and Windows Phone 7. My opinion is that Windows 8 converges these and will provide a reasonable and more consistent user experience across a wide spectrum of devices. Whether users used to iPhones and now iPads like that experience enough to run it as their primary PC OS has yet to be seen.

TNT
TNT

Microsoft has unveiled the Kinect SDK for Windows; couple a Kinect with a Windows 8 PC that is heavily reliant on touch and you have an amazing new way to compute. Rather than a mouse or a touch screen, you will be able to use a Kinect to speak to and gesture toward your PC. This leapfrogs what Surface was capable of as far as user interaction goes and will revolutionize our computing experience.

rduncan
rduncan

Apple certainly have the first to market advantage and are the innovators in Touch UI. However their complete disregard for standards in the world of computing is nothing short of fascism, no support for usb ports, HDMI, sd cards, flash. Nobody gets a slice of the apple pie, this is where Windows 8 will get back some of the market share and will compete with android, if only to get back some functionality from the hardware itself. Over time customers will not appreciate the 'lock-in' experience you get with Apple.

Narg
Narg

Holy cow! Microsoft and Apple diverged at the introduction of the Mac. Not recently. Gees, are we getting stories from little kids now?!?!?!

NelsonVe
NelsonVe

It would seem that we will never be able to satisfy the never ending queries regarding who was more innovative or creative MS or Apple. It's not who innovated or created more or first, they both did and they both stole from each other and everyone else. Rather it is what you do with it. While the automobile was not invented in the US mass production was and changed the land scape of the automobile industry forever by making cars more affordable. In the same way Jobs took ideas and re-formed them into something that the originator never thought of, Jobs was an innovator more then anything else, OK you could put in a dictator as well. Leadership is found in people who have a vision of where they are going, usually because they have greater discernment then most and are not afraid of making mistakes. One would have to be confident in their own abilities and supporting staff to move a company; corporation or whatever to lead people through the quagmire of bringing a new product out the door in perfect working condition or as close to it as possible. Finally Courage is absent in the Corporate world these days or at least it seems to be. It's easy to make a product that already has a known quantity, PC; Phone; TV; Radios; Cars; Trucks; Planes; etc. These are products with known quantities, in other words we know what they are and what they should do. However introducing something that has never been known or heard of is a very difficult thing and requires Courage. While both Apple and MS showed some courage in the pass they show little of that today and the same is true everywhere else. What we need to realize is the limited playing field and the pieces needed make a product. Most of the smart product for consumers will have the need for Memory, CPU/GPU, Touch Sensitive or regular screen, WIFI interface, LAN port, Cell connectivity, Bluetooth, I/O Ports. and the list goes on but it is a basic list of materials needed for a MP3 Player, Phone, Tablet, Laptop & PC how you put the various internal components together and what you use for an OS is what separate the various devices, even when they are all the doing the same thing. So bot Jobs and Gates had some parts of Leadership, Innovation, Vision and even some Courage and so did many others in the Computer Industry and we are all beetr for them. Now Lets get to working on making all platforms able to communicate with each other ... that would take great courage on the part of the present leaders (Apple & MS) ....

asiakwa
asiakwa

It basically boils down to Apple having its own hardware to develop and experiment with, with most aspects of the product development chain entirely within their control while Microsoft depends on other hardware manufacturers. This might seem trivial but the back-and-forth between the different vendors and software developers has a telling effect on the overall time to market from conception.

lionel.menchaca
lionel.menchaca

No question Apple deserves credit for what they've achieved in smartphones and tablets. But, I like where Microsoft is heading with Windows 8 under Sinofsky's leadership. They still have a lot of work to do before getting it to market, but I really like the unified OS approach that MS is taking. I've been a big fan of the Metro interface since Microsoft introduced WP7, and still think it provides some distinct advantages over iOS (who's core interface hasn't changed since 2007). Seems to me that Microsoft will be ahead in the OS unification department. And regarding Sinofsky, it's noteworthy that he delivered a really solid Windows 7 product in the wake of Vista. Many experts were writing off Microsoft then. Thanks, LionelatDell

