Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Does Lightning Strike Twice?

Maybe it does in the world of personal computing. It is clear that the behemoth of Redmond has won the overall operating system war, with a virtual monopoly on the operating systems of the world's PCs. However, Apple, despite its failure to win the intial battle, may be sneaking back in. As Paul Andrews, a columnist for the Seattle Times writes today regarding the Windows-to-Mac switching,

How much switching is going on? Commenting on Microsoft's recent quarterly earnings report, some analysts speculated the Redmond giant might be losing market share to Apple.

This would be a Good Thing. We are all aware of Microsoft's predatory business practices and almost insatiable deisre to win over all users, whatever their OS so as to be unchallenged. On that note, I was saddened to hear the announcement of a Windows-based Treo OS. THis led to the realization that Palm Computing has lost the PDA wars to Microsoft as well, though I predicted such a result when I worked for Palm some years ago. Palm simply didn't have the management vision and were too obsessed with bottom line to beat the Gates machine. Perhaps they may stage an Apple-like resurgeance as well, but I think it is unlikely. Palm squandered their once-impressive lead in the PDA market and their management was always too pedantic even to realize what kind of product they were trying to sell.

Microsoft has made themselves many enemies, though, despite their virtually unchallenged dominance of the corporate PC market. Their multitudinous security hoels have spawned an entirely new industry, and their injudicious pricing and lack of response to their customers have led alternatives such as Linux, despite its unfriendly interface, to become viable threats to the monpoly- especially on the server side of things. And Apple itself, with its powerful and far more intuitive interface, has made huge strides in reliability and pricing- once the bane of the Apple faithful. Then there has been Microsoft's inability to match Apple's innovation. The new Windows OS, intended to replace XP and codenamed Longhorn, has been promised (in other words, has been in vaporware mode) since at least 2000, while Apple has made OSX into what it was always promised to be- a truly robust and powerful operating system.

On a historical note, since we are speaking of Apple's once-endemic quality problems, I remember the troubled and overpriced 5300 PowerBooks and Performas of the late 1990s with a shudder. My own reliable PowerBook 180c was finally retired from its place as my server (running KanjiTalk 7.5.3 with AppleShare Server 3.0- yes I am a geek) to a well-deserved place in my PowerBook Museum, replaced first by the marvelous Pismo (PowerBook G3 Firewire) and then by the 12-inch PowerBook G4 and the Mac Mini on which I am writing this piece as I speak.

So keep on switching, PC-users. Keep on switching to the Mac. Think Different, remember? It's 1984 all over again! And maybe...just maybe lightning DOES strike twice.

No comments: