Following Apple’s announcement of the new MacBook Pro models today and the impressive looking Touch Bar, cnet have a fascinating interview (and timeline of Apple’s laptops from the original PowerBook through to the latest MacBook Pro models) with Senior VP of Marketing Phil Schiller, software engineering lead Craig Federighi and Apple’s Chief Design Officer Jony Ive.
Although the media focus is predominantly on the new Touch Bar, there’s several interesting quotes in the article on why we won’t be seeing a combined or merged OS or hardware device from Apple that combines iPhone/iPad touchscreen functionality with the laptop format of the MacBook product line – Schiller said:
“We did spend a great deal of time looking at this a number of years ago and came to the conclusion that to make the best personal computer, you can’t try to turn MacOS into an iPhone. Conversely, you can’t turn iOS into a Mac…. So each one is best at what they’re meant to be — and we take what makes sense to add from each, but without fundamentally changing them so they’re compromised.”
I’ve agreed with this line of thought for a while, and discussed this last year when Tim Cook said something very similar.
While it might be immediately obvious to some that the way you interact with a smart phone that fits in your hand is a completely different experience to how you interact with a computer while sitting at a desk, Microsoft’s (failed?) attempt at combining both of these usage styles into a single phone device with Continuum that you can use as a phone or plug into a dock and use as a desktop has always seemed to me to be a massive compromise. How you use a phone with a small screen and limited input capability is so completely and radically different from how you interact with a desktop computer with a keyboard, mouse and large LCD screen, why you would even try to combine these two experiences into one device is just beyond me.
Anyway, I’m pleased to heard Apple reiterating on their understanding of how different devices have different capabilities. Until a radical new approach comes along for how you interact with your devices where the reduced physical size of a portable device is no longer a constraining factor, a phone is still best as a phone, and your desktop or laptop is still best as what they do. Even in this “Post-PC” era, there’s still a place for both.
As a software developer, I’m fascinated by computer and IT history. I grew up with 8 bit home computers like the Sinclair ZX Spectrum, and developed my first applications in Sinclair BASIC which most likely kickstarted my interest in software development.
I find it interesting when developers have very little interest or knowledge in even recent history of the tools and platforms that they work with every day. For example, statements like “I’m glad Windows 10 no longer has any dependence on MS-DOS like Windows 8 did”, or “Microsoft completely developed Windows 10 from scratch, you know”, – neither statements which could be further from the truth.
Up until Windows XP, Windows was developed as two parallel code lines, the MS-DOS based code line, Windows 1.x through 3.x, 95, 98, and ME, (95, 98 and ME aimed at home consumers) and the Windows NT code line for enterprise users. After Windows ME, Windows XP was developed based on the NT kernel from Windows 2000, with some features taken from ME and it’s MS-DOS code line.
There’s a great history of the parallel code lines in this article on the History of Microsoft Windows on Wikipedia, and clearly illustrated in this diagram:
(From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_Microsoft_Windows, shared under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license).
Windows ME was the last release of the MS-DOS based Windows code line, and Windows 10 is the next release in the Windows NT code line, which as you can see from the timeline above, shares it’s heritage with 8, 7 and Vista before it.
Red Hat recently announced a partnership with Microsoft where Microsoft is now offering Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) as an option on Azure. Although Microsoft has been offering Linux based IaaS offerings on Azure for a few years already, adding RHEL to the mix introduces an option with the backing of Red Hat enterprise support.
Red Hat are also apparently looking to increase integration options between Java and node.js for it’s clients, according to Rich Sharples, senior director for product management at Red Hat, recently speaking at a node.js conference in Portland.
Things are still not looking good for Microsoft’s attempt to get a foot in the smartphone market. While their FY16Q1 financial results stated their mobile phone revenue fell by 56%, which was ahead of the new Lumia launch, IDC’s latest sales figures have shown Windows Mobile sales dropped 10% for the year. Given the launch of the flagship Lumia 950 models this year that has to hurt.
Worst still, Forbes are predicting a gloomy future for Microsoft’s mobile business for the coming year, predicting that they will cut their losses and pull out of the mobile phone market altogether.
Given the dominance in the market of Android and iOS devices (IDC shows Android has 80% global market share at this point, and even iOS is relatively far behind with 14%), one has to wonder what Microsoft were thinking when they bought Nokia and announced their Windows 10 Mobile plans. If they can come out with a truly revolutionary new product to catch everyone’s attention then maybe they have a chance, but an evolutionary step forward (and a small one at that) like the Lumia 950 models is definitely not the one that people are going to be dropping their Androids for and moving to. It’s just not good enough.