Robert McLaws: Windows Edition

Blogging about Windows since before Vista became a bad word

Some Reactions to an Apple Article

I was reading an article about Apple today, and I was left with some interesting questions and comments... thought maybe I'd put them out there for people to get feedback.

Steve Jobs was quoted in the article as saying: "I wish developing great products was as easy as writing a check. If so, then Microsoft would have great products." WTF??!?! And you guys wonder why I dislike Apple? How could Microsoft make as much money as it does if it didn't make great products?

Look at it from another perspective: The whole time Microsoft has competed against Sony's Playstation 2, I've never once heard Microsoft say that the Playstation 2 was a bad product. They just talked about wanting to make a better one. Why can't Apple compete that way? Why does it have to be a mud-slinging contest? It just makes Jobs and Apple look arrogant and ignorant for not recognizing the merits of their competitor's solutions, and competing on that basis.

I'm not trying to disparage Apple per-se, I'm just trying to understand why it's ok for Apple to do this, but everyone would scream bloody murder if Microsoft did it. And here's another question:

There has been a lot of talk about the patent for "Back-Side Interface for Handheld Device" as hinting towards a newer, smaller iPhone. But how come I haven't seen anyone compare it to the Sprint UpStage, which at least keeps the controls on the same side as the UI? And what about usability? How easy would it be to use a device when you can't directly see the buttons you're touching?

Just trying to start an intelligent discussion about things I don't understand. I hope the comments I receive are in the same vein.



  • With regard to Apple I tend to think there are four factors that come into play whenever people compare them to Microsoft.

    1. The end users experience of Apple’s hardware is very good. Users tend to forget that whilst Microsoft does have considerable control over the direction of the Wintel platform – it doesn’t have the intimacy that Apple is able to enjoy with its closed environment. Further more because Microsoft’s stuff must run on just about any Wintel hardware it means MS must expend considerable development resources making sure it at least works there acceptably.

    2. “Everyone loves the underdog”. Apple has always enjoyed the fact that by being in at least 2nd place it allows them to more readily sell the dream rather than a practical reality. There are just fewer people to raise a ruckus when the dream fails to deliver.

    3. The media loves Apple. Closely related to the second point – but Apple’s anti establishment aura goes down very well with media / creative types. This tends to result in those Apple can do no wrong type product reviews.

    4. Since Apple has a relatively tiny user base – compared to Windows at least – it makes them a far less attractive target for low life virus writers. The public tends to confuse the difference between there being fewer viruses that target OS X for OS X actually being any less vulnerable in real terms.

    And of course the public face of the Apple user community is quite different from the private. Go lurk on a 3rd party Apple community site and there’s a lot of moaning about crashes and inadequate software – however if one subsequently stops lurking and makes ones Windows colors visible for all to see it’s amazing just how fast the complaining stops and the vitriol starts.

    Speaking personally the thing that keeps me loyal to Windows is my love for programming in general and without a shadow of doubt Windows is the best platform for innovation and tools in this area.

    May 13, 2007 12:37 AM
  • Tom,

    That's all great insight, thanks for that. It still does not answer the question of why the people at Apple can't grow up and compete like adults in the industry?

    May 13, 2007 2:57 AM
  • Jono said:

    I've pretty much learned to expect that kind of attitude from Apple, its marketing and most of its users. In fact, the Mac guy from the "Get a Mac" ads pretty much sums it up - good looking and usually easy to get along with, but on the flipside, completely smug and with an attitude that just makes you want to punch him in the throat.

    It's a pity too - even as a Windows faithful I openly acknowledge the merits of OSX and Apple's hardware, but I refuse to buy any of it because I don't want to be associated with that image, that attitude.

    May 13, 2007 3:07 AM
  • Rosyna said:

    And here's a quote from Steve Ballmer:

    "There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance."

    Here's another one

    "IBM is an enterprise company. Google is an advertising company. Apple is a hardware company. They're one-trick ponies, because there is a lot of groupthink in all companies."

    So you have issue with Apple's CEO saying things about Microsoft, but no issue with Microsoft's CEO saying things about Apple?

    May 13, 2007 3:14 AM
  • Peter van Dam said:

    Well, Apple is just jalous of how great Microsoft still is, and how much better Vista is compared to there Mac.

