Thursday, July 12, 2012

Steve Jobs's opinion of Microsoft and my take on it

In watching "Steve Jobs - The lost interview" (an interview with Steve Jobs made in the year 1995), there was a moment where Steve Jobs talk about what he thinks of Microsoft. Here's a quote:

"Microsoft's orbit was made possible by a Saturn 5 booster called IBM. And I know Bill would get upset with me for saying this, but of course it was true. And much to Bill and Microsoft's credit they used that fantastic opportunity to create more opportunities for themselves. Most people don't remember but until 1984 with the Mac, Microsoft was not in the application business. It was dominated by Lotus. And Microsoft took a big gamble, to write for the Mac. And they came out with applications that were terrible. But they kept at it and make them better. And eventually, they dominated the Macintosh application market. And then used a spring board of Windows to get into the PC market with the same applications. And now they dominated the application business in the PC space too. So they have 2 characteristic. I think they are very strong opportunists. And I don't meant that in a bad way. And 2, they are like the japanese. They just keep on coming. And now, they were able to do that because of the revenue stream from the IBM deal. But nonetheless they made the most of it and I gave them a lot of credit for that. The only problem with Microsoft is they just have no taste. They have absolutely no taste, and what that means is... I don't mean that in a small way, I meant that in a big way in the sense that they don't think of original ideas. And they don't bring much culture into their products. And you say why is it important, well, proportionally spaced font came from typesetting and beautiful books. That's where one gets the idea. If it weren' for the Mac they would never have that in their products. And, so I guess, I'm saddened not by Microsoft's success. I have no problem with their success. They've earned their success, for the most part. I have the problem with the fact that they just make really third-rate products. Their products have no spirit to them. Their products have no... sort of spirit of enlightenment about them. They are very pedestrian. And the sad part is most customers don't have a lot of that spirit either. But they way we are going to ratch it up... our species, is to take the best, and to spread it to everybody so that everyone grows up with better things, and start to understand the subtleties of these better things. And Microsoft is just.. McDonalds. And that's what saddened me. Not that they have won, but that Microsoft products don't displayed more insight and more creativity."

Basically, to sum it up, in Steve Jobs's opinion, Microsoft was a very opportunistic company. They almost always able to identify new emerging markets and they made lousy products but at the same time, Microsoft has this strong sense of self-preservation and perseverance that they will listen to the customer and they will improve their products as time goes (albeit in an incremental sort of way, mostly). That being said, Microsoft products are boring, uninspiring, unradical but nonetheless mostly practical and would certainly get the job done.

And, truth be told, fast forward to present time, Microsoft doesn't seems to be of any different, for the most part anyway. Microsoft products still wasn't cool. Windows 7 certainly wasn't cool. And yes most of us are using it to do pretty useful things. And yes most of us do gaming on the Windows platform. And although Mac OS was indeed gaining ground at the expense of Windows, Windows was still basically the de facto OS. It is which things that we take for granted. For most things, Microsoft was basically a follower, but no one would deny that Microsoft could take the existing things and make it better. One thing that has always held back Microsoft was the unwillingness to break rules. Microsoft was afraid to do something truly radical, something truly different, truly new. Microsoft, in a way they are very much like Google. It is a company run by none other than engineers and marketing people. This is in contrast with Apple, in which designer, thinker and people with passion and vision for the future was dictating the company's future.

The real question is that, should Microsoft be more like Apple? My answer for that would be - no. Microsoft doesn't have to be more like Apple. What Microsoft really have to do though, is to do better at what they are already good at. Microsoft should move quicker, listen to their customer more, make software more secure, cheaper and more user-friendly to the users. And that, would be the end.