Forrester Research Analyst: ‘Windows is good enough for most people’

“Everybody steals from Apple Computer Inc. Or so the thinking goes in the Mac community. Ever since Microsoft Corp. introduced Windows 1.0 in 1985, there has been a ceaseless chorus from Mac users accusing the software giant, based in Redmond, Wash., of pilfering Apple’s best ideas and poorly implementing them for mass consumption in successive versions of its operating systems,” writes David Zeiler for The Baltimore Sun.

Zeiler continues, “Mac users had their dander up again last week after Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates introduced a prototype called Athens, built by Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard Co., at the WinHEC (Windows Hardware Engineering Conference) event in New Orleans… Hardware and software development had at times been ‘a little out of sync,’ Gates said. ‘The best way to advance the state of the art is to work even more closely, always starting from the customer’s perspective and focusing on the combination of hardware and software that works best to create an innovative and compelling PC,’ he said,” Zeiler reports.

“The notion of designing computer hardware and software in tandem is, indeed, a terrific idea, but Microsoft and HP are late in embracing it. Apple, based in Cupertino, Calif., has been designing personal computers that way for 25 years…”

Josh Bernoff, an analyst for Forrester Research Inc. in Cambridge, Mass. told Zeiler, “There’s enormous pressure on Apple to continue to innovate. Everything they do gets commoditized by somebody else and all the profit driven out of it… Windows is ‘good enough’ for most people.”

A great article from Zeiler can be found in its entirety here.


  1. “Good enough” is good enough for most people, but there will always be a select group who appreciate quality, fit and finish, and attention to detail. Why drive a Ford if you can drive a BMW for just a little more than the Ford’s price?

  2. There is a 5% rule in retail. Five percent of the public will buy quality. The other 95% of the buying public will buy whatever kind of garbage is offered them without regard to anything. How odd that this is also the way the Wintel/Apple equation also breaks down. So Ninety five percent of humanity isn’t using more than their reptilian brains to think with and are thus to be disregarded as lemmings.

  3. i’ve always thought Apple should form a generic company and sell a watered down / more similar box to wintel. Call it Mindows or something ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”smile” style=”border:0;” /> Or even forgo the seperate company and just build a simple, far less featured box that they can sell to the masses… forget firewire, airport on this one, just clone a best selling DeLL box, carefully put the Apple logo on it… (maybe just an outline of the apple) not the shiny silver one as current… then sit back and watch marketshare grow… hopefully this is in the plans… The problems with Apple marketshare are 2… “too many features” and “too much price” lower both of those, and Apple would swing back into the market like the early 80’s…

  4. Right now, Windows does what most people perceive they “need it to do” with relatively little pain. You can surf the net, send emails, write a letter, play games, etc. The problem is that Macs would open up a world of creative possibilities simply because there’s so much MORE that works easily on a Mac, like movie making, CD burning, DVD burning, etc. In other words, most of the owners of Windows don’t believe these kinds of things are within the realm of ease of use, so Apple needs to continue beating the drum that you can them EASILY on a Mac

  5. I read the Baltimore Sun story. It was good and summarizes what often happens in the personal computer market. That is something that is going to always be a problem for companies that try to design the whole widget. The commoditization of the market is also why there is only one true full service personal computer maker – Apple Computer. Even that is being strechted as Apple follows the industry model of subcontracting more and more of it’s production. They will have to keep up strict manufacturing specifications and quality assurance so products don’t suffer.

    One thing that does bug me is in the following quotation:

    “What’s remarkable is that Apple has survived and prospered despite being incompatible with an industry standard and overwhelming market share,” O’Reilly said.

    O’Reilly is a well informed person, but makes the same generalization. That Apple (Macintosh) products are “incompatible”. What is probably more correct is that they are “not fully compatible”, and that is not strictly Apple’s fault. My recollection (and I have followed the industry for about 20 years, been a Mac owner for 17 years) is that Apple has stressed cross-platform interoperability for over 10 years. It is the “PC industry” that, following the lead of Microsoft, has not played the compatibility game, driving customers away from proprietary mainframes and workgroups systems like Unisys, Wang, DEC and IBM 360/AS400, as well as systems that have tried to play nice with others and accepted standards, like Mac OS and UNIX. Let’s not forget a certain company’s efforts to rid the corporate, education and government markets of Linux.

  6. Look at Old Navy! I bought 2 pairs of pants there, and they were worn through after a few months. However, since it’s cheap, people flood their store with business. How about Taco Bell? I mean, for food and clothes, I can see settling for lower-quality because those items don’t last too long anyway. But I am truly suprised how many people will buy low quality cars, computers, or other big-ticket items, just to save a few bucks. When you are going to keep an item for a few years, spend more to get something good, or wait until the better items go on sale at least.

  7. In this world there are originals, and there are me-toos. The great tragedy of the computer market is that the unimaginative ones at Redmond have become the world’s largest company by cherry picking the ideas of those at Apple. Me, i’d rather reward the innovator than the idea thief.

  8. “For its 2002 fiscal year ended Sept. 30, Apple invested $446 million in R&D. Such spending at Microsoft totaled $4.3 billion in its last fiscal year — nearly 10 times Apple’s. Microsoft’s Athens partner, HP, meanwhile, spent $3.3 billion on R&D in fiscal 2002.”

    And the best they (MS + HP) could come up with is a sort-of clone??????

