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Microsoft’s Long, Slow Decline (daringfireball.net)
142 points by tumult on July 30, 2009 | hide | past | favorite | 172 comments

I think Gruber makes a lot of great points here and I agree with most of what he says. However, I think he's missing one important point.

Microsoft doesn't think "it is sitting pretty because Best Buy has a 17-inch Dell for $650." I can assure you that internal talks at Microsoft include very worried discussions about how they're going to deal with Apple's quickly growing market share.

Microsoft's response to "Macs are better" is "PCs are cheaper", not because they think more PCs will sell because of these ads, per se, but because they want computers to be cheaper. They want to frame the buying decision in terms of price so they can drive prices down further. Oddly enough, this kind of worked. Apple lowered their prices.

As Joel Spolsky says, "Smart companies try to commoditize their products' complements... Microsoft's goal was to commoditize the PC market." (http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/StrategyLetterV.html)

Microsoft does not think that it's OK to be inferior to Apple as long as they're cheaper. They just really really want computers to be cheaper. They always have. That's how they've made billions of dollars over the years. They tie the success of their software business directly to falling prices in the computer hardware industry. If they see any hint of that trend reversing (rising prices in hardware), they're going to fight it tooth and nail.

I think what they really need to understand is that the race to the bottom in the computer hardware market is generally over. We've arrived at (or near) the bottom. People can afford just about as many computers as they could possibly want now. If they want to further commoditize the personal computer, they should be doing what Google is doing and writing a stripped-down OS that runs on much weaker hardware but relies on the web for processing power. Insisting on machines that are both cheaper and more powerful than the PCs of yesteryear has reached the point of diminishing returns.

They want it to be cheaper insomuch as it causes people to buy more computers. However they don't want them to be so cheap that the OEM price becomes significant where people can buy a $100 Linux PC or a $300 Windows PC with the same specs.

the race to the bottom in the computer hardware market is generally over. We've arrived at (or near) the bottom

And the computer at the bottom are netbooks and smartphones, markets that MS is not strong in.

> And the computer at the bottom are netbooks and smartphones, markets that MS is not strong in.

Was that a serious comment?

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Netbook

> As of January 2009, over 90% of netbooks are estimated to ship with Windows XP[52]

Margins for them are MUCH worse, that is why they missed their earning targets this quarter.

Also, count me as a person who bought a netbook that shipped with XP and immediately installed Linux on it - the company no longer offered the model I wanted with Linux. So as always Microsoft is pushing Windows on people whether they want it or not and then turning around and screaming MARKET SHARE MARKET SHARE!

MS had to substantially cut their licensing per unit in order to get onto netbooks, which is one reason they are now suffering despite this "success".

That may be bad for their bottom line, but it has no bearing on market share.

I disagree: if a company's bottom line is weak, its ability to compete is weakened and a reduction in market share is likely to follow if this continues.

Well, I'm no economist, but lowering prices isn't always a bad thing. And I definitely think it was wise for MS to adapt their pricing to the netbook market. It is definitely not in Microsoft's long-term financial to give Linux a toehold on the retail desktop market.

I think a better comment would have been:

One market Microsoft is weak and being forced out (phones), another is very low margin, and dragging down Microsoft's overall revenue and profits (netbooks).

Yes it was. MS didn't want XP to be on these machines, they wanted Vista, but the low specs of Netbooks forced them to keep XP on or concede the market to others. It's one market where other OSs - Linux, Android, OSx/iPhone (when apple launch a tablet or whatever) have a good chance. And a later, more consumer-friendly design.

Though I didn't know MS's share was over 90%. It will be interesting to see what Windows 7 brings to this.

As for windows mobile - the less said about that the better.

Good point. I think Microsoft have failed to spot that the computer market is going the same way as the car market. You can buy a car very cheaply if you just need to get from A to B. But people who have more money choose to buy BMWs or Mercedes. It's an aspirational purchase.

Excellent points about commoditisation. I don't think Microsoft wants Macs to be cheaper (though they still probably see increases in windows sales to mac users if there is more money left over) but they do want this to be a price argument because right now that's where they win.

I think Microsoft should do two things:

1. Push Windows 7 as superior. In my experience and that of others who have used it, so far it really is. (NB: The people that have used it were not die-hard fans either way, so naturally there will be Mac fans who disagree but this isn't the point).

2. Offer a Mac-Only version of Windows at a cheaper price to get more windows installs on mac (price of Windows OS for someone using it as a second OS is quite prohibitive).

I think the main problem for MS is that while Apple makes a premium product, and is oriented around consistently turning out products that deserve their reputation, MS is not. Lose the perception that running Windows is Inevitable, and they don't have to turn out good products just once in a while, but almost every time.

When you add Linux snapping at their heels with a free desktop, I think they've got real problems. Especially when Shuttleworth is calling on Linux developers to make something prettier than OSX. They won't necessarily succeed, (although I hope we do), but simply playing in the space greatly complicates Microsoft's issues.

Yeah I think Windows 7 is a chance for MS to push premium and take down the "big bad company" image a notch (as they've done with ASP.NET MVC by interacting with the community and including well known developer figures in the project).

I'm not sure Linux will ever pose a serious threat to the "home-user" market - even developers I know tend to agree that Linux has never taken user-interaction seriously. It might be prettier these days but that isn't the concern, it's genuine "getting things working" and "using this day by day" that is the problem. Most Linux users live by the terminal but home users moved to the GUI a long time ago and aren't going back.

Linux will continue to steadily grow among home users if Windows 7 doesn't provide better security than Vista. People do get tired of reformatting their (or their relatives') machines every 4-6 months to get rid of all the sticky malware that managed to get past their antivirus, even though said antivirus has been eating large chunks of their memory and CPU time.

Vista doesn't have nearly the security problems of the XP and before systems. Things like not running as root and integrity levels changed the security landscape. In addition, I believe that in between XP and Vista they rewrote much of the internal code to be more secure.

you're right that it is a huge chance for them. going by history I see no indication that they won't completely blow this chance while declaring victory. microsoft has become myopic.

I have to pick one nit with your comment ... Linux developers miss the point if they think making "something prettier" is the answer.

OS X success is not about "pretty", not in a fonts, colors, and visual design kind of way. I'd warrant Vista is much "prettier" in that regard.

What is "pretty" about OS X is the capital D design of the overall user experience. Achieving this requires deep integration of goals between developers, ui experts, product managers, and yes, visual designers.

Otherwise it will only be like, shall we say, lipstick on a pig (a very tasty and fine pig, or good pet pig if you aren't into the swine flesh, at that).

Yes, I agree. I was using "pretty" as a catch all phrase for the je ne sais quoi that makes an OS a pleasure to use. Just piling on the eye candy is never going to get there.

On point 1, are you arguing Microsoft should say that Win 7 is superior to Mac OS X, or to previous versions of Windows?

The first argument would be terribly hard for them to win, but the second they might be able to credibly argue. I don't think there are many who dispute that Win 7 is better than Vista, the only issue is if it's better than XP. That likely depends partially on the hardware you run it on.

Regardless of whether Mr. Gruber is right or not, I think there is a very slight bit of irony if he is indeed correct.

Microsoft has been pushing the xbox to game studios like crazy. In effect, that move alone might help in their decline; if individuals who would otherwise play games on Windows have no real need to play games on Windows (they have a console), they have no need for Windows, either!

So, perhaps MS' game division is culling the OS division.

I agree, there are some nuggets in here. But I think it's more written for people who want to see why Microsoft is declining than for people who want to see if Microsoft is declining. It doesn't seriously entertain alternative explanations for Microsoft's revenue dip and Apple's >$1,000-market surge, and in turn, I have a hard time seriously entertaining Gruber's thesis.

Perhaps you have your own theory to explain this shift? Instead of sniping at Gruber, for trying to explain a very real shift in the market, if there's a better explanation, then link to it or share it.

