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Microsoft and Apple Rumble Into Middle Age

CmdrTaco posted about 4 years ago | from the lookit-those-pot-bellies dept.

Businesses 367

Hugh Pickens writes "Bill Briggs writes on MSNBC that the two tech titans are rumbling into middle age as Microsoft marked its 35th birthday on Sunday and Apple turned 34 late last week. But while Microsoft, to some, appears a tad flabby in the middle — a Chrysler Town & Country driver with a 9 pm bedtime — Apple, in some eyes, looks sleeker and younger — a hipster in a ragtop Beemer packed with chic friends sporting mobile toys. 'The difference between the two companies is that Apple has been fearless about transformational change while Microsoft has been reluctant to leave its past behind,' says Casey Ayers, president of MegatonApps. 'Microsoft has always been loath to change and risk alienating some of its customers, but its inability to leave the past behind has left their product line bloated and dysfunctional.' On current accounting ledgers, Microsoft overshadows Apple: Microsoft's market cap is $255.75 billion; Apple's is $213.98 billion. But Apple is getting awfully big — awfully fast — in Microsoft's rearview mirror. Consider that a decade ago Microsoft's market cap was almost $590 billion and Apple's was about $16 billion. So while Apple cheered its opening weekend of iPad sales, what wish should Microsoft have made when it blew out its birthday candles Sunday? 'More than anything, Microsoft's birthday wish should be for fearless leadership,' says Ayers. 'Without someone at the top who feels an urgency to constantly innovate in meaningful ways, Microsoft will shrink and become less relevant with each birthday to come.'"

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367 comments

Not really so (4, Insightful)

sopssa (1498795) | about 4 years ago | (#31733974)

Microsoft has always been loath to change and risk alienating some of its customers

Uh, maybe if you're only looking at Windows and/or Office products. They also seem to do greatly, so why fix something that isn't broken?

But with some of their other divisions I wish they didn't change. Anyone else remember such from Microsoft Games as Flight Simulator, Age of Empires series, Halo, Train Simulator, MechWarrior, Links, Midtown Madness, Motocross Madness.. Now that they changed they're not publishing or developing those kind of games anymore. In fact no one is. Microsoft Games is just for Xbox 360 anymore.

"Without someone at the top who feels an urgency to constantly innovate in meaningful ways, Microsoft will shrink and become less relevant with each birthday to come."

Just yesterday slashdotters laughted how Microsoft is burning money on their online division like Bing and other properties, how it's completely useless. Which one it is now, to think long term or not to think?

Re:Not really so (5, Insightful)

SargentDU (1161355) | about 4 years ago | (#31734056)

Many of those games you mention are acquisitions by Microsoft, not developed in-house. That is not innovation, it is acquisition.

Re:Not really so (1)

somersault (912633) | about 4 years ago | (#31734156)

And Motocross Madness went way downhill. Midtown Madness and Mech Warrior were pretty good fun. There are alternatives to all those games available today though I think. I'm not so sure about really good alternatives to Flight Sim and Train Sim as it's not really in my area of interest, but there must be some..

Re:Not really so (1)

blackraven14250 (902843) | about 4 years ago | (#31734206)

Where's the alternative to MechWarrior? I'm fairly sure that if there were, there wouldn't be a whole deal about MW4 not being released for the community that's still adding to it.

Re:Not really so (3, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | about 4 years ago | (#31734390)

Well having owned both MS products and Apple products, I prefer the MS model of long-term support (so too do businesses apparently).

"The difference between the two companies is that Apple has been fearless about transformational change while Microsoft has been reluctant to leave its past behind," says Casey Ayers, president of MegatonApps.

That sounds really negative against Microsoft doesn't it?

But another way to look at this quote is that Apple abandons machines too fast, leaving users with computer than refuse to run the latest software. EXAMPLE: I used to have a Mac but since it could not be upgraded higher than 10.3 (2003), it was unable to run the latest browsers. They wouldn't even install.

In contrast I can still use my old Win98 laptop and run the latest browsers. Microsoft's willingness to maintain backwards-compatibility over approximately TWICE the lifespan of Apple makes MS more user-friendly. MS policy also more cost-efficient than Apple's insistence that you MUST upgrade to the newest machine, otherwise you won't be able to run the newer programs (not Safari 4, not iTunes, not Firefox).

In my humble opinion.

Re:Not really so (1)

The End Of Days (1243248) | about 4 years ago | (#31734736)

And the difference is basically non-existent for all realistic purposes. It's just a moral stance for MS opponents. It has no practical meaning.

Re:Not really so (2, Insightful)

francium de neobie (590783) | about 4 years ago | (#31734058)

Just yesterday slashdotters laughted how Microsoft is burning money on their online division like Bing and other properties, how it's completely useless. Which one it is now, to think long term or not to think?

They're burning money, yes. But not on anything that gives people surprises. If they're truly doing something massively innovative and useful at the same time, people should be surprised. In terms of investment, it's always possible to increase your risk a whole lot, but it's much more difficult to increase your profit.

Re:Not really so (2, Insightful)

sopssa (1498795) | about 4 years ago | (#31734294)

What would be "massively innovative and useful"? I think Courier [engadget.com] looks innovative and way better than iPad and other tablets. Live and the community on Xbox 360 is something not on other devices and the in-game interface quite innovative. But I wouldn't say it's massively innovative, in fact nothing is. Are Google or Apple in some way massively innovative? No, neither one of them are. Apple just takes an open source project and polishes the user experience and interface. There was existing search engines before Google, but they just did it better. Nothing massively innovative there.

In fact, most of the time innovations come from small startups. Most of those fail, but some happen to come across something innovative and gets bough by larger companies.

Re:Not really so (1)

sconeu (64226) | about 4 years ago | (#31734128)

Hell, I look back fondly at Microsoft Olympic Decathlon (circa 1983)

Re:Not really so (0)

commodore64_love (1445365) | about 4 years ago | (#31734430)

>>>Microsoft Olympic Decathlon

It was better on the Atari 800 or Commodore=64 machines. For one thing, it had music. For another, it was more than 4 colors.

