The Macalope Weekly: It's Go Time With Microsoft

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Well, the gloves have really come off with Microsoft, haven't they? It's not the name-calling that bothers the Macalope, it's all the lying. So let's get it out! Let's lay it all on the table! After all, that's what's healthy, right?

And fun, too.

No, you get over it

As Mac users, we're often admonished to "get over" Microsoft, which is like telling Boston to "get over" the Yankees or Michigan to "get over" Ohio State when they still have to trot out and play them every year.

And why is it, exactly, that Mac users are supposed to "get over" Microsoft when Microsoft--which in the past few weeks alone has claimed Macs are just for the kewl kids and give you nothing for the US$500 more you pay for them--clearly has not "gotten over" Apple?

Boy, sure must have touched a nerve! Har-har! Chortle! Guffaw!

Yes, lying and generally being a jackass will tend to do that.

But, look, we're big boys and girls. We can take the company bearing false witness upon its neighbor. After all, it's a vengeful God's job to mete out Microsoft's ultimate punishment in the afterlife.


So, let's have a sensible discussion of the issues.

Before they assuredly burn in hell.

Something for something

Microsoft seems to have latched onto the "Macs cost more for no reason!" meme like Madonna onto a baby. ZDNet's Robin Harris, no knee-jerk Apple apologist he, runs some amusing if ultimately fruitless numbers that show that Microsoft's no slouch in taking its cut. The real takeaway from Harris's piece is this:

Steve Jobs' Reality Distortion Field can mesmerize millions. Ballmer's reality distortion field, alas, extends only to his ears.

As the kids say, "Zing."

Why does the Macalope say the numbers are fruitless? Well, you can compare raw numbers all day long and not really get to the crux of the matter: what are you getting for your dollar? Apple detractors will point out ad nauseum that someone, somewhere will literally give you a PC. And all you have to do is sign a long-term contract and do that thing with the goat that takes like three minutes, tops!

Well, great, but what are you left with after that? A no-name piece of plastic filled with cheap circuit boards and a social stigma that won't wash away no matter how much antibacterial soap you use.

Meanwhile, only Apple would use an expensive unibody construction process on its consumer-level laptop. Robin Harris himself complained:

By investing in a costly feature no one asked for Apple is stalling its rapid growth in notebook marketshare.

Fortunately, Apple's smarter than trying for a short-term market share grab.

As Michael Gartenberg notes, Microsoft is trying to make this about price--but the horny one wonders if that's such a brilliant idea right now when the cheapest computers on the market run XP, not Vista, something that doesn't exactly work out in the company's favor.

Needless to say, the Macalope sees it like Gartenberg does:

In tough economic times it's not just about price but value.

Excuses for bad decisions

If Microsoft is trying to sow the seeds of price stupidity in the consumer market, that's probably because it's been so successful in the corporate market.

"You can buy a PC for $400, while the cheapest Mac is over a thousand," says Jon Graff, director of IT operations at A&E. "In the real world, you're spending a lot more on a Mac. People really need to show why they can't get their work done on a PC."

A Macworld editor kindly noted that Graff doesn't know what he's talking about since the Mac mini comes in at $600, well under the $1,000 bar.

But, hey, you know what's even cheaper? Used PCs running Linux. Go get 'em, corporate IT shops!


Despite the protestations of IT people like Graff, this is not about price. This is about making "safe" choices. For years enterprises have chosen--and let themselves get locked into--Windows because, yes, no one got fired for buying Microsoft.

But these companies also bought Microsoft because, like AIG, Microsoft simply seemed "too big to fail" and Apple did not. Well, that's as may be, but there's "fail as a company" and then there's "fail to deliver"--and Microsoft has certainly failed to deliver.

So, congratulations, enterprises! You're left holding the bag for an outdated desktop operating system bundled with a costly and uncertain path forward!

Seriously, if it were solely about price and choice, every company in the world would be running Linux. The next time the Macalope sees Tux at the Mythical Creatures Convention he's going to tell him to look into premium schwag. Those corporate guys love that stuff.

This story, "The Macalope Weekly: It's Go Time With Microsoft" was originally published by Macworld.

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