Microsoft in an Apple store? Oh, the irony…

May 28 2011: Welcome, Daring Fireball readers.

You do realize that Mr. Gruber is playing a fun little game here, right? He seems a wee bit embarrassed that he has been so desperately wrong about the current state of OS X security lately.

You might want to ask him if he still stands behind his Wolf! post? He quotes a post of mine that turns out to have been extremely accurate. He published that post less than a month ago, so he can’t have forgotten about it. Indeed, many Mac-oriented news sites have written on the same subject, and yet Gruber has stopped updating it. Why do you think that is?

And for some reason, Gruber has completely ignored my detailed response:

Crying wolf? Apple support forums confirm malware explosion

I highly recommend that you read this post too:

Measure Twice, Spin Once

It revisits a 2004 post from, gasp, Daring Fireball that Gruber appears to have completely forgotten about. See how easy it is to go back in time and find examples of where someone tries to predict historical trends and guesses wrong?

I do hope Mr. Gruber addresses these important issues again one of these days. He seems to want to change the subject.

Oh, and on the point of this post: At the time it was written, in July 2008, the iPhone had been out for a year, but the App Store was literally less than 48 hours old. The 3G iPhone had been introduced less than 24 hours earlier.

If you had owned an iPhone for the previous year, you had not had access to Microsoft Exchange, the dominant business e-mail platform. You had had pitifully slow Internet access on your phone. And you didn’t have any apps. It was definitely a version 1.0 product.

If you had “come back in a year,” of course, Apple would still not have had any business products. Nor would they have had any two years later, in 2010.

Apple did correctly anticipate the rise of mobile platforms and build a great product line that is extremely successful today. They have done a superb job of targeting high-income consumers and small businesses. I tip my hat to Mr. Jobs.

James Kendrick noted this little detail when he bought a new iPhone at the Apple Store yesterday:

The most interesting part of the entire purchase process was seeing the role that Microsoft played in every single iPhone purchase at the Apple store. You see, Apple doesn’t use cash registers or even Macs for the purchase process. No, they use handheld wireless devices made by Symbol, maker of such things, and every single one of them is running the Windows CE operating system. That’s right, Apple had to turn to Microsoft for a point-of-sale (POS) solution solid enough to work under such volume sales situations. These Symbol devices used barcode scanning to input each iPhone’s serial number and other information, used a credit card scanner to accept customer payment, and tapped a wireless connection to not only the Apple store’s network but to the AT&T network to activate the new service for the customer.

Without resorting to snark, I think this illustrates the fundamental difference between Apple, a seller of luxury consumer products, and Microsoft, a developer of business and consumer platforms.

Yes, I know that the current CW is that the iPhone is the new platform, and that might be true. But let’s come back in a year or two and see just how successful the platform really is.

21 thoughts on “Microsoft in an Apple store? Oh, the irony…

  1. Why does Apple’s success, at anything, seem to piss off the Windows fanboys? It seems pretty obvious that Apple and Microsoft don’t develop for the same market, yet the Windows folks seem to take Apple’s recent popularity surge as a personal attack on their favorite platform. I make my living working on Windows systems (I’m an Exchange engineer), but I like both Apple and Microsoft, and I own both Windows and Macs at home, and each has its strengths and weaknesses.

    Kendrick’s comment about Apple turning to Microsoft for a POS solution is crap. Apple turned to Symbol for a solution, and that solution includes an application that runs on Windows CE. Why does that have to be a dig at Apple? Making it sound like Apple went to Microsoft with their tails between their legs is just more Windows fanboy rhetoric designed to stir up controversy. Do you actually believe that Apple should be ashamed that their POS runs on Windows devices?

    I like your writing, Ed, and I greatly appreciate the way you share your Windows knowledge and experience. But leave the fanboy stuff to the hacks. It’s beneath you.

  2. Touchy, touchy, Mike. Neither James nor I said or implied or even hinted that Apple “went to Microsoft with their tails between their legs.” Sheesh.

    I went out of my way to avoid any snark here, focusing on the larger issue of the differences between Apple and Microsoft. Here, let me say it again, since you obviously missed it the first time:

    Without resorting to snark, I think this illustrates the fundamental difference between Apple, a seller of luxury consumer products, and Microsoft, a developer of business and consumer platforms.

    You think this pisses me off? You really need to recalibrate your sensitivity meter.

  3. It will be very interesting to see what happens with the new Nvidia mobile device chip… I suspect that Microsoft has a lot in the works when it comes to mobile. They are probably just waiting to see what happens with the iphone.