PensivePeter
PensivePeter

Firstly - leadership Nothing compares with the autocratic leadership that Jobs exercised at Apple (maybe Ellison at Oracle?). It makes for a great, lean, coherently led company - as long as the Leader remains inspired, on-message and strong. With Jobs the innovator gone, I'm not sure this will remain true. And even when he was there, they sometimes failed big time (Newton?) because all the power was obsessively and centrally managed. In comparison, Microsoft is a paragon of democracy, warts and all. This means however that product divisions sometimes compete with each other to be king of the hill. The Courier tablet idea - a fantastic innovation - died in the crossfire between the XBox and Windows divisions. Surface didn't have a big enough ally internally. Tim Cook will have to handle an outbreak of democracy in Apple, while Steve Ballmer may have to clip some wings. Second - ecosystem Apple (= Steve Jobs) controls the whole stack, from hardware, through software, apps, delivery platform and Apple stores -they own the customer totally. Microsoft has a broader ecosystem - it provides the platforms (O/Ses and core applications around Office) and third parties build inovative products. The customer experience can be tainted by a poorly performing or configured PC; a bad monitor; bloatware; third party anti-virus software that is worse than the probelm it's intended to solve; and so forth... That seems to be changing with Windows8 + Phone + XBox + Kinect - the question is whether they will be able to recover market interest and share with a new generation of features and experiences on a more integrated and truly innovative platform - the elements are there and someone needs to sew it all together

shoule
shoule

MS hardware is doomed because it is not their core competency (yes, I am aware of the XBox). The reason the iPhone/iPad were so successful is because they created the hardware, MS had to get buy in from manufacturers for the Surface. Comparing the two companies in this day and age is like comparing apples to oranges, they both do radically different things. One is consumer gadgets, one specializes in enterprise software.

jstevens
jstevens

Why are we arguing about the OS of a device? It is about the Apps. Microsoft knew this back in it's hayday. MS produced, copied, purchased, ran out of business useful and productive applications for it's platform. I think this monopolization of the software market by MS led to boredom with it's product and a lack of opportunity for developers with new ideas to successfully distribute new apps. On the flip side I would argue that Steve Jobs followed Bill Gates is this respect. Apple has always been a locked down ecosyste - hardware and software. Choices were minimal. The Apple PC line never took off because it was too limited in the software choices available. With the iOS, Jobs "opened up" the platform to allow 3rd party developers. Thus we have all these really cool (and sometimes useful) apps. The plethora of choices in apps is what is making the IPhone and IPad so successful.

jmackeyiii
jmackeyiii

Jobs continued his life's mission to overtake Gates. Gates redefined his perspective and his mission. Jobs' victory is over a strawman. One could even take it to the next level, the valuation of both men's concept of value gave one life and the other death. One took his market share and gave the other focused more heavily on taking market share for himself. With so many movies and stories with this as their main plot point, it is amazing how techie geeks miss it. on the technology side, microsoft has lost to apple on the personal media device level. Again microsoft is really a software company, so they still have capabilities to gain back market share. If microsoft could connect ideas of the "kinect" , "surface", and "a windows 8 touch device" they would overtake apple in different markets. This would open the door for reintroduction of personal touch devices. In reality the no consumer market is moving in the "surface" direction and in that way MS was way ahead of the curve. Apple won in the market because they built their idea, made their idea tangibly awesome, and continuously made improvements to it, and of course iTunes was a huge factor.

abc123a
abc123a

Microsoft has always been a follower never a leader. It has never innovated and innovation and bold moves are not its forte. I don't see how Microsoft will do now what it has never done before. MS needs a really visionary leader and Ballmer and Gates are not in that category. While protecting the monopoly on Windows and Office is good, there is little to innovate in those products.

vezycash
vezycash

I think the thing that has messed Microsoft up for the past few years is Jealousy. Microsoft has been in the lower market sphere while Apple has always been in the highend market. What simply happenened is expected. The winner at the end of the day is the one who successfully markets to the mass markets. Surface was tailored towards Apple's original market while I-touch family was tailored towards Microsoft's original market and that has made all the difference.

