Monday, June 01, 2009

Microsoft can catch up?

In this interview, Steve Ballmer suggests that Microsoft can catch up to Google in search if it only persists, as it did with Windows:

A. No. No, Windows 95 was a basically mostly interesting and successful concept that came to full fruition, right? This is not Windows 95. It’s more, I don’t know —

Q. Windows 3.1?

A. 3.0 maybe even, right? It’s more, hey, we’ve had some early tries, kind of like you might call Windows 1, and I think there was something called Windows 2 in there, and Windows 386 in the late ’80s, but it’s far more like Windows 3. People say, aha, I see the vision. It pays off but it won’t fully pay off the vision in its first incarnation.

But it’s like Windows — the most important thing I just said in all of that is it’s important like Windows is important. It’s important like something that we really care about, we really think about, we’re going to stay persistent with, we’re going to invest in.

If you stop and think about it, Windows 95 came 12 years after we started working on Windows. We’ve been working on search five years. I’m not saying it should necessarily take 12 years, but in a sense what we’re trying to do is accelerate the pace, and see if we can’t get there.

This is bogus to the point of being laughable. Google (the company) dominates search. In the 80's and 90's, PC operating systems were dominated by... Microsoft.

There is a common perception that with Windows 95, Microsoft finally "caught up" to Apple and Mac OS; Ballmer seems to be referring to this.

But the reality is that the Mac was never ahead of Microsoft's OS in terms of market share. The IBM PC, running Microsoft's DOS, blew past the Apple II in 1982-1983, well before Apple rolled out the Mac. PC's outsold Mac's all along; I remember all too well, as a Mac developer (by choice, when I could) working for Lotus during those years. MS-DOS had dominance when Windows 3.x was finally able to start displacing it; that's why these were Lotus' "golden years", as a seller of MS-DOS software.

So if Windows 95 represented Microsoft "catching up" to Apple, I'm left to conclude that Ballmer is asserting what a few of us know all along in the 80's: the Mac OS was superior to Windows.

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