    I’d look to see a new device that combines PSP-style gaming with a phone, media playing and internet. They already have the infrastructure to handle online gaming, and windows media center has matured to the point where a mobile device interaction makes sense.

    I personally love my windows mobile phone… it’s all about getting the job done, and helps me be more productive. I don’t really need much else.

  4. Jeremy, that’s hilarious. Thanks.

    PS, Mike: “the Windows folks seem to take Apple’s recent popularity surge as a personal attack on their favorite platform.”

    Uh, no, not really. But Apple’s Vista-bashing ad campaigns might have something to do with it. It’s OK for Apple to attack Microsoft and Windows at every turn, but let the tables be turned and it’s somehow beneath my dignity? Give me a freakin’ break.

  5. What’s funny is yesterday that Windows-based system was down and down hard. They couldn’t process any iPhone sales for at least 30 minutes after the store opened.

  6. Mike ought to find out a little more about Jame Kendrick before he speaks.
    James uses and enjoys Mac products, and frequently writes and talks about them, including his MacBook Pro and iphone. He’s no Apple basher, I’d call him OS agnostic if anything, he goes out of his way to use anything out there consumers of mobile tech might encounter, and report his views in an unbiased manner. Reporting on a bit on irony is just that, reminds me of the time a caution sign fell off a shelf at work and almost brained me. Not a big deal.

  7. I somehow sense that this will go unrecognized by the rest of the tech media until something wrong happens with the Point-Of-Sale system, at which point, Microsoft will be blamed for the actions of an Apple employee.

  8. Doesn’t MS own a big chunk or Apple?
    MS invested $150M in 1997 in Apple, to keep it alive. I can’t find how much Apple MS owns today, but if they didn’t sell what they bought in 2007, they would have $6.5 billion worth of Apple stock today folks…

    Remember Macworld 1997 where Jobs tries to talk some common sense to his fanboy crowd:

    The fanboys seem to like making war with each other (wasn’t that always true… cf console fanboys wars, all old microcomputers had their fanboys: the Commodores, Ataris, Amigas…), but Jobs/Gates seem to see things differently:

  9. Yeah, I always thought that Apple using Windows CE based machines to do the checkout was funny.

    What I’m surprised at is that they haven’t developed a scanner plug-in for the iPod touch to use it as a Point-Of-Sale device.

  10. Apple makes products primarily for consumers– not niche markets such as portable POS terminals. I’m sure Apple could design a terrific POS terminal, but that is not where they choose to allocate resources, especially when an off-the-shelf solution already exists. That it happens to use Microsoft technology is incidental.

    Windows is everywhere (as anyone who has seen a “blue-screened” ATM or electronic billboard will attest). Buy we all (should) know that ubiquity does not necessarily correlate with excellence.

  11. I don’t understand why Windows gets blamed every time an OEM or a customizer installs a bad driver that causes a bluescreen. Do you think these companies are really going to be more conscientious if they were to switch to, say, Linux?

  12. Brett, blue screens are generally caused by driver issues and/or bad hardware, not by the OS itself.

    What’s more, such occurrences are relatively rare. The reason you don’t see them with other OS’s, is because they’re generally not used for those tasks.

    I’ve seen exactly one BSD in the last 3 or 4 years….it was right after I installed a new video card. Turns out it wasn’t seated correctly. Once that was corrected, there was no issue.

    If you’re seeing more than that, then I’d start looking at the software you’re running, or the person in your company that created the install image for your PC.

    Where I work, I’ve seen PCs (like mine) that run without issues, while someone who started 9 months ago, who got a brand new Core2 laptop, can’t open an attachment without waiting almost a minute for the file to open. What’s wrong? Don’t know, since he’s never given me the system to look at, but I know that the PC IT dept has done many mods to the default install.

  13. Brett, I support over 200 Mac users in SF and I have to laugh when you call out the Windows BSOD. I see Macs BSOD on a weekly basis, usually because of a failed EFI or graphics firmware update… It happens all too often, and there really isn’t any excuse for it. Remember the first combo update for Leopard? 10.5.1 borked about 30% of the machines it touched… to the point where a complete reinstall of the OS and all apps was necessary. Keep that in mind before you get too preachy about Windows BSODs.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love Macs… but let’s tell the whole truth here…

  14. And yeah, I realize that Macs don’t blue-screen… they black-screen! That makes it waaaaaay better. They also don’t include the requisite information to investigate and resolve the issue. At least Windows BSODs give you the info you need to fix the problem.

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