cteune
cteune

Its interesting that MS is always accused of copying Apple. MS had tablets long before the IPad and they had smart phones lone before the iPhone. MS problem is in its ability to package and market its ideas. Steve Jobs simply did a better "job"...and I wonder where he got the idea of tablets and smart phones from?

robert.wade
robert.wade

I heard Leo Laporte comment that Steve Jobs figured out how to TELL people what the next thing was they wanted, rather than discover what they wanted. I largely think that's true (which is a sad commentary on our society, meaning we have mostly ignorant, shallow lemmings out there). That, of course, has translated to a successful Apple. But, as much as the Surface was ahead of its time, so was just about every other Microsoft product. When every PDA you could think of was a Palm, Microsoft came out with the PocketPC. It took that meme and stood it on its head, but never quite owned the playground. When everyone else was still wrestling with notebooks Microsoft had their tablets and convertibles. Again, other companies, namely Apple, played one-upmanship. I don't think anyone's touched the Surface, which I still lust after in a huge way, but if Microsoft can't figure out how to strike a better, cheaper deal then we may see either Apple or Google trump them. But I think it's a mistake to not realize that Microsoft is in this for the long game and that it should be obvious that they ARE converging all their platforms: desktop, gaming console and smartphone. If you have used Windows Developer Preview, you see the push toward the fantastic Metro-like interface. The upcoming enhancements to XBox will see the same. And because Windows 8 (or whatever it will be called) is full blown Windows, the corporate market will be there and people will become much more familiar with this new emmersive app environment. It will make much more sense to users to have phones and tablets that are simply ubiquitous extensions of their information. Yes, it's a slower process to get there, but I think 2012 will open our eyes to the endgame strategy of Microsoft....and it ain't bad.

realityblows
realityblows

It wasn't that long ago that Apple (and many others) were decrying Microsoft's corporate greed and accusing them of being a marketing company that sold some software. Well Apple's insistance on a 'closed shop' approach to app development and retaining a percentage of all sales through apps on their devices smacks of exactly the same thing. In fact Apple's world is so closed that Android may still steal their thunder whilst their not looking. (Oh No, I mentioned Apple, Android and Steal in the same sentence, maybe Jobs is still lurking in my subconcious)

delf20k
delf20k

If Microsoft keeps improving the surface and making it cheaper at some point there will be a number of very trendy things to run on it and at that point once it is more affordable then a lot of dining tables may well become 2m versions of this device selling for no more than a goon timber table say $3000 and end up in a lot of new homes and some others as well a replacing some boardroom tables ether with the while surface of the table or sections at each seating position. It is my contention that this product could yet become a huge success

rickle0n
rickle0n

That's exactly what is revolutionizing technology today; everybody building on top of existing technology(ies). MS appears to be copying, but so is everyone else - APPLE INCLUSIVE! It would be no surprise (and would actually be FANTASTIC) if not only MS and Apple were to join forces, but all developing forces.

rickle0n
rickle0n

MS is not a device company and Apple is not a software company (at least not primarily). Microsoft does not sell computers and Apple does not sell software. Resellers and hardware manufacturers sell their devices with MS software (or Linux)embedded through distribution and retail outlets; Many profit along the way. IOS can not be installed on all CPU's (such as tablets, AMDs, DVRs, and the like) and Apple sells directly to the consumer, leaving no one to profit except Apple (the above profit charts do not represent accurate marketshare). MS allows resellers and manufacturers to make profits using MS products. MS can be apllied uniquely on any given device. MS does not control the quality of its' use; that is an inherent flaw with MS (as well as open source OSs like Linux). Apple totally controls its' OS making every single device exact (no personality). However, this garantees the quality of its products. Since its' priced considerably higher than any competitor AND, the fact that Apple profis the entire cost of ther products sold, they can more than afford sterile-like stores and higher customer service. The two are unalike. My two cents is that MS puts $ into too many pockets for it to disolve. Apple will continue to grow as there is a huge market for consumers that are willing to pay to have Apple decide how to make their devices work. MS is modifyable, allowing you to configure, and MISconfigure your whole OS (also true of Linux). The two do not compare just as commercial OSs do not compare with open source. They have their place in the market for completely different reasons. I happen to use little of each, Mostly MS. But to be clear,I don't hate Apple, I just don't like iTunes controlling my life.

jkameleon
jkameleon

If we forget the potential C# patent issues for a moment it looks like Microsoft actually did something good for the world by inventing and standardizing this fine language. Now, MS is paying the price. No good deed goes unpunished.

