Microsoft hasn’t done many things previous to Apple, but it was founded as a company six months before Jobs and Wozniak got round to it. Most Mac users won’t be celebrating Microsoft’s 30th birthday but here’s 30 reasons why we should.
1. Bill William Henry Gates III is a ruthless businessman – the Genghis Khan of IT. Yet he’s an über-dweeb, nerd nadir, and geek god for the general public. Does the devil wear glasses, chinos and horrible pullovers? Bill makes Steve Jobs, and therefore Apple, look very cool indeed.
2. GUI While Apple shipped Macintosh a good six years before a usable/popular version of Windows arrived on the scene, it should be remembered that Microsoft announced Windows a couple of months before Apple launched the Mac – even if that was after Apple showed it how lovely it looked.
3. Copycat Each new version of Windows has ‘borrowed’ existing Mac features and looks and claimed them as its own. That’s not nice, but it does mean that the Mac is always an evolutionary step ahead – and we can smugly look down on Microsoft’s me-too icons and clunky applications. After all, imitation is meant to be the sincerest form of flattery.
4. DOS Just as you may be surprised that Windows was announced prior to the Mac, you’ll also be shocked to discover that Apple created a DOS system before MS-DOS existed. So Microsoft can’t be blamed entirely...
5. Windows bugs, viruses and spyware Great selling points for the robust and quickly updated Mac OS.
6. Maturity Microsoft is 30, so should have gone through its tantrums, teenage rebellion, and devil-may-care twenties. Expect a new, mature 30-year-old to listen to its critics.
7. Support Windows = IT manager’s pension. Mac = sack.
8. IE Microsoft is famous for dominating markets by either buying, stealing or crushing the opposition. Most famous of all such powerplays was Microsoft launching its Internet Explorer web browser to swat the market-leading Netscape Navigator. Now, all the best browsers are free.
9. Office Spreadsheet Excel debuted on the Mac. Without Office on the Mac, Apple’s slender grip on any corporate network would fail. Until Office 2006, Office for Mac (2004) is still a year ahead of Windows’s 2003 version.
10. zzzzzz Death by PowerPoint – the horror of modern business presentations – is awful, but at least the crazy transitions and hallucinogenic backgrounds divert attention better than yesterday’s scribbled overhead projections.
11. Help In return for saying nice things about Apple, buying $150 million of stock, signing a patent-sharing agreement, and securing Internet Explorer as the Mac’s default browser over Netscape, Bill agreed in 1997 to keep developing Office for the Mac for five years. Business analysts stopped saying Apple was doomed, and Steve’s revolution began in earnest.
12. Ego With so much money in the bank, what’s the attraction of making yet more billions? Nothing but complete mastery of the universe. Microsoft has a bit of an ego problem. So what? We like Steve Jobs, don’t we?
13. Mice Until the recent introduction of its Mighty Mouse, Apple doggedly refused to offer a multi-buttoned scroll mouse. Microsoft gave us what we wanted.
14. Halo, goodbye At one stage it looked like the Mac was going to boast the coolest game ever, until Microsoft bought up Bungie Software and kept Halo for its forthcoming Xbox console – thus saving Mac users hours of productivity time.
15. Hands down Windows Mobile is going great guns. Can we say the same about Apple’s Newton?
16. Money go round In the past few years Microsoft has dished out over 5 billion greenbacks to worse-off companies – all in the charitable name of patent violation and anti-competitive practices.
17. My enemy’s enemy Before Windows trod all over the Mac, Apple’s biggest PC rival was IBM. Via its original MS-DOS deal and by dropping OS/2 development Microsoft did more to duff up IBM than Apple ever managed.
18. Fun The Mac OS used to include a free puzzle. OS X ships with a free chess game. Microsoft develops Age of Empires, Flight Simulator, Dungeon Siege, and Zoo Tycoon.
19. Game boys The Xbox proves that computer companies outside of Japan really can succeed with a games console. Dare we mention Pippin – an Apple too far?
20. Sound Windows Media Audio files work with all the other rubbish digital music players from the likes of Creative Labs, Archos, Rio, Dell, BenQ, Samsung and Philips.
21. New TV Microsoft is trying to create a real digital hub with its Media Center. We know you can do better, Apple, but we’re still waiting. The new iMac ain’t it.
22. Choice Microsoft licenses Windows to anyone with a logic board, beige plastic case and screwdriver. Apple, on the other hand, makes all computers that run OS X. You might buy crap with Windows, but it’s good-old-fashioned cheap, ugly crap.
23. Innovation Microsoft still thinks that its Tablet PC will one day change the world.
24. DRM Microsoft’s rigid digital-rights management strategy is busy helping keep your music on the stereo and off your computer – thus saving the ailing music industry.
25. Target As one part of the evil Wintel empire Microsoft gave us all something to aim our sticks and stones at. Now that Apple and Intel are cosy, poor old Bill is out there all on his own. What a trooper.
26. Name Microsoft at least made its own name up, and didn’t steal it off a Beatles record.
27. Brave Microsoft stands up for the little man – constantly battling the Federal US government and EU bureaucrats.
28. Crimestoppers Without Microsoft’s susceptible sofware what else would evil hackers and virus fiends be up to?
29. Fiesty Top Microsoft execs have recently fired filthy expletives at all sorts of foes, throwing chairs, threatening to kill Google, and damning the entire Chinese nation. Steve Jobs, meanwhile, had a friendly iChat with Madonna. Wimp.
30. Ballmer The biggest cheer goes to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer – a college pal of Bill Gates, but quite a different type of ruthless madman. Where Bill appears meek and mild mannered, Ballmer acts like a loopy gorilla: see www.acm.cs.rpi.edu/~lansil/dancemonkeyboy.mpg. Ballmer – a psychotic John Prescott – may be a violent joke, but Apple needs its own gorilla, not cuddly Phil Schiller.
Happy birthday, Microsoft. We salute you! MW