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Jun 95 Viewpoint
Volume Number:11
Issue Number:6
Column Tag:Viewpoint

Viewpoint

By Scott T Boyd, Editor-at-Large

Who’s That Knocking At The Door?

Microsoft wants you to know about their upcoming new version of MacOLE. They want you to know so badly that they’re going door to door to spread the word. Well, at least they showed up at my door, PowerMac in hand and sales pitch all warmed up and ready to deliver.

Might this have something to do with a certain endorsement seen here last month?

While some have labeled our endorsement “precipitous”, we’ve given it some long and hard thought. It comes down to this - OpenDoc provides an architecture, OLE offers a specification. Users may have a hard time telling the difference, but developers we’ve talked to haven’t. In fact, many of our readers have told us that they looked at OLE long enough to decide that they’d better go learn OpenDoc.

I don’t believe that it’s just a matter of Macintosh bigotry (although, for the record, I’ve got no problem with that). The comments we’ve received have focused on the specific needs of our developers, and which technology delivers more to satisfy those needs. It goes beyond feature set wars to the architectural issues. OpenDoc delivers on providing a component architecture. Now if Apple will finish it up and ship it, we can get on about the business of demanding the tools we’ll need to use it.

Guerrilla Marketing

Microsoft’s success in the marketplace clearly has little to do with the quality of their products. Most of us know and accept that DOS/Windows has never been on par with Macintosh, yet we also know and accept that the lesser technology has swept the marketplace.

Judge Stanley Sporkin seems to believe that it may not all be the result of superior products and outstanding marketing; rather, it might have something to do with overzealous OEM arrangements. I don’t know about any of that, but I do know about some energetic marketing efforts. Having met an unexpected visitor from Redmond at my front door mere minutes after waking up, I can safely confirm that Microsoft wants your attention focused on OLE, not OpenDoc.

Microsoft prevails in the marketplace. If it’s not the products, maybe it’s the guerrilla marketing.

So What?

Normally this episode wouldn’t rate a mention, but it occurs to me that it demonstrates an interesting difference between how Microsoft and Apple each deals with developers.

Microsoft gets in our editorial faces. They want your attention, and getting us to write about their stuff is a good way for them to get to you. Apple, on the other hand, takes a slightly different approach with us, and hence with you. They just don’t get in touch all that often. Why the difference?

Microsoft clearly encourages bold behavior. They reward aggressive maneuvers. On the other hand, I don’t see anyone from Apple showing up at my front door. It’s not that I want them dropping in (I don’t), but Microsoft has shown a great deal of initiative (remember those CDs? the MacWorld class on Windows for Mac programmers? the Windows 95 for Mac programmers pre-conference at MacHack?).

It’s not just how they deal with us here at the magazine, other examples come to mind as well. For example, contrast the following seeding strategies. Microsoft has sent out complete Windows 95 kits, unsolicited mind you, to various Macintosh developers. Why? According to their cover letter, they thought Macintosh developers might find it interesting. On the other hand, Apple recently sent out a note that initial Copland seeding would go only to Apple Partners. It went on to mention that non-partners could see about getting seeded by simply upping their status to Partner (and forking over the accompanying fee).

World Domination or Bust

Microsoft is hellbent on world domination. That mandates going after every conceivable developer. Maybe that’s why they’re after you - you’re not working for Microsoft yet. This firm resolve to win the hearts and development environments of each and every developer makes for a clear mission and goes a long way towards explaining why they’re going out of their way to win you over.

What is Apple hellbent on? A few more market share points? Is it that Apple thinks developers simply aren’t that important, or is it that they’re so busy that they’ve forgotten to take the time to realize the value of third-party developers?

Note To Apple

Listen up, Apple. You’ve got a lot of Macintosh bigots out here, and we’re starting to notice that you haven’t been paying much attention to us lately. It’s time that Apple learn a lesson from Microsoft - developers matter. They matter so much that the company must mandate that time and attention be spent staying in their faces. Microsoft provides a reference point for how much time and attention one such company thinks developers are worth. We’ve put ourselves and our businesses on the line with the Macintosh. Don’t wait to wake up one day and wonder where everyone’s gone.

Food For Thought

Software is like milk. It gets old and expires.

- Keith Cox, k@apple.com

Maybe that’s why software updates are selling so well!

- Scott T Boyd, scott@hax.com

 
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