Of Blu-ray and Document Pinning

August 11th, 2010

Microsoft has decided, in the wake of the now-ended “I’m a Mac, I’m a PC” campaign, to come out “swinging” and go after Apple. But you have to wonder who devised those comparisons on their site and what planet they actually living on, since it’s clearly not Earth.

One serious complaint, such as it is, appears to be the lack of Blu-ray on a Mac. This supposed to be some humongous blunder on the part of Apple, because so many people these days are buying high-definition movies. Well, not quite, as sales of both Blu-ray and regular DVDs are down over what they used to be even when combined, perhaps because there aren’t so many flicks you want to see again. They’ve already sold new versions of the old movies some of you had on VHS, not to mention Blu-ray counterparts of regular DVD fare.

Yes, you can get Blu-ray drives as an option on many PCs. I suppose if you expect to use your PC as a TV set, that’s a good thing, but as some have pointed out, Blu-ray is somewhat of a moving target. There’s now a 3D version, which requires media with twice the capacity and new hardware to match. I suppose that’ll mean something eventually, when people no longer have to spend a thousand dollars or more extra for a 3D TV.

Yes, there are external Blu-ray drive options for the Mac, but you’d need third-party software, since there’s no native support in Mac OS X. Blu-ray, according to Steve Jobs, remains a “bag of hurt.”

But the question is whether it matters, since you can get movies by other means, such as iTunes, Netflix and other online options.

More to the point, is this a compelling reason to use a PC rather than a Mac? I don’t think so. But Microsoft is desperate to convince you that the PC is cool and the Mac is an expensive, needless luxury that just can’t get the job done. And, no, I won’t cover the Microsoft’s grammatical lapses that have already been cited by others.

We do have a bunch of silly claims put forth on Microsoft’s site about the advantages of the PC, and anyone familiar with both platforms ought to consider  these arguments as pathetic as I do.

The Blu-ray option is part of the “Having Fun,” category, where the PC’s genuine advantage in gaming is extolled. If gaming is what you want, there’s a growing number of titles on the Mac, and you can still install Windows under Boot Camp if you must run titles unavailable on the former.

That’s as good as it gets for Microsoft. Under the “Simplicity” category they claim the PC is “easy to use, PCs do what you want: they just work.” That, of course, mimics the well-known argument made for Macs over the years. While Windows has grown better, it still takes far too many steps for simple driver installations and configurations. When things don’t work, it can become a nightmare. The “they just work” claim is a sad joke.

Microsoft also has a “Sharing” category, where they tout the ease of networking on a PC, and my response is the same.

Under “Working Hard,” Microsoft simply wants to convey the age-old myth that Macs are not suited for work environments. That’s hardly worth a response, since millions have been using Macs as their primary work computers for the past 26 years. Even Microsoft introduced its key productivity apps, Excel and Word, on the Mac first. Or maybe Steve Ballmer’s brain is too wasted to remember how former CEO Bill Gates double-crossed Apple and begat Windows using interface technology he snookered then-Apple CEO John Sculley to provide.

When it comes to “Compatibility,” most any peripheral anyone cares about runs on both the Mac and the PC, and manufacturers ignore the former to their peril. Indeed, lots of products do just work, since there is extensive built-in support for many of these devices in Snow Leopard.

Now when it comes to choice, if you crave a pink or a blue computer, you won’t find one in Apple’s arsenal. I suppose this is a matter of some degree of importance to potential customers who feel that Apple’s aluminum-clad design motif isn’t satisfactory for their needs, or they want processors and graphic card options that Apple doesn’t provide.

Of course, that’s largely window dressing, other than meeting the hardware needs of a devoted gamer. A different color or screen size doesn’t really deliver a machine with a superior operating system or superior product reliability, but that’s probably all that Microsoft has left these days since they cannot honestly boast of having a better operating system.

That, of course, is what you can readily conclude from Microsoft’s pathetic TV ads. People run around with silly grins on their faces because Windows 7 lets you pin document windows to the sides of the screen, as if this was the greatest invention since sliced bread. No wonder the stock market long ago gave up on Microsoft as a compelling investment.

Sure, Microsoft is still selling lots of software licenses. Many of these are to existing customers who couldn’t take Vista and stuck with XP. It’s also true that Microsoft has a huge momentum and overwhelming dominance of the PC operating system market. Nothing Apple can do can change that, except on a long term and probably in baby steps.

