The Macalope Weekly: What a riot

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The Macalope always finds people who write long and obtuse posts taking others to task to be a riot. Also funny are Windows enthusiasts who write reviews of Apple products. But if you want to talk about real riots, look no further than Canada.

Saturday Special: Someone needs an intervention

Heyyy, Canada. What’s up?

We down here in the lower 48 just wanted to rap for a bit. We’re frankly a little concerned about what’s going on up there.

Oh, yeah, there was the rioting in Vancouver. The Macalope doesn’t know much about hockey, but wouldn’t it make more sense to trash the other team’s city? Indeed, maybe that’s what victory rioting is, a concession to the losers.

“We feel really bad you guys lost. Here, we’ll destroy our city so you can be glad you’re not us.”

But actually what the Macalope wanted to talk with you about, Canada, was RIM. Because, yeesh.

Research In Motion missed analysts’ lowered revenue forecasts for its fiscal first quarter and said its outlook for the second quarter was lower than expected, as it reported its first-quarter results Thursday.

It gets worse.

RIM’s delaying the 4G PlayBook and the company will be laying off an unspecified number of employees. The company shipped just 500,000 PlayBooks. Not that this one was that hard, but the Macalope called it.

But, hey! The Macalope can make a suggestion that will cut a high-wage section of RIM’s workforce in half! Yeah, if RIM lets a bunch of people go and doesn’t reduce its CEO count by 50 percent, well, then Canadians should really have something to riot about.

Everything to everyone

The Macalope doesn’t consider it his business to stick up for Daring Fireball author John Gruber. He considers it his business to stick up for logic. Which brings us to Business Insider’s decision to reprint Aaron Holesgrove’s Why Windows 8 is NOT fundamentally flawed as a response to the iPad.

Business Insider is apparently now soundly in the Apple-trolling camp. Duly noted. But Holesgrove himself is not strictly an Apple troll (although he’s certainly trolling Gruber), so let’s look at his argument. Holesgrove takes exception to Gruber’s assertion that iOS set off a nuclear bomb in the cell-phone industry.

If Apple never released the iPhone, we’d be sitting here today talking about how if it weren’t for Android, those three companies wouldn’t be making all of those same changes or something like that – the crippling of those companies was always inevitable.

Would Android be what it is today if the iPhone hadn’t come along? It’s true that the established smartphone-makers were too content with the moribund state of the market. But it’s also true that the iPhone was the first to market with a design that was completely disruptive, and Android as we know it was a response to that. As to what would have happened if Apple had never brought the iPhone to market, we’ll never know.

For Windows 8 in particular, Microsoft might definitely have some Apple envy but at the end of the day, they would have still designed the same kind of interface for Windows 8 no matter what happened outside of their own walls.

Seriously? Then why didn’t Microsoft design it, oh, any time in the ten years since it first entered the tablet market? Has Holesgrove not heard of Microsoft’s Windows Everywhere strategy? The backlash to this blinkered philosophy has even brought the Macalope temporarily into agreement with Paul Thurrott, who argues that Windows Phone 7 would be a better tablet OS.

Microsoft had to learn the hard way that the shell needed to change far more drastically than it did in order to actually BE touch ‘friendly’ and here we all are today seeing the Metro interface in Windows 8 on a tablet.



Again, how did Microsoft learn this lesson? By watching Apple sell a metric butt-ton of iPads. Previously, Redmond was content to ship “Windows slapped on a tablet,” because it didn’t have a better idea and it thought that people just weren’t interested in tablets.

Actually John, iOS IS built on top of Mac OS X and its core principles. It is common knowledge that it is a modified version of OS X with a touch centric shell on top.

Actually, Aaron, that’s not true. iOS and OS X have the same core OS, but different user interfaces, which is just one of the things that differentiates them. You’re basically arguing that a hammerhead shark is really just a great white shark with a hammerhead hat on it, because they’re both sharks.

In the future, Apple are going to slowly wean people into the idea of using their iPads more and more for creating but we are hardly at that day today. Microsoft, on the other hand, are looking to make tablets that are full screen computers which you can do anything/everything with – dock them as full computers, do full-screen computing using things other than touch – off screen gestures, voice control, etc.

First of all, there are plenty of people using the iPad for content creation; the Macalope frequently writes his Macworld columns on one (and with hooves, no less). Second, don’t you see the inherent problem with saying Windows-based tablets are going to do everything? What specifications are they going to have in order to be able to run a full version of Office smoothly? How much are they going to cost? How is Microsoft going to keep OEMs from making the same junk they’ve been making for years?

Sure some apps in Windows 8 tablets will look ugly but at the end of the day, backwards compatibility with legacy Windows apps isn’t a drawback – it’s a feature, because that’s what the market will demand.

You can say that and say that but it doesn’t make it true. Again, if that’s what the market has demanded, then why has Apple sold millions of iPads in the last year while Microsoft has struggled to force Windows-based tablets down the throats of users for a decade, only to have them hacked back up in its face?