Rare is the market event with a single possible explanation. If this is not obvious, here are some examples:


Microsoft's Revenue Drop

* PC buyers care about their computers less than Apple buyers, so in a global economic downturn, they cut back on new computer purchases moreso than Apple buyers

* PC buyers are waiting on Windows 7 (mentioned in passing by Gruber)

* PC buyers feel higher levels of satisfaction with their computers than in previous years, and feel an unusually low need to upgrade

* PC buyers have consolidated their personal inventory, perhaps owning only a single laptop (maybe work issued) as opposed to a laptop and a desktop

* Microsoft is not attracting first-time computer buyers as much as in previous years

* PC buyers are switching to Apple


Apple's Growth in >$1,000 Sales

* There are fewer PC competitors in the market

* PC buyers feel that equal or greater value is achieved in the <$1,000 market

* The >$1,000 market has contracted around Apple

* Apple is attracting more first time computer buyers than in previous years

* PC buyers are switching to Apple


I don't know how probably true these explanations are, before or after reading Gruber's article.

I like Gruber's assessment. It draws some simple conclusions which illustrate that Apple is not the "little ol' computer company" it was derided for 10-15 years ago. It also illustrates how Apple's might could actually pose a real threat of extinction to companies just like MS in the coming years/decades.

I've also assessed things Apple/MS in a post of my own. I don't think it's become public realization yet, but Microsoft is scared. Apple poses a serious threat, and they have recent experience in starting the long and dreadful decline in the browser space to help them get a taste of the backlash that's coming.


Normally, I wouldn't submit something with what I might consider to be an inflammatory title, but I think John Gruber raises some interesting points on Microsoft's current situation. They're a huge company with products which register on my likability meter from "this is awesome" to "what is this crap?"

It will be interesting to see what happens with Windows 7. It's a good chance for them to turn around the bad image that became associated with Vista. This doesn't necessarily need any technical bearing.

Windows Mobile, to me, seems like a pretty dead platform. I've gone through a couple of WM phones and I have no intention of going back, either as a developer or a user.

My personal prediction is that Windows 7 will be a big hit for Microsoft. I installed the RC on a 3yo media PC with 1GB RAM and it’s really been quite good – it found all the hardware including slightly obscure things like dual tv tuners and an IR receiver on install. The only thing it missed was the graphics card driver but it found it on the first update. The digital tv playback is smoother than XP and it “just works” as a PVR – you can fully control it with a remote from across the room. It plays Xvid and can burn DVDs out of the box.

Gruber’s right that MS have lost the enthusiasts and yes, they’re now a bit player at the top end of the market. But then again, so is Toyota. People who use Windows are like people who have a car to get from A to B. MS have always been about the mass market and that’s not changing. There’s still substantial advantages in being the dominant platform – especially as the default business desktop. I think Windows 7 is good enough that the great, unwashed hoards will switch from XP in surprising numbers. But we’ll see…

I wholeheartedly agree. Windows 7 is an excellent operating system. People jump to conclusions too quickly.

The challenger of Windows Vista is not MacOS X or Linux, it's Windows XP.

Very good point to parallel MS to Toyota. However, unlike MS, Toyota has Lexus, a brand that does very well with consumers that are willing to pay a premium for a premium experience. MS has no such offering.

(see also VW/Audi, Nissan/Infiniti, Honda/Acura, etc)

I'm picking on you a bit here, but "Microsoft's Long, Slow Decline" is about as gentle a title can be while indicating that the article is about the general decline of Microsoft. Inflammatory would be "Microsoft is Dead", "Microsoft has Jumped the Shark" or "Microsoft Causes Cancer".

Or the working title, per Twitter: http://twitter.com/gruber/status/2940843840

I wish this all weren't the case. Competition benefits everyone, and Apple's had fairly free reign over the improving-your-consumer-OS space for quite a while now.

Talk is cheap. If you really care than I see you contributing to an OSS desktop project.

I can't resist forwarding Gruber's most recent Twitter:

(The working title was ‘Microsoft Is Fucked’.)

Judiciously edited, I'd say. ;)

That probably would have gotten more clicks.

Not only that. It would also be taken less seriously.

Has OP ever been in one of the 6 million businesses is the U.S. lately? If he had he probably would have noticed that over 90% of the desktops running Windows. Many of them with ie locked down. With the server rooms full of Microsoft products. And those responsible for procurement unaware of much else.

Microsoft may be in a long, slow decline in the consumer marketplace, but you'd never know from those 100 million desktops.

Do you think that maybe Microsoft was smart enough to foresee this so that's why they're so locked in in the enterprise?

I also see a lot of office furniture when I look inside a business. But nobody cares much about office furniture. For most of the market, it's a boring commodity that is bought by professional office managers who care a lot about the price. It lasts a relatively long time and doesn't change very often.

It's also an intensely cyclical business, which is no doubt a big reason why Microsoft's financials are so screwed.

The moral of this story is that the notion of Apple vs Microsoft is more stale than it has ever been. They aren't even in the same industry anymore. You could imagine investing in both of them at once and calling it diversification.

Apple has turned computer sales into a question of quality, much like the Japanese manufacturers gained control of the domestic car market by making it a question of quality.

Meanwhile, there are businesses that still want to run full screen 16-bit DOS programs in emulated Windows XP on 64-bit Windows 7. Windows has become a metaphor of the Russian Matryoshka nesting dolls.

Actually, Japanese car companies gained control of the US market because they offered affordable cars that were more efficient. Once consumers saw that they were getting equal or better quality for less money, they switched.

That’s the US market, but the parent wrote “domestic” which, as far as I understand it, means internal, non-exported, in this case the Japanese market.

Completely true about apple vs msft.

I'm not sure I agree about the furniture implication. Maybe practically nobody cares about furniture, but the suppliers do. If they sell 90% of all office furniture at a great margin, they are a successful company. Commodity implies close to perfect competitive markets. That is not the case here.

Anyway people buying servers care. They may not be cutting edge, but they care what they use.

I'm not sure I agree about the furniture implication.

Frankly, I'm not sure I agree either. But I decided to write it down anyway and see how it looked on the screen.

Going back to the original article, though, the point was that industries have "thought leader" consumer groups. I would never in my wildest dreams consider calling any IT department I've worked with a "thought leader". The "thought leader" groups for PC purchases appear to be leaning heavily towards Apple.

Also, while most offices are wall-to-wall PCs, I know that new PCs at our office are budgeted in the $700-800 range for mid-range officefolk (a little but not much more for developers, a little less for simple clerical users). All such purchases this year fall well below the $1000 price point.

FWIW, our developers do tend to buy Macs, and we also tend to get a Windows license for those machines. The Macs obviously cost more than $1000 per box, even with the minor discount we get from Apple.

I also see a lot of office furniture when I look inside a business. But nobody cares much about office furniture. For most of the market, it's a boring commodity that is bought by professional office managers who care a lot about the price. It lasts a relatively long time and doesn't change very often.

Tell that to Herman Miller.

"It lasts a relatively long time and doesn't change very often."

"It's also an intensely cyclical business, which is no doubt a big reason why Microsoft's financials are so screwed."

This is exactly why people staying on XP is such a huge problem for them. If people only "upgrade" when a computer breaks or buy another license when they get a new employee, then the the office furniture business fits Microsoft pretty well.

True. I'm not interested in the furniture that is hardware either. I'm interested in computing, not in computers.

I think you bring up a very interesting point. Microsoft is indeed tightly embedded in the enterprise. If they ceded the home PC market to focus on the enterprise, I suspect they would see much better revenue growth. Enterprise needs often emphasize things that are not really high on home users' lists: remote installation & configuration, customizable user security policies, integrated calendaring and email, etc...

To be sure, MS is certainly doing a lot in the enterprise space: SQL Server, Sharepoint, Outlook, and IIS just to name a few. But little (if any) of that stuff translates especially well to average consumers who have no need for such products. In spite of that, MS persists in having all these consumer distractions that are money losers and sap time and resources to support and promote (see: Zune, Xbox). But frankly, that's not really what they're good at as a company. I mean that as no disrespect to the people on those teams, but the company itself is just not consumer oriented. The consumer side of MS products always feels "bolted on". It's just not part of the culture. They just need to start being OK with that.

If MS could realize that they don't need to dominate every corner of the computing world in order to be a competitive company, it would be a huge start to getting them back on the right path. Remember when they wanted to buy Intuit, and then came out with MS Money to compete against Quicken when that fell through? That sort of thing makes little sense, and collectively those small things distract a company from its mission (to be fair, they recently killed MS Money, so there is hope).