    After the first billion or so, wouldn’t some stock holder begin wondering where the money was going? …

  9. Not this time O’Reilly
    O’Reilly said, comparing Apple’s plight to that of Betamax and VHS.

    The problem is not so much with the business model that Apple incorporated but more to do with the Tech Industry adoption of a Napster type behavior.

    This behavior manifest itself through out the Tech Industry and it’s willingness to borrow (steal) from other companies because, everybody does it, and thats the way things have always been done.

    For Apple to gain Market Shares they would have to change the behavior of the Tech Industries Culture and PC users alike.
    Its funny to see what would happen if Apple made a sequel of that old famous commercial because, the essence of that commercial was to force the industry and pc users alike to ” Think Different”.

    I am not surprised at Microsoft for leading the pack but I’m surprised that HP went along for the ride. Hewlett is an innovative company and does not need the bullshit ” The Freedom To Innovate” speech.

  10. I am so @#$#@! tired of the Beta versus VHS comparison to Apple versus Wintel.

    While I usually have a great deal of respect for Tim O’Reilly, founder and president of O’Reilly & Associates, he lost it 100% on this one! The reason Beta lost out to VHS in the consumer market 20+ years ago had absolutely nothing to do with Sony’s proprietary business model.

    The reason VHS won out over Beta is because of the time length of the highest resolution format of the tape. Beta was clearly better when viewed on any decent TV. However what killed it was that this better capability was only available when used in conjunction with the tape’s shortest recording time: 90 minutes. How many movies are 90 minutes or less. EXTREMELY FEW! This automatically dictated the use of the 3 hour recording speed (it had standard recording lengths of 90 min, 3 hrs and 5 hrs) which was no better than (and in many viewers’ perceptions actually visibly worse than) the standard 2 hour VHS speed (VHS had 2, 4 and 6 hrs).

    When you build something that 99.9% of the time cannot be used to its advantage, you engineer in your own death. This is what Sony did with Beta. Therefore it lost completely in the consumer market.

    As stated by annother feedback here, Macs are not incompatible with the rest of the computing world. In fact Microsoft has a series of ads touting the level of compatibility between Office for Mac and Office for Windows. Many, many pieces of software are fully cross platform. And on the hardware side, Macs were natively able to read Windows formatted floppies for over 13 years while Windows machines could not natively read Mac formated disks. Thus, if anything Macs have been more cross platform compatible than the Wintel machines.

    It had absolutely nothing to do with the business model (proprietary) Sony had for Beta.

  11. I think one thing that alot of people like about Windows is that many applications by default take over the entire screen. Looks less cluttered (event though it’s messier in other areas) and gives insecure users a sense of, well, security. Apple should have this as an optional mode (along with a dock that can be set up to stretch across the entire length of the screen). This and some kind of scroll-wheel on the mouse

  12. heh, BMW for just a little more than a Ford? ummmm…can someone tell me where this guy is buying his BMW? Granted I would never buy an American car, but some cars, ahem, BMW, are just not worth the money, You want quality with a decent price, Japanese is the way to go. If you have the money, sure go BMW…For my money though, I’d rather spend it on something else that’s not going to suck my money dry when it comes time to repair.

    But since this is a mac forum, granted Windows has a long way to go, but as I said before:

    1.) Windows isn’t as bad as some peeps make it out to be
    2.) Mac OS X isn’t as good as some peeps make it out to be.

    I use both platforms and both have their advantages and disadvantages. The lack of customization for Macs is utterly appalling. Of course someone is going to say the G4 is plenty fast, I think not. The G4 might be faster MHZ for MHZ, however, it just doesn’t measure. Let’s hope the G5 saves Apple.

  13. What’s also scary is the calm acceptance of a vicious, avaricious monopoly (Micro$oft) that has survived through corrupting the tech, political, and business world by imposing an inferior standard that limits choice. That those who pride themselves on their independence and objectivity have embraced it with zeal, well—

  14. There is a big hole in your discussions. People don’t buy PCs because the BOX is cheaper than a Mac but because they don’t have to buy any software. The Mac is only a little more than a wintel box, but start adding in all of the software these weasals can’t steal from work for the machine at home and now you are talking about a lot of money.

  15. Chomper. don’t sell all america made cars short. there are many good ones. And that guy was not saying that you can find BMWs for just a little more than a Ford. He was saying that if you COULD get a BMW for just a little more than a Ford (as in, an apple comptuer costs only a little more than a comparable dell…), wouldn’t you take it? so then why not spend the little extra to get an apple.

    It’s a shame that so many ideas have been “stolen” from apple, but theoretically, that should help the computer market grow and blossom. What always blows me away is how many people acknowledge the many strengths of Macs and lament their problems with windows, yet go out and buy a shiny new Dell.

    oh, and the numbers quoted for R&D for Apple and Microsoft tell us nothing. To compare, we need to see how much Apple and Microsoft spent on R&D for specific things like their OS. Afterall, Microsoft has a LOT more going on than Apple. The R&D for the xbox alone is probably a huge chunk of that budget.

    Now that the public is getting more informed about computers and OSs, and since Apple has proven to the world recently that they are the best tech innovators out there, all they really need to do is make their computers decently faster than PCs. Then, their market share will start creeping up at a good rate. The last time Macs were considerably faster than PCs, the general public didn’t know what a megahertz was, let along understand the “megahertz myth.” just my opinion.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.