IMHO

Re:Not really so (2, Interesting)

mcgrew (92797) | about 4 years ago | (#31734236)

Microsoft has always been loath to change and risk alienating some of its customers

Uh, maybe if you're only looking at Windows and/or Office products. They also seem to do greatly, so why fix something that isn't broken?

One thing that alienates me is that they are NOT loathe to change. They change many products so much that the training curve one a product you've already mastered is as great as if you'd bought a competetitor's product. IE, for example, has had its "internet options" in every single one of its menu items, from "File" to "Help". It's insane.

I should not have to completely relearn a program just because I upgraded to the latest version. It keeps me from upgrading until it's absolutely necessary.

Re:Not really so (1)

Altus (1034) | about 4 years ago | (#31734322)

That's not change, that's churn. Making frequent, small and annoying changes to interfaces is just throwing shit against a wall to see what sticks.

Re:Not really so (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | about 4 years ago | (#31734642)

I don't think it's changed too much. I recently found a Windows 3.1 laptop, and was surprised how similar MS Word's menu and organization was to my current 2003 version. I was able to pick-up and use the old Word with no learning curve whatsoever.

Re:Not really so (5, Insightful)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | about 4 years ago | (#31734458)

Microsoft Games as:

  • Flight Simulator - developed by subLOGIC.
  • Age of Empires series - developed by Ensemble Studios and which withered after MS's acquisition,
  • Halo - developed by Bungie, another company that made awesome products until MS bought them.
  • Train Simulator - developed by Kuju Entertainment and licensed to MS.
  • MechWarrior - developed by Dynamix, is this owned by MS now?
  • Links - developed by Access Software, again bought by MS afterwards.
  • Midtown Madness - Developed by Angel studios, part of Rockstar, later bought by Take2. I don't think this is owned by MS though.
  • Motocross Madness - developed by THQ, part of Rainbow, not MS.

You've put together a lovely homage to MS's buying out and ruining of good game companies since every good game you came up with was developed by a company that MS bought out after they made something good, or which you thought was made by MS but was actually not. More than half the companies no longer exist having been mothballed by MS.

Re:Not really so (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | about 4 years ago | (#31734680)

You forgot Rare aka Rareware. They made some awesome games back in the N64 days, that really pushed the console to its limits (like Banjo Kazooie 2). Then Microsoft bought them. What has Rare done since then? Nothing of note.

Sleeker and younger? (1, Funny)

soupforare (542403) | about 4 years ago | (#31734006)

More like gaunt. Someone get Steve a steak and some poutine or something, damn.

Re:Sleeker and younger? (5, Informative)

confused one (671304) | about 4 years ago | (#31734238)

Before you offer him that steak, you better check to see what his partial digestive tract and donor liver can tolerate.... Guy's been through a lot lately, give him a break. I don't care how powerful he is or how much money he has, cancer's a bitch and I don't wish it on anyone.

Been saying this for years. (3, Interesting)

symbolset (646467) | about 4 years ago | (#31734014)

It's not a matter of if Apple will pass Microsoft now, but when. Google's also making a run at it, but they've got a lot further to go.

Re:Been saying this for years. (1)

somersault (912633) | about 4 years ago | (#31734526)

It's not a matter of if Apple will pass Microsoft now, but when

I used to dream about this kind of thing as a teenager.. with both Macs and Amigas. Nice in a nostalgic kind of way that one of them has made it. Shame I've lost interest now because of their years of DRM in music and now a differently form of DRM on all their gadgets. If they open things up more then I will probably become interested again though.

OSX isn't bad, but Ubuntu is generally more configurable, and just easier to set up and maintain via the repositories. I love being able to install Perl modules with synaptic :)

Re:Been saying this for years. (0)

symbolset (646467) | about 4 years ago | (#31734734)

Yeah, but you can't buy shares in Linux. LNUX is actually geeknet, corporate overlord of slashdot. Canonical is not a public company - yet. I don't care for Apple products much either, but I've got to give them some respect for executing well in the marketplace.

Re:Been saying this for years. (0)

commodore64_love (1445365) | about 4 years ago | (#31734766)

The death of Amiga was sad.

4000 colors (great for downloading Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issues), near-CD quality sound, and true preemptive multitasking in 1985. Nothing else even came close. The IBM PC products didn't catch-up until Windows 1995, and Macs until ~2000, when they finally got preemptive tasking.

Re:Been saying this for years. (2, Interesting)

thepike (1781582) | about 4 years ago | (#31734788)

It's not a matter of if Apple will pass Microsoft now, but when. Google's also making a run at it, but they've got a lot further to go.

The question is, when Apple passes Microsoft, who will become the new cool company? Remember back when Microsoft was young and hip? Now everyone hates them (okay not everyone, but it is cool to rip on them now and again). If Apple does overtake Microsoft, it seems likely the same thing will happen to them.

And, if Apple does take over the market, how hard are they going to be hit by antitrust suits? If Microsoft isn't allowed to bundle IE with Windows (in Europe) I feel like someone might take issue with Apple only letting their software be on their hardware. Maybe not, but it'll be interesting to see.

Microsoft has unexplained knee pain (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31734034)

And Apple's butt hurts.

Middle age? (3, Funny)

mcgrew (92797) | about 4 years ago | (#31734054)

Thanks for reminding me how damned old I'm getting.

Re:Middle age? (1)

jd (1658) | about 4 years ago | (#31734198)

It's ok. It's just a Slashdot typo. They meant to say "Microsoft and Apple Creak Into The Middle Ages".

Woo hoo (2, Interesting)

swestcott (44407) | about 4 years ago | (#31734062)

Sorry but that's my wife quoted as the co author of the Digitally Daunted book I am the other co author and well to have that on slashdot is CRAZY cool and I am going to waste Karma on that

Bimmer, not Beemer (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31734072)

"a hipster in ragtop Beemer packed with chic friends sporting mobile toys"

Uh,... that's a "Bimmer"... "Beemer" is the cycle, "Bimmer" is the car.

Re:Bimmer, not Beemer (2, Informative)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | about 4 years ago | (#31734314)

Where is Bimmer the car? I've never heard that term in the US.