Here's hoping they turn it around. The marketplace needs competition, and a toothless Microsoft wearing a "kick me" sign is not helpful for the industry as a whole.

MS deal with Intuit did not "fall through" they tricked intuit into thinking there was a deal, got their internal lines of code then booted them out the door like a 2 dollar hooker, and wrote MS Money with the code. This was standard operating procedure for MS well over a decade past when it began and the list of victims is long.

Totally agree - the lack of focus is what I think is killing them. It's like a giant insecurity complex that they have to be in every damn market. Taking a page from Apple in the days where Steve would draw a quadrant in his presentations and just say, here are the 4 things we do. Period. MS should do the same, make those things world class, THEN start to diversify again where it makes sense.

There are lies, damn lies, and statistics.

There are only 6 million businesses in the US?

I thought that the "over 90% of the desktops running Windows" is an old figure from the (Microsoft backed) Gartner Group. The large firm I used to work for was partially bought out by Microsoft, and so we used Microsoft. How about a more realistic (and up to date) figure of how many Windows machines vs Linux/phones/game-consoles/Google/Apple/etc machines?

As for "The Enterprise", beam me up because the majority of servers are Linux.

The likelihood of the average business to adopt Non-Windows Computers seems extremely small.

The only reason to buy Apple would be to woe the employees, at a significant cost. Linux would probably not make many employees happy, and would not save that much money either. So which companies would make the switch? Except for designer shops, of course.

"If he had he probably would have noticed that over 90% of the desktops running Windows. Many of them with ie locked down."

But think about how astounding that figure is. 10% of systems in a company being something else in an environment utterly hostile to non-Windows systems. That would have been 99% just five years ago...

Looking at Snow Leopard features, it's finally a desktop that I would prefer to use over Windows in a corporate environment just because of better exchange integration alone. Apple is doing things that enable that percentage to grow significantly, and that is aided by a push from within by many people that have started to use macs at home and now would rather they use them at work as well.

And that's where the metric of "people that love computers" comes to be of such importance, because those are the people that make macs work at work, then the casual users can and will follow.

Frankly I think the healthiest situation would be a good mix of a variety of desktops in the enterprise, the Windows monoculture is a dangerous thing and lets internal apps really get mired in overly targeted technologies that don't allow use from other platforms - which eventually leads to issues in upgrading the platform you do have down the road.

Microsoft is making the same mistake that Creative made with respect to the iPod as an MP3 player. They are still stuck in the "hard disk size, amount of RAM" rut. When was the last time you bought a computer (other than for gaming) that really required that extra 0.2 GHz?

Even then, MSFT makes an disingenuous argument since they make no PC hardware. So it is all spin.

People are buying solutions, not hardware. This is partly why the iPhone is so successful even though there are literally hundreds of cheaper phones on the market.

Agreed. Comparing something like a laptop on just memory and hard drive is ignoring a huge list of other aspects which affect the quality of the user experience such as battery life, keyboard and trackpad, and heat(Apple is just as bad here if not worse than some).

To extend the GM analogy, it is like comparing sports cars based on horsepower alone. You can get an American muscle car with a ton of power cheaply but it will handle like crap or you can get a more expensive sports car with less power but is actually pleasant to drive.

If you ignore the global economy, the magnitude of the sub-$1000 PC market relative to the $1000+ PC market, and the fact that you can run Windows on an Apple PC, then this article makes sense. Otherwise...

The article makes even more sense if you ignore hardware geeks, PC gaming enthusiasts and case modders. I don't see tons of teenage gamers lining up to buy new motherboards and 3 PCIx graphics cards for their Mac Pro.

ref: http://www.anandtech.com/ http://www.tomshardware.com/us/#redir http://www.overclockersclub.com/ http://images.google.com/images?client=opera&rls=en&...

I used to be a case modder, put together my last three PCs myself. Got sick of it. Now I have a Mac Pro.

I'm exactly the same way as jonny_noog here. I grew up case modding, going to lan parties, winning fastest-pc-build competitions and all of that. Then I went to college and got a Mac mini a year into it after seeing some friends with Macs. then I got a Macbook, then an iMac, then a MBP, then the new MBP, then the MB Air, then the new MBP... now I'm a big Mac guy.

So you fell into the social pressure aspect of Apple's Marketing technique? I thought of getting a Mac for college, however for the price it doesn't offer much over a Lenovo or a Dell. You get alot of nice touches, but those things I'd never use. Multi-touch trackpad? Unibody? There are products out there that do those things much better, such as tablets and toughbooks. Mac is like a DND bard, jack of all trades master of none, and not even better than a master of one. They're nice, they're shiny, but you want toughness? Get a toughbook. You want battery life? Get a Lenovo t400. You want something light that you can surf the web with? Netbook.

If you want to impress your friends about how much better your purchase is, then get a Mac.

So your point is it's impossible to get toughness, battery life, light weight, unibody and multi-touch into one PC. Cool, got it.

No my point is that Mac is a computer and is subject to the same shit that other computers are subject to, so if "this crap just works" stops working on a PC it will also stop working on a Mac. Mac's suffer hardware issues and software issues as well, however the perceived notion is that they don't.

That's a different argument.

You said Macs only sell because of marketing but don't have features to justify price. But you named all the features Macs contain in one package and said it takes multiple PCs to get the same features. So I argue that they do justify the price.

Whether those features appeal to you personally is yet another argument, but Apple knows thier target customer appreciates those features and will pay for them all in one computer.

And yes, Macs also break. Although they're rated at the top in customer-service and repair every year.

Not exactly, I named specific types of computers that excelled at delivering the features of the Mac. I called d Mac a jack of all trades.

Although they're rated at the top in customer-service and repair every year.

Depends how you rate it, in fact I'm not surprised at this rating because Apple makes a business out of it more than any manufacturer Not only that but for some things they don't even service things, such as iPods. iPods/iPhones are the most disposable piece of hardware never considering they just throw out the "broken" one and give you a new one. Some people would call that service, I call that waste. I will concede they have a great service plan, give customer under warranty a new one, repair old one and sell it for a smaller profit as a refurb.

"They're nice, they're shiny, but you want toughness? Get a toughbook. You want battery life? Get a Lenovo t400. You want something light that you can surf the web with? Netbook."

At the time I wanted none of those.. I just wanted something small that could run OS X (this was before OS x86 and hackintosh obviously) as I thought it was a cool OS and had previously only used OS8-9 and not much OS X in high school. As for "social pressure aspect of Apple's Marketing technique", I guess you could pile me into that group but in a different way. Most of my friends were hardcore linux types, and some just happened to have Macs as their weapon of choice.

I could go on, but I don't feel like starting a huge Mac v PC war again. I'm happy with my decision and that's all I care about. :) As for why I use a Mac now in 2009, well I do lots of Rails and design stuff and there are just so many great, small Mac apps that help out with this.

I don't get hardcore linux types who go for Mac. Mac ports is pretty bad for porting things over, and there's problems with version handling. There are some nightmare development stories on the Mac such that programs don't compile because it's impossible to easily get specific dependencies.

Mac isn't Linux with a "more polished" interface, it's a closed system with the stability of *NIX but none of the benefits of decent package management, and a less developed system interface.

Not sure how hardcore I am, but I would definitely consider myself a "linux type". I take your point about the lack of a decent package management system. I run Debian on my ThinkPad so I know what a good package management system looks like. I also take your point about Macs being a more closed system.

But for me, being a web developer who doesn't do much in the way of kernel hacking or other deeper system type work, OS X really is effectively Linux (or Unix as the case may be) with a more polished interface. I would never have considered getting a Mac if OS X was not based on Unix.

I am much happier with a combination of OS X on my desktop (used for work plus multimedia entertainment) and Debian on my laptop (used for work) than I was with Windows on my desktop and Debian on my laptop.

The problem for me is that OSX isn't linux. As a power user, I do some pretty in-depth stuff that requires the proc file system. Not only that but Mac drivers behave differently than linux ones in terms of the Unix philosophy. And Mac doesn't support more hardware than Linux even though it's a commercial operating system.

