Microsoft and Apple strategies

4 Aug
2008

I’ve started to take notice at the different business model approaches behind both Apple and Microsoft. Microsoft has a long history of providing backward compatibility with it’s software which, I believe, is one of the primary reasons why it has developed such a huge market share. Apple on the other extreme has complete control over the OS as well as the integrated hardware that it runs on top of. This, for many reasons, provides a fabulous method for managing the entire user experience. Having a limited and hand-picked chip set allows Apple to tweak and pull as much performance out of their hardware as they can. Microsoft has done a pretty good job at maintaining backward compatibility across many decades of releases, but they remain constrained by the breadth of commodity hardware that exists in the market and have been burned, unfairly, on many occasions due to “driver” issues that cause stability issues in the underlying OS. Apple is able to quickly resolve and address any issues that may come up rather quickly without having to go through so much regression and QA testing.


Many years ago Bill Gates was quoted as saying that software will never catchup to take full advantage of the software. What this translates to is the concept of efficiency in software design is moot as the hardware will be so powerful that software applications will find it difficult to keep up with the speed changes. While this concept was visionary it leads to the eventual outcome we see Microsoft in today with Vista which, in my own option has become a bloated piece of software that can’t possibly scale to the needs of multiple platforms like *inux or even OS X can. I can appreciate Microsoft’s efforts with their Windows 7 initiatives and think this is the right approach they need to take. Apple meanwhile is enjoying the rapid adoption of its OS and the stability they can provide by offering both HW and SW. Microsoft isn’t alone in this as Linux has this same approach but the open source community and early adopters don’t have the history or legacy application issues that Microsoft does so changes on this platform are accepted as norm. Looking from the perspective of an IT Director you want a stable platform that is supported and application that run atop of these systems that are also supported through multiple iterations of security updates, and OS enhancements. Many times in my career I’ve seen this lone server running in the back of the data center running some version of OS2/Warp that hasn’t been supported in years but runs this one small but important application… This is an IT managers worse nightmare and the motive for many enterprise development projects.


Apple, in many respects, has to function as sheep herders, but as their flock grows it will be much more difficult to wrangle their heard of consumers which is probably why Apple has stayed out of the Enterprise application market which is where Microsoft and even *nix variants to some extent have excelled.


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