Is Microsoft the Apple of my Eye?

Mike Halsey MVP
Mar 12, 2011
Updated • Mar 15, 2015

It's that old chestnut that rears it's ugly head now and again, but usually with some alarming regularity.  What am I talking about, well my apparent bias towards Microsoft of course and my hatred of Apple.  At least that's what the nay-sayers would have you believe.    I always thought it would be entertaining one day to write and article called "Apple" containing just that same single word to see what reaction it got, but I can guess.

It's fantastic the excitement and enthusiasm that Apple fan-boys (though I find that term rather derogatory myself) have for the company and their products.  It's this enthusiasm and the good word spread by them that has propelled Apple to the top of the tree, if you'll excuse the pun, and made it one of the richest and most successful tech companies in the world.

Apple is not without its problems but it does seem to handle them well.  The biggest concern the company has is with manufacturing.  This is largely done in China where it's been revealed in the last couple of years some workers who make iPhones and iPads are extremely badly treated, very poorly paid and that there have been in the case of one factory a large spate of suicides.  Unlike other companies who have been accused of using "sweat-shops" in the past like Nike, every revelation about Apple has come from the company's own internal investigations, and they've been very open and honest and taken immediate steps to make things right.

Microsoft don't make very many actual products at all but the company isn't as forthcoming about the conditions in the factories where the Xbox, Kinect and it's keyboards and mice are produced.  This isn't to say there aren't any problems, no mass manufacturing system is trouble-free.  It's just that Microsoft aren't as forthcoming about them.

This is reflected in the CEOs of both companies and their senior management teams approach to consumers and the press.  Steve Jobs is outspoken and occasionally gets himself into hot water over things like the time he allegedly told an iPhone 4 user, who was having signal problems "not to hold it that way then".  Steve Ballmer and the other Microsoft execs like to stay quiet about most things and rarely respond to user complaints themselves.  Apple is a far more open company and Microsoft is far more traditional in this regard.

So where does this leave myself and my own bias, because some of the readers here have obviously decided that I have it.  I was accused by one reader of it again only yesterday because I'm an MVP.  Well I don't own any Apple products, but there's good reasons for this, and I'll always freely admit I'm not a fan of Apple's way of doing things.  In this I mean that, for example, if you buy an Android, Symbian, WebOS or Windows Phone smartphone handset you can switch it on and be making calls in a few minutes.  If you buy an iPhone it's rather different as you first have to have the iTunes software installed on a computer (PC or Mac) and create an iTunes account to activate it.

This has caused all manner of problems for some people who either don't have a computer, or in the case of one story I heard an older, unsupported version of Mac OS.  It also clearly demonstrates that Apple want to make money from you by selling you things through the iTunes store.

This problem extends to all of Apple's products including the iPod and from a purely business-perspective it's completely understandable.  But is it right?  Well, it's not right for me and those two words here are incredibly important as it's obviously quite right for millions of other people.

So I've now admitted I don't own any Apple products and I don't like the iTunes tie-in so as a Microsoft MVP I MUST be biased... yes!?  Well no.  Being awarded an MVP, which is great, doesn't mean I work for Microsoft or have any allegiance to them.  MVPs who talk positively about Microsoft are merely evangelizing about the company in the same way that the fan-boys evangelize about Apple.  I will evangelize about some stuff, as and when I feel Microsoft have done something great, but only up to a point.  The rest of the time I'm happy to be as critical of the company as anyone else.

I talked a little while ago about there being good reasons for not owning any Apple products.  I am in the market to buy a Mac Mini.  I want one for testing purposes for work but it would only get occasional use, I'd have to re-buy all my software if I was going to switch to a Mac at significant expense, and the cost of the Mac Mini itself is just too high to justify... for me.

And it's these two words that it always comes down to.  Each and every one of us has our own preferences and we will desire one type of thing over another or one company over another.  I do own several PCs, a Windows 7 tablet and a Windows Phone.  For what I use them for they're the best option for me, including the choice of a Windows Media Centre system under my TV instead of an Apple TV because the latter doesn't include a TV tuner.  I also have this kit because it will all work seamlessly and happily together.

So where does this leave bias?  Well I'll always say that there isn't any.  For as much as I'm happy to criticize Microsoft when they do something stupid (which is quite a lot), I'm equally happy to praise Apple when they do something great (again!)  If you want to you can keep claiming that I'm biased because I'm an MVP and have written two books about Windows, but that isn't going to make it true.  The truth is out there, as Fox Mulder famously said.  But just like an X-File the mystery is why the fan-boys feel the need to fight their corner so venomously when Apple are clearly winning.


