Competing visions of the future of personal computing

Competing visions of the future of personal computing

Summary: A graphic making the rounds on the Internet today tries to compare Apple's vision of the future of computing with Microsoft's. It's fun for fanboys, but this kind of snarky comparison is all too easy to make. Just look at these three alternative views.

TOPICS: Apple, CXO, Hardware

A picture is making the rounds on the Internet today. You’ve probably seen it: a side-by-side view of two screenshots, with the iPad home page on the left and the new Windows Explorer interface (the one Microsoft plans to release with Windows 8) on the right.

I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to respond, but I’m sure you understand. That image was posted at a site I never visit (except by accident) and accompanied by text from a person I never read (except by accident).*

Anyway, anyone who sees that graphic and tries to debate it on its merits is falling into a trap. It's a ludicrous comparison. Here, allow me to demonstrate with some similar, equally valid, equally ludicrous comparisons.

Apple’s vision of personal computing in 2011 versus Microsoft’s vision in 1992.

Rows of identically sized, equally spaced icons with text labels below them. I admit, the water drops make the one on the left prettier, but I still think of Windows 3.1 everytime I look at the home page of an iOS device. Even more so after Apple added folders.

Apple’s vision of personal computing in 2011 versus Apple’s vision of personal computing in 2011.

Note that the operating system on the right is newer than the one on the left. I defy you to tell me with a straight face that the UI of Finder is in any way "modern."

Microsoft’s vision of a consistent UI in 2011 versus Apple’s vision of a consistent UI in 2011.

Did you know that in Apple's Finder, thumbnail images of a photo file are called icons? And using the international symbol for "radiation warning" as an icon in the Disk Utility toolbar is a nice touch...

Gosh, this kind of comparison is fun, isn’t it?

Also pointless. All it proves is that snark is cheap.

* Oh, OK, if you insist, here’s the link.

Topics: Apple, CXO, Hardware

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  • Windows 8 Start Screen

    Wouldn't a more apt comparison be with the new Windows 8 Start Screen?!?!?
    • "Apt" depends on what the intent was

      If the intent was to do a serious comparison of the iPad with the Windows 8 tablet then no, this is not an apt comparison. In fact, no comparison is possible since no Windows 8 tablet has been released yet.

      If the intent was to spread FUD and be childish and ignorant just like all pro-Apple fanboys are then this was a very apt comparison. It fulfilled the objectives that the author was trying to achieve perfectly.
  • RE: Competing visions of the future of personal computing

    So if I understand this correctly, the original site is comparing the home screen of an iOS device to the new Microsoft Windows Explorer? That leaves me baffled. That guy must be really desperate to keep his Apple products relevant. Not to mention his site is butt ugly.
    • RE: Competing visions of the future of personal computing


      You and Steve Ballmer missed something there, much to Apple's bank balance.
      Alan Smithie
      • lock Stock and oil barrel

        @Alan Smithie

        I'm beginning to think that among some at least, the euphoric/adamant and non-detached favoritism towards a company is driven by shareholder motivations.

        ie: AAPL fan-boy-ism.

        Because at least, a true tech-afficionado would keep his/her mind open to alternative products, and want competition among companies, not domination. A true tech-afficionado would like to buy, appreciate, or collect technology from various companies, not worship a single company (right or wrong) -- unless there was profit motive involved. -- Either through investments or employment or other such interest or profession-related business alliances.

        (Which as an aside, I always wondered about those rampant crowds on other news-sites who always passionately, vehemently deny/resist/attack Global Warming -- perhaps stockholders of energy companies or profiting/employed in someway related to those industries.)
      • RE: Competing visions of the future of personal computing

        @voltrarian<br><br>I wish I had bought Apple stock on the return of Jobs as retirement in the Bahamas would now be beckoning.<br><br>The stock has risen 6000% from then to now.
        Alan Smithie
  • Snark I can do ...

    ... the sad thing is that operating system vendors and ZDNET bloggers alike have so little in the way of cutting-edge storage designs to report that they are all reduced to discussing shades of pig lipstick :-(
  • &quot;That's the stupidest ****ing thing I've ever heard!&quot;

    And if Bill Gates were around posting on this thread, I'm sure he'd say my subject for us.