PositiveMojo
PositiveMojo

Mark Twain said, "The rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated". I think the same can be said for Microsoft. I opened my email this morning in Microsoft Outlook, read this post on Microsoft Internet Explorer and did some work in Microsoft Word. However, the trend is not looking good for Microsoft since in 2008 over 50% of Internet users where using the Internet Explorer browser, today it is under 25%. Google and Firefox have taken half of Microsoft's market share. The only saving grace is that Microsoft has bought Skype, which is the largest phone company in the world with well over 500 million users. AT&T is a very distant second with 62 million subscribers. This positions Microsoft very nicely to launch mobile devices into the cloud and integrate Skype to combat Android and the iPhone. Will Microsoft be focused enough and listen closely enough to their customers to take the lead? Only time will tell - but they still have a very strategic position in the marketplace.

rduncan
rduncan

I am in agreement with your post- but that's a history lesson in the cut throat world of business- but I can see no software company poised to overtake Microsoft in the medium to long term. What is the market share for Apple desktops/laptops 5-6% ? -I think that would include both business and consumer. There is no viable option for medium to large businesses unfortunately. Even the cloud won't change this and to be fair, Microsoft is too far ahead with: Identity management (FIM) AD Collaboration (sharepoint, Team Foundation, Exchange 2010, Lync) Infrastructure (SCCM, SCOM, Forefront Threat Management) Office 365 Windows 8 - same OS experience on multiple devices Training (MSDN, TechNet, MVP, Virtual Labs) Administrative languages like Powershell are much more powerful than Bash shell scripting. Unless you can name the successor I'd say it remains in the eye of the beholder. Apple's in roads over the last 10 years have all been in the consumer market- they're great gadgets - I have an iPhone and iPad but- there toys IBM? - a relic Google android/apps will take a share from exchange but office365 is on the up HP-irrelevant RedHat/Fedora - Why? MS would have to slip up big time, I'm talking two or three vista's in a row for any of the contenders to square up. Yes you can point to things like Firefox, but a browser is One thing, complete enterprise infrastructure is entirely another. You won't be deleting your AD account anytime soon :-(

TheFiebre
TheFiebre

rberger, a little drastic and perhaps on the MS doomed side but quite realistic on many of your points. Innovation in a productive sense seems to be lacking on MS side. I may disagree they need to disappear but need a drastic change of command.

cbci
cbci

Open office, 30 cubicles, everyone talking to, and simultaneously, skiing in front of their desks. Yep, it's a game-changer.

delvideo
delvideo

A tablet with full Windows/Xbox/Kinect/Phone capabilities would be a formidable device indeed. I think they potential of the Kinect environment is just barely starting to be recognized. I also agree that Surface is far from dead and with the integration of better and better processing capabilities tablets are going to get better to the point that they will be able to be used for real work and not just entertainment. I'm just disppointed that at the rate things are moving I probably won't be alive to experience true and successful convergance of all the potential that will happen. Right now I'm just grateful that my iPad negotiates all the network nonsense for me and when I turn it on it just works. Now if we just had country wide (USA) high speed broadband wifi and didn't have to mess with 3G/4G limitations...oh well another topic, another time.

jgedesign
jgedesign

...Yet not aware of sales figures vs iPhonePads However, the point people seem to missing here is the fact there is one constant, consistent winner in the war of MSFTvsAPPLvsGOOG and that, our friends, is China.

tob
tob

How many world governments, world organisations, internation corporations, national corporations earning the big bucks are doing it on Apple devices? Consumerisation, sure Apple wins hands down - but actual real work?

