Six Colors
Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

This month, join us and Relay FM in supporting St. Jude.

By Jason Snell

Apple, Microsoft, and compatibility

David Sparks was struck by something that struck me, too:

Steven Sinofsky, formerly of Microsoft, had an interesting Twitter thread a few days ago that was complimentary of Apple and its ability to ship their own Apple silicon.

Sinofsky: “It is incredibly clear that everyone at Apple puts strategy requirements above anything “local”. When you wonder why there isn’t more new in Notes or why Mail is missing stuff it’s because supporting a multi-year strategy trumps individual teams and that’s a good thing.”

…Within hours of Apple announcing that they were moving all Macs to their own silicon within two years, I was on a podcast whining about the lack of a share button in Apple Mail.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot. There are missing features, and longstanding bugs. And there are some users who are going to be pushed off of the Mac entirely by Apple’s decision to move Macs to Apple-designed processors.

But if Apple has to choose between its multi-year strategy to get the Mac on the same architecture as its other products, or catering to people who (for example) want to use Boot Camp, we know which one Apple is going to choose.

This is what separates Apple from Microsoft, or as Sinofsky said earlier in his thread:

Many argue a commitment to compatibility and bringing forward customers made Microsoft unique. I agree and believe that. What it does, though, is make it much less interesting/important for customers to move forward with you.

This is the nub of it. A lot of Microsoft’s failures come because its corporate culture is always focused on compatibility—and rightly so, since its enormous installed base of users is its single greatest asset. But that comes at a cost, and in the past decade that cost has been the death of all sorts of great new initiatives because they deviated too much from what Windows users want Windows to be.

Apple’s culture is about change and pushing forward—and it has been willing to break stuff and make people mad to get there. It doesn’t mean the company is always right, and it doesn’t change how lousy it is to be left on the outside looking in because of a strategic decision. But it is Apple to the core. And a large part of Apple’s customer base either has come to appreciate it or has learned to accept it as part of the nature of using Apple’s products.


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