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A Microsoft/Apple Partnership?

Friday, July 11, 1997 by Dave Winer.

Here's a fascinating email from Loren Lovhaug, llovhaug@mpr.org, from Minnesota Public Radio, http://www.mpr.org/, in response to The Sure Road to Bankruptcy, 7/9/97.

Loren Lovhaug on Apple Permalink to Loren Lovhaug on Apple

Apple has effectively used the counter-culture theme to market the Macintosh as the alternative platform for years, first as an alternative to IBM and then later as an alternative to Microsoft.

Part of the problem with the approach is that it casts them into second place status. I don't think you can ever be successful playing for second place, especially when you are playing in what is effectively a two player game.

Apple and the Mac faithful need to adjust the way they view reality. The key to Apple's survival is to steal a page from the Microsoft playbook, and to use the same Embrace & Extend tactics that Microsoft has so masterfully used with everything from GUIs, database technologies (both desktop and server), as well as the web and Java.

Microsoft does not need to be the enemy. Microsoft is only the enemy if you choose to make it the foe as either a marketing strategy or because of a religious conviction. It is fun to have passion about the Mac or Apple, but that passion should not blind you to the fact that 90% or more of the microcomputers in use today are running a Microsoft operating environment. Leveraging that fact rather than fighting against it is the key to Apple's survival.

I believe Apple should enter into a partnership with Microsoft to extend Windows NT for Apple's customers and Apple's needs. Specifically I would advocate Apple acquiring primary responsibility for the now discontinued PowerPC version of Windows NT.

Apple then could work to put an improved Macintosh face (a Finder-like shell plus other extensions) on NT while maintaining compatibility with existing and future NT applications. Microsoft would benefit from additional leverage against Intel, just as Digital provides with the Alpha version of NT.

Such an effort could be useful for Microsoft against the Sun/Oracle net computer Unix crowd. Apple would then focus on providing a higher degree of integration, elegance, and performance to their in-house PowerPC based hardware in concert with the Apple NT extensions so that Apple boxes can be a higher end, value-added way to run NT. This might even allow Apple to get back the margins they used to enjoy with the Mac in the late 1980s.

Such an effort would also help ISVs in that they would only have to target only the Win32 API for low level functions, but could do special things with the Apple NT Extensions.

My response Permalink to My response

Thank you! I think you have an incredibly good idea here.

A version of NT that's customized to make sense to a Mac user would be very welcome. I've tried and tried to make NT look and look and work like a Mac. I put the icons down the left edge of the screen. I want my Cmd-key! I want selection to act like a Mac. There are so many braincell burners going from Mac to NT. I curse that Apple lawsuit that made Microsoft deviate from the look and feel of the Mac. Apple used their users! What a trip.

It's really nice the way Microsoft made NT be an Appleshare-compatible file server. It would be nice if Macs could return the favor. It would help us cross-platform users better leverage the things that Macs do better than NT machines. Another interesting idea would be to make it so that AppleScript and Frontier could drive DCOM-based apps over the LAN.

I've said what you've said several times in the past. I think no one is served by the faceoff. It's obsolete. Vestigial. The people who flame religiously over platform preferences have the loudest and most offensive voices. A choice of computer is not a political statement. They are tools and instruments, like a hammer or a violin. What gets created with them is what's important. Too much attention is focused on the tool, not enough on the users and their creativity.

It's time to ignore the zealots, let them be, and focus on taking care of our own needs. A smooth transition is what we need and a solid platform for future development. If Apple wants to make sense to Mac users they must embrace the transition. I know that current Apple management may not understand the transition, so be it. They could help us, and keep some of the loyalty of their users intact.

The Mac doesn't have the high ground now. Apple is a mess, and people who use Macs pay the price. There's a lot of focus on how the Apple management nightmare has affected the people who work there. There isn't enough focus on serving the needs of the people who use Apple's products.

A correction and another point of view Permalink to A correction and another point of view

MacsBug is an abbreviated form of Motorola Advanced Computer Systems Debugger, not Macintosh System Debugger.

Current and former researchers at Apple say that they "got" the net in the late 80s and early 90s, and pleaded with Apple management to invest, but were ignored. One ex-Apple researcher says they anticipated the Web at Apple in the early 90s.

Dave Winer

© Copyright 1994-2004 Dave Winer. Last update: 2/5/07; 10:50:05 AM Pacific. "There's no time like now."