tob
tob

MS don't need to be jealous, I'm no particular fan of Windows but I know that all the billion dollar corporations running the world/government whatever, sure as hell aren't doing it on an iOS device. As other posters have mentioned, Apple are a consumer market company, loads of grazing - but other than your social media tweets and status updates no actual work is being done on them right? (ok, before I get flamed off the boards, some exec on an iPad is probably approving an email on a big deal - but I bet the tender wasn't created on an iPad/phone)

SHCA
SHCA

Amen! MS is constantly building toward the big solution. When a product veers off the main MS path, they take it as a market test, rethink it, and reintegrate it at the right time. That's why they are the only choice for business, they're in it for the long haul, WITHOUT disruptive revolutionary products. Apple lurches from product to product. Right now, they're on a roll. Steve Jobs knew he was running out of time and his brain-dump frenzy got them there. But without Jobs, the innovation stream will dry up, and they have no 'meat and potatoes' to carry them through the lean times.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

... the execution falls far short simply because of its price. However, even at $3,000 the concept fails in one place--the table. When you consider the way things are going right now, you're much better off having a replaceable processor unit if you're going to have a furniture or wall-sized system simply because of the cost of the large display itself. To be blunt, much better a touch-capable screen on the wall or desktop while the processor unit rests in a slot or on a shelf beside it. I know tablets are making a big impact right now, but a larger display format is much better for home use especially when you get into desktop gaming.

jgedesign
jgedesign

But the Antitrust regulators would SH*T themselves at that idea.... ;)

seanferd
seanferd

It was a comparison of how both companies innovated in the touch-screen space. I'm not saying that I think there was any overlap in common from which they diverged, but it would be interesting to see comments on what was [i]actually said in the article[/i].

jgedesign
jgedesign

By making everything "exact" and lacking personality, Apple open themselves up to a world of hurt when something goes wrong with the eventual release to a million users? (e.g. iP4 with Retina/Signal/Holding etc.) MS and Google allow people to "play" with their ideas before the mass.market gets a sniff. This is a better method of delivery that will surely sustain marketability better in the long run, yes?

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

And that is why the two are compared as closely as they are. * Microsoft is a software company: They create operating systems and applications to be used in their operating systems. * Apple is a software company: They create operating systems and applications to be used in their operating systems. * Microsoft is not a hardware company: While they do make certain I/O components like keyboards and mice and make a gaming console, they do not make the computers themselves on which their OS and software runs. * Apple is a hardware company: They make the hardware on which their OS and software runs--as well as I/O components--though not necessarily a gaming console. The real difference between the two is the fact that Microsoft doesn't make its own hardware and I think you'll see that Google has learned its lesson in far less time than Microsoft. Without their own control of the quality of the hardware available, Microsoft's OS has to put up with millions of differing configurations which can each have a different affect on the performance of the OS. For as much as certain techies argue about the flexibility of the Windows systems, I don't think they can really argue that Apple's systems are inherently more reliable--requiring far less desktop support. However, the article is as much about new technologies as it is historical operations, and in this we've seen Apple's technologies take the overall lead even if they don't sell the most. Android wouldn't be where it is without Apple first releasing iOS (or OS X mobile as it was originally known). Digital music wouldn't be where it is without Apple creating the iPod and iTunes as an integrated hardware/software package. In other words, the environment of software/hardware integration is exactly why Apple has become the world's technology leader even though it's not the biggest seller of any one technology outside of the iPad at the moment. It's not necessarily who made what first, but rather who makes what work together best.

jimduty
jimduty

Your are spot on. In fact I use differentl language to explain it to people. Apple is an electronic APPLIANCE manufacturer. They sell totally complete, fuctional devices marketed to the end user. MS on the other hand is an INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY company. They sell software and tools (primaily for professional use) to manage and manipulate data. While there is a very small area of overlap, comparing the two is like comparing Hollywood to the NFL because a couple of the players appear in a rap video.

