Analyst: Apple in ‘position to exploit Microsoft missteps, claim leadership’ with Mac OS X Tiger

“Apple has announced that Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger will ship on April 29. I see the release’s timing as important for Apple. Microsoft is months away from issuing a next-generation Windows beta, which will put Tiger well in front of most, early Longhorn hype, although it’s reasonable to expect some buzz coming out of Microsoft’s WinHec conference later this month,’ analyst Joe Wilcox writes for Jupiter’s Microsoft Monitor Weblog.

“Apple also is in a position to exploit Microsoft missteps. Tiger will feature metadata search capabilities as part of the file system. Microsoft touted such capabilities with WinFS, but that file system now won’t ship with Longhorn, if ever. Robust search is a potentially transforming technology that can change the metaphor for working with a computer. The archaic file folder metaphor is long past its prime. Do people think about where to file their memories in their brains? Robust search is much closer than file folders to how most people think. Apple can claim leadership, while Microsoft appears to fall behind,” Wilcox writes.

“Apple is making its search technology, a.k.a. Spotlight, available from its other applications and providing third parties technical information so that they can do the same. Apple’s approach of treating search as a platform is the right one, something Microsoft could have done with WinFS. Microsoft does treat search as a platform on the Web, and I do expect a similar approach on the desktop. But the WinFS retreat gives Apple huge opportunity. Now, instead of getting robust metadata search out ahead of Longhorn, Apple can claim even greater leadership, with uncertainty whether WinFS will ever ship,” Wilcox writes.

“Apple’s first sales opportunity will be its install base, and a boost to high-margin software revenues,” Wilcox writes. “The larger question: Will Windows users–say, those using iPods–start switching rather than wait for Longhorn? My guess is that some of them will move to the Mac. How many I won’t predict. For Microsoft, the loss in mindshare is greater risk than any potential shift in marketshare.”

More in the full article, an interesting read, here.

MacDailyNews Take: It’s always amazed us that Microsoft, with the help of a complicit and parasitic “Wintel” tech media, had convinced the majority of people that Windows is “as good as a Mac.” Now, maybe it’s finally time for that lie to be put to rest.

Related MacDailyNews articles:
Apple’s Schiller: Mac OS X Tiger ‘has created even more distance between us and Microsoft’ – April 13, 2005
Will Mac OS X Tiger add fuel to Apple’s recent momentum in the computer business? – April 13, 2005
Why doesn’t Apple advertise Mac OS X on TV? – April 12, 2005
Analyst: Tiger proves ‘Apple is light years ahead of Microsoft in developing PC operating systems’ – April 12, 2005
Apple to ship Mac OS X ‘Tiger’ on Friday, April 29; pre-orders start today – April 12, 2005
Apple Announces Mac OS X Server ‘Tiger’ to ship Friday, April 29 with 64-bit application support – April 12, 2005
Analysts: Apple’s new Tiger operating system could really impact Mac sales – April 12, 2005
Piper Jaffray raises Apple estimates on Mac OS X ‘Tiger’ release news – April 12, 2005
Microsoft’s Longhorn fantasy vs. Apple’s Mac OS X reality – September 14, 2004

21 Comments

  1. And not just Spotlight.

    How about Core Image, Core Video, Core Audio, QuickTime, WebKit, .Mac, Address Book, VoiceOver and all of the other OS X technologies that [B]ANY OTHER[/B] developer can leverage through an open set of APIs ?

    I wonder if MS could learn anything from making all of its technology available to its developers, rather than keeping the real crown jewels (which maybe paste for all I know) to themselves.

  2. good article but I slightly disagree about one point.

    “Robust search is a potentially transforming technology that can change the metaphor for working with a computer. The archaic file folder metaphor is long past its prime. Do people think about where to file their memories in their brains? Robust search is much closer than file folders to how most people think.”

    Perhaps novice users would prefer not to organize things in terms of folders, but I don’t think many power users would think that the file folder system (or metaphor) is long past its prime. And I don’t think it’s a good idea for people to not be concerned with an organized file system just because they can use Spotlight to find the file their looking for.