Example: I have a Hauppage HVR 1600 TV tuner with on board MPEG-TS transcoder. What linux allows me to do using the character device /dev/video0 either through netcat or through SSH stream the device across the network to another computer, effectively creating an MPEG stream of live TV. I can change channels using V4L2 architecture.

Thus when I'm in college my friends can record shows through my computer through the network onto their laptops (obviously the same channel at a time) simply by tapping the stream.

And because Mac doesn't have a great package management system you probably spend more time than you should upgrading libraries you use (depending on your setup obviously, I've never used Rails so I don't know what goes into that but PHP could be a bear).

Personally I like the expose feature of Mac and I was upset that it took either retarded compiz or a half broken hack to get it working on Linux. Then kwin came along, which does all of what finder does and more. And I will give Mac props for inventing that because it's one of the most useful window management techniques (I find taskbars outdated), but when I look at their system I can see that while I get stable polish, I get overall less features, turning it off, then turning it on kills plasma rendering properly).

But in terms of raw features that are really nice and extensible albeit crashy, commercial OSes, Mac included are always behind. (I mean seriously no one has addressed dependencies and dynamic library management like Linux has.)

I completely understand where you're coming from and totally agree that for the kind of stuff you're talking about, Linux is the definitely the go.

Open source web dev tools are great on the Mac though. I get by just fine using Ruby Gems for all my Ruby/Rails package management needs (the Ruby Gems system actually makes sense on OS X where as on Debian, it just felt redundant at best and annoying at worst) and I prefer to compile Ruby, MySQL, PHP, Git etc. myself in /usr/local anyway. I feel like I've got more control of where everything goes that way. When it comes to using these kinds of open source tools, I very much prefer to have a Unix style terminal to work in rather than what passes for a terminal in Windows.

I'll never totally give up Debian for OS X, but if it's a choice between Windows and OS X for my general work/entertainment machine, I'll choose OS X.

That's where you see Apple's design prowess. Tough, decent battery life, good performance, thin and light, decent screen size and resolution and graphics card, nice keyboard, in one package. PC laptops tend to emphasize one of these, not too good in the others. Like the classic Slashdot post on the iPod, just comparing one specific feature or the other ignores the trade offs that good design is all about.


If what counts is that they're well rounded why do they give you the ability to customize to be less rounded, ie, 17" Inch MBP which is supposed to be a workstation replacement?

Out of what you mentioned: Tough, decent battery life, good performance, thin and light, decent screen size and resolution and graphics card, nice keyboard, in one package.

A t400 does the same, it's arguably as tough as a MBP, it's got better battery life (compare 10.5 hours vs Apple's advertised 7), the t400 is already thin and light, but the t400s takes it a bit further(albiet costing battery), screen size and resolution is the same even with LED, and switchable graphics are on all high-end laptops. Keyboard just depends on what you like anyway. Not to mention, with a Mac your portability and serviceability for your machine is greatly affected, ie, I can hibernate most modern PC's and change the battery while you can't. I can replace the battery when it dies and you can't without voiding warranty. You can't replace ram, keyboard, or anything without Apple service or risking a void warranty.

t400 looks like a nicely designed computer. Replacing RAM on a Mac laptop does not void the warranty, and now replacing the HD is pretty easy, too (compared to the older MacBook Pro I have, which requires disassembling almost the entire thing). The advertised battery life has a wide range on Lenovo's site, and I could not figure out which system with which battery had which battery life, and how much weight is affected with bigger batteries. (Note on one of the batteries mentions that it sticks out the back of the computer.)

So I take back the implication that the t400 is not well designed. ThinkPads have a good reputation for hardware design, which I assume is well earned (have not owned one myself). The same cannot be said for all PC laptops. And software is a whole other matter altogether, of course.

As for customization, Apple deliberately restricts the options for customization relative to other vendors. They definitely have an attitude of designing a few models that fit the needs of a many customers, as opposed to many models each appealing to smaller, more specific groups.


It does, look at the installed ram and the sticker on it.

As for the theory that of many fits one, fact I feel that that is false. I could have bought my college's laptop which is gaurenteed to fit everyone, but I found it wasteful. Yeah the tech specs are better than the laptop I bought but it wasn't good for me, not enough mobility, too big, useless features such as the high end processor that isn't worth the cash tradeoff, etc. I don't need that. Customization is good, example Apple's displays aren't changeable to a higher resolution. That pisses me off 15.4 inch laptops should be able to handle 1680x1080.

1. The sticker is on RAM the person is INSTALLING, not the installed RAM (as the previous poster already said).

2. The sticker refers to ITSELF, not the RAM module. I've seen it on numerous third-party computer components, including RAM and hard drives. It contains information on the date and location of manufacture, and the manufacturer of the part needs that information to track consumer-discovered flaws.

Were Apple to put a removal notice for the RAM component itself, it would attach to both the RAM stick and the motherboard, so that removal would be evident.

3. Apple specifically states that HD and RAM upgrades may be done by consumers without violating warranty.

That story you link to is not proof. If you look closely, that sticker you mention is on the RAM the author is ADDING to the MacBook Pro, not on the existing RAM module. (Notice the existing RAM module is blue, and the 3rd party one is green, and the green one is the one with the sticker)

I have a new MacBook Pro (the SD card one) and it has instructions in the manual IT CAME WITH on how to replace the RAM and hard drive. Apple wouldn't give you explicit instructions to void the warranty. Replacing RAM or hard drive does NOT void the warranty.

My bad I'm retarded.

There's probably lots of reasons why the over $1000 PC gaming market is in decline.

There are the people that just grow out of it (I am one). But the big factor here is that consoles are taking over gaming. It used to be the fact that PCs were way better for gaming than any console, but now that consoles have caught up, PC gaming is becoming a niche. (BTW, I now have a PS3 which is gathering dust, as I just don't have the time to play it)

Microsoft does deserve some credit here, as they do have a big stake in the console market with the XBox.

I have no time for games any more either, I stopped playing games frequently about the same time I stopped buying UV reactive IDE cables and blue LED fans.

But I think it also depends on what kind of games you're into. For me first person shooters are best played with mouse and keyboard where as fighting games (like Street Fighter) or sandbox-style action games (like Prototype) are best played with a controller. I know you can interchange your interface devices these days, but I find myself still thinking, FPS? I want to play that on a PC, or sand-box style action game? I want to play that on a console.

Precisely my situation as well.

I do both.

Except for the case mod.

I think a lot of people who buy Macs are the opposite of hardware geeks and case modders. I bought my MBP because I got tired of dealing with hardware, picking out parts, etc. I just wanted a nicely designed and built computer that let me do what I wanted (in my case, programming).

To me, having to deal with hardware just gets in the way of letting me do what I want, which I feel many people can relate to.

Specs don't matter like the used to. 6/7+ years ago an upgrade or a better performing machine was actually a big deal even for regular users. These days it's almost the opposite. Components perform at such a high level that consumers are willing to buy worse-performing machines because the experience just isn't any different.

They're easy to ignore because they're in the minority. The vast majority of computer buyers don't care at all about that stuff.

When I was going through grade school, I heard such bullshit rumors about Mac computers, such as "They're really popular in Europe." Which not only is ignorant of computers, but ignorant of socio-economics of the average European who has much less expendable income than the average American. For them buying a computer that was priced at 1.5-2.0x that of a PC at the time would have been improbable.

You make a good point, joechung, and I've been trying to find the related statistics. This is what I've been able to come up with so far:

Apple had 14% of the US retail PC market in Feb. 2008 -


This article claims the number was 8.7% in the 2nd quarter of 2009 -


According to this article on theappleblog.com, Apple has 4% of the global PC market as of July 2009 -


If anyone has more, I'd be very curious to see them (especially the ratio of sub-$1000 retail PC sales to $1000+ retail PC sales).

Listening to "statistics" from people who quote percentages is really dangerous.

Percentages are really, really, easy to lie with. And for people who only quote percentages, this is usually what they are trying to do. Spin.

You need both. Percentages are better for showing movement (e.g. growth), while absolute numbers give context.

4% globally could be right. Keep in mind that retail is just one slice of the pie. PCs dominate overwhelmingly in the enterprise.

The magnitude of the $1000+ PC market in terms of # of widgets sold, or in terms of revenue?

