Friday, February 22, 2008

Microsoft comes full circle

It is interesting how things have come full circle for Microsoft. I love the story of the early days of Apple and Microsoft, and how each company evolved based on a core set of almost diametrically opposed beliefs: Apple believed in maintaining tight control over its system by keeping a closed, proprietary system - thereby maintaining the integrity of their design and vision for the user experience. The PC, and Microsoft by association, instead embraced an open environment, where people were encouraged to mix and match components and software to build on the "group thought" and innovation of the masses.

Apple's course led to a tight-knit group with a very stable and consistent operating system, while the PC (and Microsoft) had a much wider audience, but too many cooks in the kitchen led to a group of unhappy people running unstable systems.

Of course, Microsoft only bought into the open environment as far as it was beneficial to them to do so, and kept their OS secrets close to the vest; which has been the source of many anti-trust allegations and lawsuits over the years.

Now, we have come full circle. The open system has now evolved to the open OS, led by Apple (well, technically, led by the open-source community via Linux, but we don't need to delve that deeply into the details here...). The Apple OS has been based on BSD for several years now, which (along with the advent of the iPod) has breathed new life into the company. Yesterday, Microsoft finally announced that they are releasing over 30,000 pages of technical documentation for their operating system. Documents, by the way, which Microsoft used to charge a fee to access.

The real question, though, is this: when can those developers who PAID for this documentation expect their refund? Don't hold your breath for that one.

1 comment:

David Bitter said...

I'm not sure I read this right:

"The open system has now evolved to the open OS, led by Apple"
If Apple's system is system has been so open ("for several years now"), why is it that when I go to the store (online or off) I need to go past 15 sections of PC software before I get to the one 1 section with Mac software? Microsoft may not be the best model to follow after, but in my opinion Mac has always been more closed than PC. This is pretty much indisputable on the hardware side (http://www.engadget.com/2007/09/28/iphone-update-facts-and-fiction/).

Microsoft released the “technical documents” as part of a business strategy, just like they used to sell the same documents as part of a business strategy. After 20 or 30 years of competition, Microsoft still makes more than twice as much money as Apple. Again, that doesn’t mean their product is better. But it does mean their business is better, right?

I just can’t wait for the day when Apple announces that you can buy a MacBook with Windows Vista running on it. They’ve already switched to using the same processors as the PC. And if you look hard enough, you can find the Microsoft Windows logo proudly displayed on www.apple.com:

http://www.apple.com/xserve/technology/server.html