Ok this post might bring out the fanbois but that isn't the purpose of the article.
Why I want to demonstrate is the business reasons and to some extent personal reasons why I believe the Microsoft Ecosystem is the best.
This isn't to say that the others don't have their place, and I’ll explain what that place is. I'll also hopefully demonstrate the overlaps as well.
Let start of why the basic understanding of what each of these three eco systems are and what they do.
Apple. The iWorld revolves around two basic things, hardware and authentication. Apple has been around for a long time and at various stages in my career has been my primary system (shock horror for some of my friends right there). However all that changed with the iPod and iTunes.
Apple dramatically changed their ethos of being a purely devices company until that point to force an authentication process (needed to access the iTunes store). With various incarnations since then they have until recently made this very difficult for people. There have been numerous cases of issues with devices locked to single users who had lost their authentication details unable to access their purchased music, many manufacturing faults with original iPod, and then the whole iCloud issue with families using a single account being forced to effectively change to individual accounts. Additionally most non tech users didn't know the right way to set this up and continually lose their iPhone contacts with their phones, lose their music and don't use even half of the power of this actually pretty good system. (Note Apple users are not alone in that problem)
All the way through the evolution of their devices since the iPod, iPhone, iMac etc., Apple have continually evolved their authentication process. It is now pretty good for a standalone user to have all their iDevices connected, syncing and backed up, able to be replaced simply and easily.
One other comment, the Apple store is based on the iOS development platform and although there is a pretty low bar for developers any app released for this platform works across all devices.
Google. Google don't own Android. A lot of people don't realise that. Android is an open source OS developed by Google and based on the Linux kernel. It is primarily a mobile OS. Interestingly there are more mobile devices using android than any other OS combined, iOS, windows etc. The primary difficulty with Android is the code development process that has seen massive code splits and forks based on hardware. In fact there are so many sub branches of the code that it is almost impossible for application developers (and there are over 1 million apps in the Google Play Store) to build apps that are compatible with every device. I own several android devices and some of them can have the same app installed on them but many of the apps I own will only work on one device and not others.
The android world also revolves around hardware. That is the actual software is specific to each device, and iterations of the core OS are not always or generally backward or forward compatible. In addition because the devices are mobile devices the phone providers generally control the update release path. Jail breaking mobile devices is often the only way for many users to gain access to new OS upgrades.
Google is also an authentication platform just like Apple. However their spread and control is much wider. Google is primarily a software company, not a device company. They don't (with the exception of the Chromebook) build any of the billions of android devices out there. The build software, and a very impressive list they hold. The key to the entire Google world is your Google account - often known just as the Gmail account.
Microsoft. Windows is what most people think of when you mention Microsoft. And for good reason. Windows OS in one way or another is the operating system used by over 80% of all users. This hasn't changed markedly in the 10 years, although mac has doubled from 4.5% to 9% and mobile use has gone from 1% to 5% approximately. Source http://www.w3schools.com/browsers/browsers_os.asp
Microsoft have almost never been a device company, and largely their device attempts have been marked disasters financially. (Zune, Xbox, Surface). All great devices, but poor marketing and cumulative bad decisions (e.g. the Blu-ray v HD DVD war).
Microsoft Windows OS however has only been one strength. The other core foundational strength of authentication like the others is equally important. And all the apps in their store (over half a million) work across all devices.
But Microsoft Office is the primary reason why Microsoft is different from Apple and Google.
The world’s premier productivity application has gone from strength to strength ever since Windows 95 and Office 95. Prior to that there were alternative competitors but they rapidly dropped off the scene and by 2000 were all but non-existent. There are still small alternative open source alternatives like Open Office. And although Google Apps is seen as an alternative, it’s not actually for one important reason - there is no desktop install for Google Apps - you must be online to use their browser apps. Microsoft office has browser apps that deeply and richly integrate with a full installable desktop application and that is why they are not comparable.
So that's the background out of the way.
Now for the primary reason that I prefer Microsoft over Google and Apple. And note - this is not to denigrate the others, they just can't do what Microsoft can do. Also please note I am dumbing down here to a lowest common denominator. Yes there are technically savvy people (and the fact you are reading this blog probably indicates you are one of those) to whom this lowest level doesn't apply. But the general run of the mill average computer user doesn't even understand all these points of difference. Their password is the name of their dog with their year of birth backwards or it’s written on a yellow sticky note under their keyboard because their company makes them change it every 60 days (how inconvenient). They don't use keyboard shortcuts and use their mouse as their primary input tool, they still use desktop icons because most of their important documents are saved onto their desktop in a forest of icons. They don't know how to use the start key (what is the start key?). In a Microsoft world this user needs at least one password, maybe two. They have their password to access their computer - (which on a Windows 8 pc is either their Microsoft ID or their company domain authentication). They may have both a Microsoft ID and a company AD authentication - especially if they have office 365.
Everything they need to do is controlled and accessed with this authentication.
Now if you add a windows phone or table there is no change. Everything is seamlessly synced between a Windows 8 pc, phone or tablet device and there is no need for any further authentication.
And here is where it gets tricky.