One has to conclude that Microsoft’s management has concluded that they need more smoke and mirrors to compete, and I feel bad for the people who are going to be taken in by this nonsense.

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12 Responses to “Of Blu-ray and Document Pinning”

  1. DaveD says:

    This is Microsoft’s SOS (Same Old Crap). I wonder if there comes a day when Microsoft finally grows up and become a tech leader. Instead we get the many times they make really lame attempts to be like Apple and others. Customers who wants a Mac are willing to pay more. Those that need a PC want to pay less.

  2. Jon T says:

    Smoke and mirrors for sure, but the reason why it won’t work is because Apple products are now prevalent and ubiquitous enough for most people to know they are better quality and offer more.

    Another quite amusing piece which I read this morning, has some astute comments about the nature of Apple’s growing fanbase. It will infuriate anyone still arguing for the dark side…


  3. MacFevre says:

    Agree to everything in your article, Gene! Nicely said, also.

    There is one point to the gaming on Macs that I would like to add. Yes, it is getting better, and with services like Steam, it’s getting as easy as using iTunes. However, one thing that Apple does, (not sure this is Apple’s fault or not,) is the graphics issue.

    For example. I installed Steam on our family iMac for my son to play some games. It’s an Intel C2D of the white plastic variety. (2006? 7? It escapes me at the moment.) Downloaded the Orange Box collection so he could play Half-Life 2 and Portal. $30. Went to play it, and it says the graphics aren’t good enough. Sorry. The game plays fine if booted into Windows on the same exact machine. It’s just the Mac side that it doesn’t work!

    So either Apple has to work on their drivers, or gaming companies need to start advertising the machines that it will play on, (at least on the Mac side,) instead of simply the graphics card it will play on. (Because as a Mac owner, I don’t really want to worry about which graphics card I have installed.)

    • Thib says:


      I wouldn’t disagree that gamig on native Mac isn’t as good. But honestly, how much of the public really cares about games on a computer? Not many. It’s a small small minority.

    • Thib says:


      I wouldn’t disagree that gamig on native Mac isn’t as good. But honestly, how much of the public really cares about games on a computer? Not many. It’s a small small minority.

      • MacFevre says:


        It may be a minority, but it was a major factor in the constant push to upgrade the average home PC, as well as the need for both the processor manufacturers and graphics companies to push out a faster product every 3 months.

  4. Andrew says:

    Gaming is a serious lapse on the Mac, and is one area where a Mac is much more expensive. You need a very new Apple desktop or a top-of-the-line Apple laptop to get gaming-grade graphics, and even then, the drivers (both OS X AND Boot Camp) aren’t upgraded with the frequency or optimized for games the way they are on the PC side.

    I’m a gamer and use a current Core i7MacBook Pro with discreet graphics. Because games are secondary to work for me, I use the Mac, but if I were a more serious gamer I would definitely need a gaming PC.

  5. Vito Positano says:

    The PC’s CPU is also slower and less capable than the one in the Apple, is what I read, making the comparison a mockery of comparative “analysis” when this is not mentioned.

  6. Richard says:

    M$ has to advertise to maintain “brand awareness” so that people will expect Window XXXX to be on a computer they purchase. That is a part of the deal with companies such as Dell where M$ maintains what is not quite a true exclusivity agreement, but every time Dell installs Linux on a consumer product it is withdrawn from the market shortly. Because people see Windows at work, it is not too hard to sell most of them on the same at home.

    Speaking of Dell, the recent revelations of the extent to which Intel went to maintain Dell as an Intel only customer are pretty staggering. Perhaps Michael Dell will go to jail this time. It is not just a matter of accounting “irregularities”, but bald faced security fraud and stock manipulation. Burn in hell Michael Dell.

  7. Thib says:

    The people who would tend to be duped by such Microsoft comparisons are those who don’t know computers well. That tends to be a much of the public. Perhaps.

    • Richard says:


      One should also remember that companies advertise because they are afraid not to do so. There is surprisingly little actual data proving that advertising actually translates to sales and revenue, but companies are not about to stop advertising and find out.

  8. Thib says:

    The people who would tend to be duped by such Microsoft comparisons are those who don’t know computers well. That tends to be a much of the public. Perhaps.

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