Looking quick on Google, apparently in the BMW community, good for them.

Re:Bimmer, not Beemer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31734552)

You were wise to post as AC. One of my very first /. posts was to point out this distinction, and I was quickly modded Troll.

The irony about car analogies being the analogies of choice on /. is that there are actually very few car guys here.

Maybe not how I would phrase it (1, Troll)

HangingChad (677530) | about 4 years ago | (#31734084)

"The difference between the two companies is that Apple has been fearless about transformational change while Microsoft has been reluctant to leave its past behind," says Casey Ayers

More like Apple comes up with the great ideas and transformational change and Microsoft copies them, badly.

Microsoft is that guy at a dance club hitting on his daughter's college age friends.

Re:Maybe not how I would phrase it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31734334)

how is this a bad thing again?

in the words of a wise man.

That's what I like about these high school girls; I get older, they stay the same age.

Re:Maybe not how I would phrase it (2, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 4 years ago | (#31734454)

Not really. Small companies and academic research departments come up with good ideas, Apple implements them well, and Microsoft implements them badly. Somewhat depressingly, quite a few of these good ideas come from MS Research, yet good implementations of them never seem to make it into shipping MS products.

34 & 35? Hardly a rumble... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31734094)

...more like a tippy-toe...

Did anyone else read that as (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | about 4 years ago | (#31734098)

Microsoft and Apple Rumble Into the Middle Ages?

I though it was going to be some pointed commentary on DRM or something.

Re:Did anyone else read that as (1)

jd (1658) | about 4 years ago | (#31734480)

Nah, more a pointed commentary on Microsoft's Witchfinder General and Apple's attempt to burn clones at the stake.

Fanbois spew summary (4, Insightful)

PeeAitchPee (712652) | about 4 years ago | (#31734116)

God, I just lost 40 IQ points reading the garbage summary. Can you be any more biased?

Re:Fanbois spew summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31734210)

Are you confused about which site you're on?

Re:Fanbois spew summary (1)

SnowDog74 (745848) | about 4 years ago | (#31734286)

Bias is ok, as long as one's opinions are well supported by fact.

While Apple is gaining ground this is just a poorly constructed summary, right down to using market capitalization as a metric for the strength of the company (see my post some lines below).

Re:Fanbois spew summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31734656)

Unlike your fanboy post....pot this is kettle, you're black!

Why Compare Anymore? (2, Insightful)

Slash.Poop (1088395) | about 4 years ago | (#31734124)

It is a hardware company vs. a software company.
Maybe 20 years ago they competed but that is no longer the case.

Nothing bias against either side but Apple's main focus is gadgets while Microsoft's main focus is software. Yes, Apple makes software and yes Microsoft makes hardware but neither are their main focuses.

Re:Why Compare Anymore? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31734488)

Yet apple hardware and OS is used for more serious work than Windows. Most genetic researchers use OSX and a Unix instead of a windows OS. the #4 research center I recently did some work at has all the top scientists using Apple hardware along with the Unix stuff they have. Only the interns and janitors (Oh and IT) use Windows.

Plus the only real Video editing setup you can buy is on OSX only. Avid has gone to crap over the past 8 years so Final Cut is the only real choice anymore.... No the toys from adobe and sony are not real video editing ,those are toys used by wedding videographers, guys who wish they could get a real gig.

Re:Why Compare Anymore? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31734564)

Yet apple hardware and OS is used for more serious work than Windows.

LPL, this deserves a [citation needed]. Let alone trying to define what "serious work" means. (I know, I know, Apple fanbois think anything they do is more "serious" than what others do on a PC).

Most genetic researchers use OSX and a Unix instead of a windows OS.

And I think the point the GP was making was the Apple just started using Unix as an OS core, reducing the score of work needed to actually make own OS, moving them less away from software and more into hardware, which was the point I believe.

Re:Why Compare Anymore? (1)

icebraining (1313345) | about 4 years ago | (#31734758)

Plus the only real Video editing setup you can buy is on OSX only. Avid has gone to crap over the past 8 years so Final Cut is the only real choice anymore.... No the toys from adobe and sony are not real video editing ,those are toys used by wedding videographers, guys who wish they could get a real gig.

Yes, but the professional video editors are not exactly a large market. Besides, you could replace OSX with Windows and Final Cut with Office, and it would hold true, except that Office is actually used by almost every company.

Re:Why Compare Anymore? (1)

sznupi (719324) | about 4 years ago | (#31734548)

Actually, 20 years ago the disctinction you point at was much more pronounced. Microsoft was clearly a software company, Apple of course relied strongly on hardware sales.

And while the latter is still true (though they are building a digital distribution market with a software that's also available for Windows), the former is not. What, you haven't heard about X-box?

They are in the same spot of course, but they are closer.

Stupid Apple fanatics (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31734134)

Bullshit. Apple's product line and GUI design has remained the same for the last 20 years, and microsoft's design principles and interface organization have changed 10 times!

Steves coolaid (0)

ugen (93902) | about 4 years ago | (#31734136)

Steve has some powerful coolaid, I tell you what.

Apple is 90% marketing hype and 10% reality. It is the best proof that shiny objects properly promoted sell for a lot of money whether or not they have a merit to do so.

Apple builds useful devices, but so do tons of other companies. The difference is - Apple is amazing at hitting all the right notes with the right people.

So to continue the analogy, to me Apple looks more like a shill salesman, driving his silver "look at my midlife crisis" roadster while his thinning hair is combed over and firmly glued to cover a bald spot. :)

In the meantime, they keep promoting closed, proprietary and severely limited one way network "consumer terminals" (devices whose primary purpose is to shove predefined content at consumer, more like TV than to facilitate user creativity more like a computer).

OS X is a nice operating system if you like UNIX API and shell and don't mind some internal clunkiness (poor memory management, weird process states). That's all I care about as a developer. The rest is just snake oil.

Re:Steves coolaid (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31734426)

Talk about bias.

