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On one size fits all approach of Microsoft

Here is an interesting point of view from Adrian Kingsley-Hugues of ZDNet on the Microsoft approach on operating systems for the tablet compared to the Apple approach. 

It seems that with Windows 8 or ARM, Microsoft is going to propose the market with a unified operating system that encompass the PC and the tablets. On the surface it seems a sound approach and may eventually prove to be a good choice from a Microsoft perspective. Why? Because they have nothing else they could do other than Windows. Microsoft is clear about it: Windows, Windows, Windows everywhere. One size fits all. In order to bring this vision to reality, they will come out with Windows 8 for desktop that is a very complete rework (in surface) compared to Windows 7. In doing so, they bring the user interface that came from their Windows Phone approach: tiles. Using Windows Phone, PC with Windows 8 or tablets running Windows on ARM will bring tiles as a user interface metaphor. This is their unified approach. And because this is Microsoft, expect the whole package: Office, Windows Explorer and the like. The PC era comes to the tablet market. That is a point of view.

The problem comes when Mr Kingsley-Hugues think that Apple with iOS on one side and Mac OS on the other side is a doomed approach. For Apple, the vision is clear also: mobile devices like phones and tablets, especially if the main interaction method is touch screen, needs a complete different user interface compared to the desktop. Under the hood, this is basically the same OS. Seems that users around the world don’t really care to have a different OS for different form factors. And I don’t see that changing in the near future. When Apple wants to make one of they Mac application “ported” to the iPad, they will do it and adapt accordingly. Up to know, this seems to work pretty well when considering GarageBand or Keynote. Do users care about the fact that these apps looks or act differently then on their desktop counterpart? No they don’t. Is this a bad design choice? Not at all. Having a unified approach serves more the company then the users.

From a marketing point of view, it was a very smart move to call the iPhone OS by a very different name than Mac OS. This is a different beast with a different brain and asking the user to set those devices apart is smart. On the other side, people knows about Windows: this is a PC-era operating system. Having Windows all over the wall with mobile devices and tablets bring a bad taste in the mouth to many. I think Microsoft should have called the operating system something else to create the illusion of uniqueness and freshness among its products offering. From a marketing point of view, the Microsoft way is very questionable to say the least.

Lastly, people don’t buy operating system, they buy products and most importantly, they jump into an ecosystem composed of devices, services and applications. In a post PC era, people care about the user experience and applications. Nothing else really matter.

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