The Macalope Weekly: 7 herbs and spices

The Macalope pays a visit to an old friend this week. Well, more specifically, a crazy old friend. Who’s not actually a friend. More just a crazy old man. Then it’s off to the Microsoft Store opening in Scottsdale Arizona, where the dress code is surprisingly formal. And, last, you’ll never believe what’s missing from Windows 7.

That’s good Enderle!

The Macalope was trying to decide whether he should write about how Apple’s boffo laptops sales last quarter stuck a fork in that Retrevo nonsense from a few weeks ago or about Andy Ihnatko’s rumor of a comic book reader on the Apple tablet.

And then, at the bottom of the menu near sautéed organ meats, he spied some of that good ol’ fashioned Rob Enderle home cookin’! (Tip o’ the antlers to Glenn Fleishman.)

I think the saying goes that those that don’t learn from history are destined to repeat it.

It’s actually, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”. The Macalope thinks there’s probably another axiom about how people who are too lazy to Google something never get anything right. If there wasn’t, there is now.

This is likely to point with Apple this month as they sit stunned that Windows 7 is doing so well and they are left looking foolish with products priced out of the segment. Their big news this week was a couple of PCs, a new keyboard and a multi-touch mouse.

Does Rob know that these companies are not vying for the 2009 American or National League titles and that they actually will still be playing next month? He seems to believe that Apple’s in dire straits because Windows 7 doesn’t suck as hard as Vista did and Verizon made a funny ad and all Apple could do is rev its already awesome hardware. But with Rob it’s never about actual financial data, it's about stringing together a couple of anecdotes to make inquiry analyst soup.

Two good lessons here, even when you are on top it is very foolish to under estimate a competitor with Microsoft’s resources because they can actually get it right, and picking too many fights at once can take out the most powerful of entities just as it took out a nearly unbeatable Germany in the second world war.

Wait, wait, wait. The Macalope just did a search and replace on Enderle’s piece changing Apple to Microsoft and Microsoft to Apple and—guess what!—it still works! Because Apple, Microsoft and Google are all in competition with each other.

But what’s Rob’s point, anyway? That Apple, which released five strong OS updates in the time it took Microsoft to release one, should have had more to announce this week? That Apple should never have gotten into the phone business because it might get its feelings hurt by a Verizon ad two years later? That Apple never should have invaded Poland in the fall of 1939? (Paging Mr. Godwin. Mr. Godwin, please meet your party at the Fascist metaphor claim area.)

The Macalope isn’t prepared to call Enderle a Stephen Colbert-esque genius, but he’s long said that this is just a shtick. A simmering pot of pure anecdotes, with a comparison between Apple and Nazi Germany thrown in like a toxic bay leaf? The Macalope smells what you’re cookin’, Rob.

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The suits are picking up the bill

Microsoft opened its first retail store (since its last bout of failed retail stores) and the video results don’t lie (tip o’ the antlers to Daring Fireball). The excitement was palpable as paid actors Microsoft employees confused people thinking they were going into an Apple Store eager customers crowded in to see the latest tech from Redmond.

Some complained that it was just like an Apple Store opening, from the applauding, high-fiving staff to the store layout. Please! It was nothing like an Apple Store opening!

Can't even shout, can't even cry, The Gentlemen are coming by.
The Macalope’s been to several Apple Store openings himself and has seen video from multiple others—is that weird? Because it sounds a little weird—and he never once saw a cadre of suit-wearing executives dourly looking on from the back of the store.

Perhaps that was just the accounting firm there to audit the results, but we can’t ignore the possibility that they were members of the Illuminati, the Star Chamber or the equally frightening Scottsdale Chamber of Commerce.

Whatever the case, nothing says “party” like old white guys in suits.

Inbox zero

As was foretold in ancient prophecy, Apple came out with new ads this week and, to the Macalope’s furry ears, they strike the right note by focusing on:

  1. the long-term abusive relationship between Microsoft and its customers.
  2. the ability to end the cycle of abuse that upgrading from XP to Windows 7 presents Microsoft’s customers.

As if having to do a backup and full reinstall weren’t bad enough, it turns out that Windows 7 has one more insult to add to the injury of the “upgrade” process.

Yesterday was Windows 7’s launch day - WooHoo! Yay! PARTAY!!! - but now that the parties are over and people are settling down to actually use their PC, a potential Windows 7 Achilles’ heel emerges.

It revolves around e-mail, specifically the fact that Windows 7 doesn’t come with a built-in e-mail client.

If this were video, dear readers, the Macalope would turn to the camera at this point and just stare at it stone-faced for a minute to express the level of his flabbergastedness.

Many people on the Internet seem to think that it’s related to antitrust concerns, but the Macalope couldn’t find any verification of that. Whatever the case, not only is the company forcing XP users to jump through flaming hoops like whipped poodles in order to get to Windows 7, when they do eventually get there—surprise!—they don’t have mail!

And not just because they’re poodles.

The Macalope is at a loss to explain how a company of Microsoft’s size could allow something like that to pass muster. Do the dour men in suits who stand in judgement of the company’s every movement never speak? Are they mute? Can no one hear their silent screams of “YOU LEFT OUT THE DAMN E-MAIL CLIENT!”?

If there ever were a company that needed a Greek chorus, Microsoft is it.

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