In case you were not aware, Apple's market cap is higher than Dell and HP combined who together sell over 50% of the domestic units in the US, which is Apple's strongest market.

Businesses are ultimately formed to create revenue and profit, not shift widgets. Microsoft has apparently taken their eyes off this fact after 2 decades of easily collected fat profits, but monopolies can be lost if you sit fat and happy on them.

People often talk about Apple's "market share" in terms of widgets, but how often do you hear the media talk about Apple's "market share" of the total revenue in the computer market? I've never heard it mentioned once* in decades of following the computer industry. Profit is what matters, not widgets.

*by mentioned once I mean the main stream media, I've heard it mentioned on Mac blogs. But I've never seen the media show a break down of the exact % of the profit Apple pulls out of the computer industry. I'd love to see one.

"That’s the business Wal-Mart wants to be in — selling a zillion cheap low-margin items and turning a profit on volume. That’s not the business Microsoft is in."

It should be noted that one of Wal-Mart's greatest advantages is that it manages it's resources more efficiently than it's competitors. Being always willing to risk that you can do a satisfactory job cheaper than anyone else is a great attitude for a company that can out innovate its opponents. I can't think of MS in those terms with a straight face.

Apple (and Steve Jobs) has never tried to market anything in it's product line to all consumers, they concentrate on the mid-high and highend market.

I don't want to sounds like a snob, I use macs for 20 years (I am a designer) and I never go to Wal-Mart, but we have a Prius. Low price is never the first priority for my family to choice any kind of product, and we try to not purchase anything influence by marketing/advertising.

I do use VMWare with XP on my mac. Honestly I was very happy when Apple switched to Intel so I never have to buy those not so well make hardware again.

There will always be people that shop everything at Walmart, and people shop at target/traderjoe, and another group shop only at Wholefood. We all different but I am happy that we have different choice.

Can you imagine if Apple died in the 90s and nongeek like me now have to choice between Windows and Linux?

The 91% retail computers number is crazy. My guess is it has to do with several different factors, a few of which might be:

* Circuit City going under

* Best Buy now stocking Apple merchandise

* Wal-mart going almost entirely sub-$1000

* No one wanting a computer that comes with Vista (even my Mom bought a laptop the other day b/c it was $400 and came w/ XP)

* More Apple stores, meaning more free tech support (which is why Microsoft's going down that route soon)

I think it's probably due in large part to near-total destruction of the $1000-plus PC market. It's not that Apple has really gained there as much as the numbers would suggest, it's just that they've managed to hold on and get people to continue shelling out, while other computer manufacturers have been forced into a price war.

I suspect, if you were to go into Best Buy or Walmart, you would find only a handful of non-Apple PCs for $1k+, if any at all.

Apple is doing well in the high end because they've successfully resisted commoditization in a way that none of the other manufacturers have. (Sony has tried hard, but they're not half as cool as they want to be in the eyes of the average buyer.) Toughbooks are probably the only other brand that stick out as demanding a premium and being likely to get it, but they're a specialty product.

This is something I've been saying all along - and Sony too. Last year someone at Sony lambasted the Eee PC, saying that netbooks will destroy the industry by causing a "race to the bottom". People fought against that idea - and many loudly proclaimed Sony to be a sore loser and sells overpriced crap.

Quote here:


And then it turns out they were right. The netbook has absolutely gutted the over-$1000 PC market to the point where Apple is now the only real player. Margins are thinner than ever and I would not be surprised if manufacturers start keeling over from selling too many netbooks.

I mean, that's what happens when you give up the business of selling kobe beef and get into the business of selling grade-D ground beef...

In a competitive market like this, it is not really about companies 'getting into the business of selling...' Consumers are buying it.

And don't forget Lenovo / Dell XPS / etc all being sold online / direct to businesses.

I'm surprised at the lengths some people will go to save a few puny letters on "because" and "with" while otherwise using perfect spelling.


So when was Microsoft successfully competing in the market of fashionable consumer gadgets?

If you're looking for Microsoft's decline you must look at the sectors they actually dominate. And considering this whole question by way of intense californian navel gazing is not going to predict anything in a world where 100% of growth happens in Asia.

Personally I don't get the kind of collective, almost supremacist, enthusiasm for the quality of Apple products. I've been using some Apple products pretty intensively (MacBook/MacOS X, iPod, Xcode) and I remain largely unconvinced.

I love computing. I love what I can make computers do in terms of analysing and transforming data. But I don't like computers.

So when the first thing Apple tells me on their homepage is that some hardware thingy is now "unibody" they get blank stares from me. I guess people are just very different in that regard.

Microsoft is getting its first taste of reality for a variety of different reasons. I don't think there's any evidence to suggest they are in for a slow bell curve style decline. Their business model will change of course but probably won't decline much or at all. Eventually the economy will recover and enterprise PC sales will pickup. On the consumer side it's probably inevitable that Windows revenue will continue to shrink as consumers move more of their computing online and to mobile devices.

The one area they can build on is the Xbox platform as a general purpose set top platform that might serve some of the same functions as a traditional desktop PC. For example: It could be a file server, print server, home automation controller, media store, shopping front end, etc, etc. No other company is in a good position to control the living room. Apple isn't interested, Sony is patiently waiting to die, and Nintendo is firmly a gaming company completely incapable of making a general purpose platform. Most importantly the Xbox is one of the only new Microsoft products in the last decade that has really caught on with consumers. Eventually they can probably build on the success of the Xbox platform into mobile devices.

"Even without turning the machines on, anyone can see the difference in design and build quality. In fact, you don’t even need eyes — just pick them up and see which one squeaks. Apple is selling more MacBooks every quarter."

Give me a break ... Design ? Yes. Build quality ? Hardly. The Macbook (not pro) is a plastic toy. Its quality is just the same as of those Dell's Inspirons. The Macbook Pro unibody may made a difference in build quality, but definitely not the Macbook.

I'd have to disagree with this. Have you owned one of the plastic Macbooks? Regardless of it being plastic it was still the toughest notebook I had owned to date. Yes, the Pro's are MUCH tougher and I'm glad I upgraded when I did, but I had no complaints or issues with the build quality of my plastic Macbook. It was a great machine.

My comparison was HP's, Dell's, and even an IBM that all ended up falling apart with only a few years of regular use. With the Macbook this was not so.

I have a plastic, black, 13" Macbook, and the quality is much, much higher than any Inspiron or Latitude that I've ever owned. The case is visibly seamless, and the system doesn't rattle if I shake it. The little touches like a battery-level indicator on the battery, and the MagSafe adapter, are also rather nice, as is not having a laptop that looks like it was designed to appeal to ten-year-olds.

If you want a PC manufacturer that's comparable, look to Lenovo, not Dell.

A few months ago I spilled a full mug of coffee all over my white macbook keyboard (no cream or sugar, tho). I didn't notice I'd knocked the mug over (it was behind me) but after a few seconds the monitor went black and the light on the power cord died. After a minute or so of me dabbing at it with a tissue like an idiot, my coworker told me to take out the battery; I picked it up and coffee spilled out the battery bay. But I took it out and set the machine on my desk to dry over the weekend.

Monday I came in, put in the battery, turned it on, and everything worked fine. And I mean everything, even the CD drive. I'm typing on it now. For comparison, a guy I know had the same thing happened to his thinkpad with a cup of plain water, and it just died.

I have a Macbook, and I love it to death, but I also know a guy who had this happen to his thinkpad, and it was actually fine. It turned out the keyboard was hermetically sealed from the rest of the machine, and it had drain holes through the middle of the laptop. He let the water drain, let the whole thing dry, and turned it back on, and it was in perfect shape.

Picking the (legacy) white MacBook as representative of the entire line is disingenuous. 100% of the modern line is unibody and does indeed represent superior design, from battery life to multi-touch trackpad.

There are 13" unibody Macbooks (not Pro). I have one.


Not anymore - the 13" unibody became a "Pro" after the recent refresh.

The pre-unibody MacBooks were more sturdy that the pre-unibody MacBook Pros and PowerBooks.

I prefer the keyboard & touchpad on the regular Macbook to the price equivalent Dell.

Hey guess what - I'm one of those 91% consumers who bought an Apple computer (a Macbook pro to be precise) this year. Now, guess what OS I'm running? Not OSX that's for sure.

