Microsoft wants you to know that it's not just the Mac that's holding a 25th birthday party: 2009 marks the 25th year that Redmond has developed software for Apple's quarter-centarian computer. The Apple/Microsoft relationship has had its rocky moments, to say the least. But the fact remains that Microsoft has consistently been …
Microsoft BASIC vs. Apple BASIC
I have vague memories from 1985 of Microsoft requiring that Apple drop their BASIC programming environment for the Mac. MS were planning their version of BASIC but never got around to releasing it. I remember a alpha version of Apple's BASIC... anyone else?
What's a PC?
How come MSOS running computers are always called PCs?
Back in the dark and distant past when I first used an IBM PC (8088 processor, 640k memory, 2x 360k 5.25" floppies, Hercules graphics card) it come with PCDOS, not MSDOS. To those of short memory PCDOS was the IBM version of MSDOS that had been modified to actually work.
Not even IBM tried to trademark PC, as all it stood for was Personal Computer. There were at the time dozens of personal computers on the market, IBM was really quite late to the game.
Are Apple computers any less PCs? They are currently closer to the "PC" than ever before as they now use x86 processors instead of the Moss Technology, Motorola or IBM processors previously used.
Are my computers not PCs because they run flavours of Linux? Only the older one (K6-2 500) has ever ran an MSOS ("Win"98) and it was so unstable it drove me round the bend. Since Mandrake 10 was installed it has never frozen or crashed! The 64x2 machine came with Mepis preinstalled at my request from the (white-box) maker. That saved me over 15% of the overall price over an XP or Vista installation, just on the operating system alone and ignoring the cost of applications!
Even the validity of "Windows" as a trademark is dubious. The application was rejected a number (2 or 3) of times before being accepted, on the grounds that windows was a generic term in common use in computing. I wonder what changed the minds of the USPTO? What a pity Lindows was too small a company to pursue their legal case to the bitter end. Windowing systems and the windows they produce were not uncommon before MS ever saw the light, making the expression generic. Are my Linux machines not windowing machines and thus non-MS Windows?
Microsoft did sell a version of BASIC for the Macintosh. There was even a Version 2.0, which was available in 1985.
25 years and they STILL can't get it right
Office 2008 - officially the worst software on my Mac by a long, long way. Prior to that it was Office 2004 (thankfully I skipped v.X as that was pretty dreadful too).
Admittedly, Office 2001 was OK as was Office 98, but both suffered from some dreadful bugs (also present in the Windows equivalents of the time, I might add).
IE was always crippleware and don't even get me started on their abortion-ware that was WiMP for the Mac (the worst piece of software ever written by anyone for any platform in the past decade). Messenger is also a complete joke - bettered by an OSS solution (aMSN) and a Java based piece of software (Mercury Messenger) and even they are pretty bad.
MS's coding efforts for Macs have been dire for the past 20 years and show no signs of improvement. I won't say I'm surprised - look at Vista and they obviously still struggle terribly even with their own platform.
..... Just some observations
My first 'personal computer' was a Commodore PET which launched in around 1976/77/78 at the same time as the first Apple computer. I picked the PET because the screen, keyboard, tape machine and the motherboard, power supply etc. were a single integrated unit, whereas the Apple consisted of several individual components. Although, the Apple was certainly a better machine.
Previous comment above about PCDOS and MSDOS needs the addition of DRDOS. Throughout the 'DOS period', MS were playing catchup with DRDOS which was always a version ahead and lo-and-behold, the next version of MSDOS would have all the features of the previous DR DOS.
I was told a story about DRDOS and MSDOS. BOTH were in the running to be the first DOS for the new IBM PCs. DRDOS (Digital Research) quoted an honest time until their OS would be ready for market. MS quoted a shorter (but less honest time) and were appointed as the supplier, although failing to make their promised deadline. How true all this is will no doubt be known by those who were involved and if any of them read this, I would love to know ! :)
An interesting thing about running 'Word' on my iMac and MacBookPro, it runs better on an Apple than it EVER ran under 'windows'. Complex formatting always 'changed' between writing it, saving it and reloading it under all versions of 'windows', yet on the Apple, it does as it implies and works well. I have to say that I have dumped MS for anything that happens in my company because glass breaks and I have frequently suffered from shattered windows !!! Like others, I enjoy messing around with various versions of Linux and BSD, but for serious computing where being up-and-running ALL THE TIME is important, as in business, the price of Apple hardware is well justified, as is their OS (Tiger and Leopard) which compared to Micro$oft's 'arm-and-a-leg' pricing, is very reliable and is as cheap as chips !!
If there is something that you can only run under windows, my advice is DO NOT set your Apple up to dual boot. Windows is like Swiss Cheese (full of holes) and will fall over regularly --- leaving you with the task of reinstalling. Better to run VMWare which gives a virtual PC and runs plenty fast enough for most purposes. The advantage is that your windows installation is simply a file, so you can 'install' windows and then copy the file out to a backup drive. When windows falls over (as it will if you use it at all), click/drag/click and you are back with a fresh copy of windows. Also, you can drag-and-drop between windows applications and Apple applications.
