Sensational headline for sure, and although some don’t agree with him, I actually agree with a lot of what he says.
IMO, as much as Redmond doesn’t want to admit it, the Windows franchise is facing it’s biggest challenge in years.
No doubt the economy has something to do with it (although Gruber dismisses that argument), and no doubt the Mac is a pretty product. The prevalence and acceptance of cloud services today also de-emphasizes the operating system to some degree. And the theory that Apple controls 91% of the revenue share for computes costing $1000+ (according to NPD) spells doom for the Windows business is also plausible (or not).
I agree with Gruber that Windows 7, as much acclaim that it has garnered, will probably not convince a Mac user to go back to Windows (Technologizer doesn’t think it matters). WinExtra sees Windows 7 as a fresh start for Microsoft. I agree, and that is a good starting point for us to use to measure the success of Windows 7 in the upcoming years.
But considering everything, it’s not a surprise to me that the Windows business saw a 29% year-on-year decline this year. This is also why I think Microsoft did the wise thing years ago and diversified into enterprise, search, online services, productivity tools, mobile, gaming, cloud computing and so forth instead of putting all their eggs in the desktop PC basket. Regardless of what happens to Windows on the consumer desktop, I believe this diversification will help Microsoft remain strong.
And Microsoft, while chasing competitors Google and Apple in certain segments, does have a history of innovation and creating great products. I agree with MG Siegler. Innovate and make the best products, and everything else will fall into place.
Anyway, back to the Daring Fireball article. Gruber writes:
Today that is simply no longer the case. Microsoft has lost all but a sliver of this entire market. People who love computers overwhelmingly prefer to use a Mac today. Microsoft’s core problem is that they have lost the hearts of computer enthusiasts. Regular people don’t think about their choice of computer platform in detail and with passion like nerds do because, duh, they are not nerds. But nerds are leading indicators.
This is where I totally don’t agree with him.
I consider myself a computer enthusiast since my middle school days, and someone who consciously chose computers as his career. As a computer enthusiast, I want to have full end-to-end control over the entire computing experience, from hardware to operating system to software. And I believe many computer enthusiasts agree with me.
IMO, the PC and Windows ecosystems are unparalleled as far as the flexibility and versatility they provide computer enthusiasts like myself to control the end-to-end computing experience. This is something that I believe a Mac can never provide, at least not under Apple’s current philosophy of controlling the product as much as possible.
The PC ecosystem is a vibrant community of multiple vendors supplying every single imaginable hardware part available for you to build your own PC exactly as you wish. I believe Windows has the biggest ecosystem of software applications, hacks, and utilities of any operating system today. Need to perform a certain task? To borrow a marketing phrase from Apple, there is an app for that on the PC.
I don’t think computer enthusiasts are necessarily the ones attracted to Macs. Instead, I believe Macs appeal to the power users who want a stylish machine and don’t want to go through a lot of hassle to get a good user experience out-of-the-box. I have seen many of my friends use Macs before. While the user experience is stunning, I can’t help but feel that everyone’s experience seems very… similar.
As a computer enthusiast, I like my computing experience to be unique, customizable, and more importantly, fully under my control.
That’s why I am extremely bullish on the Firefox browser, because of it’s huge library of add-ons.
That’s why I applaud Microsoft introducing web slices and accelerators in Internet Explorer 8, as easy ways to customize and extend the browsing experience.
That’s why I support jailbreaking iPhones.
And that is why I don’t see myself giving up on the PC/Windows platform anytime soon. Even if I do get a Mac in the future, it will be an auxiliary machine, and likely won’t supplant my main workstation.
(This is the kind of post where you need to make sure you read my full disclosure on my About page.)