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  1. charliechan said on March 15, 2011 at 5:51 am

    I agree with you Mike, I have not owned any Apple Products nor will I ever own one, I just don’t want to support this company and the way they do business. I do however indirectly enjoyed Apple products because I have enjoyed music supplied by many ipods purchased by friends. I have setup itunes and helped friends bring their dead/frozen ipods back to life, even saved one that was dropped into a puddle. I’ve never setup an iphone, but from my experience, you need to have itunes installed to setup an ipad for first use, when you first turn it on, it will not work until it is initiated with an itunes account. Unless there is some sorta special key combo like up-down-up-down-left-right-left-right-A-B-A-B-select-start to let you play with ipad right away that Im not aware of, it’s not possible.

    Props to you Mike for this great article and all other articles you have on this site, I enjoy them all.

  2. Mark said on March 12, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    Even thought your article is based around a big error I wonder if you will admit it.

    I used my iPhone for 7 months before I connected it to iTunes.

    I won’t insist you’re biased but it sure seems like it to me.

    Perhaps a little introspection is in order.

  3. Robert Palmar said on March 12, 2011 at 8:34 pm

    The Mac fanatic is a unique breed and is essentially a religious fanatic.
    And like all religious fanatics there simply is no reasoning with them at all.
    The culture of Mac completes with a cult of personality around its guru Jobs.

    The Mac fanatic is a reactionary. He sees Microsoft MVP or Microsoft
    author and becomes hysterically blinded by his prejudices
    rendering him incapable of objective thought.

    Exceptions are made for their own, however.
    David Pogue, well-known Mac evangelist,
    has written many books on Microsoft
    Windows and Office getting a pass.
    No claims of bias for their man.

  4. MartinJB said on March 12, 2011 at 6:39 pm

    Thank you for a well written article. I always found that Apple users to be so aggressive in their arguments so that it was pointless to argue with them. At one time I was in the position to able to write simple programs for children with severe multiple disabilities being a MS-DOS user they were written in C for MS-DOS. Through local big businesses I equipped a number of schools with donated new and used PCs and later Windows 95/98 machines in my province. However, the local rehab hospital always maintained they weren’t interested as I was using the wrong computer. At one time some of the schools had Mac apple labs and Windows machines only for their special needs children – made me laugh.
    Don’t get me wrong there are times when I get really annoyed at MS Windows and have a bring back DOS moment. LOL
    Have a great weekend

  5. TJ Draper said on March 12, 2011 at 5:10 pm

    I’m not throwing flames or getting into a flame war here, but for some reason I felt it my duty to point out an error in your pre conceived ideas about iPhone.

    You said in the article that with Android, webOS or Windows Phone you can be making calls in minutes, but not on iPhone because you have to download iTunes etc.

    Well, I called my wife from my new iPhone on my way out of the store. I didn’t connect to iTunes until much later in the day.

    Now it is true that you will almost certainly need iTunes for your iPhone at some point. iTunes is how you get content on the phone, perform updates, and backup. But it is not true that you can’t use the phone until you connect to iTunes.

    Just had toake that nitpicky correction. I don’t suspect it has any impact on your opinion of iPhone and it’s ecosystem, or any other Apple product. And that’s fine :-)

  6. Dan said on March 12, 2011 at 4:01 pm

    Great post, thanks!!

  7. Jedijax said on March 12, 2011 at 1:18 pm

    Well, this is the same story that has been around for as long as humans have thought: Subjective perception.

    We may have a plethora of detailed articles, reviews, first and second hand experiences, sales statistics charts, etc, and still it will boil down to the context, the personal development of each individual.

    Someone who believes in magic sees it working everywhere. Freud saw sexual expressions everywhere, to the point he actually decided such were the prime motors of cognitive thought.

    Whatever the likes and dislikes of readers and writers alike, I think you don’t need to explain yourself, Mike. Those who love Apple products will still find a way to attack, diminish or question your words, simply because their own experience and character leads them to do so, just as those who love Microsoft products will encourage, defend and agree with what you say. There may be many variations on this theme, some less radical views, but in the end it boils down to how you live and think.

    I have no problem saying I don’t like any of Apple’s products, and I could easily give lots of fairly documented reasons why Microsoft is more appealing, but it wouldn’t change anyone’s mind as long as they don’t want to change their views on the subject.

    Whatever the position on the matter is, I wanted you to know you have every right to write what you consider a reasonable article; it’s the reader’s responsibility to accept it or reject it.

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