    Not to say that Spotlight isn’t important, I think it will be very handy. I just don’t think it’s ever going to replace, or eliminate, our use of what he views to be an archaic system.

  3. “Tiger will feature metadata search capabilities as part of the file system”

    Yes, but Spotlight also searches beyond just metadata. For example, if I download a huge .PDF, and instantly run a search with Spotlight, any data in that .PDF will be immediately available. This is not just metadate. And it’s instant. I didn’t have to wait for the system to “index” the document. It’s just available. Even if MS has something similar in Longhorn, it will never work as seamlessly as Spotlight.

  4. king_alvarez,

    While perhaps it is overstated to say folder-based organization is long past its’ prime, I think all users will be able to benefit from searching technology such as Spotlight provides.

    One might, for example, have files that pertain to a vacation several years ago in a number of places… pictures in an iPhoto library, emails that you exchanged with the hotel and car rental places in planning the trip, a web page (locally stored) that you wrote about the trip, etc, etc.

    These would obviously be stored in a variety of folders and files, some with descriptive names and some without. Perhaps now you’re trying to remember the name of the hotel you stayed in in Perth, Australia, because you want to warn a friend that it was lousy. Perhaps you’d search first in Mail.app and find it, but only if you think you saved all those emails. Instead, you might look instead at the web pages you wrote, hoping that you mentioned it. Or the meta-data in iPhoto; perhaps you have a picture of the hotel room. Rather hit-or-miss searching.

    Spotlight addresses that, while NOT requiring you to change how you physically organizes files on disk.

  5. Micro$in is smart enough to know that most people don’t really care, they just want something cheap and halfway works. The Mac has to be discovered and has what most people don’t know they need until they try it out.
    I think Apple can gain more ground exploiting the security issue, which affects all Win$in users, but still realizing that by exploiting security, it issues a challenge to hackers to break the system. Ultimately, that would be the ultimate test of Apple’s security and may have the most dramatic and exponential results.

  6. Unfortunately a lot of computer buyers just go online to Dell or walk into a Best Buy where an “expert” guides them to whatever he gets paid the most to sell.

    From my experience, people need an informed salesman (or friend) to show them the Mac, explain how easy it is to use, etc. CompUSA does a good job when they have an Apple Rep on hand and the Apple Stores are perfectly designed for this type of “informed selling”.

    The benefit of the iPod is that it allows PC users to actually use a Mac app (iTunes) and feel the quality of Apple products.

    That, to me, is Apple’s marketing challenge. Tiger will help, but only if a Tiger user shows a potential buyer what it does.

  7. I agree with King Alvarez. In any part of life you only need search for that which you have lost – and if you’ve lost something of value, then the only question is: why?. Whilst Random is right about the choice to organise, I feel Apple are actively encouraging a dismantling of the traditional ‘container’ hierarchy metaphor with Spotlight and other technologies. From a human point of view, this is not at all akin to how we think – unless we’re infants and necessarily dependent. Humans like – and need – to arrange, organise and categorise their own environments – as a way of internalising those spaces as their own. With Spotlight Apple is, in effect, suggesting we relinquish this responsibility to them.

  8. Twenty Beson and Dr Alvbarez, it looks like you don’t understand anything about Spotlight. Metadata will change the way you use your computer and organize your files.

    Why loosing time to think about how and where to put files (and finally put them in a /temp or /to_organize_later directory) when you can find any file you need with Spotlight in a few click ?

    An important file to , just put an “IMPORTANT FILE” tag on it and when you need it, just look for it with Spotlight.

    Those who have already used Spotlight for a while don’t use the Finder anymore…

    “Humans like – and need – to arrange, organise and categorise their own environments – as a way of internalising those spaces as their own.”

    Magic word : “freedom”

    “Human like – and need – to be free, to find anything they want when they want without thinking about ‘where the **** have I put thoses keys…'”

  9. Twenty Benson, I don’t think Apple is suggesting that we relinquish the responsibility to arrange anything the way you like with Spotlight, they are just creating a uniform and faster way to get at the data you may have filed into a folder hierarchy 10 levels deep.