    Ok, I can say many bad things to Apple, but what I hate most about them is that they create Windows programs that make Windows slow and unstable.

    I never can run iTunes, if I want to have my dvd drives working???? It's only happening when iTunes installed :S

    I remove Quicktime from boot: Count your boot speed with the Quicktime plugin, or without... Damn many seconds are caused by Quicktime.

    And why is Quicktime and iTunes not working on Vista??? Thousands of old apps, even apps made for Windows 95, are still working perfectly with Vista. And why should iTunes, (the program that should be that great) doesn't work????

    The reason is simple. Else they couldn't make commercials about that program's don't run on Vista... Well, I'm a proud Vista user and everything works on my machine!

    Apple is just a company that tries to get people with lies. Well, if they can't do better, why move?

    May 13, 2007 3:25 AM
  • Jono said:

    @Peter: Don't take that as an absolute, it could just be a peculiarity with your configuration. iTunes works beautifully on my Vista (RC1) box.

    May 13, 2007 3:40 AM
  • dukeoconnor said:

    Like many platform partisans, passion makes it difficult for you to see from the other side's point of view, but if you're actually serious about understanding what Apple's doing and why they're doing it, a good start might be to google ballmer apple or ballmer ps3. But don't take the results too seriously. Ballmer's just doing business and trying to get his stock price up for stockholders like me who have watched it languish for years while Apple's has ascended to the stars. Personally, I don't care who else uses the same os that I do, and I don't take advertising seriously -- they say whatever they think will move merchandise.

    May 13, 2007 6:17 AM
  • Dave Murdock said:

    Right, Microsoft never disparages a competitor, they just quietly build products that are the darling of any market and compete on the merits. *eye roll*

    This week, Robbie Bach called the non-controller part of the Wii "not a great product—no disrespect, but … the video graphics on it aren't very strong...They don't have the graphics horsepower that even Xbox 1 had". No disrespect, but your product sucks compared to our 7 year old product:,1895,2125617,00.asp

    Ballmer has been famously saying the iPhone has "no chance" of gaining significant share of the mobile market.

    @Robert: "I've never once heard Microsoft say that the Playstation 2 was a bad product. They just talked about wanting to make a better one." I am not fact checking that statement, but if MS has only ever said they want to make a better Playstation 2, then they have absolutely implied the PS2 isn't that good of a product if it can be done better.

    Here's another Ballmer gem: "iPod users are music thieves",39024675,39124642,00.htm

    I went into a Toyota dealership looking at a new Tundra pick-up, I mentioned my trade-in was a Ford Explorer, it wasn't 5 minutes before some Ford crack was made.

    This is how business is done everywhere. Please don't delude yourself into thinking that MS is some benevolent entity when talking about competitors.

    @Jono: Neither Windows or Mac partisans have cornered the market on arrogant. This site is proof enough of that on the Windows side.

    @Robert: No one knows if the two-sided patent Apple filed is for a real device, or how it would work on an actual product. An intelligent discussion would be one were we don't preemptively disparage a device that hasn't even been demoed yet. Certainly the intentionally murky hand drawn images in a patent filing aren't something to get worked up about.

    May 13, 2007 6:51 AM
  • Alex G said:

    I can't believe you are actually surprised by Apple. I refer you to a couple of articles on Wikipedia which might help clear things up.

    May 13, 2007 8:14 AM
  • David said:

    not saying that MS doesn't make great products, just that making lots of money is a poor indicator.  a profitable product is not necessarily the same as a great product. the american auto industry demonstrated that for decades.

    as for the apple "competing like adults"...i think the behavior you're targeting is rather commonplace from most companies that are  targeting a specific competitor.  MS did the same thing when taking out netscape, os/2, etc.  the disparaging of ibm during the os/2 debacle was quite ugly, as i recall.  not that that makes it right, just that MS doesn't have clean hands in this.

    May 13, 2007 9:01 AM
  • List244 said:

    Peter, I have to disagree with you. I do not think Apple would ever purposely write broken software for the PC, just as I don't think Microsoft would for the Macs. When these companies write for the other teams' OS it is for two mains reasons. First, it allows them to slip into the market-share for where they have already lost. Second, it allows them to try and show users they don't have how good they can be. If you wrote broken software for the other OS, nobody would want to switch to you.

