Showing posts with label Microsoft. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Microsoft. Show all posts

Monday, October 26, 2009

Aggressive Apple ads

I would imagine that Microsoft has had enough time and experience by now to get its act together at an operating systems level, in which case Windows 7 should normally be one of the finest and friendliest PC products that could possibly exist. Maybe we'll even discover that it has a nicer look and feel than Leopard and Snow Leopard on the Mac. Who knows? Computing is such an awesome domain that anything could happen. In any case, it will be interesting for certain Mac users (maybe including myself), in the near future, to take a look at Windows 7 in a Boot Camp environment on an iMac, to see if it's a good solution for certain kinds of work. For example, I still dream about being able to use a powerful word processor such as Adobe FrameMaker— which no longer exists on the Mac—for my writing, particularly in the genealogical domain.

Meanwhile, Apple has reacted to the arrival of Windows 7 by an aggressive publicity campaign intended to tell PC users that, instead of upgrading to Windows 7, they should purchase a Mac. Click here to see their latest set of ads.

If Apple has gone vicious (to the extent of frankly aiming to ridicule Microsoft), this is no doubt because everybody realizes that Windows 7 could in fact turn out to be a great operating system. So, Apple is in a now or never situation. In any case, it will be interesting to see if there's a massive move to Macs.

In this eternal PC/Mac conflict (where, thankfully, no soldiers or civilians appear to be getting killed), there's a gigantic gorilla in the living room, which people often refrain from mentioning, as if the beast were not really there. Delegates from both camps talk endlessly about the intrinsic merits of their system, and the weaknesses of the opposition. But the BIG reason why an individual hesitates before moving, say, from a PC to a Mac is the obvious fact that he/she has purchased a lot of software tools, and that it would be painful to have to replace all that stuff.

If you're a home-owner thinking about moving, say, from Choranche to Bergues, you can normally sell your old place at Choranche and look around for equivalent accommodation in the charming countryside in the vicinity of Bergues, or maybe (for adepts of nightlife) within the exciting township itself.

Sadly, in the case of moving from a PC to a Mac, there's no obvious way of selling your old software and using the financial resources to purchase new Mac stuff. It's a variation on that old story—which I've been telling in one way or another for the last four decades—about the specificity of information: the fact that you can give it away to friends, but you still keep it. In harsh economic terms, there's no way in the world that you can sell old software to buy new stuff. It's not even a biblical matter of putting new wine into old bottles. The simple fact is that the old software is obsolete: antiquated worthless shit. In the world of information and computers, before people can move readily from A to B, a revised science of economics needs to emerge.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Microsoft decides to open stores

Microsoft has just announced plans to set up a chain of stores to sell their products directly to consumers, in the same way as their competitors Apple and Sony. It goes without saying that Microsoft will strive to imagine a unique style for its future stores, reflecting the specific character of the company and its products. It would be, not only a pity, but a marketing error, if a Microsoft store were to resemble any old Apple boutique or Sony shop.

So, the guessing game is now on, to imagine what a future Microsoft store will look like...

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Vista blues

The first video in Microsoft's new publicity campaign, named Shoe Circus, aimed at popularizing their Vista operating system, is dull and meaningless. Unbelievably bad. Judge for yourself:

On the other hand, I found that one of Apple's recent videos on this theme is charming:

The difference in style and content between the two videos reflects the differences between Vista and Leopard.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Europe versus Microsoft

At a professional level, I used to be in close contact with Microsoft. Once upon a time (in the early '80s), their spreadsheet tool was called Multiplan (inspired by the grand ancestor VisiCalc). In the context of my initial contacts with Apple France executives Jean-Louis Gassée and Daniel Blériot, I was asked to produce a demonstration floppy (non-rigid disk) of Multiplan on the famous Apple II computer. Shortly after, this primitive hardware/software tandem was replaced by the revolutionary Macintosh and Excel.

Several years later, I wrote stuff about Microsoft tools running on the Macintosh. This work must have been appreciated by the French branch of Bill Gates's corporation, for they offered me a helicopter ride to a journalists' get-together in a fairy-tale castle near Chartres.

That was the time when computer users everywhere were delighted to discover that Microsoft's word-processing tool, named Word, was totally (and no doubt deliberately) unprotected. That's to say, anybody could start using it freely on their PC or Macintosh. That was the ingenious marketing trick that got a whole planetary generation addicted to Word. It was the computing equivalent of free marijuana.

It could be said, retrospectively, that this pioneering epoch of personal computing was an essentially macho affair. For reasons I can't explain, neither the managerial nor the technical levels of the PC revolution seemed to put the limelight upon any outstanding females.

Today, I find it ironical that Bill Gates's arch-enemy in the Old World is a brilliant 66-year-old Dutch woman, Neelie Kroes.

In her powerful role as the European Commissioner for Competition, Neelie Kroes doesn't want Europe to become a capitalistic jungle, where the strong devour the weak. In 2004 she set out to bust the Microsoft trust, by accusing the US corporation of failing to implement system-level interoperability, thereby condemning all competition. A European law court has just confirmed that Microsoft's fine of 497 million euros was justified.

Here in France, to verify that Microsoft is not yet playing the game in the sense implied by their European condemnation, you merely have to wander into a retail store and say that you want to purchase a PC without the Windows software. As a surprised salesman pointed out, that request sounds a little like wanting to buy an automobile without a motor. The analogy, though, is stupid. It's silly to try to compare computers with old-fashioned machines such as automobiles. The motor in an automobile (essentially hardware) is not at all the equivalent of software in the context of a computer. Somebody who wants to buy computing hardware without imposed software is more like a guy who wants to get married without having others choose his wife. But we no longer need such metaphors to get the message across. Today, almost everybody is aware that it's perfectly feasible to envisage buying a PC and installing Linux on it. So, to put it metaphorically, Bill Gates should pull his finger out.

This whole affair might, of course, turn out to be a non-problem... if Europeans were to wake up to themselves, and decide massively to buy magnificent Macs.