Love or hate Apple its more than mere marketing hype. Instead of being the end all and be all for everyone, they focus on very specific groups and very specific features that suit the small chosen area well. Of course for us that want more from our hardware we are screaming for more but for that catered group its often a perfect fit.

Apple is making the transition from a computer company to an appliance company. Expect more and more companies to starting do this as the industry starts moving to more focused products and unfortunetaly that also means controlled content.

Re:Steves coolaid (3, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | about 4 years ago | (#31734560)

It's all hype eh?

Ok, show me a video editing suite with 3/4 the ease and power as final cut pro suite for windows and I'll switch.

I've tried EVERYTHING under windows, and none of it can hold a candle to the workflow and speed of quality production as the FCP suite. Even AVID. I'd utterly kill for something that was 1/2 as effective as FCP for linux. but sadly nothing exists except toys that crash all the time or are for making really low quality home movies.

I'm not a fanboi, I am cringing hard at the though of having to spend $3500.00 on a new PC to be able to buy the current update to FCP. My Quad core G5 still works great, but I see the need to upgrade in the next year in order to maintain a speedy render time and workflow. and I cant build a hackintosh that will run stable as a rock to save my life....

Re:Steves coolaid (1)

bwalling (195998) | about 4 years ago | (#31734562)

In the meantime, they keep promoting closed, proprietary and severely limited one way network "consumer terminals" (devices whose primary purpose is to shove predefined content at consumer, more like TV than to facilitate user creativity more like a computer).

Are you suggesting that if OS X had been the dominant OS instead of Windows, we could have avoided the whole "everyone needs a blog" fiasco? I'm all for avoiding the next one of those.

Re:Steves coolaid (4, Interesting)

frank_adrian314159 (469671) | about 4 years ago | (#31734746)

Again, someone who doesn't understand that his priorities are not the ones of the mainstream consumer electronics user. "Hitting the right notes with the right people" is the only thing that matters, especially when the "right people" are a customer base that just about anyone would give their right arm for. Nobody except the geeks out there care about the things you complain about. The Apple systems work, you can find an application for almost anything you want to do, and the price point is not excessive for the perceived value.

Mainstream engineers with attitudes like yours have had sixty years of computing history (and forty-some odd years since the advent of the personal computer - note, I count this time since Kay's work on Dynapad and the Alto at Xerox PARC) to deliver a good user experience. They have failed. You hype systems (like Windows and Linux) which, although open, force users into the role of system administrator all too often and deliver inconsistent user experiences.

Apple, on the other hand, has succeeded. That they did so by walling the garden makes little difference to their customers. Understand that and you will understand the future. Disregard it and you'll be consigned to the dust heap of history. If you want to fight their closedness, you first have to make your open systems appealing and easy to use. Get a clue, people.

Older by Two Days (1)

bmsleight (710084) | about 4 years ago | (#31734138)

Great I am older than Microsoft by Two Days. I am not sure if this makes me fell happy or sad.

Middle age starting to show, grey hairs poking through, kids are more energetic, getting more canny, income reasonsable. Well enough about Microsoft - what about me ?

Re:Older by Two Days (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 4 years ago | (#31734588)

Then you are not middle aged....

Middle age = buying a sportscar and motorcycle and getting a mistress...

Let me tell you, buying 4 sports cars is way cheaper than a mistress.

This isn't a troll, just my opinion. (1, Insightful)

Pojut (1027544) | about 4 years ago | (#31734140)

Something that is vital to Apple overtaking Microsoft is a shift in attitude of the "zealous Apple consumer". Most folks that use Apple products are fine, but holy jeebus do Apple zealots piss me off. We get it, your brand of choice is shiny and pretty. Shut up about it.

Again, I know this only applies to a small portion of the Apple userbase, but that small portion is unbelievably annoying.

The usual "this is only my opinion" disclaimer applies.

Re:This isn't a troll, just my opinion. (1)

FrozenFOXX (1048276) | about 4 years ago | (#31734312)

Please mod the parent up. I don't care about Apple products as I think they're not for me, much in the same way a Mustang isn't for me (to continue the car analogy, I'm a Mini Cooper/Lotus Elise fan myself). But for every sane person I run into who owns a MacBook Pro I manage to run into at least two Apple Zealots who make me LOATHE Apple products.

I've met some Linux/FSS zealots before, but generally they're hard for me to find, even at LUG meetings and so forth. Just my experience, naturally, and they can also be damned annoying (mostly an inability to understand that not everyone wants to know how their stuff works). Likewise I actually know one (just one) Microsoft zealot who's equally annoying (mainly because of his inability to believe that anyone else innovates and that it's really MS driving the way forward...right). The two *combined* are not nearly as annoying as the Apple zealots I run into on a fairly regular basis. Most of them that I run into think Apple invented virtual desktops for fuck's sake.

You are not your job. You are not your footwear. You are not your grande latte. You are not your gods-damned expensive, shiny toy from yet-another-corporation. Now please, for your own dignity and my sanity STOP IT, we GET IT, you think you're cool because you bought something that works for you most of the time.

Where the Hell's my Ativan?

Re:This isn't a troll, just my opinion. (1)

aristotle-dude (626586) | about 4 years ago | (#31734414)

Something that is vital to Apple overtaking Microsoft is a shift in attitude of the "zealous Apple consumer". Most folks that use Apple products are fine, but holy jeebus do Apple zealots piss me off. We get it, your brand of choice is shiny and pretty. Shut up about it.

Again, I know this only applies to a small portion of the Apple userbase, but that small portion is unbelievably annoying.

The usual "this is only my opinion" disclaimer applies.

MSFT has its fanboys. Long Zheng, Paul Thurrott and those neowin site. Not to mention those stupid "Windows 7 was my idea" adverts.

Re:This isn't a troll, just my opinion. (4, Insightful)

Pojut (1027544) | about 4 years ago | (#31734652)

Microsoft fanboys don't pretend they are better than you...they pretend the products they use are better than the products you use. I'm fine with that. I've been a gamer and internet lurker for a very long time, I'm used to that sort of thinking. While I personally think it's stupid to lock yourself into only one option (i.e. I owned both an SNES AND a Genesis), I understand why some people have that kind of mentality.

