While some of my colleagues would like Apple to release more software for Windows, I just wish they'd stop releasing Windows software that stinks. Period.
Orange: Hey Apple!
Orange: Hey Apple!
Orange: Hey! Nyuh Nyuh Nyuh Nyuh Nyuh Nyuh Nyuh....
Orange: Your software for Windows, it stinks.
Apple: No it doesn't!
Orange: Yes it does, it's bloated and huge. It's just like the Plumpkin. You're a big bloated Plumpkin, Apple! Hahahahahahahahahaha!
Apple: Well we don't have to make efficient software for Windows! We're Apple! We have plenty of loyal customers who will buy our products no matter how awful the support software for our devices are!
Orange: You're a fruity and arrogant control freak. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHA!!!!!
Well you can imagine how the rest of that conversation might end up going. Hey, lookout! ANDROID IS ERODING YOUR MARKET SHARE! OH NO!!!! AAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGHHHHHH!
Alright, enough of that. Even I have a limited tolerance for Annoying Orange.
My junior ZDNet colleague and iGeneration columnist Zack Whittaker took quite a lot of flak late last week from the fanboi crowd with his Open Letter to Apple in which he pleaded for the company to release more software for Windows.
Oh Zacky. Poor, Poor Zacky. Please sit down with a nice hot cuppa and a box of Jaffa Cakes and leave the Mactard baiting to the professionals, okay?
Look, I'm probably the least of all people to start advocating that Apple actually start throttling back in its PC software aspirations. After all, traditionally, I've written ad nauseum and still firmly believe that Mac OS should be ported to and officially supported on the PC platform. That's about as an aggressive as a stance as it gets for a reformed Open Systems freetard like myself. But I digress. That's not what this piece is about.
Apple has now reached a point in its evolution, much like it's rival, Microsoft, which faced its own bloatware and performance crisis with Windows Vista several years ago -- where its device support software has become not only bloated and untenable and unreliable to use on its own Mac OS X, but especially on Windows, where the majority of its iDevice customers still reside.
Zack has some good points about the benefits of cross-platform compatibility that might ensue if Apple were to port more of its software to Windows, such as FaceTime, or iWork, iLife, Mail, Photobooth, Final Cut Pro or Logic Studio. Hell, as an amateur photographer, I'd love to see Aperture on Windows.
All of this would be great, if it were only for the fact that it appears patently obvious Apple doesn't actually know how to write Windows software properly. Say what you want about Microsoft, but compared to the software for Mac that I've seen out of the former MBU, at least the people at Redmond actually seem to know what the hell they are doing. Office 2011 for Mac looks like it's going to be a killer product. And from what I hear, they've got some nice iOS applications planned for iPad as well.
Whatever software development platform and lifecycle management model and systems architecture they've come up with at Apple to deploy on Windows is now an unmitigated disaster. Every successive release has resulted in more bloatware and more unreliability. I had high hopes for iTunes 10 -- I really did, but even my colleague Ed Bott's excellent guide to slimming down the install and removing unwanted features and services still yields a sluggish memory consuming pig.
The fact that I can manage my wife's iPod Classic faster and more efficiently using Open Source software on an older Linux box that I have lying around than on her Dell 4GB Core 2 Quad Windows 7 box with iTunes 10 means that something is definitely very, very wrong in the state of Cupertino.
I'm not just picking on iTunes either. QuickTime for Windows is absolutely God-Awful, and Scott Raymond and I demonstrated in an earlier piece regarding comparative performance of streaming media formats, that on Windows it used up the most amount of CPU utilization of any codec we tested, which included Windows Media and Adobe Flash.
In fact, during the research of that piece, we found out that Apple doesn't support GPU offloading with QuickTime on the most popular graphics chipset on their own Mac hardware, let alone on Windows systems.
And Safari? Does ANYONE use Safari on Windows when vastly superior and much higher-performance alternatives such as Chrome, Firefox, Opera and the new Internet Explorer 9 are now available?
So why does Apple software on Windows suck? Why is it bloated and slow? Well, it could be because given Apple's culture of "Think Different" and Not Invented Here, they had to go ahead and build their own unique set of libraries and tools that run completely parallel of what Windows already provides with .NET and the Win32 APIs.
Apple doesn't take advantage of ANY of the native facilities already available in Windows for handling multimedia devices -- instead, they've chosen to re-invent the wheel with their special device support drivers that overlay on top of Windows's USB stack and use special C++ and/or Objective-C libraries so they can run their special containerized environment separate from everything else.
For their support applications, Apple has built their own executable world, a meta-environment that runs under Windows that duplicates functionality that already exists in the OS and programmatic capabilities that Microsoft provides with their own developer tools, and all of that takes a heavy toll on memory as well as performance.
I won't even start with the superfluous, performance degrading and cranky network protocol hell Apple has injected with BonJour as well.
It's funny, but if Redmond were to impose the same sort of restrictions on Apple that the gods of Infinite Loop which until only very recently imposed on its own iOS developers regarding what tools and APIs could be used to build Windows apps, we might have actually seen higher quality Windows code from Apple.
But then the fanbois would have cried foul on Microsoft for being controlling and monopolistic, wouldn't they?
Apple, please get with the program, toss your awful practices and putrefying Windows development environment out with the bathwater and start producing native and optimized device and media support apps we actually WANT to run on Windows. And then maybe, just maybe, we can discuss if there's anything else of yours worth running on the "other" platform which you've treated as a second-class citizen for so long.
Should Apple dump its existing Windows development platform and start over? Talk Back and Let Me Know.