    Thanks for the laugh, Ed... I needed it today! :)
  • RE: Competing visions of the future of personal computing

    So, this guy is comparing a watered down mobile OS with that of a full featured desktop OS?

    Yeah, that makes sense.
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • What &quot;IF&quot; that full featured OS..

      @Cylon Centurion... is actually OVER KILL for many if not most computer users today? What if the watered down OS is in fact not watered down but just what the doctor ordered to answer many if not most computer users needs/wants?<br><br>Pagan jim
      James Quinn
      • What if you suddenly realized that, it would be nice have a feature

        that your watered down OS doesn't have, and you must get it as an addition to be executed separately or you have to install it? Then, you suddenly realize that, the feature you're missing is already part of a full-blown OS? No matter, you'd still be stuck with your watered down OS.
      • RE: Competing visions of the future of personal computing

        @James Quinn

        Hardly "overkill", very few people can actually survive on an iPad alone.
        The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • I wonder how the idiots defending this would feel about this comparison

      @Cylon Centurion <br>Apple has a complicated vision of the future if we compare WP7 screen to this screen from OS X Lion:
    • RE: Competing visions of the future of personal computing

      @Cylon Centurion If by "water down" you mean "mobile" then yeah. And by "mobile" I mean: an OS where you want to get your bearings instantly, spend very little time. By the same token I'll define "full featured desktop OS" as: an OS where you're going to spend hours working.

      Each has it's place, but I'm not sure I recognise any "watering down" in iOS - it's still a "Unix". It doesn't have any features that might need more than a second to "take in" (the Finder or Windows Explorer always have that "what am I looking at" - or more properly "where [in the filesystem] is this?"). But to categorise iOS as somehow "less" is to miss the point, iOS is "fast", not somewhere you'd spend hours.

      Both approaches are needed, one doesn't replace the other.
  • RE: Competing visions of the future of personal computing

    Almost every GUI I have ever seen featured "Rows of identically sized, equally spaced icons with text labels below them;" the original Mac its mom, Lisa, had the same sort of layout well before Win3.1. The lone exception (in my experience; there may be others) was the Amiga "Intuition" interface which permitted icons of just about any size or shape.

    Aside from the uniform size and grid positioning of icons, why would the iOS screen on the left, with its icons directly on the desktop (or whatever they call it over at Apple) remind anyone of Windows3.1? Win3.1 supported "groups"; they were the only tings that could be placed directly on the desktop. That meant you had to have any icon you wanted to use in a "group" but groups could not be nested. How is that similar to iOS, particularly when one considers folders?

    I used Win3.1; I was glad to see it go. I have never used iOS for any significant length of time so I have no opinion of it other than that formed during my brief exposure to it: it did not appear to be particularly "intuitive" or "friendly." However, it was not particularly bad, either; just unfamiliar.
    • You might have missed...


      You might have missed the part where I calld my three comparisons "equally valid, equally ludicrous." ;)
      Ed Bott
      • RE: Competing visions of the future of personal computing

        @Ed Bott Apparently most posters missed it. Good blog, Ed, no, seriously, good blog. I enjoy the comparisons even if they are grossly mishandled.
  • You clearly missed the point of the comparison

    The image Siegler posted has nothing to do with rows of icons; notice what you don't see in the iOS screenshot: documents. The point of the comparison is that Apple's future is a content-without-files operating system, already largely in place with iOS and on the way with Lion, with iCloud doing the background lifting.

    Microsoft's upcoming OS not only continues the file, folder, document concept but actually adds a bunch of ever-present easy-to-click (though likely hard to find) controls for providing increased access to file and folder actions.

    The two couldn't be headed in more disparate directions, clearly Siegler's point if you look beyond your first impression of the pretty icons.
    Matthew Frederick
    • RE: Competing visions of the future of personal computing

      @Matthew Frederick Actually, if you read the update, MG Siegler's point is pretty clear: Windows is ugly and it sucks. (Never mind all of the parts in iOS/OS X that is ugly, or that a dump of icons does not scale -- note how many people hate Lion's Launchpad...)
      • RE: Competing visions of the future of personal computing

        @Ambivi Read that, and contrary to what you write, nowhere does it say that Windows is ugly and that it sucks; what words say that to you? He does say that particular Windows Explorer UI sucks. On the filesystem stuff, he makes the simplification plenty clear here:
        Matthew Frederick