Baldrick9
Baldrick9

Same could be said for what Apple has done with Objective C. They "revived" this language and improved it. There are now many developers using it to develop the new iOS applications.

rpollard
rpollard

New language but a copied idea! Standardized only in Microsoft's world. No one else could run it which makes it proprietary and difficult to adopt in other environments. I have stayed away from MS proprietary technology and adopted true standards like PHP. This language actually works cross platform.

dananotech
dananotech

Scientific research uses huge amounts of Macs, mainly because of their UNIX capabilities. But that also spills over into laptops. Go to any scientific meeting and the vast majority of scientists are carrying a Mac laptop (the Air is becoming the laptop of choice). Video production, page layout, etc, have long used Macs to do real work. So, real, actual work is being done on Macs all the time. Apple is more than an iOS company.

TheFiebre
TheFiebre

jgedesing, while we can appreciate flexibility on the product's "how to?", I think a one way to do things right is necessary. MS lacks taking this risk of deciding for users what is best in their platform, or at least assuring a "way to do" while allowing other collateral. Google does not fall in this category, they actually have imprinted their way of doing things in many applications. The difference is that they were willing to take a very calculated and studied risk. They have massive data to study behavior of use that on the right hands, with right professionals it rendered solid and stable products.. I like to to use Novell as a comparison. I have been both Novell and MS administrator and I can tell you the difference of doing things is astronomical (UI aside). In Novell you either know or not, in MS, yes you have wizards but not fool proof ones (for way too long), thus opening the door to anyone to dare to execute tasks for which they should have training.

jgedesign
jgedesign

I've determined that although the OP may have been half right, you are Completely Mindless. Digital Music wouldn't be where it is without Apple? Christ, it would be in a MUCH better place. Artist's wouldn't be starving the world over etc etc.. You may want to look at the original funding logs for the RIAA. They may still be somewhere online....

nwallette
nwallette

A few years back, I was sad to learn that ATI stopped making graphics cards. I knew when I bought an ATI card, it was a perfect fit for the graphics chip. Now, I buy (e.g.) Sapphire cards and hope that some fly-by-night electronics outfit is implementing the core chipset properly. And I know they will be competing against other low-coast board makers for the most GHz per $, or whatever, so there's pressure for the quality to be just good enough for the price to be low enough to sell in that market. Yuck. This is the strength of Apple's hardware. Yes, you can buy PC components for less. A LOT less. But, Apple hardware is good, and it was made to run the OS without any compatibility hassles. For someone that wants their computer to work like an appliance, that's perfect -- and quite worth the money, if that amount of money is available. Outfits like Dell and HP can do similarly for commodity PCs, but they know you have other options, so they will have to compromise somewhat on the quality-vs-cost. Also, they can't run to MS and have them change their roadmap to suit the hardware. Apple can. Look at the nearly seamless transition from PowerPC to x86, and x86 to x86-64, and the adoption of EFI. There should be textbooks written, it was executed so well. Sure, it's easy when you own the hardware and the software, but even the Linux kernel has enviable stability in the face of endless platform disparity. (Although, truth be told, kernel stability isn't really Windows' biggest flaw these days.) We've seen a huge resurgence of Apple computers lately because the home consumer is less concerned about platform. Applications are available on either OSX or Windows. OSX is going to come with (or, bundle with for a mere $20-50) stuff like Garage Band and iPhoto and iMovie. Windows 7 has some vaguely similar products, but if you've ever used Movie Maker, you know it's no iMovie. And they don't get the same level of attention that Apple's consumer suites do. Case in point, my S.O. made a really nice photo book for a Christmas gift this year. We showed it to some friends when we received the finished product. It turned out REALLY well. The first question we got was, "Was this made on a Mac?" It was a legitimate question, because Apple is really good at showing you, on their products, precisely how you do things that real people want to do. MS advertisements lately with the whole family-oriented cloud thing show you a dramatized glimpse of what COULD be done, but they don't show you in 30 seconds how someone did it. Apple's marketing department really knows how to make people say, "Wow, that's cool! I want to do that." Now, in our case, the photo book was made with third party software (designed for a printing service), on a PC. No one had heard of the product we used. The takeaway: You can do anything on either platform, but Apple gives you easy access to low cost, high quality, intuitive tools, and then shows you how to use them, while you're sitting there watching TV anyway. It's absolutely true that the business market is a different animal. Although I don't think it's quite as solid as people make it out to be. MS has a foothold here; a whole vertical market portfolio. They don't have to market anymore -- we know about AD and Exchange and SharePoint. What other choice is there? But, if OSX Server can provide adequate small-scale equivalents to all those key applications, and do so without the crazy licensing schemes, the SMB market will devour it. The SMB version of Windows Server is a joke, and no one I know that has used it or maintained it likes it. As for big businesses, they move s-l-o-w-l-y, and will be Windows shops for some time into the future. But once the SMB market moves elsewhere, it's on. (Google and Linux / BSD have equal opportunity here.) If Apple wants to move into the business market, their smartest move is to stay the course and capture the end-user market first. They've all but done this, despite there being PCs in every business office. The barrier to entry is huge, though, and they risk fragmenting their resources if they try and usurp the business crown too quickly. But mark my words, they're poised. Insidiously. They've already entered via the mobile device back door, and they didn't even have to convince the users to do it -- they did it themselves! You can't buy or market your way into a segment any better than that. FWIW, I use Windows, Linux, iOS, and recently OSX. Each has their strengths. MS' downfall won't be an overnight attack by Google or Apple. It'll be a slow decaying of their dominance as applications become platform-agnostic. Their biggest weakness is that they don't have the vision that Apple and Google have. They constantly try to "make up" their lost foothold in a particular market segment, then try to sell a couple cool features that don't translate well outside those narrow confines. The iPhone-vs-Surface thing illustrates this perfectly: Essentially the same technology. But the iPhone is practical. The Surface is not. They just don't get what people want, or how to cater to those desires while still being versatile enough to succeed. They're too big to vanish, but not too big to fail. It'll just take longer.