Apple fanboys, however, go beyond mere brand loyalty. Apple fanboys insinuate that they are a better person than I am simply because they use Apple products and I don't. That is something I have absolutely zero patience for.

Re:This isn't a troll, just my opinion. (1)

paimin (656338) | about 4 years ago | (#31734556)

Where are these hated Apple zealots you constantly complain about? As usual, the article comments are a stream of barely-thought-out vitriol, from people who seemingly just need something and someone to hate. And, as usual, the mythical Apple fanboy is nowhere to be seen.

Re:This isn't a troll, just my opinion. (1)

Pojut (1027544) | about 4 years ago | (#31734714)

One of them sits just down the hall from me. The man submits a request literally every month to have his corporate-provided ThinkPad replaced with a Macbook because he "can't get any work done on this piece of crap."

You think I'm being overly dramatic. I'm not.

The middle ages (2, Funny)

Thanshin (1188877) | about 4 years ago | (#31734144)

I read that as "MS and Apple rumble into the middle ages".

I did have time to imagine computer managed fortresses, before reading the rest of the news.

Yes, it was a sad disappointment.

As a Town & Country driver..... (-1, Offtopic)

wb5bbw (143967) | about 4 years ago | (#31734180)

I take offense to the submitter's implications. Mine has been a great vehicle for building our state's optical network. 172k in 5.5 years, and a lot more comfortable than a Ford Econoline! If Chrysler hadn't discontinued the trusty Cherokee, I'd have one of them, but it really didn't have the cargo capacity of the T&C.

Fearless Leadership? (5, Insightful)

necro81 (917438) | about 4 years ago | (#31734194)

More than anything, Microsoft's birthday wish should be for fearless leadership," says Ayers. "Without someone at the top who feels an urgency to constantly innovate in meaningful ways, Microsoft will shrink and become less relevant with each birthday to come

There's another component you need if you want to use fearless leadership and disruptive innovation to be the bedrock of your success: you need to also be right. Apple's taken some big product risks. None of them were exactly bet-the-company-big risks, but pretty risky. The fact that we're still talking about Apple is that they've taken chances and been right. There are plenty of companies out there that had a scary-cool product or technology, something transformational, but missed something along the way: misjudged the market, misjudged their capital needs, rushed a buggy product to market, etc. Don't hear much from those companies anymore.

While there's something to be said for bluffing in poker and going all in, it's much better to go all in when you've got the cards. You can bluff and buy the pot only so many times before someone calls you on it and you're out of the game.

Re:Fearless Leadership? (2, Insightful)

Altus (1034) | about 4 years ago | (#31734366)

Both Microsoft and Apple are big enough that they can make large bets on new technology and ideas and have them fail. You are right that other companies flame out when they make a large bet and it doesn't work out, but that doesn't apply here.

If the iPad were a complete flop and nobody bought it, that wouldn't kill apple. It wouldn't even cripple them. It would represent a large waste of time and capitol, but the company would go on doing what it does. that is the advantage of being a big company.

Re:Fearless Leadership? (1)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | about 4 years ago | (#31734570)

Both Microsoft and Apple are big enough that they can make large bets on new technology and ideas and have them fail. You are right that other companies flame out when they make a large bet and it doesn't work out, but that doesn't apply here. If the iPad were a complete flop and nobody bought it, that wouldn't kill apple. It wouldn't even cripple them. It would represent a large waste of time and capitol, but the company would go on doing what it does. that is the advantage of being a big company.

Hmm, I'm going to have to disagree in general. While you're right about the iPad, that is not reflective of past Apple's gambles. Buying Next and putting Jobs back in charge, for example, could have killed Apple. Betting big on all in one machines and laptops , when those were both niche markets could have killed the company. Licensing OS 9 to other hardware makers nearly did kill them, and buying out and abandoning that strategy could have done the same if it had not worked (not that they had anything to lose). The iPod started out slow and cautious, so was not an issue. The iPhone, well it would not have killed Apple, but it would have hurt them a lot, since the basically shunted all their best talent into making it while letting other products languish.

MS, on the other hand, has bet big a few times, like betting that they could influence courts enough to prevent being broken up after blatantly and repeatedly violating antitrust law.

Not that hard to understand (5, Insightful)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 4 years ago | (#31734204)

Microsoft has been consistently successful - in and of itself, that makes it hard to "leave the past behind". Over the same period, Apple made a slew of really bad decisions which brought the company pretty much into irrelevance by the mid-1990s. For Apple, leaving the past behind was an asset - Apple basically had to make itself over just to survive. That's served Apple well this decade, but let's not forget where they were (compared to Microsoft) previously.

Re:Not that hard to understand (1)

RevWaldo (1186281) | about 4 years ago | (#31734618)

Microsoft has been consistently successful - in and of itself, that makes it hard to "leave the past behind".

More to the point, its customers won't let it. How many times has consumer backlash basically forced Microsoft to continue support for older products, backwards compatibility for documents going back decades, and "classic" views within their newer products?

Your Description Of Apple As Hipster (5, Insightful)

SplicerNYC (1782242) | about 4 years ago | (#31734212)

Could not be more obnoxious sounding. Only hipsters love hipsters because they often don't see how truly annoying they are.

Re:Your Description Of Apple As Hipster (1)

ShadowRangerRIT (1301549) | about 4 years ago | (#31734270)

Could not be more obnoxious sounding. Only hipsters love hipsters because they often don't see how truly annoying they are.

But at least the description is accurate. *ducks*

Market Cap is Meaningless (1, Insightful)

SnowDog74 (745848) | about 4 years ago | (#31734214)

Market capitalization is essentially meaningless as a measure of a company's strength, i.e. it's ability to continue operations while also facilitating growth in a competitive environment.

All that market capitalization ever tells you is what some fool would pay to acquire the company whole at the current market price quotation.

It doesn't reflect what one should pay.

It doesn't reflect what the book value of the company is (Assets minus liabilities minus intangibles).

It doesn't reflect what the intrinsic value of the company is (book value plus discounted operating cash flows forward - i.e. a measure of its effectiveness as a cash generating engine).