    The great thing about Spotlight (and the dangerous thing, at the same time) is that it allows anyone to find the information without having to know how you filed or organized it. It also allows you to access that info you organized in a quick way. Regardless of how deeply nested or in what application the data exists, you can get it using the same small number of steps. The traditional way requires you to use a different number of actions or steps depending on where and in what application, the data is available.

    To get an email, you have to launch Mail, navigate to the folder you want, sort by the criteria you are looking for (date, sender, subject, etc.) or use the search field to search based on the criteria you want. To find a PDF or word document, you have to open a Finder window, navigate to the folder where you saved it (a different number of clicks, depending on how many folders deep it is), open the file in Word or Preview (or whatever). To find a song, you open iTunes, browse the artist or album or genre or playlist, or you use the search field. To find and Address, you open Address Book, browse the group or name list or use the search field. Every type of info you want to find requires a different precedure to retrieve the data.

    Spotlight is revolutionary because it allows you to access any data on your computer in the same way. They found that when people use iTunes, Mail or Address Book, they more often than not use the search field to retrieve data that isn’t immediately available because it is more convenient and faster than browsing. Spotlight brings that same convenience and efficiency and applies it across the board to the entire system. Now instead of opening Mail, Address Book or iTunes to do a search, you can do it from whatever app you are currently running and bypass the step of opening the app that contains the data first, while at the same time, adding the intuitive Mail/iTunes/Address Book search capabilities to all applications at the same time.

    Of course, the downside is that if you leave your computer unattended and unlocked, anyone can quickly find any piece of info on your Mac. The good thing is that Spotlight lets you exclude certain folders from displaying results, so you can keep your porn from being easily found.

    I’m looking forward to using Spotlight to launch applications that I don’t use often enough to have in the Dock. Hitting Command+Spacebar and then typing the first few letters of any app will bring it up instantly in the Spotlight results. No more browsing through lists of applications to find the one I want to run.

  10. One still has to save these files somewhere so I agree that Spotlight wont usher in the age of the junk drawer file structure however I believe it will allow for the file structure to be made softer I may nolonger need to make a 2005/february/week1/saturday/am/130 folder just a 2005 february folder.

    Also the idea that information can be stored in grouping s regardless of what it is (pics, contact cards, webpages and emails) all in one view is pretty interesting, but lets not sell Tiger as a search and widget only upgrade all the core(file inthe blank) stuff is going to pay dividens on the application side.

  11. Random,
    I agree. Spotlight will be a great complement to the existing file structures and everyone will benefit from it. And just like iTunes and iPhoto, files can be organized in different ways while not altering the original file structure. But like Twenty Benson states, people should not feel that they no longer need to organize anything just because they have Spotlight. This writer seems to think that file organization is a waste of time, and so I think he’s basically encouraging people to develop the bad habit of not being organized. That’s the only problem I have with this article.

  12. geoffrey,
    I understand how Spotlight works and I think it’s great. I just think people need to realize that they should at least be somewhat organized in how they save and store files and at least understand how the file structure works. At work we have around 20 network drives. Hundreds of people are constantly sharing files spread out across these different network connections. The importance of being organized can’t be stressed enough. I’ve spent a lot of time here at work trying to tell people that they can’t just save a shared document anywhere they want.

    Granted, many simple home users that primarily only use a computer for music, internet, video, photos, and few other functions aren’t going to have the same needs as in a coporate environment, and for many the software (like iTunes and iPhoto) will take care of the organization for them, but that doesn’t mean that they should just blindly save their files anywhere in the system.

  13. “The benefit of the iPod is that it allows PC users to actually use a Mac app (iTunes) and feel the quality of Apple products.”

    The benifets of Apple products are Memory Hogs.
    Quicktime & iTunes are both Memory Hogs. So I guess the quality of apple proucts are of memory HOGS!!!

  14. Just because I have a maid does not mean I should just drop stuff all over the house and let her pick it up. The same is true of Spotlight. A well organized file system is still the thing to do.

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