Microsoft and Apple are Clearly Heading in Different Directions

After this weeks CES keynote, it’s clear to me (as if it wasn’t before) that Microsoft and Apple are heading in two different directions. Apples response to the operating system, as proven with their preview of OSX Lion, is that they want to make the desktop as simple as  iOS which runs on iPods, iPhone and iPad devices. Bringing the app-mentality, app-launcher and app-store to the desktop is clearly their main priority. “Form over function”  always seems to be the unofficial mantra coming out of Cupertino.

Microsoft, on the other hand, has something totally different in mind. Whereas “form over function” is Apple’s mantra, “function over form” could be Microsoft’s. They want Windows on every device, which is clear after their announcement to make Windows ARM-compatible. The problem with this thinking is that they tried this before and failed (remember “Windows Everywhere”). In their own words, and I’m paraphrasing, they essentially said in their Windows Phone 7 unveiling that consumers didn’t want a copy of Windows on their handheld devices, which is odd, when you consider that Microsoft spent last years and this years CES touting Windows 7 as their tablet solution.

I’m not trying to make a case that Microsoft and Apple should be heading in the same direction, in fact, I believe just the opposite. I don’t want my desktop “dumbed-down” with a tablets OS, as Apple believes. I also don’t want Windows 7 on a tablet/phone device. I think the answer is very clear and literally right in front of Microsoft. Nearly everyone agrees, even those who don’t particularly like Windows Phone OS, that Microsoft has its tablet solution staring it in the face, yet they deny it anyway. Microsoft has said time and time again that they have no plans to port the Windows Phone OS to a larger form factor and the CES keynote reaffirmed exactly that position. There is clearly a disconnect between Microsoft and its followers, with regards to their choice of a tablet OS.

Maybe Windows 8 on ARM will be the perfect OS for both tablets and PC’s. But Steve Sinofsky said himself that we may still be two or more years away, so is Microsoft really planning on sitting out of the tablet market until then? By stubbornly pushing Windows 7 as a tablet OS, I believe they are doing just that.

All is not lost and the sky is not falling in Redmond. While Apple clearly has the lead in the mobile markets, many still forget that Microsoft owns almost every other market that exists. They are clearly doing some things right: the outstanding growth and maturity of Bing, the revamp of Windows Mobile, Windows 7, Xbox/Kinect, Office, Cloud-based computing and, while it is slowly losing ground, Internet Explorer is still one of the dominant browsers out there. Also, do not forget that Microsoft is not only in the game with today’s technology, but they are heavily investing in their future with motion and voice control-computing.

Even with their sucesses, with Microsoft’s continuing push to get Windows 7 on tablets, have you completely lost faith in their ability to provide a positive tablet experience or are you willing to drop money and battery life for the advantages of a full-featured desktop OS on a slate?

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11 Responses to Microsoft and Apple are Clearly Heading in Different Directions

  1. Paul January 11, 2011 at 6:00 pm #

    Agree. They should have let OEMs load WP7 on tablets even if it was an interim move. Failing that, they should at least have had a slimmed down W7 embedded with a Metro front end for CES 2011. Instead they basically showed nothing new and said wait until W8 and 2012/13. The tablet market will be decided long before that. Google has already used the same period of time to optimize Android and judging from the number of tablets at CES sporting that OS (10:1 vs Windows) this is now a race between Google and Apple, as mobile has been.

    MS is now in serious trouble. Because unlike losing mobile, this effects Windows and Office revenue.

  2. Michael January 11, 2011 at 6:27 pm #

    anyone toting a Windows based tablet for professional reason, think hospitals, police, municipal, city, county and state, feds etc want something that is compatible with their desktop and server counterparts. They also want to be able to install same software already purchased and hold licenses for, instead of searching “app stores” for make-do 3rd party offerings. Window Blinds, Stardock and others have no problems reskinning Windows 7 to be more touch friendly, I believe this is an instance where hardware hasn’t caught up with software. Tegra 2 and 3 and other System on a chip offerings will need to come to market so that Microsoft can release a real slate with real PC performance. Soon I would imagine. Intel, AMD and the new Tegra3 chips paired with a nice SSD and ample memory should have a real slim workstation type slate that should easily blow anything currently out, out of the water.

  3. Terry January 11, 2011 at 6:32 pm #

    You ever use an Android or iPad? They are the dumbest computing items out there. They are suitable if you don’t own a tv. but other than that I personally found no real value for them. Everything is a work around for what is taken for granted on a PC.

  4. Anonymous January 11, 2011 at 7:34 pm #

    I prefer “form follows function” instead of “form over function” or “function over form”.

  5. Mark January 11, 2011 at 9:06 pm #

    I don’t think Apple’s is form over function. They studied what people were actually doing on their PCs and realized a large chunk were just browsing the web, updating facebook, viewing photoes they’d taken, listening to music or watching a video, or light word processing. And they built a device that does that very very well.

  6. Jotinpro January 12, 2011 at 6:29 am #

    @Mark, thats because thats all that apple users ever do. Hence why apple computer will never be big. Anyone thats doing anything worth while will be doing it on a pc.

    • Anonymous January 12, 2011 at 8:31 am #

      to add to this, Apple also knows that anyone who buys a Mac must be really stupid or really persistent. Stupid because they just spend 1-2 thousand dollars on a computer that they’ll only use once a week. Also stupid because they probably got once since Windows have viruses and crash (Bs really). Or persistent as they like shiny plastic.

      • NicholasC January 23, 2011 at 10:38 am #

        I use my Macbook Pro every day. As a developer that works with a lot of opensource software I prefer it over the Windows platform, since it’s Unix based. To say that Mac users are stupid is a little naive. The one and probably only thing I use my PC for right now is gaming.

        • Anonymous January 23, 2011 at 2:13 pm #

          I agree with you on that part. I just laugh at those who spend their money on a Mac just to check their emails and facebook. If you are using it for it’s purpose, either multimedia or developing, then sure you may need to use one. But if you’re the average Joe who uses a few spread sheets and Word every day, then Windows is best.

  7. vision January 13, 2011 at 4:39 am #

    A tablet is a PC not a phone, it should use computer’s OS because it has the screen size and hardware, so why someone should use a limited OS while could use a full featured OS?

  8. Don January 13, 2011 at 4:45 am #

    iPad as a casual consumer item is great, but ist as dumb as *&%$ to do any serious work

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