It doesn't tell you anything about product presence, sales, operating income, debt load, or any other metric that has anything to do with the actual "strength" of a company.

Journalists need to stop referencing "market cap" as if it bears greater meaning than "The (typically) overinflated price only a sucker would pay."

Re:Market Cap is Meaningless (1)

countach (534280) | about 4 years ago | (#31734348)

Actually, market cap should reflect all of those things, if the market is doing its job. Now maybe you think you know better than the market. In which case you are either an arrogant fool, or very very rich since you can be a Warren Buffet and outthink the market. The question is, which one are you?

Re:Market Cap is Meaningless (1)

Knara (9377) | about 4 years ago | (#31734606)

Yeah, there's no middle ground there at all. You're so smrt.

The idea that the market is perfectly (or even mostly) efficient is stupid and shows you don't really know what you're talking about.

Re:Market Cap is Meaningless (1)

besalope (1186101) | about 4 years ago | (#31734712)

And if the past couple years of financial unrest has taught us anything, the market and its analysts aren't nearly as knowledgeable as we are led to believe. A great example would be the people that followed Jim Cramer on Mad Money, the best option was doing the exact opposite of what he said. It is a mixture of corporations playing with numbers to look better than they are, and the herd mentality of investors.

Re:Market Cap is Meaningless (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | about 4 years ago | (#31734744)

Yes, because the market worked perfectly in Phoenix where a 1500 sq.ft. house sold for $500,000 three years ago and today can't be given away. It sure worked for Lehman Brothers, WaMu, and all the other banks that had stellar stock prices until *after* news broke that they were actually worthless and the shareholders needed to head for the fire exits or their 'investment' would quickly evaporate into a stack of pennies. Yep, good old market, always smarter than the individuals.

The market is great at deciding how much a tangible asset should cost, like a television or a gallon of gas. However, for bubble-riding real estate as well as for stock (especially ones that don't even pay dividends) what exactly is the point of even putting a price on it, except to sell it to some sucker who hopes it will go up before they want to sell it?

Re:Market Cap is Meaningless (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | about 4 years ago | (#31734394)

Yes, its meaningless, a better look at the size would be looking at the number of employees, if one needs one quick number.

MS - 93,000
Apple - 34,300

And another couple big techs

Intel - 83,500
Google - 19,835
IBM - 399,400

Some companies do better than others (1)

symbolset (646467) | about 4 years ago | (#31734614)

The whole point of stock and capitalization is that investors (shareholders) give up their cash with the expectation of a return on their investment - the expectation is that the company they invest in will grow. Hopefully that's more than the rate of inflation. Short term gains and losses are one thing, but ten years is not a short term. It's definitely long enough to call it a trend.

Market capitalization? (1, Insightful)

DogDude (805747) | about 4 years ago | (#31734240)

Market capitalization has nothing to do with the size or quality of an organization. It has to do with how much investors are willing to pay for a share of stock. It's a completely and totally arbitrary figure, as anybody who lived through the dot-bomb days should thoroughly understand by now.

Re:Market capitalization? (1)

symbolset (646467) | about 4 years ago | (#31734412)

The growth of a company, and the price of individual shares, tells you about whether the company is growing and whether it's a good investment for your retirement. Investment advisors say that because of dollar cost averaging you wouldn't necessarily drop a stock that didn't grow, or even shrank for a brief time. One would imagine that if you manage your portfolio at all you wouldn't remain invested in a stock that consistently shrank over the span of a decade. You only have so long before retirement to get your growth after all.

Re:Market capitalization? (1)

DogDude (805747) | about 4 years ago | (#31734492)

"The growth of a company, and the price of individual shares, tells you about whether the company is growing and whether it's a good investment for your retirement. "

That's my point. That's not true. A company can grow, but if people don't want to buy their stock, then the stock price drops. If a company is doing badly, but people want to buy the stock, then the price goes up. Stock price is solely based on supply vs. demand. It's completely and totally disconnected from the underlying company.

Has anyone forgot... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31734260)

That for the longest time, Apple was considered a joke and that the 90's where pretty much a dark age for them. It wasn't really until the sleek imac came out that their fortunes turned around and everything since then has been really a one trick pony (as in the imac, the iphone and the ipad share very similar visual design).

MS have had their dark age too, but listening to the poster you'd think that Apple were always the hip kid on the block. Personally I think next year is the return of MS (and I've been one of MS's biggest critics... 90% of my machines at home run Linux), given Natal and the Courier. The ipad was a serious lack of imagination... woah, a bigger iphone, whodathunkit? :)

YOTLD (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31734272)

insert year of the linux desktop comment here

Wow, apple fanboy much? (1, Insightful)

jeffmeden (135043) | about 4 years ago | (#31734284)

This comment will probably go down in flames, but it seems like this article is just an excuse to brown nose Steve Jobs. Apple makes fad devices; pretty nice devices but they are still playing to a fad (just take a look at their stock price). Microsoft, on the other hand, makes business computing possible on over 90% of the world's computers.

If you want an analogy here goes. Apple may be the hip guy who shaved his head to hide his middle aged bald spot, and hangs out with trendy friends. However, Microsoft is driving the minivan around because he actually has shit to get done while Apple is living off a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Microsoft is a Dinosaur (2, Interesting)

Mojo66 (1131579) | about 4 years ago | (#31734356)

IMHO Microsoft's dominance has reached its peak, 2010 will mark the beginning of the end of the firm grip that they had over the OS market. Windows is so bloated from carrying all the compatibility crap, regarding both software and hardware, while OS X only needs to carry what is needed, given that they only need to support their own hardware. For example, Snow Leopard has *lost* size compared to Leopard because they were shifting out PPC support. Microsoft will always have to support thousands of different hardware configurations if it wants to stay mainstream. The iPad will be a huge success, while Microsoft is late to jump on the bandwagon (to be fair, they probably were too early at some point), same with Windows 7 Phone something. They fail to get innovation out because they have so much to loose. Due to their business strategy to lock customers into their products, i.e. not complying to standards, they don't need to innovate, they just have to make sure that the locks are still firm. A good indication of the beginning of the end is that it is starting to get lucrative for companies to break out of the Microsoft prison. Apple is doing the right thing, they keep their products simple, they don't try to appeal to every human crawling the face of the earth, and they emphasize on products that actually *work*. Wonder why there are thousands of books on switching from Mac to PC but not a single one on switching from PC to Mac?