I need to get out of here and do some work !! Apple is the longer established of the two, is run by a MUCH nicer guy and employs people who are not just helpful, they are knowledgeable about the products they sell. If I have one complaint it would be that they try too hard to sell me stuff by email. I am already sold, so WHEN I need something new, I will go and buy it from them.
Happy New Year to everyone at the Register. I wish for you everything you would wish for yourselves.
El reg for a nice balanced article. For once it wasn't written like a 12 (or 65) year old fanbouy.
Apple have had great innovations, so have M$ and I'm sure Linux is also leading the way in areas, so they all need (and steal) of each other.
And R Callan, The reason windows boxes are called PC's is though legacy. The actual term comes from IBM PC compatible, which mean't in theory, all the hardware was based on IBM standards, e.g serial mouse, floppy, x86 processor, BISO, PS2 port etc etc...Apple, Amiga, Atari etc did not have the same hardware, so software that was IBM PC Compatible would not run on them. Linux didn't even exist then!
And as for the term Windows, please, loose that chip on your shoulder, it will weigh you down, or make you very, very dull....
"Then IE 4.5 appeared in 1999 with Mac-first features such as Print Preview and Forms Auto-Fill"
You forgot a HUGE browser enhancement - IE 4.5 for the Mac included tabbed browsing. Yes, that's right, Microsoft had tabbed browsing long before Firefox was a twinkle in a developer's pants!
"PCDOS was the IBM version of MSDOS"
wasn't that the other way round, Gates quickly re-branded QDOS for IBM as PCDOS, and later released the "compatible" MSDOS for the clone manufacturers.
But I agree about the inappropriateness of the term "PC". The major continuing disadvantage is that (along with the "My Computer" icon) it gives the users the mistaken impression that the computer is *theirs*, to do anything they like with, thus creating all sorts of security problems. Naturally, the Boss thinks they belong to the Company. In reality they are Mine, All Mine, as any BOFH knows.
Mines the one with the notchless 5.25" disc and the bootable USB full of tools in the pocket...
Having been around back then, the core difference between MS and PC DOS was *not* mods to make it work.
The big difference was BASIC on PC-DOS and GWBASIC in MS-DOS. The former dramatically reduced the disk footprint of the executable (a bloody good thing when running everything from floppies) as it merely invoked IBM ROM BASIC (remember IBM PCs used to boot into BASIC if no other boot device was found?) whereas the executable shipped with the MS product was a fully-fledged BASIC interpreter in its own right (and took sodding ages and some disk-swapping to load from 5 1/4 inch floppies).
As a result, MS and PC DOS were interchangeable with the caveat that running PC-DOS on anything other than a vanilla IBM PC left you BASIC-less. The flipside here is that with MS-DOS, you got an updated version of BASIC with your new DOS release whereas PC-DOS left you stuck with whichever version the moody old box you were using had in ROM. In practice I never did anything complicated enough with it to find this an issue. IIRC, even the IBM PS2 range still sported ROM BASIC.
It's the only difference that I ever found. In other regards, version x.y of PC-DOS behaved exactly like version x.y of MS-DOS, even down to the (in)famous DOS 3.3 COPY bug.
@ R Callan
Technically you are right on all of the above. Except for the fact that these are small details and technicalities that are easily ignored by big business. The marketing suits in the corporate world would accept your arguement with a grunt before pushing the complete opposite as the truth. Therefore the world has Apple vs PeeCees or Apple vs Microsoft. Nice and marketable....
... was part of an out-of-court settlement MS reached with Apple, when Apple discovered proof that significant chunks of Windows Media Video had been reverse-engineered from QuickTime. Despite MS's claim to have independently developed WMV, both the Apple and MS implementations of one particular codec shared the exact same, obscure bugs when dealing with a corrupted movie file.
The other part of the settlement was a binding agreement for MS to develop Office for Mac for at least four years, which was far more significant to Apple's survival than the $150m. MS had up until then been ambivalent about future Mac support, and this had the effect of flushing the last big corporate customers over to Windows. The guarantee of Word on Macs for at least one more corporate buying cycle at least allowed Apple to keep those few corporate customers it had left.
@What's a PC
while you're correct, it's become a fairly well understood phrase to describe generic x86 based computers capable of running windows (and not made by apple :) ). Calling them IBM compatible PC's doesn't seem proper anymore, as IBM aren't even in the game anymore (and the term might now be more likely to mean compatible with the POWER architecture).
so yes, you're right, but I don't think it matters much anymore.
re: Lotus vaporware ..