I'm also not really sure what DF's aim is here beyond recycling the favorite talking points of Apple fans.

Vista sucks - check. Windows 7 is a do-over - check Consumers love Apple - check Mac's can run Windows - check Laptop hunter Ads are lame - check PC's are $700 pieces of crap - check

There's nothing really new here. Just some viewpoints with questionable objectivity while conveniently ignoring the fact that a) The vast majority of computers sold do not fall into the "$1000+ at retail" category and b) The majority of users are perfectly happy with both Windows and their sub $1000 machines.

There's nothing really new here.

Did you notice the part about the financial results? The historic financial results? The point of the entire article?

Microsoft's year-over-year revenue has gone up since before I or Gruber knew what a computer was. So this is big news. Maybe not as big as the terrifying numbers would suggest (the last year did also feature the worst possible coincident timing of business events in Microsoft history) but still big.

Anecdotal evidence from a single source does not a compelling argument make.

b) "They still dominate in terms of unit-sale market share, yes, but not because people don’t recognize Windows as second-rate, but because they don’t care, in the same way millions of people buy metric tons of second-rate products from Wal-Mart every hour of every day."

a) Well, honestly, did you even read OP?

Agreed here. I don't know how common it is, but since OSX purchases can't really be separated from hardware, and the hardware is basically vanilla x86 in a snazzy case, it (theoretically) doesn't prove anything.

Yes. I would have liked to see in that 91% figure how many of those Macs ended up with Windows on them in some form. I would bet it is large if only for gaming.

> PC's are $700 pieces of crap - check

Ever tried a ThinkPad? The only thing ThinkPad's haven't got, I wish they had is MagSafe.

The Thinkpads that don't suck tend to cost as much or more than Apple laptops.

Not really true, in my corner of woods (EU), top of line T400 (LED display, P9500, hybrid graphics, 3G/HSPA modem etc) is cheaper than cheapest unibody Macbook (13). Wondered about that too.

Every ThinkPad I have ever had at work has emitted this super high pitched whine from the left side.

If it sounds super high pitched, you should stop hearing it pretty soon as aging takes out the top of your hearing range. Problem solved.

> Now, guess what OS I'm running? Not OSX that's for sure.

I'm actually curious. BSD? Linux? The only things that have kept me on OSX for so long (steep decline since Panther) are Finder and Photoshop. Well, those and that I'm hopelessly tied to the  key since I've only used Macs...+Option+O will never cease to please me.

But mainly it's Finder. Why won't other desktop environments copy Apple's excellent combination of +Tab and +`, opting for the inefficient, app-flattening Alt+Tab?

Don't get me wrong here. I love my Mac, and I'm probably going to buy another one later this year (waiting for SnoLeo).

I hate Finder with a passion. Finder and iTunes. It's clear that both these apps were built carefully so that your average PC user wouldn't get confused. Problem is, most Apple users are not what you'd call average.

The Finder team still hasn't figured out whether they are building a spatial file manager or a browser-based file manager. The tree view sucks (and that's putting it mildly). Moving files around is a pain because (1) there's no cut-paste and (2) no "Move to ..." or "Copy to ..." context entries. Do Apple seriously expect that I'll open multiple Finder windows and then drag and drop my files between those?

I'd never even dream of using Finder for complex file management tasks (like reorganizing a photo collection). I usually drop into a Terminal when I have to do something like that.

Of course, I might be prejudiced. I used Linux for almost all my life before switching to a Mac one year ago. Also, I use Haiku on my PC, where navigating by right-click is not just a feature, but the recommended way of navigating the filesystem (if you've used BeOS or Zeta, you probably call this feature the "Z-Snake").

"I'd never even dream of using Finder for complex file management tasks (like reorganizing a photo collection)."

And I think you have stumbled across Apple's strategy for managing user files. Instead of improving the Finder for complex tasks, they create whole new applications for managing specific silos of data. The main examples being iTunes, iPhoto, and Mail, of course. Beyond that, Spotlight seems to be their answer. Not that Spotlight is particularly great, but that is where they are putting their efforts instead of fixing the Finder, it seems. Maybe not a bad strategy, if they can continue improving the Spotlight algorithms and UI.

Which Linux do you use? I bought a MB for iPhone Dev and was hoping to run Linux on it. But I gave up for the time being when the Mousepad was unusable with the Ubuntu Live CD.

You're going to have minor problems with all major Linux distros. The trackpad works in Ubuntu, but it requires editing a few configuration files.

Sad, yes, but that's how things are.

"I'd never even dream of using Finder for complex file management tasks (like reorganizing a photo collection). I usually drop into a Terminal when I have to do something like that."

I think Apple's belief since the Lisa has been that activities like organizing a large photo collection is NOT a file system management tasks.

That's what makes a Mac a Mac and not a Linux box.

If anything, the Finder is a fallback.

This is not to say that the Finder doesn't have a huge number of faults, but copy/paste semantics--or worse, cut/paste semantics--are an abominably bad fit for file system manipulation.

And to end the "one mouse button" B.S. once and for all...the Mac OS was designed as a one-button OS. Windows was not. Linux was not. So the comparisons are a #fail. The fact that there are multiple buttons now provides more conveniences, but you'll never find items in a contextual menu that don't already exist somewhere else in a proper app's UI.

> I hate Finder with a passion. Finder and iTunes. It's clear that both these apps were built carefully so that your average PC user wouldn't get confused. Problem is, most Apple users are not what you'd call average.

The aggressive "switch" campaign is fairly new, Apple-wise. iTunes was available for Mac OS 9 and Finder was designed so that average Mac users would not be confused -- remember, it was a battle to get people to ditch Classic mode...In any case, neither have much of anything to do with Windows.

I miss window shading...is Unsanity officially dead? I wouldn't mind buying this if only it worked for Leopard...


"Not OSX that's for sure."

Such revulsion! I bet you didn't climb up on the dinner table Christmas day and take a big ol' steamy dump on the just-carved turkey, either!

Such manners, such propriety! No pooping, no OSX!

microsoft is guilty of hubris. their corporate culture has convinced itself that because it supplies the OS it needs to compete for your attention with every aspect of computing. Microsoft could benefit greatly from shrinking and gaining some focus.

Agreed. I wouldn't be very surprised if we were seeing Bill Gates returning to the cockpit again to sort things out in five years or so.

I could see him doing it, but I don't see him actually sorting anything out. His last years were not stellar. He did a fantastic job building the company, but I don't think he's the right person to rebuild it.

There's one MS higher-up who I could see actually pulling it off: J Allard. If the future of Windows were a tenth as innovative as the XBox division or even Zune, MS could probably swing a turnaround like Palm is in the middle of.

In fact, I'm calling it now: Allard's going to be CEO of MSFT before 2020. Maybe before 2015. You heard it here first.

you seem to be missing a very critical point in using financial projections.

Yeah, apple will keep gaining share in US but guess who will win in the emerging markets like China, India and Brazil. Microsoft will now start reaping rewards for its years of giving OS for free to these markets (basically by not cracking on piracy).

In these countries, its not about coolness or design. Its about the price.

Want an example? Guess how many iPhones sold in India?

iPhones are not sold here because they cost about $700. If they were as cheap as they are in the US, everyone would have an iPhone. In India, even the people who don't have the resources to feed themselves own mobile phones.

And people do buy Macs here (mostly computer enthusiasts or programmers). You can find many Macs at FOSS conventions (I know, ironic).

The iPhone is not cheap in US. Yes, you don't pay $700/€500 upfront, but you will pay the amount through duration of the contract and by losing the option to switch carriers during the next year or two. The cost is the same, just hidden.

I don't think you have an understanding of how much people make/stuff costs in India, if you're actually comparing prices of iPhones in US with prices of iPhones in India.

Hint: why do you think there's so much outsourcing to India?

"but guess who will win in the emerging markets like China, India and Brazil."

The one with the best mobile OS?

Unless Microsoft buys Palm, it's not Microsoft.

Sure iPhones are expensive now - but older ones will start reducing in price for markets like India/China - and the iPhone has very good internationalization support, along with a virtual keyboard that is far better at adapting to languages like Chinese for input.

You speak of long term but you are only looking at iPhone prices today instead of the fundametals.