    Robert, I am in a similar place you are, I just don't get it. I thought there were laws against this sort of thing, honestly. Mac commercials are not even twists of truth, these things are often pure lies. It is sad when a company has to resort to such acts. What makes it even worse for Mac is that Microsoft has not (to my knowledge) retalitated in a similar fashion. It is horrible advertising and I think someone needs to put a stop to it.

    May 13, 2007 9:06 AM
  • Thomas said:

    I think that the fact that Microsoft was found guilty of violating antitrust laws will almost always paint Microsoft as a "bad guy" that couldn't (or wouldn't) compete on the merits of its products, and relied on illegal business practices in order to win marketshare and lockout competitors from the marketplace.

    And I don't think that Steve Jobs has made this type of statement before. He has (for over a decade) made disparaging statements about the abilities of engineers to comprehending the UX much less implementing a good one. I recall an interview in which he was reminisicing about Apple, and he said that he was constantly frustrated by Apple engineers' complete inability to make technology useful to someone that is not an engineer.

    In my opinion, Microsoft has only recently (starting with the Media Center PC) been moving away from "if the software can do it, let the user see it" mentality towards making intelligent, informed decisions on showing a clean interface with a great UX. I refer to the ribbon in Office 2007 vs. the unusuable toolbars of Office 2003.

    May 13, 2007 12:23 PM
  • Wha? said:

    "How could Microsoft make as much money as it does if it didn't make great products?"

    There's no relationship between revenue and greatness.

    Replace Microsoft above with:  Exxon, GM, Halliburton, ADM, Smithfield, etc.

    May 13, 2007 1:33 PM
  • Mguy07 said:

    I agree with your article completely - I see this more and more in the tech industry.  Plenty of my friends just roll their eyes when Apple spews forth its FUD to try and sell its products or make something positive appear negative (like the new ad in which they show the many versions of Vista . . . so when was choice a bad thing, unless you live in a communist country?  But that does back up the idea that most Mac users eat anything Jobs dreams up as though it was revolutionary and that he invented it -- almost never these case on both accounts).

    May 13, 2007 2:33 PM
  • Dave: True, but Bach's comments said "no disrespect, but...", whereas Jobs absolutely meant as much disrespect as he could cram into that sentance. Bach's statement was also backed up with numerous reasons why he felt that way, which made it a personal opinion. Ballmer's iPhone comments were also in the context of a discussion about the fact that you can't run 3rd party software on it.

    But what I am curious about is why you think that I'm arrogant? Does my confidence get misinterpreted?

    Wha? Good corollary, so substitute "great" with "very useful and needed" instead. Exxon makes money because they have access to a commodity that others need. Halliburton makes money cause it knows how to take advantage of government BS. GM used to be decent, etc.

    May 13, 2007 3:04 PM
  • MS makes money because it controls over 90% of the OS market. It doesn't matter how good your products are if most people associate your product with a certain technology, in this case computers.

    And I believe one of Ballmer's iPhone comments involved him laughing at how the iPhone "has no keyboard and is therefore no good for email". He also claimed that the iPhone will be the "most expensive phone ever by far" when it is released.

    May 13, 2007 6:33 PM
  • glennyboiwpg said:

    I do agree that Steve jobs was out of line when he said that, and I think its really to bad that he has this attitude about MS, because apple really does create great products.

    But as one of your readers pointed out...

    And here's a quote from Steve Ballmer:

    "There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance."

    Companies do this more often then they should... Apple is NOT innocent of this, but neither are alot of companies...

    Try and look at apple for their products... not the mud slinging CEO. (or what ever SJ's title is)

    May 13, 2007 6:43 PM
  • Zeno Davatz said:

    Because MS is the big guy and Apple is the small guy. The big guy is seen more and has to have better manners then the small guy. When two children go out and the younger one misbehaves he would never get as big a blame as the older one would get if he would misbehave. The bigger you get the better standards you need to have.

    May 14, 2007 1:46 AM
  • Mattias said:

    yeah I wish Apple could grow up and act like them big boys...

