Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 23rd Aug 2013 13:12 UTC

Microsoft Corp. today announced that Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer has decided to retire as CEO within the next 12 months, upon the completion of a process to choose his successor. In the meantime, Ballmer will continue as CEO and will lead Microsoft through the next steps of its transformation to a devices and services company that empowers people for the activities they value most.

“There is never a perfect time for this type of transition, but now is the right time,” Ballmer said. “We have embarked on a new strategy with a new organization and we have an amazing Senior Leadership Team. My original thoughts on timing would have had my retirement happen in the middle of our company’s transformation to a devices and services company. We need a CEO who will be here longer term for this new direction.”

This was long overdue. Microsoft needs fresh blood at the top - not a salesman, but a visionary.

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My point was that computer geeks will be able to deal with upgrades on any OS, while non-geeks can cause just as much havoc on their system if they attempt an OSX upgrade on their own as if they try it with another OS. So I disagree with the statement that OSX is easier to upgrade than other desktop OSs.

More likely, OSX installs are upgraded faster because most Mac users are more likely to be tech-savvy than Windows users, and because the Apple ecosystem has a tendency to deprecate older OS releases much quicker than Microsoft. Contrast, as an example, how much current software will still run on Windows 2000 or XP (2001), while it has long been near impossible to find up-to-date software for OS X Tiger (2005).

As for your specific points...

1. Dropping support for the the PowerPC and PowerPC applications in later versions of the OS made the upgrades more appealing to most users. The result was a faster OS with a smaller memory footprint -- because it was no longer hauling around the baggage to support outdated PowerPC processors that Apple phased out seven years ago.

2. Breaking Quicktime 7 API compatibility was fine. Apple did it in order to pressure developers to update their apps to the massively upgraded Quicktime X. But they still made a Snow Leopard compatible version of Quicktime 7 available for download for those cases where the app was not being updated.

Oh, I do not dispute that these changes were performed for good reasons. But I mentioned them to illustrate the fact that if you are not a tech-savvy user who takes the time to read detailed OS changelogs, attempting to upgrade OSX without this knowledge is just as unwise as attempting to upgrade another OS.

" => Strongly raising hardware requirements, spreading kitsch visuals everywhere,"

If a user wants to stick with outdated hardware, they are free to use the OS it came with or some later version that still supported it. I don't want my UI and user experience compromised because they've chosen to use hardware from the Jurassic era. My Mac Pro, a machine from early 2008 is still supported in Mountain Lion and looks like it will continue to be in Mavericks. And it's just as fast and responsive now under Mountain Lion as it was under Snow Leopard, probably more so.

You do not have to go back to ancient hardware, just try Lion on the mid-2009 13" Macbook Pro, which began selling exactly one year before the release of Lion. Lion performs horribly on this laptop, beachballing for seconds even when doing something as simple as selecting a user on the login screen, while Snow Leopard did just fine on the same hardware.

The reason why you do not experience these slowdonws is likely that your Mac Pro has much more ram and much better mass storage performance than any laptop sold in 2009 (or even than some laptops sold today for that matter). Unfortunately, legacy hardware support is not supposed to limit itself to previous-generation flagships.

"hiding scroll bars, and reversing scrolling direction in Lion"

You're complaining about things that are changed back with single checkboxes? That's "user disturbing"? Maybe to a disturbed user.

"=> Disturbing software installation with Gatekeeper"

If the user is too stupid to know how to check a box labelled "Allow applications downloaded from: [*] Anywhere" then they have no business installing apps from sources other than the App Store. Period. That's just one way that Apple improved the OS to reduce the spread of malware to computer-illiterate users.

It's not a matter of being stupid, but rather of being uninformed, and not caring enough to do the research. As surprising as this may sound, not everyone takes the time to cycle through all the settings of a freshly installed OS in order to fine-tune its behaviour.

And, what may be even more of a surprise to you, some people still use optical discs to install professional software, since it requires no lengthy download, allows for more flexible licensing options than the App Store (think multi-user licenses and token servers), and since in most corporate structures, it's easier to order a disk from a well-known shop than to have your accountant enter the company's credit card number in some shady "Mac App Store" software that he's never heard of. Gatekeeper is a direct attack on this decentralized software distribution model.

Or would you have preferred Apple followed the Windows model, where gullible users are tricked into installing malware by fake pop-up windows that appear while browsing and warn of ominous virus threats?

The only real answer to the social engineering problem is user education, and you know it as well as me. Otherwise, instead of fake antivirus botnets, you will simply have stolen credit card numbers and user passwords...

"and dropping official support in Mountain Lion"

Why should Apple continue to develop and support something designed for graphical Unix apps that do not supply a native Mac interface? I think that they gave the developers more than enough time to move to the native Mac interface.

And why should Unix devs buy a Mac and learn completely alien development tools in order to build Mac versions of tools that will otherwise work well on any other Unix? That actually is the point of having X11 for OSX, since Mac devs never wrote software based on X11 anyway.

"Also, the App Store-only requirement put on OSX upgrades since Lion probably put even more people away from upgrading, since not everyone has a fast and reliable Internet connection"

If you're still on dial-up, then your Mac is too old to run Mountain Lion or Mavericks. Non-issue.

Please stop making assumptions. In the US and other large and sparsely populated countries, many people only have dial-up or equally crappy cellular Internet access because it's not commercially viable to provide them with high-bandwidth Internet access in their home.

And then there are those buildings for students and other low-income persons where one single 8MB ADSL connection is shared by hundreds of people because they can't afford buying themselves individual contracts. Though I'll admit that such people probably shouldn't buy Apple hardware anyway, since Apple doesn't care about anyone who wins less than twice the median income of an industrialized country.

"or wants to open an App Store account."

The idea is to force those people to open an App Store account, even if they don't want to, so that they will purchase software through the App Store, driving up Apple's profits, while allowing Apple to reduce the proliferation of badly behaved apps and apps that contain malware.

Apple chose to move forward rather than hobble OS X and drive up development and distribution costs in order to continue supporting outdated hardware, outdated software, and luddite users. That was the correct decision from both technical and marketing perspectives. The result is that OS X Mountain Lion has the fastest adoption rate of any desktop OS, surpassing 10% in the first month alone.

Fair enough, then again this "our way or the highway" approach is probably exactly why OSX has such a small share of the desktop OS market, in spite of largely outperforming its Windows competition in many key areas.

Edited 2013-08-26 18:24 UTC

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