Is Microsoft the new Apple?


Think Different.

That's the phrase Apple coined back in 1997. It appealed to the upcoming generation who wanted to "fight against the man". In those days, the "man" was Big Blue, the terrible combination of IBM and Microsoft. They were all there was to have for computers. Microsoft beat Apple to the punch, they had invested more in the GUI then Apple had, and gotten a release out first. They were widely adopted, so they quickly grew in support. Businesses and Personal users both used Microsoft Windows, because it's what all the applications were written for, and people all wrote applications for Windows because it's what everyone used.

Apple wanted to change that, they wanted people to use the better operating system, even if there weren't as many applications for it. They started building their own Office-like products, and trying to convince the world that simpler was better.

The new age of Apple

Simpler is better. And when Apple switched to a Unix-based backend to run OS X, they ushered in a new wave of support. They no longer were just the system for the technically un-savy, they gave every geek what we wanted, a nice GUI on top of an existing platform we already knew how to use.


Apple continued to grow and innovate. Eventually they launched the first iPhone; a smartphone designed for the average person. It wasn't the first Smartphone, but it was the first to include an App Store, and a completely new platform designed to help developers put their software in the hands of users on the go. Apple once again was at the forefront of innovation because they were the underdog. They had to innovate, and produce top-quality products to get people to switch away from existing devices.

Apple as the new Giant

After the iPhone launched, Apple continued to innovate for a few years. It's hard to pinpoint exactly when (although I believe it was directly related to the death of Steve Jobs), but at some point after Google launched the Android OS, Apple started copying instead of innovating. Instead of pushing forward with new ideas, and building everything with their users best interests in mind, they decided to bow to pressure and do what others had been doing. They made phones larger, more unmanageable for the average single-hand usage, and even started selling cheaper versions of the phone.

Apple has been riding on their brand for the past few years. They have been stale, and they have been adding very single-use cases to their OS. You can tie an app into Siri, but only in a very specific way, through Home Automation APIs. You can share data between apps, but only through "Health Kit" which is designed to share health-related data. Everything so far has been piecemeal, instead of a better, more general solution.

Microsoft is the new little guy

Everyone forgot about Microsoft. They bought Nokia in an attempt to enter the Smartphone market. They built an entirely new OS around touch and widgets. They looked at how users want to use their devices, and have even produced a new Microsoft Band smart watch that is specifically advertised as a way to stop technology from massively disrupting your everyday life. They've built a new OS shared between a desktop, tablet, and phone (although only the "new" apps work on all three). The problem with their software right now? Nobody writes apps for them.

Because nobody writes apps for them, nobody wants to buy them. Because nobody wants to buy them, nobody writes apps for them.

Wait, doesn't this sound familiar?

Where do we go from here?

I've always loved Apple products, but I'm not an Apple fanboy. Apple currently has the best PCs on the market. They have the best Smartphones on the market as well. Microsoft is catching up quickly, and they've already developed a superior OS, it's just not quite ready for prime-time.

The concepts are there, the ideas are there, but Microsoft needs to execute as well as Apple did back in the 90s. They need to encourage people to Think Different. The next time you're thinking about dropping $650 on an iPhone or Android (and yes, you're really paying $650 despite what your carrier tells you), take a closer look at the $150 Windows phone instead.

As for me? I have no plans to switch my desktop to Windows unless they also embrace Unix. I'm a coder, and I use the terminal in my every day life. We develop iPhone apps because that's where the money (and users) are at. 

However, my next phone, in about a year or two, will most likely NOT be an iPhone.
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