Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Post Windows XP - Where To Go Now?

I was having a discussion with a colleague recently about Windows Vista and how far off target Microsoft was and still is with it. We were discussing OS X and that he'd likely move to OS X if he could get Microsoft Outlook running on OS X, when I mentioned that Novell Evolution ( is a very, very nice Outlook-alike that works well on anything that can run the Gnome libraries, and this includes OS X.

Sure, it doesn't look and feel like Outlook 2007, nor does it come with the utterly unstable RSS issues that make RSS in Outlook 2007 totally unusable, nor the stability issues that Outlook 2007 is slowly (too slowly) recovering from, but it does connect to Exchange, handle RPC over HTTPS and basically provide all the features that Outlook provides.

Expressing surprise that Evolution could run under OSX without any major hacks (see this and some important info at and that if Apple had the presence of mind, they'd allow Apple OS X to run on non-Apple branded PCs, I replied with basically what's shown below. I really hope both the Apple and Linux camps, as well as the Windows camps have a look at, read of, and serious think about some of the points I raise below:


Evolution was written for the Gnome project to run in a Gnome environment, no matter which Windows Manager was used. Whether you use X Window Manager, IceWM, AfterStep or whatever you choose, as long as Gnome is installed, Evolution should run fine. Then along came OSX using an OpenBSD core and their own X-like Window Manager. Gnome can install under OSX, therefore Evolution can run under OSX.

Apple, whilst brilliant at marketing at their own insular community, is appalling at marketing to the wider community. Look at their smug "Mac vs PC" propaganda campaign - the one that has about as much truth as Microsoft's own "Windows vs Linux" propaganda campaign. Look also at their "BSOD on a CRT" icon for the "Windows" computers as displayed on a Mac. If this is designed to do anything other than lick the arses of their own, very small market and take a dump on anyone who'd seriously consider looking at the Mac OS X in comparison with Windows (especially Windows Vista), then Apple Inc should take their marketing company to the cleaners.

Apple, like the Linux community, has no intention of trying to market to the Windows community and also has no interest in trying to displace Windows from its pedestal as "Most Desktop OSes Installed". Linux had a brilliant opportunity in the 5 or so years that Microsoft took to release an upgrade for Windows XP. Apple made a huge leap forward when they moved from obsolete, almost utterly incapable of multitasking hardware and software (PowerPC and OS 9) to a modern hardware and software base.

Sure, *I* know that the PowerPC (and its predecessor, the Motorola M68000-series) processors were more than capable of awesome multitasking performance. I used to own an Amiga and the multitasking capability of that, based on the M68000-series processor platform was an order of magnitude better than anything else available then, or even in the 5+ years to follow it. Apple *just* managed to scrape some form of multitasking together in OS 9 - their 9th attempt at an OS. OS X, being based on a real, useful, multitasking OS, is their first *realistic* OS that offers not only multitasking, but decent performance.

After this leap, the Mac OS X platform has made small but steady gains in the desktop market. The largest gains were made when their main competition stumbled, fell, and let Windows Vista fall on the ground. Even after that, aside from some smug adverts, Apple has not realised how much of an opportunity it now has.

I said back in about 2002 that Microsoft would never again hold as much power and influence over the computer industry. It seems that they listened to me as they have been steadily losing their market edge, their technological edge, and hence their desktop and server market share ever since. If only the Linux crowd or Apple actually had the business sense to see this and adjust their focus accordingly, they'd have a good chance at making a noticeable impact on the desktop and server market share graphs. At this point in time, neither camp has been able to look outside their own 4 walls.

With OSX Leopard's utterly appalling security issues, Apple Inc needs to take a long, hard look internally before they even think of taking on the Microsoft behemoth - right now they are more of a laughing stock than Windows Vista is. (Not saying Vista security is poor, but almost everything about this OS is quite poor. Security is one thing it almost got right - and I don't mean to say I like how they implemented UAC, Linux did much, much better than this years ago, just that there have been relatively few security-related issues with the Vista code base.)

If (and this is a huge "if") Apple were to relinquish their silly notion that OS X should only run on Apple-branded hardware and if (and this is the biggest "if") Apple were to remove their smugness core OS component and start looking at the 94% of the world that don't think of Mac OS X as a religion, Apple would likely have the best successor to Windows XP on the market. (That is, if they pull Leopard and release a version that has security in it, not just a sticker on the box that claims it does.) Ubuntu is getting close. Apple OS X is getting close. Vista has lost the plot and is far from being the best available upgrade to Windows XP - just ask pretty much anyone who has tried to use it. Right now, Microsoft has no suitable replacement for their best OS to date - Windows XP. They are stuck between a rock and a hard place with both Linux (mainly in the form of Ubuntu) and Apple's OS X catching up slowly. Microsoft can afford to be slack - they realise that neither the Apple nor Linux crowds can see what's been plainly in front of them for the past 5 years or so.

I do wonder, however, for how long that will remain the case?


The Outspoken Wookie

1 comment:

Dick Morrell said...

You are so right about OS/X but it can't ever happen.

1) the proprietary support for hardware in the intel/amd world, the costs, would cripple Apple. In 18 months sure if they ramp up BSD compatibility for so many 3D cards, Winmodem devices and strange and wonderful card readers and other devices then sure its a possibility.
2) Apple don't have the R&D dev staff to make it happen - look at what happened to CalDav during Leopard run up to launch.
3) They don't need to.

If they released 10.3.x backported to Intel as a community project and called it something like OpenSourceX then you have a call to arms.

Dude - I'm the wookie not you, you're just my copilot :)