boomchuck1
boomchuck1

MS had a different genesis than Apple in that Apple began with building a computer and OS for the computer. MS began with supplying an operating system for a computer manufactured by someone else. No need now to get into the detail of how MS DOS came into being... we all know that story. If MS had gone the way of building a computer and only offering its OS on that computer, not making it available to other manufacturers, then what we would have would be 2 Apple-like companies out there. Someone else would have had to come along and created an OS (Linux?) that would run on anybody's computer. I contend that in that situation neither MS or Apple would have been the dominant computer brand out there. MS's whole business plan and dominance of the desktop/laptop industry depends on them making a product that is available to all computer manufacturers. Apple may be raking in more cash, but they will never become dominant in the industry because of their exclusivity. But if they give up that exclusivity (they tried this once or twice already) then they become another Microsoft.

SHCA
SHCA

Thanks to both of you for emphasizing that Apple and MS are in different markets. Gates didn't give Jobs the funding to rescue Apple because either of them are nice guys; Gates knew that the very existence of Apple is GREAT for Microsoft.

jkameleon
jkameleon

That's whay it's occasionally & reluctantly being adopted by GNU community. The reason for reluctance is not language as such, but worries about possible patent harassment, as well as general mistrust towards Microsoft.

lipp74
lipp74

So what you are saying is that when I buy a Mac Mini, the 8gb memory upgrade they charge $300 is somehow better than the $40 8gb kit I can get from Crucial, Corsair, or whomever? Apple only has to make its operating system work on a handfull of hardware configurations, imo that is why they have less driver related problems. Apple hardware is no different than Dell, HP, whatever... they get someone else to make parts then slap their name on it.

jkameleon
jkameleon

Wires, nuts and bolts, etc. For example, these nuts and bolts are standard... http://www.engineersedge.com/ansi_hardware_menu.shtml and these are proprietary: http://www.nationalbolt.com/custom-bolts-fasteners.html See the difference? Java, for example is proprietary. If competing implementation get to close, Oracle can rock its specification anytime. IBM did that a lot in its "big blue" days, it was pretty infamous for that. With C#, however, it's different story. It's specification is written in stone by ECMA, the same way the specifications for nuts and bolts are written by ISO & ANSI. Microsoft can't change it.

jgedesign
jgedesign

EVERYTHING apple has is Proprietary that's the main issue most people have with it. However, to call OC a proprietary standard is a bit of a stretch. Sort of like calling a 2011 Ford KA a proprietary use of wheels.