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Windows 8 leak shows why Microsoft is no Apple

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by , 09-07-2010 at 09:45 PM (1688 Views)

The leak of details about Windows 8 reveals more than information about Microsoft's next operating system --- it also shows that Microsoft is no Apple, and never will be. And that's both a good and a bad thing.

Details about Windows 8 were recently leaked, and show a variety of plans for the new version of the operating system, including an apps store, faster startup, and improved energy efficiency.

Even more interesting, though, is how the slide deck shows important ways in which Microsoft is unlike Apple, and never will be like Apple. Let's start off with the first way, the fact that Microsoft didn't sic its lawyers on any of the sites that published it.

When it comes to leaks about products, Apple is downright paranoid. There was the time in 2004, for example, when in the lawsuit Apple v Does, Apple sued a person for leaking details about an audio interface to GarageBand. Those sites included AppleInsider and PowerPage. Apple even tried to shut down the ISP that hosted PowerPage.

All that, over a leak of absolutely no importance.

Notice that no Microsoft lawyers are going after any person or site that leaked details about Windows 8, which is right now the most important project at the company.

Another way the deck shows Microsoft isn't like Apple is the mere existence of the leak. This kind of information constantly flows out of Microsoft. The same can't be said about Apple; the company has information shut tight. The leaked iPhone was remarkable for its rarity.

Two slides in the deck show a final reason why Microsoft will never be like Apple --- and this is the good news/bad news area. One of the more interesting slides is one titled: "How Apple does it: A virtuous cycle." Here are the bullets on the slide:

Apple brand is know for high quality, uncomplicated, "It just works"
Product UX is designed to help people realize value
Realized value leads to product satisfaction, which in turn feeds brand loyalty
This is something people will pay for!
It's almost laughable that Microsoft had to detail this in a deck, particularly the last bullet, "This is something people will pay for!" It seems self-apparent.

But another slide shows inadvertently why Microsoft may never get to the "It just works" stage of a product. Here are the first two bullets of the deck titled "Windows 8 Default Business Assumptions:"

Ecosystem is key. The choice of hardware, devices, and software is key to the success of Windows.
We care about all PCs. From low end to high end systems, there is a Windows offering for everyone.
Here's Microsoft's problem: As long as the company makes Windows available on wide range of hardware, as detailed in this slide, Windows will never "just work." Microsoft doesn't control the hardware and software on machines, and can't design Windows for specific hardware. Designing an operating system for the widest range of hardware possible means there will always be problems and conflicts. Microsoft can try to minimize those conflicts, but they'll never go away.

Apple, on the other hand, does not "care about all PCs," nor does it include an Apple offering for everyone. Its products are unabashedly high-end. By controlling the hardware and software, it can make sure that its hardware "just works."

So the good news for Microsoft is that its products will reach the widest range of people possible. The bad news is that because it can't control the hardware, Windows PCs will never work as smoothly as Apple's devices.

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