I used Microsoft products for nearly 25 years from the early days of MS DOS and MS Word, then Windows from the early nineties. Up to the introduction of the second-generation iPhone I was enjoying a love-hate relationship with Microsoft's Windows Mobile OS on a Treo 750. I have a lot to thank Bill Gates for and no one can take away from him and from Microsoft the enormous contribution they made to personal computing. Now, though, Microsoft is suffering from competition and has stood by while the smartphone world (and the new tablet world) has been revolutionised by the likes of Apple.
Steve Ballmer, ever the optimist, has said in an interview with CNet News that Microsoft's brand "means something" to users. According to Apple Insider, commenting on the piece, Steve "insinuated that the company's 'ailing brand' holds value for users, more so than rival brands, while at the same time conceding that he's seeing a lot of of Apple's iPads deployed in the real world than he'd like to."
Since I converted to Apple in 2005 I've enjoyed a peaceful and relatively trouble-free computing existence. I often compare this idyll with the problems and irritants I suffered while using Windows. Of course, things change and I'm comparing the Microsoft of pre-2005 with the Apple of today. No doubt the Microsoft experience is now much better and probably similar to the current Apple experience, but I don't know for sure because I seldom lay hands on a Windows computer.
From reading tech blogs and news sites, I gain the impression that not all is well with Microsoft. Too often, these days, they are playing catch up and all too often they have taken a wrong turning (such as with the short-lived Kin phone). Apple offer a clear alternative on all fronts and, because they control both hardware and software, consumer satisfaction is incredibly high. Sure, the Microsoft brand means something. But what?