This may be an 11-year-old article, but it...

Gepostet von Daniel Hong am Montag, 20. Mai 2019…/05/microsoft-learn-from-apple-iii/

This may be an 11-year-old article, but it still fully represents the reasons why I am still not bothering to fully switch over to Windows. Well, I'm not saying that today's Microsoft is the same Microsoft that we all witnessed a decade ago. Microsoft in 2008 was... still bound by its infamous "embrace, extend and extinguish" strategy. They were - without doubt - a monster playing a monopoly that was willing to take over the industry with its proprietary platforms and technologies, namely Windows and Internet Explorer.

11 years later, Microsoft is a completely different company. They are committing on open source strategies and contributions than ever before, and focusing on targeting modern enterprises, which they always have had an advantage over competitors, with the cloud - and nearly opening up and abandoning the closed empire that they have established during the so-called "dark ages". Microsoft is even abandoning their "modernized" Internet Explorer codebase - EdgeHTML - completely, and switching over to Chromium (another monopoly, but that's not the point here). The inclusion of a full Linux kernel inside future Windows 10 versions is another iconic move, especially for a company that once claimed Linux is "communism" just 10 years ago.

Those are all really exciting stuff for enterprises, and developers working for them. But as an end user, there's a reason why I feel Windows is still seriously lagging behind in terms of user experience, and that is Windows' love for legacy tech that was built more than 30 years ago.

Sure, Windows 10 introduced an entirely new set of APIs meant for modern applications called UWP (as an iteration over the "Metro" UI introduced in Windows 8), which are both fully sandboxed and modern enough for 2019 standards. It's also "Universal", so it was meant to run across all Windows 10 iterations and processors without any modifications. I was really excited when Microsoft first announced their vision for UWP: are they finally getting a "truely" modern user experience base, other than the ageing Win32?

...But things didn't go as well as Microsoft and users have expected. First they announced plans to allow developers to port iOS and Android apps directly to UWP to encourage app developers to join their new platform, but it didn't turn out so well. In fact, Windows 10 Mobile failed to regain market share from iOS and Android, so they abandoned it completely - even after their acquisition of Nokia's mobile devices business. And then they started to allow "legacy" Win32 apps repackaged in a UWP-style sandbox in the Windows Store, which are not "universal"... but still somehow part of the "UWP" ecosystem. Soon the Windows Store was filled with a bunch of legacy Win32 crapware - what's the point of a "universal" Windows app store then?

Why did this happen? Well, simple really: even when Microsoft has changed completely in strategical terms, their primary customers are still enterprises that rely on legacy technologies from the days of Windows 9x and the original NT. Win16 and Win32 are poorly designed APIs without any consistency and optimization that remained largely unchanged since the 90s. They were superior compared to the poorly designed Classic Mac OS systems back then, but not now. Enterprises built their systems on those legacy platforms and APIs due to Microsoft's excellent support within its closed empire, and not bothered to move on since then. Win32 is proven and reliable - why risk moving to another platform? If Microsoft decides to remove Win32 anytime soon, they risk losing countless enterprises that relies on Win32 legacies as customers.

Macs, on the other hand, handled this "legacy problem" really well. They are the only platform to survive abandoning core legacies three times in a row - Motorola 68000 to PowerPC, Classic Mac OS to (OpenStep and Mach-based) Mac OS X, and PowerPC to Intel x86. Apple is well known for abruptly cutting off legacy tech (including floppy drives, Flash and headphone jacks), but when it comes to major architectural transitions they took a gradual approach. OS 9 to OS X involved putting a fully emulated OS 9 environment called Classic inside the modern, Darwin-based OS X environment (previously known as the Blue Box) then cutting support for it after a while. The transition to Intel's x86 architecture involved (i) ISA-independent designs for OS X itself, (ii) support for universal binaries for both PPC and x86, and (iii) an PPC-to-x86 compatibility layer called Rosetta (which was also cut off a few years later). Even so, they didn't receive much complaints from their customers, and successfully moved on to modern designs without major hiccups.

This success in transitions is normally tributed to their gradual and strategic approach to them, but there is another important reason: Macs didn't have many enterprise customers that relied on them as servers for mission-critical infrastructure work. Most of Mac users were individuals (including purchases for individual employee use at businesses) that could risk such a major change when Apple persuaded them to, as long as it was gradual enough. This is why Macs don't have any legacy APIs that were left over from the classic Mac OS days, while most modern Windows machines can run Windows 2000, and even 9x era programs, with little to no modification.

At a time when even Google is moving on from its pre-smartphone Android architecture with Fuschia and Flutter, Microsoft being hesitant to abrupt change due to their enterprise user base seems to be hurting their user experience in the end. Even when Fulent Design on Windows 10 is so clean and beautiful, most Windows applications are not - because they're most likely be based on legacy Windows technologies, and do not follow a common design guideline. Dealing with registries and DLLs for maintenance are still a thing in 2019 in Windows land without sandboxed apps. Font and HiDPI rendering is still not consistent across applications. And now, with the addition of bugs, advertising and privacy hell in Windows 10, it's starting to get really annoying trying to deal with both old legacies (that should be dead long ago), and flashy new stuff that is even more difficult to turn off.

Maybe it's because I'm a hardcore Mac guy who only used Macs ever since my first computer (excluding some DOS machines). But the thing is that there isn't really a solid alternative to the Mac platform. Apple started to get very greedy lately, and not providing people with the hardware they want. Their goals seem to be satisfying people who want to show off their sleek and shiny new hardware, and not building computers that is durable, extensible and provides high performance. Maybe Microsoft should release that rumored "Windows Core" OS soon enough to satisfy end users like us - or else, they might end up becoming that legacy monster that no one really wants to deal with.