    May 14, 2007 3:56 AM
  • Dave Murdock said:

    @Robert: Bach is trying to have his cake and eat it to, and I find this pussyfooting disgusting. He is disparaging a competitor because they are outselling 360 right now, and its a very real possibility they overtake Microsoft's year head start on the "next-gen" console market, all while still trying to sounds respectful. He isn't. The way you act respectful while talking about a competitor is talk about how Nintendo has successfully positioned themselves for a different part of the market, casual home gamers. The 360 is a hard-core gamer device first and foremost, they should just embrace it. Their price point is too high for a casual gaming device, no matter how many Arcade games you release.

    As for this site and arrogant,  it's pretty simple, and you do so in this post. You often overplay MS strengths, and gloss over or completely ignore their weaknesses. Clearly there are times when you talk about MS' weakness, but that is beginning to look like a possible total collapse of their virtualization strategy. Here is one of the bits I am talking about:

    "How could Microsoft make as much money as it does if it didn't make great products?"

    Other's pointed out the problem that they are entirely separate data points, and you tried to soften the statement by substituting "great" for "very useful and needed", but both versions reveals your default mindset: MS makes great products. Not even specific products, or in certain markets, across the entire line of all their businesses.

    May 14, 2007 8:39 AM
  • Jim said:

    Apple makes toys, plan and simple.  Without the iPod Apple would not be in much of position to disparage anyone.   They lost the battle and the war against MS.  

    May 14, 2007 10:20 AM
  • bigred said:

    In defense to Robert he only opened to discusion on the topic of bashing companies.  Now everyone can support one side or another, but in reality the world is not seeing this blog and if it is one sided at times thats fine.  There has never been "bash" post to the competitor.

    The point here is, the problem at hand is not what Robert says or writes, but what the world sees and hears.  Right now the hot thing out there is the fact that there is MS bashing by Apple which is really not needed.  Everyone knows they make good products, why do you bash your competior.  I would rather see comercials saying "MS has great products.  We have great products too, and you should buy ours because of the following reasons..."  I feel these "i'm a PC i'm a MAC" ads are out of control and just childish.  I like them cause they're funny.  They haven't once made me want to buy either a MAC or a PC.

    I do believe that both sides are flinging mud, and that's understandable.  Is it getting out of control though?

    Let's not bash Robert here, but keep the discussions about the topics at hand.

    May 14, 2007 10:23 AM
  • Ryan said:

    Tom Kirby-Green: that's about the most succinct and accurate way of summarizing the Apple club as I've heard.  I'll have to bookmark that!

    All: there is some mud-flinging either way, but I think there are also definite differences:

    - Most of those Microsoft quotes were *solicited*, whereas most of the Apple quotes were unsolicited jabs at a competitor.  It looks very petty, and to me, smacks of an inferiority complex.  Remember the 2006 WWDC?  That was disgusting.

    - The Microsoft comments about competitors are specific to a particular product, not just snide jabs thrown into a rather unrelated reply.  They also usually include comments about specific attributes of the product, and how that compares to their own.

    - Jobs is THE human mouthpiece for Apple, essentially.  Ballmer is a big one for Microsoft--and he's known for his brashness--but there are many others.  Microsoft has lots of bloggers among its employees, and they are usually on-topic about their products and specific if they discuss pros/cons about competitors.  Of course, they are pro-Microsoft (usually!), but I rarely see them disparage their competition (unless you consider stating competitive facts/statistics disparaging).  Apple doesn't have that... but they do have their fanbase.  And we all know how they can be.

    - Their ad spots directly go after a single competitor by poking fun (half-jokingly).  Not only that, but consider the amount of money they are dumping into media buying to get this message about their competitor out there.  That is rare for any company in the industry.  I don't see 360 ads try to bring down the PS3 or Wii... I don't see the Vista try to poke fun at OS X/Linux... I don't see MS Office ads try to bring down WordPerfect/OpenOffice... etc.  

    There always will be competitive discussions and comparisons.  How can you not expect it?  The executives and employees are asked to respond directly--of course they will promote their own product and point out flaws in those of others.  But there is a noticeable difference with Apple--primarily, their responses to competitors are unsolicited attacks (pre-emptive strikes? :P ), and there is an air of superiority and smugness that pervades the remarks (which, unfortunately, is elevated to an art form among many of their fans).  For a company that is so image-conscious, you'd think they'd try to avoid that kind of... well, childish behavior.