Re:Microsoft is a Dinosaur (2, Insightful)

Pojut (1027544) | about 4 years ago | (#31734482)

. Due to their business strategy to lock customers into their products, i.e. not complying to standards, they don't need to innovate, they just have to make sure that the locks are still firm. A good indication of the beginning of the end is that it is starting to get lucrative for companies to break out of the Microsoft prison. Apple is doing the right thing, they keep their products simple, they don't try to appeal to every human crawling the face of the earth, and they emphasize on products that actually *work*.

Hold the fuck on. Are you really suggestion that Apple is less restrictive than Microsoft? Seriously?

Oh yeah, I forgot... the App Store and iTunes are the pinnacles of consumer empowerment. I mean, it doesn't get much better than having to hack your device so you can use non-Apple approved programs, or having your music player wipe itself completely because you hooked it up to a different computer.

Yup. Apple really knows how to let people use their purchases freely. ::golf clap::

Re:Microsoft is a Dinosaur (1)

rrhal (88665) | about 4 years ago | (#31734522)

The main reason Apple is a little more spry is that it had to change or go bankrupt. It had to innovate and compete. Microsoft is still riding its dominate position (monopoly) on the desktop and really hasn't learned any new tricks. As the desktop moves to the palm top I guess we'll see if M$ can adapt its strategy to the mobile market very effectively. Apple gets to do what Apple does well - supply and OS/hardware combo that has a well thought out user interface.

Re:Microsoft is a Dinosaur (1)

PeeAitchPee (712652) | about 4 years ago | (#31734648)

You can go back 15 years and see people claiming the same thing about Windows 95 -- "the end of Microsoft." Or four years and read about iPod versus Zune -- "the end of Microsoft." Or Google versus Bing more recently. Why exactly do you think it will be different this time around?

Due to their business strategy to lock customers into their products, i.e. not complying to standards

Are you sure you're not talking about Apple here? Doesn't iTunes make users jump through hoops to get MP3s that will play anywhere? Can I (easily, for a non-technical user) run OS X on non-Apple hardware? Come on -- calling Microsoft "locked" compared to that is just silly.

Re:Microsoft is a Dinosaur (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31734764)

IMHO Microsoft's dominance has reached its peak, 2010 will mark the beginning of the end of the firm grip that they had over the OS market.

I've been saying that for 20 years. I was wrong every year.

Windows is so..[list of things that suck about Windows]

You're thinking in terms of quality, instead of things that cause companies to stay in business, such as sales.

Due to their business strategy to lock customers into their products, i.e. not complying to standards, they don't need to innovate, they just have to make sure that the locks are still firm

And that is why they dominate and will continue to dominate, and why I still hear stories today about companies and governments spending huge amounts of money to lock themselves into new Microsoft legacies.

A good indication of the beginning of the end is that it is starting to get lucrative for companies to break out of the Microsoft prison

It has always been lucrative for customers to get out of the prison. But it has never actually mattered enough that anyone bothers. Show me any government or large business who actually cares enough about saving money or increasing profits enough, that they actually do it. It's a damn short list.

Re:Microsoft is a Dinosaur (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31734770)

Wonder why there are thousands of books on switching from Mac to PC but not a single one on switching from PC to Mac?

A quick look at amazon suggests that that you have this backwards. All of the searches return "How to switch to Mac" results. Even a search on "switching to Windows" brings back more "how to switch to mac books" than the other way.

Not as much competition as you'd think... (5, Interesting)

Angst Badger (8636) | about 4 years ago | (#31734374)

Apple has basically avoided the corporate market, which is where most of Microsoft's money is made, however much ground they are gaining in the home market. Toes are being stepped on, to be sure, but I just don't see Microsoft and Apple as being on a collision course for the most part. Given the conservative nature of the corporate market, what's much more likely is that Apple will end up as the dominant home player, at least for a while, and Microsoft will follow IBM into being solely a corporate player.

The danger to Apple is that very large enterprises always ossify, and the market they are coming to dominate in the short term -- which is basically home entertainment electronics -- is vastly more competitive and unstable than the PC market has ever been (or likely ever will be). When much of your appeal is driven by current fashion trends, you're vulnerable in a way that a vendor of business software seldom faces.

Note that I'm not saying Apple is doomed or any similar nonsense. Apple is doing very well and probably will continue to do so for some time, and Microsoft will probably continue its slow decline. What I'm saying is that Microsoft and Apple are less and less in competition with each other. Apple will probably spend a lot more time in the future competing with companies like Sony and JVC and LG than it does with Microsoft, and they'll most likely do very well, at least as long as Jobs is at the helm. After Jobs, I'm rather less sanguine about Apple's future because people like Jobs (or, for that matter, Gates) tend not to groom their successors very well.

Apple and the corporate market (1)

swb (14022) | about 4 years ago | (#31734510)

I think Apple is back dooring the corporate market via the iPhone. I've run into a couple of companies lately that are all Microsoft, all the time on the desktop but have made the iPhone as their corporate standard.

And in some cases, Macs are still hanging in there in marketing/publishing roles within businesses even though the "need" for a Mac in that role has long passed (IMHO).

Re:Not as much competition as you'd think... (1)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | about 4 years ago | (#31734666)

Toes are being stepped on, to be sure, but I just don't see Microsoft and Apple as being on a collision course for the most part. Given the conservative nature of the corporate market, what's much more likely is that Apple will end up as the dominant home player, at least for a while, and Microsoft will follow IBM into being solely a corporate player.

I see it a little differently. Apple is not targeting the corporate market, but others are and Apple is enabling those others to be successful. MS makes a lot of money, but their business strategy is based upon locking people in and being dominant. If they lose the lock-in or the dominance, they will lose ground very, very quickly to other players, including Apple unless MS can adapt and completely turn around their own ossified corporate culture.

