One of the defining features of desktop/laptop computing (but not other markets)
is Microsoft's dominance of the OS market.
Many people ask:
Why is Microsoft Windows dominant on the desktop?
How did it get that way?
The Microsoft dominance of the desktop OS market
began in the 1980s with the command-line OS
for the original IBM-compatible PC.
Apple from 1984 popularised the new mouse-and-windows graphical UI,
with what is now called "classic"
It took some time for Microsoft to compete in the GUI market.
From Windows 3 onwards
Windows 3.1, 1992)
Microsoft pulled ahead and became the dominant PC GUI OS.
still dominant in that market today.
Pirates of Silicon Valley
About the OS war between Apple and Microsoft, 1980s-90s.
It ends in 1999 with Microsoft triumphant over Apple.
But this was before the iPod, iTunes, iPhone and iPad.
10 years later, and Apple would overtake Microsoft again.
The above is in fact why I preferred DOS/Windows to the Mac.
Because I liked to use the
Techies and programmers in general preferred DOS/Windows to the classic Mac.
You could customise, program and script things in DOS/Windows.
The Mac seemed more restrictive.
That is, Apple was too extremist in having (until OS X)
no command-line at all,
and forcing you to use windows and menus
instead of just having it as an option.
The Mac had an extremist philosophy,
whereas DOS/Windows was tolerant of
multiple different styles of interface.
Once Windows pulled ahead, it was self-sustaining.
OS X introduced a command-line in 2001, but by then the competition was over,
and people wanted Windows for compatibility with everyone else.
Microsoft understood business better by being fanatic about backward compatibility?
Chicken and Egg Problems
by Joel Spolsky,
on backward compatibility,
and how Microsoft won the OS wars.
These are only ideas and suggestions.
They may not all be true / important.
He suggests that Windows won
because the Mac was too easy to use,
at a time when computers were meant to be
hard to use.
It was seen as a "toy" system.
And so it lost the business market.
"The Mac was not easy to use"
An alternative theory is that the Mac was not easy to use!
This is how I felt about it.
I didn't find the Mac easy to use,
since it didn't allow me write command-line scripts.
As a programmer, I preferred UNIX and DOS/Windows.
So maybe the Mac lost because it lost the techies (programmers, sysadmins),
who preferred UNIX and DOS/Windows throughout the 1980s-90s.
Not because they were being backward,
but because no-command-line really
isn't a good interface for power users.
Microsoft has always been more tolerant of multiple styles of interaction with the computer
(including all sorts of "ugly" backward compatibility).
Whereas Apple has always had more of a "vision"
that you either buy into or not.
In 2007, Steve Jobs introduces the iPhone
and declares (largely rightly) that physical keyboards in smartphones are now obsolete
because of multi-touch.
Apple Introduces Revolutionary New Laptop With No Keyboard,
from the satire site The Onion
(January 5, 2009),
pokes fun at Apple's enthusiasm for radical new solutions.
Apple (rightly) has got very excited about its innovations such as desktop GUI and phone multi-touch.
They are fond of declaring that the way you like to interact with a computer is now "obsolete".
In The Onion's satire they go too far.
I love the Steve Jobs quote
that people who use keyboards are
"standing in the way of human progress".
Once Microsoft Windows got a monopoly, it was self-sustaining.
Because the OS is so fundamental to all applications,
there may be a tendency to standardise on an agreed OS.
This can be done 2 ways:
An openly agreed, open-source standard developed by co-operation
among many organisations, like most of the protocols on the Internet.
One organisation gaining a monopoly, e.g.
Microsoft Windows, and everyone agreeing to use their products.
This will normally be closed-source.
In both cases, all applications run on a common platform.
The disadvantage of the 2nd case is that you are at the mercy of whatever
the monopolist decides to give you.
Free enterprise works because competition leads to better products
and better choice.
Sometimes this doesn't work,
and, for whatever reason, the market turns into a
in which there is seemingly no competition.
For example, many have disputed that
Word, Excel and IE gained dominance in the word processor,
spreadsheet and browser markets respectively
by simply being the best products.
A common complaint was that they gained it
because they came from
the company that made the Operating System.
No one else had a chance.
The latecomer Internet Explorer's
rapid and total defeat
of the pioneer Netscape
is perhaps the most
spectacular example of this.
For many years, people argued about whether the state (in particular the US and EU)
should do anything about the Microsoft monopoly.
Whether government should intervene to restore
competition in the industry.
In the end, little was done, but other factors caused the monopoly to ease (though not end).
The "open file formats" option above has happened.
Microsoft has been pressured to open its formats
due to anti-trust cases,
and governments (and companies) being increasingly
unwilling to store their official documents
in a secret format.
Many products are now developing apps first, PC later (or never).
sums it up:
"A decade ago more than 90% of devices on the internet ran Windows. With the rise of smartphones, and tablets running smartphone operating systems like iOS and Android, that number is down to 15 percent. Developers had to develop for Windows if they wanted to make money. Now, it's one of many choices, and in mobile it's an afterthought."
The PC is still hugely important at work,
and that is a massive market, and will remain so.
marked a new UI for Windows, trying to have a similar interface on PCs, tablets and phones.
Microsoft had a lot of trouble getting people to buy into this.
I think there are two issues for people (like me, I admit) who don't like Windows 8:
This is entirely subjective, of course.
I personally find the UI extremely ugly, so ugly that I would never buy a machine with this UI.
I wouldn't use a tablet or smartphone with this UI either.
Not everyone agrees, of course. Many think it is beautiful.
The idea that my desktop should have a similar UI to my tablet and my smartphone.
I personally don't want this, and would avoid any desktop that was like my tablet and smartphone.
Not everyone agrees, of course. Many think it's a great idea.
Egan Orion, 11 Oct 2013,
argues that having a similar UI on PCs and tablets sounds like a good idea,
but is actually a really bad idea.
Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, 13 Jan 2014:
"Microsoft ... set out to solve the problem of different devices (PCs, phones, tablets) having different interfaces. But outside of design circles, that's not a problem anyone cared about."
A popular meme (origin unknown) compares
Metro to 1990s
Is this unfair?
Metro on Win 8 and Win 10 looks like this to me.
Instead of convincing me I'm wrong,
Microsoft should go down the Unix route of allowing