I have moved my blog to Wordpress at theunixgeek.wordpress.com. I will still be checking back periodically on this one as well, though. 19 April 2009

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Sunday, May 25, 2008

Why Microsoft Still Has a Stronghold and How to Break It

It’s obvious Microsoft still has a control in the personal computer world. It’s sad for many, yet wonderful for many others. The logic behind this is the simple fact of business: Microsoft has since the beginning targeted businesses, which in the mid-80s where the only people who really wanted a computer, spreading into homes because people would use at home what they used at work. Apple, however, took the step of focusing on the home and educational market, which although was a not a bad start, it did not bring Apple to the type of power Microsoft has today, and frankly, the “look, I can make a movie” ads for OS X don’t reflect how good OS X really is. 

If Apple wants to expand their computing business to enterprises and small businesses, stress on the Mac’s productive abilities, speed, and ease of use instead of iLife's creative abilities, with which there’s little way to convince a stuffy businessman to buy a Mac like that. 

Instead of including iLife with the Macs, include iWork. Remember when AppleWorks was included with every Mac, and the creativity stuff was separate? That’s what the world wants today - to be productive. I’m surprised to see so many saying “how come my new mac doesn’t have an office suite?” on the forums. Sure, there’s TextEdit (my favorite to this day), but it’s like Wordpad - few people know of what it can actually do. Change the TextEdit name to "Word Processor" since it’s becoming more and more like it and the stronghold that Microsoft has may begin to be broken, especially since a lot of PC's today come with either Works or Office pre-installed.

Also relating to business, IT needs to be able to have more expandable servers than Apple offers - they need to be able to run their server software on the hardware they want. Also, it's harder to control, manage, and configure clients via OS X server (this is the GroupPolicy feature of Windows NT-based server systems). In general, many businesses find it easier to administer NT because it's been around longer (this is obviously excluding Linux since it was not as well advertised as NT, but not negatively). Apple's first real server was with OS X Server sometime around 2000. Of course, graphics powerhouses are excluded from this - Macs are made for "art."*

Also, there's the thing about developing for the Mac. Of course, I love Cocoa, which is a wonderful API, but make it easier for newcomers who visit your website. The currency exchange tutorial documentation is too complex for a simple thing, which should almost always be Hello World, the big step, and "The Objective-C 2.0 Programming Language," while and invaluable resource, doesn't get new developers motivated. At least Microsoft provides videos for getting started with Windows programming that greatly simplify the learning process.

Summarizing, if Apple wants to ease their entrance through Microsoft's stronghold, focus on the Mac's productive abilities and how it can help businesses, include iWork instead of iLife with every Mac, and ease the entrance for new developers - these are what made Microsoft successful, and what can make Apple rise even more.

Note: yes, I know Apple has gained a lot of popularity these past years, and yes I'm writing this on a MacBook. Apple could perhaps split their website: half to focus on businesses and the other half for home. Although Apple has a small business and science section of their website, it is not clear how to easily arrive there through link-hopping.
*thanks to Yert for this point

Another Note: Justin Bradshaw has an interesting point that Apple is already going further into businesses with the iPhone and being able to run Windows on the Macs, but just because the iPhone is going into business doesn't mean the Mac is going into business - remember, iTunes is cross-platform.

2 comments:

Justin Bradshaw said...

I think you have a good point about iWork being pre-installed as iLife is, but I bet it's either a contractual thing to get Microsoft to continue to write Office for the Mac, or just not wanting to piss them off.

I think the way for Apple to break into the business world isn't to separate their website and add more complexity in a buying decision... it's to provide better support for corporate standards like Exchange, VPN, perhaps even windows emulation.... hey wait, they're doing all of this stuff now! The iPhone is the best example and will lead Apple's entree into business...

Robbie said...

This was written at a very high level, Mr. Geek - may I call you The? And you're right: the mac is far more powerful as a productivity platform than most realize, partly because the operating system and software's power doesn't jump out at you and get in your face. Thanks for bringing this up!