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What are you doing to oppose the Microsoft juggernaut?

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I've been using this as my signature for a while now. A number of people have responded to this with a variety of questions and comments. One of the most common is the question of what exactly a juggernaut is.

From The American Heritage Dictionary:

Juggernaut n. 1. A title of the Hindu deity Krishna, whose idol is drawn in an annual procession on a huge car or wagon under the wheels of which worshipers are said to have thrown themselves to be crushed. 2. juggernaut. Something, as a belief or institution, that elicits blind and destructive devotion, or to which people are ruthlessly sacrificed. 3. juggernaut. An overwhelming and irresistible force or movement.

From the Tormont Webster's Illustrated Encyclopedic Dictionary:

juggernaut n. 1. Anything that draws blind and destructive devotion, or to which people are ruthlessly sacrificed, such as a belief or institution. 2. British. A very large, heavy motor vehicle, especially a long-distance truck. [From Juggernaut]

Juggernaut n. 1. Hinduism. Also Jagannath. A title of the deity Vishnu. 2. A huge cart or wagon on which an idol of the god Vishnu is drawn in procession; specifically, such a vehicle used in an annual procession in Puri, in the Indian state of Orissa.

These definitions show that I perceive Microsoft as an institution which ruthlessly sacrifices products, companies and people in its effort to completely dominate every market in which it competes.

Here's an anecdote which convinced my wife that I wasn't just operating under a delusion about Microsoft:

My wife was house shopping in San Jose and ran into another lady who was moving back from the Seattle area. She had been contracting for a variety of companies here in the Silicon Valley, including Adobe, Apple and others. She had just finished a contract at Microsoft and they had offered her a job. She loved the Seattle area and had a gorgeous house that she loved near a lake, but she decided to turn down the job and return to the valley. As she said, "I had never seen a company that was less concerned with their products or customers. All they were interested in was doing whatever they could to eliminate the competition. I just couldn't morally justify working there." This was an unsolicited testimonial.

Now, this merely reinforces my perceptions of how Microsoft does business. I've seen how they operate in the Macintosh world. I've also seen how they work in the PC world. Remember how they told everyone that they were working with IBM on OS/2? That was just before they came out with Windows and got a complete jump on everyone who was still developing for OS/2. Now who has the best selling Windows applications? Microsoft, that's who.

It's this notion of fair play that annoys me. Microsoft just doesn't seem interested in playing fair. Look at the books on undocumented Windows calls. They don't even tell their developers everything they need to compete with them. Look at their licence for the Microsoft Development System. It explicitly states that you may not write an application which competes with Microsoft. That's their main concern; eliminating the competition.

The most disturbing thing that I have seen is that some people seem ready to simply give in to Microsoft. One article I read advocated throwing in the towel and letting Microsoft rule the computer world. Now, I'll grant that this guy was joking, but the notion isn't far from the truth. People seem to want Microsoft to tell them what to buy.

This sort of thing always reminds me of a comment from World War II. It came from Italy and was something to the effect of "At least with Mussolini the trains ran on time." This illustrates the notion that people are willing to give up their freedoms in life in exchange for the basics, and I find that very disturbing. We are seeing it all over America. People are willing to give up privacy in order to catch crooks. People are willing to give up choice for a price advantage. I don't think people are thinking this through all the way.

Giving in to Microsoft is not the way to improve our lives. We must oppose them at every turn. We must strive to be better than them. We must strive to do better than them. That's one of the many reasons I work at Apple. I am striving to do better than Microsoft. I am striving to empower people, not to take over the world. Despite what you may believe about Apple and Macintosh, we really do believe in the mission of making the world a better place. It is in the corporate guidelines. I do not believe that Microsoft has that as a corporate goal.

Opposing the Juggernaut

OpenDoc Logo My last attempt at opposing the juggernaut has apparently failed. I was working on OpenDoc, which Apple has ceased development on as of March 1997. It still ships with the MacOS, but there's no development being done any more. This is another blatent win by Microsoft, and managed simply because they are able to stay the course while Apple thrashes. It's somewhat disgusting to those of us who remain faithful to the principles of the MacOS. I just wish the suits in charge were bound by these principles.

