The Coding Monkey

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

How Many Companies Use Apple?

There is a reason why companies prefer Microsoft over Apple. The NY Times tries to bill legacy support as bad:

As a result, each new version of Windows carries the baggage of its past. As Windows has grown, the technical challenge has become increasingly daunting. Several thousand engineers have labored to build and test Windows Vista, a sprawling, complex software construction project with 50 million lines of code, or more than 40 percent larger than Windows XP.

"Windows is now so big and onerous because of the size of its code base, the size of its ecosystem and its insistence on compatibility with the legacy hardware and software, that it just slows everything down," observed David B. Yoffie, a professor at the Harvard Business School. "That's why a company like Apple has such an easier time of innovation."

Microsoft certainly understands the problem, the need to change and the potential long-term threat to its business from rivals like Apple, the free Linux operating system, and from companies like Google that distribute software as a service over the Internet.

Microsoft has understood this from the very beginning... dating back to its first dealings with IBM. Microsoft recognized that software was just as crucial as hardware, if not more so. It also recognized that software was an investment. Not only does software cost money, but so does deploying it across a large corporation. From the deployment itself, to testing and training, and backwards compatibility concerns with legacy documents. Companies make an investment in software.

Apple over the years has ignored that fundamental business reality to its own detriment. They unveil new hardware that won't run old code. They create new operating systems that require new versions of other software to use. As a result, companies are unwilling to buy Apple computers and operating systems because they realize that an upgrade to the OS would not only require paying for the new operating system, but also investing in new versions of other software to work on that operating system.

While Windows may be slower, you can still run old versions of Office on Windows XP for instance. That allows companies to delay, or even completely avoid upgrading peripheral software that may currently fit its needs. This decision is key when companies scale up in size. Because new hardware won't run old operating systems, it is not uncommon for large corporations to run mixed hardware and operating systems across the enterprise. However, because Microsoft handles legacy applications so well, they can still run the same version of Office, or any other application. Companies can then invest in new hardware for new employees, and not worry that it will create inconsistencies elsewhere.

So while handling legacy code may have disadvantages to pure performance in the operating system, it has far more advantages in the enterprise. Apple's sales numbers, and market penetration over the years more than prove that. Hopefully Microsoft won't forget it.


  • And the cost of all the Apple upgrades over the years pales in comparison to the cost of dealing with all the viruses and other malware in the Windows market.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at March 28, 2006 3:50 PM  

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