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Differences in Style: Apple and Microsoft (Macworld & CES 2009)

January is normally a very exciting month for the gadget lover. For the first time in recent memory, Microsoft had more exciting stuff to show off than Apple.

I’ll start with Macworld ‘09 and Apple. For Apple’s last ever Macworld appearance, Phil Schiller gave the keynote instead of the Steve Jobs – partly because of some health problems, and no doubt partly due to the fact that they barely had anything to announce.

They introduced new versions of their iLife and iWork software, announced the new MacBook Pro 17” (with an 8-hour battery), and announced removals of DRM from purchased music on iTunes.

Phil gave an admirable performance, not quite as good as Jobs, but considering what he had to work with, congrats Phil – you had a lot to live up to.

Now on to CES ‘09 and Microsoft.

It’s the first time Steve Ballmer gave Microsoft’s annual CES keynote since becoming CEO in 2001. Microsoft had some very exciting news regarding Windows 7, and Ballmer went on to explain Microsoft’s exciting (and probable) visions for the future of computing.

Microsoft had some excellent points to make – and some exciting announcements. However like every other year, I ended up preferring the Apple keynote. It was much simpler, engaged the audience much more effectively, and conveyed their messages much better.

Microsoft, despite having better content than Apple, just couldn’t perform as well. The demos of Windows 7 showed off the new OS pretty well, but the person actually giving the demo sounded very stiff and robotic.

Apple’s employee, on the other hand, gave a much better impression of iMovie. This is despite iMovie not being half as noteworthy as the new operating system from Microsoft.

The screens behind Ballmer weren’t perfectly in sync with what he was saying. In terms of presentation style, the screens were way too busy and overcomplicated. These things work best when they’re really simple.

Overall I wish Microsoft present their products in a better way, because they too have a lot to offer the world of computing.

Apple have some great products, and probably their greatest gift is some very good marketing and positioning for these products.

Conclusions

I am a huge fan of Microsoft’s vision for the future of computing, with touch based interfaces and mobile computing – it reflects some real forward-thinking on their part. Microsoft Labs are also innovating and showing off some really cool, if somehow vague, software.

Apple: you just keep on doing what you’re doing to drive the whole industry forward. [images via Engadget and Apple]

[Phil Schiller’s keynote for Apple at Macworld ‘09]
[Steve Baller’s keynote for Microsoft at CES ‘09]

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