Do you even know? Or are you really keen to make us guess?

I've seen numbers stating it's under 20k to date. The midtown Manhattan Apple store probably sells that many in an average week!

I think the OP is completely ignoring Microsoft's previous years financials (strong consistent growth since before Vista and after) and instead basing his argument on two data points (and not the whole data set) and pointing and saying the sky is falling.

It appears that Microsoft can blame their quarterly's on the global financial thing as that is a valid reason, when you take all other financial data points into account. Saying it is all Vista's fault is a straw man argument, given ALL of the data shows otherwise.

If anyone cares to look at the actual financial data, rather than making wild claims, you would notice that Microsoft's Growth alone last year was about half of Google's total revenue. Sure, Google is doing fantastic, but that's not to say Microsoft is completely F-ing it up (like the Author claims when comparing the two).

Secondly, I won't dispute the figures that Apple are outselling Microsoft in the >$1000 market, because I don't have access to all the figures but I personally would expect that would be the case given that is the market Apple targets. I would suggest that if the Author wants to take a realistic view of Microsoft's position in the computer market, he should look at TOTAL machines sold, not just one market segment.

It would be like arguing that Ferrari dominate every other car manufacturer worldwide because they make the most cars that are red that come from Italy...

[Disclaimer: Not a Microsoft Employee or Fanboy, just sick of propaganda]

EDIT - fixed an error with Google/Microsoft revenue/growth comparison

You are wrong to call this propaganda.

The core of Gruber's argument is that Apple's market share (not Google's) is growing quickly, whereas Microsoft's is falling.

Gruber also acknowledges that the numbers don't take into account the whole of the PC market, and he brings up a couple of important points you need to consider before thinking that Microsoft is making up for its losses in the sub-$1000 PC market. Quotes:

"What is particularly alarming about Microsoft’s numbers is that revenue from its Windows PC division suffered an even greater year-over-year revenue decline than the company as a whole: 29 percent."

"Even given that NPD’s numbers represent only retail sales, is there any reasonable doubt that Apple’s share of the non-retail market for $1,000+ computers is also growing?"

Also, it's misleading for you to suggest that Gruber implies that Microsoft is "completely F-ing it up" when comparing them to Google. His 'working title' aside, the purpose of the comparison was to demonstrate that other companies in the industry are not falling short of projections, as Microsoft has. He is suggesting that blaming the revenue decline on the economy isn't a strong argument.

You use the term 'propaganda' pretty loosely. Many things written on Daring Fireball are sarcastic and overly-dismissive when it comes to Microsoft, but it's clear that John Gruber put a lot of thought and work into this essay. Try to do the same with your criticism.

"Try to do the same with your criticism."

You know, I still disagree with you but I think you're arguing from a completely biased standpoint.

I looked through your all of your previous comments and noticed that ~85% of them were on Apple related submissions.

So while I'm not going to blatantly call you a Fanboy, but... where there's smoke...

As for Microsofts revenue decline, they had a bad product with Windows Vista.. they did the same thing before with Windows ME and I'll hazard a guess that they'll probably screw up several OS's in the future.

The fact is, sometimes top tier companies make products that don't gel with consumers.

Recent examples? Microsoft with Vista, Apple and the Apple TV, Google with Knol...

While we're looking at company's failures, lets just ignore Apple's track record when Jobs wasn't there shall we? I mean, its not like they've had any bad products before </sarcasm>

Even still, Vista was released in January 07 (source: Wikipedia) and Microsoft managed to have at least 1 full year of high growth during that time, which is assumed to be during the "bad time" of Vista. So you could realistically argue that this years numbers were a result of recession.

(I'd suggest that Microsoft's OS and the budget PC market is more sensitive to financial downturns than Apple given it's marketed towards people who have smaller incomes than your typical Apple consumer, thus people are less likely to buy Windows based PC's when times are tough. That's just conjecture on my part though)

Microsoft isn't on a long slow decline, it's a bump in the road, plain and simple.

This article was nothing but propaganda (or blatant fanboyism, take your pick).

"The core of Gruber's argument is that Apple's market share (not Google's) is growing quickly, whereas Microsoft's is falling."

He compared Google's revenue growth to Microsoft's (6th paragraph), so I figured it was fair game to compare the two. I never compared Apple's revenue to Microsoft's simply because I haven't bothered to look recently.

I just know these figures when I looked to verify or disprove a Google fanboy's comment previously on HN


I apologize for the last sentence in my comment there. It's unnecessarily inflammatory.

The problem with your 'bad product' argument is that Windows is Microsoft's bread and butter. As Gruber pointed out, "Windows is at the core of everything Microsoft does that makes money."

The same isn't true for Apple TV or Google Knol. Neither of these are core products. Its why the article doesn't trot out the Zune as the reason for Microsoft's decline. Also, neither of those products are considered bad, there just isn't a large market for them.

The same can't be said for Windows, the market is huge for operating systems.

This article is something other than propaganda or blatant fanboyism. DF points out a serious problem for Microsoft, that "People who love computers overwhelmingly prefer to use a Mac today. Microsoft’s core problem is that they have lost the hearts of computer enthusiasts."

Yes, it's a blog about Apple. Yes, it's an article about the decline of Microsoft. But he identifies serious weaknesses in Microsoft's business, and he's not spreading misinformation. I don't think anyone who takes the software industry seriously would say Microsoft is down for the count, but they certainly have to start making better software (fortunately for them, Windows 7 looks just that).

"I don't think anyone who takes the software industry seriously would say Microsoft is down for the count, but they certainly have to start making better software (fortunately for them, Windows 7 looks just that)."

Exactly the point I was trying to make. How can anyone suggest that they're on a long slow decline when Windows 7 appears to be the upswing from the short 2 years lifespan of Vista?

It's less of a "long slow decline" and more of a speed bump, which is exactly what I was saying. That makes this article less informative, because it only applies as the result of one product (Vista) in Microsoft's entire suite of products.

Meanwhile, this article only uses data that supports a positive view of Apple (retail in the above $1000 market) while ignoring the data that shows otherwise (every other market).

Propaganda can be defined as "the systematic propagation of a doctrine or cause or of information reflecting the views and interests of those advocating such a doctrine or cause" and given the nature of the Daring Fireball, plus the deliberate use of information that only supports their view (while ignoring the rest of the data that can show otherwise) means that this article was indeed propaganda.

You're going to judge someone not by the merits of their arguments but by the topics which they've chosen to argue? That is a weak, disgusting, small-minded practice that has no place on HN. You should be ashamed.

Will you guys please stop?

I think this is the first time I've found myself downmodding both flamers

When you're dealing with highly biased people, it can be difficult arguing their points when their argument is so obviously slanted in one direction. They only use the data that backs up their position while completely ignoring the rest of the data available.

It's like dealing with religious zealots arguing the merits of creationism. Or a better argument would be trying to convince someone that a tree is dead by pointing at the 5 brown leaves and ignoring the rest of the healthy tree.

That's why I think it's better to use the data as a whole and draw an conclusion from it. I think it is a valid argumentative style and so I think your comment was not called for.

Realistically, the only way we'll know is several years down the track. Will Microsoft be on their "long slow decline" or will this article be more FUD.

My money's on the latter, but I'm happy to be proven wrong.

When I buy a linux server at work, or one of those Linux Dells home machine (not sure if they're still around - I got this end of last year), I feel like I get a raw commodity. I wipe whatever crap the idiot manufacturer put on it, install my OS on it with ease, and then it does what I want for the rest of time. Server or desktop. Or both if I want. Multi-user from that moment, apt-get takes care of my problems. When I buy a mac it's about the same. It's a little harder to get new packages and some of the unix decisions are brainless but it's better with drivers.

The commodity feel is not remotely the case with Windows. The manufacturer may have left all sorts of crap over the install (toolbars and the like). I'll need to download or even buy a bunch of stuff to get it to do stuff that for a geek is basic (a pdf viewer and all of them stink, expandrive to be able to mount drives effectively, virus protection in case I get compromised but this makes my system less nice to use, putty so I can get to a real console). It doesn't come with anything approaching an adequate text editor or basic development tools. If it's a reinstall on a Dell the driver situation is very painful, and product activation might require me to make phone calls.

