There’s something that Microsoft is doing much better than Apple. Not only doing it better, but improving with each and every day that goes by. It is a cutting-edge activity for large corporations, something that few businesses today have even tried, let alone got right. But Microsoft has got it right and is reaping the benefits.
What is this mysterious activity I’m talking about?
Microsoft is opening up like no other company I have ever seen. Just take a look at all the detailed information … that is coming out on weblogs written by the coders and managers working on each project.
These weblogs are … full of detail, full of facts, full of stories of success and sometimes failure.
It sounds really wonderful doesn’t it? People are watching the inner workings of Microsoft by reading blogs. Shouldn’t Apple do the same thing?
Maybe, maybe not. There is nothing wrong with letting outsiders view the engineering process. It can be very helpful and relieve a lot of the stress that customers feel. In a way, the online blogs fufill some of the same goals as Agile development (see my earler post) because the blog entries give the customer a short term feedback loop into what is going on in product development.
But should Apple open up the process of creation of new ideas and innovation of its technology? I think not. Apple is leading this industry. One only has to look at the list of firsts to realize this. From mice to SCSI to USB and everything in between: in hardware Apple has led the way. And in software it is leading the way too, although the amorphous nature of software sometimes makes this harder for the layman to see and understand.
It has already been the case numerous times that an Apple announcement is followed suit by an announcement of a similar offering from Microsoft (with some horrible acronym for a name). Should Apple now give Microsoft engineers (and others) a direct link to the creative process that seems to be driving the industry?
The important thing is that Apple has always been open in a way that Microsoft has yet to do. Apple’s technology APIs are open and available to developers from the moment they are delivered (or at least from the moment the documentation gets delivered). Microsoft, on the other hand, has been known to have hidden APIs or to change APIs just to disrupt software competitors.
Apple’s developer program is free on the web, its developer tools are free with every copy of the OS. The rest of its ADC programs are fee based but pretty reasonably priced for what you get. (A free pass to the World Wide Developer Conference at the highest level.) Microsoft on the other hand reserves much of its development technology for enterprise customers able to pay the highest fees.
There’s something that Microsoft is doing much better than Apple.
Yes there is. Making money by jumping on the bandwagon. There is no doubt about that.