    May 14, 2007 12:09 PM
  • Steven said:

    What always strikes me in these kinds of discussions, is that it is always black vs white discussion. People always are 'for' something and almost by definition 'against' the other thing, and they fail to see the 'good' things on the other side, and the 'bad' things on their side. While I'm definitely in the Apple camp (i.e. I just tend to like Mac OS more than Windows, but that's a personal choice), I agree that these remarks of Jobs are childish. He should just stick to competing by being (or trying to be) better than the competition, not by bringing them down.

    However, it's kind of naive to think that MS is any better here (remember Gates saying that 'Nowadays, security guys break the Mac every single day. Every single day, they come out with a total exploit, your machine can be taken over totally. I dare anybody to do that once a month on the Windows machine.'). It's the same kind of silly remark.

    I try to be open minded: sure, I like Mac OS, but it's not all as great as Apple would like you to believe. And while I'd rather work on a Mac, that doesn't mean I hate everything MS brings out (hey, I even own an XBox ;-) ). In the end, there is no right or wrong (or good/bad) here, it's mostly a matter of personal taste...

    May 15, 2007 7:11 AM
  • Dave Murdock said:

    Microsoft as the "winner" in the PC market, is not *supposed* to even acknowledge competition exists, why tell people ignorant of their choices they have any?

    This is also why Apple's ads are brilliant, they not only acknowledge the competition, they take it head on. Before the ads, I would wager most people buying a computer didn't even know Macs were still around. The ads not only fix that problem, they address the main questions in computer buyer's minds, why would I pick a Mac over PC. The Mac guy in the ads most of the time is not smug, he is bewildered, like can you believe people put up with this crap when they don't have to?

    @Steven: This is why Gates "breaking the Mac every single day" comment is so crazy (and thanks for posting that quote). He wasn't prepped properly, or he got tired of answering Vista vs. OS X questions, and he lost it.

    Right, I use Macs at home and now for work (doing Windows dev) and I own a Xbox 360 too. Each product decision is independent, but I have been burned before by so many MS products that I am less likely to think MS as my default solution wherever I can.

    @bigred: I am not bashing Robert. I am pointing out to him that when you want to have a discussion about what a competitor (Apple) says about your favorite company (Microsoft), it does no good to proceed from the false premise that your favorite company does not do the same thing.

    @Tom Kirby-Green: Point #4 is only partially true. I love it when people suggest there are no intrinsic security benefits on OS X, but when Microsoft implements same in Vista, those changes make the product more secure over XP + 2003! UAC does make Vista more secure, there have already been MS security alerts that did not apply to Vista with UAC on. UAC is an additional barrier to getting code running on a machine, and OS X has had that for years. In Vista they finally reduced somewhat the surface area of code just listening on the network. This has been the case on OS X for years, nothing is open and listening on the network by default.

    Does this mean their aren't security bugs in OS X? Of course not, and nobody claims that is the case, what is true is that mass remote virus propagation is much harder, in fact it has never been done. And of course people have problems with OS X, no operating system is perfect. But what I have seen, and what others see as well, is that the number of problems as compared to Windows are far far less.

    Surely some Mac users descend into conceit and smugness, and the religious Windows camp can be no different, but my experience is the majority of Mac users that are vocal are just trying to tell others that another choice is out and it made  my life easier, it might be able to do the same for you.

    Back to the original point, Apple intentionally has Jobs as the figurehead/mouthpiece. He is obviously extremely confident about how his products stack up against the competitions, and he is not afraid to say so. Yes, he says things unprompted, but usually only in the company of friends (Apple shareholders meeting, developer conference), the media trumpets it for all to read. Hmm, if all the media where in Apple's back-pocket, how would these comments get out?

    May 15, 2007 8:21 AM
  • Photios said:


    May 16, 2007 4:53 AM
  • Aaron said:

    I very much doubt Ballmer cries himself to sleep over comments like this Jobs and Co make, and vice versa.

    Its business, its competitive, if you can't handle things like this then you're not going to get very far.

    May 16, 2007 5:08 AM
  • Lefteris said:


    June 15, 2007 3:13 AM
  • Alexiou said:


    June 15, 2007 3:31 PM
  • interesting

    June 16, 2007 4:41 AM
  • Savas said:


    June 16, 2007 1:39 PM
  • Aiakos said:


    July 9, 2007 2:17 PM
  • Solon said:


    July 10, 2007 1:18 AM
  • Antonios said:


    July 10, 2007 8:04 AM