Microsoft Is What Apple Was, Almost.
Call me a glutton for tech punishment: Like many Vergins, I'm an early adopter.
Looking back at my Atari Jaguar, my belief in RealNetworks, and my love for Netscape, I'm sometimes embarrassed by the number of bad tech decisions I've made over the years. I was even an early adopter during the WebOS days, but then had to live through that whole fiasco as my dreams came crashing down to the cadence of Leo Apotheker's laughter.
As you can see, I've been wrong plenty of times, but I've also gotten it right a few times, like I did with Apple in 2002. Back when people made fun of Mac users, I bought a 15" iMac G4 (2002) and dove headfirst into Apple's "ecosystem," (if that's what you could call it back then). Witnessing the re-emergence of Steve Jobs was an awesome experience. Apple's product launches were flawless: from the product announcement, to the Reality Distortion Field, and right down to the pricing and availability - Apple got it right. These were good days to be a die-hard Apple junkie.
Vindication was sweet as Apple's marketshare soared through the years. My platform was finally getting some mainstream support. It felt good to be right - to be a cog in the machine that pushed the "little guy" into the end zone for a huge TD. Whether you like to admit it or not, Apple was a huge beacon of light in the Microsoft-dominated mundane PC world.
Sometime in 2010, though, I realized that I was no longer anti-establishment in my support for Apple. Far from "sticking it to the man," Suddenly I realized, Apple had become THE MAN, and my little software/hardware company was no longer kitschy - it was the hottest ticket in town. Everywhere I looked, I saw people with white headphones. Product launches became rehashed product updates. Mundane things were being labeled as innovations (with the exception of the iPad, which was definitely not mundane).
I turned to my old frenemy, Microsoft. I soon realized that there were a lot of parallels between Apple in 2002 and Microsoft in 2010. In some ways (not all), Microsoft is what Apple was.
Based on what I'm seeing, and sensing, diving back into Microsoft's world in late 2010 has been a good choice. Windows 8 represents a monumental, Apple-sized shift in Microsoft's strategy in the consumer arena. My guilty pleasure is to count down the days until Surface RT is released - I'm considering camping out in the Microsoft Store's parking lot on the night of the 25th of October. I check for new apps in the app store every day. I play games again. I search with Bing. I bought a used XBOX just to see what the fuss is about (and I love it). This is cool - this feeling - the last time I was this excited, I woke up a cold morning in 2004 to get the brand new iPod Mini. One thing is different: we're not even 100% sure that the Surface will be released on October 26th.
The Surface unveiling had to be the biggest tease I've ever sat through in all my years following tech. It drives me crazy to wonder about so many details for this device, and I'm sure Microsoft wouldn't have it any other way. In some ways, Microsoft has succeeded in getting peoples' attention with its new devices - even though they haven't really told us much about them. I read all the time that Apple's got the "Product Announcement and Release schedule down to an art." But is Microsoft's deliberately vague approach really worse, or is it just different, yet equally effective?
Even if the Surface is released on the 26th, and I will buy it, I'm always going to be a little peeved at how badly I've anticipated the device. We're now 45 days from launch and we don't know a lot of important details: when is Microsoft planning on sharing these, the week before the device (putatively) launches?
I sometimes wonder if I'll ever go back to Apple, but then realize that would take a monumental collapse of Apple's current lead in mobile computing. Ironically, that kind of collapse is probably the only thing that will force Apple back to trying crazy and innovative ideas, as opposed to the iterative ones they've been pushing out lately. Secretly, though, I hope they stay on top for a long time, yet, because I'm enjoying this feeling.