"After a brief vaporware scare from Lotus Jazz, Excel settled into its role as the Mac's go-to spreadsheet"
"Claims by Microsoft that people were buying the software because it was good are pretty self-serving,", Mitch Kapor
"Microsoft application developers have been given earlier and more detailed access to OCX specifications that we have had here at Lotus"
"Microsoft will offer PC Excel purchasers either $75 or a copy of Windows 286/386 if they send us .. Their Lotus 1-2-3 system disk"
"Excel product Promotion Strawman .. a host of new products .. especially lets Lotus encroach on our leading technology position"
re: What's a PC
A PC is a computer designed to a standard designed and built by IBM at Boca Raton. The projects aim at the time was to produce a limited spec computer. The Operating System was outsourced to a small software house, Microsoft. IBM lost control of the IBM PC, when Columbia Data Products successfully reverse-engineered the BIOS and Compaq started to mass-produce PCs in the far east. IBM had neglected to get an exclusive 'license' for MS-DOS from Microsoft, so MS cheerfully licensed MS-DOS to these other clone manufacturers. Microsoft didn't pay forSeattle Computer 86-DOS until IBM had first payed them for PC-DOS ..
You're right IBM isn't in the game anymore, you're wrong in that it doesn't matter anymore. How IBM lost control of the IBM PC can be summarized in four words ..
clone BIOS ..
failed proprietary BUS
Messenger for Mac
Personally, I love MS Messenger for the Mac. It's SIMPLE - pretty much all it does is text conversations. MS Messenger for Windows tries to interrupt this basic function will all kinds of annoying enhancements.
I think it's great that Microsoft's Mac division stopped developing Messenger beyond the basics. Now if only they'd done the same with Office, and left it at version 5.1...
Having grown up in Wales, for me Xerox PARC always conjours up a delightful mental image of a load of photocopiers in a leafy park.
Just sayin' like.
p.s. Suggestions for a better collective noun for photocopiers welcome.
RE: Messenger for Mac
I agree with you that simple MSN is better but support for webcam and audio would be nice. They have been promising it for months and it's still not yet in beta:
"Our plan is to deliver a beta version of A/V in 2009"
well, without Orifice for Mac, I'd have no Mac
Or I'd have to live in parallels/VMWare - which does rather defeat the purpose.
So I owe Microsoft a debt of gratitude for the software - I do actually buy the software using my own money.
and yes, it's the crappiest buggiest slowest software on my mac, but it plugs in well enough to the exchange servers that I can get away with it.
However - when 10.6 brings native exchange support, I could well be kissing this good bye.
Thanks el Reg....I'v only just recovered from having to use it and there you go, reminding me of the worst ever software written.
Thank god that I now have NO MS software on my Mac at home.
As for speadsheets, wasn't the first ever application written by a US Postal worker to calculate postage rates in the US Of States. His employers didn't think much of it so he sold it to Lotus for, I believe, $500, which was published as Lotus 1-2-3.
Word was the only original Microsoft software, everything else has been 'acquired' from other sources by fair means or foul.
PS: Anyone else think it is pot calling the kettle black when MS goes after pirates?
Photocopiers in a leafy glade
"Having grown up in Wales, for me Xerox PARC always conjours up a delightful mental image of a load of photocopiers in a leafy park."
Could be worse Robin, I helped test the Docucentre range [known at the time as Leander for the black and white ones, and a couple of other names for the colour and back-to-back 120ppm variants] at the R+D centre in Welwyn Garden City and so I had to walk through a leafy glade to enter a test chamber filled with the things, run several thousand copies a day, and look for skew, degredation and mutlifeeds.
Still, I have no problems clearing jams in the office these days - guess what machines we use? Yup, docucentres, the exact same ones I used to pull apart...
My, that was off topic. For the record, I learned Clarisworks on OS8 and 9 at school. It didn't seem to shit itself too often....
off-topic - "Cupertino-based"?
Just something I've wondered for a while. Why does every single story involving Apple, mention the location of their head-offices?
Is there something magical about Cupertino, that I'm not getting? (what with living in the UK, and all)
They might own the place for all I know - I've never seen "Cupertino-based" in a story that didn't involve Apple.
You certainly don't see "London-based" on every story about the BBC though, or "Manchester-based-bint" on every story about Gemma Atkinson.
No i don't i as microsoft would be privateers (a ship of soliders that were licensed by one government to be priratical against another governments ships) i believe that would be the best bastardised analogiue for it considering what pirates actually means.
Though calling Word a _productivity_ app is quite strange. Why not Twitter and Facebook, while you're at it?
And then, of course, there was MS Works...
The office suite that (at the time we used it, at least) couldn't open anything created by any other MS program nor create docs in any format that THEY could open!
The Product Designed With Ghettoization In Mind! ®
first ever spreadsheet ..
The story is that Dan Bricklin was preparing a spread sheet analysis .. By the fall of 1978, Bricklin had programmed the first working prototype .. Before he cofounded Lotus, Kapor disclosed and offered Personal Software (VisiCorp) his initial Lotus program ..
And maybe, just maybe - should Google's dreams come true - some day a 20-foot head of Steve Jobs will appear at a Steve Ballmer keynote, promising that Apple will continue to support Microsoft.
two words. dream on