Today, though, Microsoft is increasingly left only with customers whose priority is price.

Yeah, but that's probably like 95% of people and companies. Computers may not be commodities for the types of people who frequent HN, but they are for almost everyone else.

He's saying that the kind of people who frequent HN are indicators of what the future might be like:

Regular people don’t think about their choice of computer platform in detail and with passion like nerds do because, duh, they are not nerds. But nerds are leading indicators.

Nerds are leading indicators for some things, but not everything. Once something has become commoditized, nerds may be leading indicators of what a small niche will prefer, but most people will compare that commodity primarily on price. Reversing commoditization is difficult and rare.

If nerds aren't going to be leading indicators for computers, what are they going to be indicators for?

Are nerds the leading indicators for handheld calculators?

Not at all: witness TI's total dominance of the graphing calculator market, selling millions a year with a fucking Z80 and dogshit software for $80 each. Their 'high-end' calculators have decent software with an easy-to-use CAS, but are crippled by their slow M68k processors, and cost $120.

They have competitors?

What will never be commodities to people are their time and happiness. When my wife was looking for a new computer, she didn't even consider Windows; she looked at my Linux and her friend's Mac, eventually deciding on the latter for its physical looks and quality, as she didn't have any real experience with the software.

This new quote from Gruber underlies exactly where the decline really matters most:

"It’s not that they need those customers, but that they used to drive the industry’s technical agenda, but now they don’t."

Where is Microsoft really driving anything at this point? It's not on the desktop. It's not in the mobile space. It's not even really in the enterprise.

The whole video tag argument in HTML 4 for example, is really between Apple and Mozilla. Microsoft is not really even a consideration.

If Microsoft is not really driving anything anymore, then they are just another company trying to comply with standards - and that means the inevitable (although slow) end of dominance they once enjoyed. For the computer industry, this is a good thing...

Funny how this devolves into Apple v. Mac. Apple has gained share but I don't believe Apple has much to do with MS' decline. The real cause is the internet... it has slowly busting MS' monopoly power. It might have been inevitable but I think MS helped cause it. Way back in the 90s, every time MS saw a profitable Windows developer, they saw an opportunity to grow their own software business. They would even advise Venture Funds not to invest in certain areas. (Guess what.. venture investors want to make money, not battle MS.)

Funding and innovation for desktop development (read: Windows development) plummeted. Sure existing companies continued with their product lines and hobbyists built a huge shareware market. Meanwhile MS got fat dominating the market for software on their own platform, and with the increased PC sales for the ultimate killer app--the internet. They looked brilliant.

BUT... innovation didn't die. It moved to the web. And today, while most computers still run Windows, the dominant platform is NOT windows, it's the internet itself. Cloud computing has some real advantages but real disadvantages as well. But one of the advantages is that it was a workaround for the 80 billion pound gorilla, when every business analysis started with: Does this compete with MS?

Ironically, I see hints of Apple repeating the same mistake in its iphone... a platform that really has the legs to dominate in a way the mac never has. Financially and short term they're doing everything right and making billions. And they'll grow much more, just like MS in the 90s. But their whole app store/review approach is hostile to developers. In fact they're building a market that resembles the modern Windows market--only its 99c instead of shareware. Professional developers and capital and innovation is going away. The PageMakers and Photoshops of this stage of computing are going to happen on another platform. And Apple, like MS, a huge successful company with a strong embedded culture is unlikely to see the cause and effect and change its ways..

In the iphones case it won't take 15 years. But it will take a while. The iphone's current momentum is daunting. However, when you're a platform, your most valuable long term asset is your developers. But when your platform is a runaway success it appears to be too tempting to abuse those developers for short term gain. The absurdity of the Apple case is that Apple would seemingly make more money if they loosened up on the app restrictions. MS at least made serious money putting its developers out of business...

I write iPhone applications for a living.

I don't see the App Store process as being developer hostile, at all. Yes there are a few specific areas where it's basically a hostile environment for development. But there is a far wider range of categories where the space is wide open. And that space is wider still now that Apple is finally letting people go hog wild with live video overlays in 3.1 (augmented reality stuff). You only see the contractions, but it's more than offset by expansion... and the contractions we do see, are bound to be temporary if other phones end up having compelling things the iPhone does not because of them (and the inevitable loss of AT&T exclusivity). That's far sooner than the 15 years you give them...

I'm actually a long time developer trying to write iphone apps for a living. In app review purgatory for a simple app that can't possibly offend or harm any one (including Apple, AT&T or the user's batteries). I'm glad you've found your green fields. I'm having to play the game of "what do I need to do like xxx who got approved so maybe I can get approved?" instead of "what is best for the user?" I know from the web that I'm not alone. I'll also admit that I'm biased... the last 35 days in app review, while the product closest in functionality has 4 updates approved, has been emotional hell for this once=lifetime-apple-fanboy. If Apple is only abusing me, obviously, it will not hurt them. But I stand by my point that successful platforms that take their developers for granted will one day regret it.

Could someone PLEEEEAAASE tell me what makes 7 better than Vista? Please??!!! The taskbar is changed to icons and there is a preview for each one. That's really about it. The interface is still a mess with menubars hidden sometimes and not others, there are still several hundred control panels, and the system is still based on DLLs and a registry. Network navigation is a total joke. Built in media viewing is not even a joke. And, yes, I've used 7 quite a bit for my gaming needs so I know what a turd it still is.

It's a fundamentally confusing, unsafe, and bloated OS with the slightest amount of polish added.

Seems to me, whatever problems Microsoft has, they'd do a lot better to not give Apple an attention or comment. They should stick to the ignoring Apple. Answer questions about "We do not comment on competitors or their products".

It certainly won't fix their products, but it would reduce the chances of them putting their foot in their mouth, and that might be a starting point for turning their image, then, their products around.

The legacy will make sure Microsoft is still the #1 Software company in 10 years and Windows the #1 Operating System.

This is what IBM kept telling themselves in 1986.

The installed base of a legacy platform is not a guarantee of the health of the platform owner. Other companies that made this mistake; DEC, SUN, AOL.

In ecological terms, MSFT has overshot the carrying capacity of it's niche, and has not been able to exploit or create new habitat as an operating systems company.

Are you referring to "the IBM"? The company with a Market Cap of $150 billion, larger than Google, Apple, Cisco and every other IT company except Microsoft? There's a big gap between what is true on the web and what is true in reality. IBM is very much alive and kicking, still building mainframes and whatnot.

Yes, after they lost something like a third of their market cap and shrank, and reorganized and clawed their way back.

"""Gerstner quarterbacked one of history's most dramatic corporate turnarounds. For those who follow business stories like football games, his tale of the rise, fall and rise of IBM might be the ultimate slow-motion replay. He became IBM's CEO in 1993, when the gargantuan company was near collapse."""

From one of the reviews here http://www.amazon.com/Elephants-Dance-Inside-Historic-Turnar...

Meh. Windows boxes are a bit of a pain to maintain. For legacy, it's not hard to imagine a small number of citrix servers for legacy software.

windows will remain dominant in OS shares at least for the next 15 or 20 years; after that something new need to be made.

Like the jump from Dos to win 3.1 or win 3.1 to Win95; Microsoft needs to make something more spectacular than an upgrade to 7; something more innovative and productive.

if it does, than there are another 30 years for msft life.

Srsly? 15-20 year? I think Windows will be dead in 7-10 years. It shouldn't still be alive today. Windows is an OS for physical media. It wasn't built for networking and security. Windows'core needs to be scraped and MS needs to come up with something fresh from the bottom up.

Actually, they don't need to do anything. Others have already. MS just needs to bow out. You can't be on top forever.

This guy is a tool. I stopped reading once I read this blanket assumptive statement: People who love computers overwhelmingly prefer to use a Mac today

Really? Did he go door to door? Because he missed my house and MANY other people I know..

Go to any modern technical conference (except the Microsoft specific ones of course) and you can see the truth in what he is saying.

Better yet, go to an airport. Every time I go to the airport, any airport, I see a higher percentage of Apple logos staring back at me than I did the previous visit. It's kind of amazing. It wasn't that long ago that you almost never saw any Apple laptops. Now they're everywhere.

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