If you want to use an iPhone or Android mobile device, you suddenly enter their worlds for authentication. And now nothing syncs. And you suddenly have two sets of passwords and two sets of apps that don't necessarily crossover.
And then there are the browser wars (currently being won by chrome and Google). Sure you can use Chrome without signing in and many people do. But as soon as you want to sync your browsing history and preferences between your mobile device (android anyway) and your pc you need a Google account. And don't try and have a pc with chrome as your browser of choice and an iPhone. Never the three shall meet!
And so it should have become abundantly clear right there why I favour the Microsoft world. For most (over 80%) users they’re using it for work or personal computer. Office is really the only product tool there is. And authentication is critical so having multiple authentications and knowing when to use them is just painful.
As an IT professional who spends most of my time assisting these users who are not tech savvy, who are 30 plus years old generally (not digital natives) who can't remember complex passwords or use apps or tools to do it for them, every additional level of complexity is just too much. They don't spend their waking moments figuring out how they can mash non compatible systems together. They use their computing devices as necessary evils for accomplishing their daily tasks.
Microsoft makes that easy. Google and Apple just complicate it.
A poem crafted in a workshop at www.thehighcalling.org retreat in Texas November 2014.
We were given the sentence "I don't know what to say" and told to add two additional sentences.
a medical chart with a flat line
i didn't know what to say
white flowers falling into an open grave
My thoughts as this poem came into existence were around my friend Ian who had suffered 3 heart attacks earlier this year and I had visited him in intensive care. I had thought at the time that would be the last time I would ever see him. He has currently survived.
And some photos from our time here.
The Gold Coast of Australia is a well known and very popular destination for holiday makers as well as a great place to live and work.
Last week I had the opportunity to be paid to sit on the beach for 3 hours or so as runners in a race came past me. While waiting for runners to come I was able to shoot the various people and activities that came past. With a backdrop of skyscrapers it is a pretty cool view. I was limited to the one location, so my surfing shots for example are not the best shots as the sun was in the wrong place. It was also a blustery windy winter day and quite cool so most people were well wrapped up enjoying the beach for a casual stroll, exercise or just enjoying the view.
Here are some pictures from the morning. None of these are edited – just straight out of the camera as I saw it on the day.
I took a day off and went over to Mt Joyce for a day of Mountain Biking. Ok so there was 4 hours of driving and only 2 of riding but that was an excellent 2 hours!
Situated at the beautiful Wyaralong dam the Mt Joyce MTB tracks are a world class facility with graded trails from beginner to Extreme Downhill.
An easy roll down and up the bottom of the dam leads to the trail head on the western side of the dam wall where there is a map.
I took the advice of some other riders and rode up the fire trail. Ok I said rode, but there was a lot of walking involved as it is stupidly steep in places – more like a stair master than a fire trail.
This is a view from the steepest part looking back over the dam – you can just see the track below the handlebars.
Once at the top of the fire trail you get to this map.
I chose to ride Big Bertha, then Tuna Chunks dropping into Bovine Groove.
Big Bertha is a lot of tight bermed switchbacks with massive drops down the side of a cliff – that was a lot of fun!. Tuna Chunks was a bit more easy – there’s a bit of a video here – very wobbly as i did it with my phone while riding one handed though occasionally needing the front brakes!
This is a very fun descent – its not too hard and there was only one spot I had to dab. Its mostly gentle rolling and nice berms. pretty cruisy really. I finished up at the Tunnel vision pipe back onto the fire trail about half way down where I dropped into a nice down hill called escape that drops down to the lake side and secret valley. Once again lots of bermed corners and a gentle rolling ride. It finishes with a big banked wooden bermed wall – but i saw it too late and didn’t have enough speed up to ride it.
From Secret Valley where i saw this sign i decided to ride up the Grass Tree Trail and then do the Black Rock Downhill and finish with Pork Chops. Those trails are more visible on the lower scale map above.
Grass tree trail was steep but only in patches – i managed to ride a fair bit of it. there were lots of grass trees or black boys as they are known here.
I did take a rest part way up and look back over the track.
These three photos attempt to show the steepness of the last section. Here the Downhill Track is running alongside the fireroad so you can get some idea of what to expect. It is a black diamond track so advanced riders only should be attempting this.
At the top there are two signs. the first identifies a rim track that circles around to the other spur i rode up first. effectively the Mt Joyce summit is above us her and the two trail heads are on the spurs of parallel ridges with a big valley in between. the ridgeline track circles around between the two spurs. a trip for another day!
Today i was only interested in the downhill so black rock got hammered – i loved this downhill. There were only two sections I stopped and checked before just nailing it down them – next time I’ll know the ideal line to take.
After Black Rock I dropped left onto Pork chops and then right out into the secret valley and back to the picnic area there.
From there I rode the shoreline and back out to the dam wall and back to the car. Small video here of the shoreline heading to grasstree and then heading back to the dam.
The eastern side of the dam is a lovely spot with viewing platforms and picnic areas and a large carpark.
A nice day’s ride and only about a 4 on Neils tough-o-meter – but a 8.5 on the downhill fun factor!
Here is my Garmin data.