Re:Not as much competition as you'd think... (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 4 years ago | (#31734732)

It isn't just that large enterprises always ossify(though that is usually true), it's that Apple's style absolutely relies on taste, which is a hard commodity to keep around(particularly after Jobs eventually snuffs it).

Apple has, for a company of its size, a tiny product line. Very few choices, not a whole lot of backward compatibility(more than the Telcomm classic of "want a new OS revision? Buy a new phone and a new 2 year contract"; but way less than corporate-world Microsoft stuff). As long as the few choices they offer are all in impeccable taste, offering few choices is called "focus" and it makes things better. Should that taste slip, though, you have a problem.

The wintel market is highly 'evolutionary'. Lots of conserved features, vast numbers of fairly similar products competing against each other, occasional novel mutations that either become incorporated into the gene pool(USB), persist at low frequency(firewire), or die(uncounted products that deviated a little too far from the norm). On the minus side, this model is slow and wasteful. Huge numbers of basically redundant models, larded with legacy crap, grinding each other down in a stew of meaningless distinctions. On the plus side, this model, like evolution in the real world, tends to fill almost every conceivable niche. You can get a wintel box in virtually any form factor, virtually anywhere on the price/peformance curve, anywhere on the spectrum from "legacy" to "bleeding edge".

Apple follows an "intelligent design" style model. From time to time, Steve will descend from the mountain, bearing the new designs. When he does so, that's that. Old inventory dries up quickly. Any features that have been declared obsolete are now dead(floppies, serial, ADB, etc.); but any new design features(unibody construction, displayport, etc.) swiftly become standard. As long as the judgment is sound, this model can outperform the evolutionary one(at least in the home market, where backwards compatibility matters a lot less than shininess and newness). The trouble arises if the judgment isn't sound. Then you start emitting a series of white elephants, with none of the adaptive flexibility of your competitors. If, in an attempt to compensate, you start increasing your offerings, throwing shit against the wall to see what sticks, you lose your focus; but can still not compete with the breadth of the entire wintel market.

In a nutshell, Apple without Taste would be Sony.

Aquisitions (1, Interesting)

countach (534280) | about 4 years ago | (#31734396)

Microsoft's appetite for aquisitions is part of its downfall. They are constantly distracted by taking over other companies, some of them with very little to do with their core competancy. Often these aquisitions are simply lost money because they take them over and ruin a perfectly good business. Contrast Apple who rarely do aquisitions, and when they do they've got a really really good reason for it, related to a strategic vision.

Middle aged at 35? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31734456)

Really? Since when? What 35 year old drives a Town & Country and goes to bed at 9? My parents are in their 70s and barely act like that. Maybe I have different genetic stock than most people, but at 35 I'm certainly not a soft in the middle boring family-man.

Why the ageist bias, Slashdot? Do we need that kind of anti-life crap on a tech site?

Microsoft is all about business (3, Insightful)

Flavio (12072) | about 4 years ago | (#31734466)

If Apple suddenly disappeared, people could easily get equivalent products from other manufacturers, since other companies sell equivalent phones, MP3 players and computers. While they don't have the Apple brand and may not be as polished in some aspects, they do essentially the same things.

On the other hand, the reason Microsoft has so much overhead is that they provide infinite backwards compatibility for their corporate clients. People love bashing Microsoft, but they forget that MS must provide binary compatibility for their clients who unconditionally have to run really old apps, because their businesses depend on it. Windows must run on a huge variety of hardware combinations, and must be supported over 10+ year lifespans. For example, Windows XP licenses were sold from 2002 to early 2009, and Microsoft will support this platform for many years into the future.

Apple products and Linux distributions often break compatibility between revisions, for legitimate technical reasons. But Microsoft can't do that even when they want to, because their hundreds of thousands of corporate clients can't be expected to update all their software accordingly. The thousands of hardware manufacturers won't all update their drivers either. Regardless, Microsoft tried doing that and Vista happened. It took several years for manufacturers and Microsoft itself to catch up, and we got Windows 7, which works quite well.

So if Microsoft is reluctant to leave the past, it's because it has contractual obligations to support its clients. Apple makes no such commitments and sells primarily to end users. Thus, it can afford to make more aggressive changes.

News of our death are highly exaggerated (2, Insightful)

drolli (522659) | about 4 years ago | (#31734520)

anybody remember IBM? Remember how anybody predicted IBM would die, go bancrupt or beocme irrelevant? Good. Big companies have the tendency to sometimes have weak phases and then - if they realize what is going on - strong phases.

Innovation! (2, Interesting)

mqduck (232646) | about 4 years ago | (#31734534)

"The difference between the two companies is that Apple has been fearless about transformational change while Microsoft has been reluctant to leave its past behind"

Lies! You (mercifully?) forget Microsoft Bob. Also, the first time I ever heard of tablet computers is when I heard Bill Gates hyping it as the next revolutionary step forward for computers at least five years ago. The issue is not so much Microsoft's boldness as its incompetency (though the fact that the media doesn't treat Gate's words as inspired prophesy like it does Jobs's probably has something to do with it, too).

Hipster Punks (1)

Mr. Foogle (253554) | about 4 years ago | (#31734670)

... while Microsoft, to some, appears a tad flabby in the middle — a Chrysler Town & Country driver with a 9 pm bedtime ...

Yeah, you hipsters sneer at a 9 pm bedtime. But while you punks are rolling into work at nine-ish and don't really get going until around 10 or so .. I've gotten in a full day's work and I'm out the door by 4 pm to enjoy a beautiful summer spring day.

Early bird, worm, etc.

What is the sound of one clan banging? (1)

wrencherd (865833) | about 4 years ago | (#31734674)

The two seem more yin-and-yang than antagonistic to me; as I recall, MS "loaned" Apple $100M back when Jobs returned to run the company.

Given that, it's not really surprising that they are moving through life "hand-in-hand".

Reminds an old nerd of Marvel v. DC . . . or (for the "hipsters") east coast v. west coast.

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