OpenDoc attempts to simplify the user interface by standardizing on a compound document architecture which allows users to embed arbitrary content types together onto a single page and edit them in place. OpenDoc also tried to eliminate one of the aspects of the Macintosh UI that managed to confuse beginners. That is the notion of having to quit an application, even after closing all of its windows. OpenDoc went so far as to remove the Quit menu item, but many people thought that went too far. That's one of the drawbacks of consistent standardization, when you want to change it, you need to change it everywhere, otherwise it's no longer standardized.

This notion of standardization is an important one. Many people don't realize the advantage that Apple has because it designs the hardware and the software. That's how we were able to make the completely transparent transition to PowerPC. There weren't any significant problems from that. The PowerPC machines were more compatible than the Quadras when they were released. It's because Apple can change the hardware and the software at the same time. You probably don't remember, but some years back when IBM introduced the PS/2 machines, they tried to improve the bus architecture by going to a new bus design. They failed. None of the clone manufacturers went along with the idea and IBM couldn't sell their "non-standard" machines. That can't happen at Apple. In fact, they just changed the bus on their new machines to the PC standard PCI bus. No one really noticed because the software already knew.

In addition, this plug and play thing that Microsoft is trumpting, and which doesn't really work very well on PCs, is something the Macintosh pioneered. We've had it so long that it's taken for granted. You buy a card, modem or whatever and simply plug it in. The only thing you need to configure is the SCSI id of your hard disk (typically via a button on the back of the drive) and the software if it requires it. There's literally nothing you can do to mess up the process (this isn't to say that some goobers can't design a device which will fail to work, but they don't stay in business too long, unless they make PC stuff too). The important thing is that it only works on some new PC computers and peripherals, and intermittently at that (see the December issue of PC World for "Plug and Play - How to make it work") while it always has worked on the Macintosh.

I can't claim that Apple will beat Microsoft. The numbers say we can't. However, we can continue to earn a decent living being the only real alternative to the PC and Windows; we can continue to make machines which allow people to do their work and better their lives; and we can continue to show Microsoft how it should be done.

In addition, many developers still realize how much better the Macintosh is. We have better development tools, better games (not more, just better), all in all better software. PhotoShop, Illustrator, PageMaker, QuarkXpress, FileMaker, Excel; all of these are Macintosh programs ported to the PC. in addition, the Macintosh software market is fully 1/3 the size of the Windows software market simply because Macintosh users buy more software. They buy more CD ROMs than Windows users, because they can run them without trouble. Remember that Lion King debacle? Finally, developers make more money off Macintosh software because they don't have to handle anywhere near as many support calls from people who can't get it to run with their hardware and software. Seriously.

All in all, Macintosh pays off. It pays off in time, productivity and capability. These are the things you expect to get from a computer. That's why you should buy a Macintosh and stop giving your money to Microsoft.

BYTE magazine said it best. "Indeed, it would not be an exaggeration to describe the history of the computer industry for the past decade as a massive effort to keep up with Apple." This will continue. In addition, BYTE also pointed out that "Apple still seems bound by a mindset that in some ways is the opposite of Microsoft's." I take this to be a great compliment.

The real question is, should we give up the fight simply because we fail in our attempts? It's obvious to me that we should not. We should continue to do things that Microsoft doesn't like and things that will not help them with their continued dominance of the computer industry. My next attempt will probably be with Java. Wish me luck.

So, tell me, what are you doing to oppose the Microsoft juggernaut?

OK, you told me. Now I'm sharing it with the world.


First off, you should check out my Macintosh Advocacy Page, as well as my Macintosh Jihad piece.

Then scope these OpenDoc related links.

Then check out these Anti-Microsoft links.

And finally, The Macintosh Advantage.

If you discover more relevant links, send them to me.

Return to my home page

Don't forget: MacOS Rules!

Created on Mon, Jun 12, 1995 and last modified on Wed, Feb 25, 1998.