There really couldn’t be a more classic example of Microsoft thinking: “You should totally wait for our tablet. It won’t be available for a year or more but it’ll do everything.” And somehow it’ll do everything without sacrificing on cost, or performance, or user experience.

Now, that would be a magical tablet.

[makes sound of bong bubbles]

Microsoft wants your tablet to be your total solution and just because Apple can’t do it, doesn’t mean that someone else can’t either – your roses colored glasses deceive you John.

Well, hey, maybe given the extra time, Microsoft will solve some of the blindingly obvious flaws inherent in this idea. Maybe it’ll take so long for Windows 8 to come out that mobile processors will eat office productivity suites for breakfast by then. But let’s just say the Macalope is skeptical that Microsoft, after spending a decade trying to put lipstick on the pig that is full-blown Windows on a tablet, will finally be able to deliver something that not only allows users to have their cake and eat it, too, but also gives them a big slice of free pie.

It’s possible. It’s just not very likely.

Holesgrove finishes with a collection of hackneyed swipes at the iPad, Apple, John Gruber, and stupid Apple fans who buy “overpriced” hardware—none of which are worth going into. Apparently the smart play is to wait for months for Microsoft to deliver something instead of gaining the utility of an iPad now. Otherwise you’re a rose-colored-glasses-wearing Apple fan who overpays for blah blah blah zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Ultimately, Holesgrove’s argument isn’t any different than what we’ve been hearing for years: Apple’s solution, available today, is limited compared to what Microsoft will ship sometime later. The Macalope’s said it before, but it’s always amazing how presently available Apple products continue to pale against future products from Microsoft.

Cats reviewing dogs

Windows enthusiasts. We don’t like to talk about them—we don’t even like to think about them, frankly—but they exist and not thinking about them isn’t going to make them go away. Or make them stop pretending to write objective pieces about Apple products.

You wouldn’t go to a cat for an objective review of the new 2011 dogs, would you? “Meh. Seen better. Tails? We’ve had those for years!”

So, when a few people suggest the Macalope tackle Paul Thurrott’s “analysis” of iOS 5 and Lion he demurred at first. He wasn’t sure he had too much more to offer than John Gruber did.

Thurrott’s actually lower on the Macalope’s list of targets than you might think. He’s a Windows enthusiast. He’s got his perspective. His weird, twisted, incomprehensible perspective. We might not understand it, but at least his biases are readily apparent and he’s even capable of rising above them.

But the Macalope’s had a tough week. He needs some low-hanging fruit. Like shank-level fruit.

Now, you have to realize that Thurrott’s condescending tone in this piece is deliberately crafted. It starts in the title, for crying out loud, where he puts Lion in quotes. Pro tip, Paul: when in doubt you can always check the company’s Website. Unless you’re just being a jerk. It couldn’t be that, could it? (See “analysis” above for how that works.)

Thurrott helpfully goes so far as to rate both operating systems “three out of five stars”. That’s the jerktastic sweet spot, a positive review while still being dismissive.

Like Gruber, the Macalope has no quarrel with Thurrott’s contention that iOS 5 borrows from the competition. It’s true and it’s a good thing.

What this means is that iOS is maturing, and for those using this platform, these are all welcome changes. For the rest of the world, however, it’s been-there-done-that—not exactly the innovation message Apple likes to project.

Thurrott’s not stupid. Weird, but not stupid. He knows what a product lifecycle is. He just likes to pretend he doesn’t so he can slam Apple. Here we’re supposed to think the fact that Microsoft finally introduced a decent smartphone OS years after the competition is a good thing. Sure, Paul.

Since making the transition from its buggy Mac OS past to the more durable and reliable Mac OS X, Apple has delivered a decade’s worth of minor, purely evolutionary updates, and Mac OS X 10.7 “Lion” is just the latest.

Maybe this is splitting hairs, but the Macalope would contend it wasn’t so much the Classic Mac OS that was buggy. It was third-party extensions that were buggy and continually caused conflicts. Still, late in its lifecycle, the overall experience was a buggy one.

People buy Macs for the beautiful hardware, not the lackluster OS X user experience.

There’s the Windows enthusiast shining through. Well, more like glistening through. Like a banana slug.

Thurrott’s implication is apparently that it’s better to leave users on an operating system that’s a security nightmare for six years, then give them a piss-poor update before finally shipping something usable after eight years even if it means an incredibly painful upgrade process.

Seems a little weird to the Macalope, but…

The point is, while Paul may consider Windows 7 “revolutionary,” it’s still comparable to Snow Leopard. We just didn’t have to wait 8 years to enjoy all of our revolution.

By the way, has anyone ever noticed you never see Thurrott and the Winotaur at the same time? Curious.

[Editors’ Note: In addition to being a mythical beast, the Macalope is not an employee of Macworld. As a result, the Macalope is always free to criticize any media organization. Even ours.]

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