updated 09:10 pm EDT, Tue August 17, 2010
Editorial: MS comparison page is self-destructive
(Editorial) I'm all for companies taking aim at others. In fact, I think it's a smart move in many cases, since it gives firms the ability to highlight, on their own turf, exactly why they believe their products are better than any others. But Microsoft's decision to build a "PC versus Mac" page on its Windows 7 site is a huge mistake, even if you're a Windows supporter.
One of the most glaring issues with the page is Microsoft's contention that "Macs might spoil your fun." According to Microsoft, "Macs can't connect to an Xbox 360." That's very true out of the box, but only if you don't use third-party apps like Connect 360. But even then, why should they? I realize that there are some gamers that really like having the ability to link their PCs with their Xbox 360s, but this isn't the most popular option and won't clinch the deal.
I'm also a little confused by Microsoft's contention that "the mouse works differently" on a Mac. I use a Logitech mouse designed for a Windows PC. When I was using the same mouse on a Mac, I was able to use it just as I do now -- the left click allowed me to choose different windows and items, and the right click brought up dialog boxes. Sorry, but I just don't get it. Anyone who buys a regular mouse to go with a Mac will have the same experience, and getting a right click on a Magic Mouse is as simple as turning it on in System Preferences. If you care about it, you'll find it.
Microsoft also says that "many PCs running Windows 7 support touch." That, the company says, is very much unlike Macs. Here the company is once again being selective, since it's cherry picking what it defines as support. Anyone who's used a Mac with a Wacom Cintiq display will tell you they've had touch for years. And while it's referring to touchscreens, Microsoft must have about multi-touch capabilities that have been baked in since 2008 on most MacBook trackpads or the new Magic Trackpad Apple recently announced.
Don't even get started on its claims about Office compatibility. That Microsoft conveniently omits its own Office for Mac suite makes it clear that truth is far from its top priority here.
The list goes on. But, more than the individual items, the Microsoft "PC versus Mac" page stinks of the desire to show a brave face in the hopes of turning consumers off to Macs. Admittedly, Windows 7 is a fine operating system that, as I write this, is working quite well. And some of the items Microsoft lists on the page are valid. But that doesn't mean that the site should exist in the first place.
Microsoft is the world's most successful software company. It has been able to leverage Windows, Office, and any number of other products for its own gain. And it has enjoyed such strong growth in the face of Apple. At this point, with a strong operating system, over 90 percent market share, and little chance of Apple stealing significant chunks of the market away, its PC-Mac page makes it looks worse than better. Is it simply trying to rub it in Apple's nose or is it actually worried that Mac OS X will rob some share of the OS market? In either case, it makes Microsoft look bad, especially as it revives the classic FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) tactic many had pinned to the company starting from the 1990s.
So, maybe it's time to take the "PC versus Mac" page down from Microsoft's Windows 7 site. It recasts the same, simplistic and outdated arguments Windows supporters have been making for years, and it makes Microsoft look desperate. Good technology stands largely on its own merits.