Developers, Developers, Developers
What’s the difference between OS X and Windows? That’s not a simple question. Perhaps ‘what’s the biggest difference’ is more easily answered, certainly for me.
For me, what it comes down to is essentially apps. Windows has a bigger catalogue of apps than OS X, but the differentiator is the quality. Mac apps are, for me, just better. They look nicer and they are often more intelligently designed. The best are aimed at simple problem solving, or presenting a service in a useful and usable way. That isn’t to say that great apps don’t exist on Windows, they surely do, but it is a general statement that I think holds true.
What Apple have done for software is to attract the kind of developers who make great apps. I’m confident that if these developers took their hands to any OS they could produce great apps. But they’re doing it for OS X and for iOS.
This makes me somewhat uneasy about the imminent release of Windows Phone 8. Windows Phone 8 will finally bring the kind of app development environment that will make apps of iOS quality possible but I’m not remotely convinced that we’ll suddenly see great developers and great apps. The difference between OS X and Windows proper illustrates this; both are equally capable OS’s, but Microsoft just haven’t attracted the right developers for Windows.
Windows Phone’s status as a second class OS, an afterthought, makes the current software situation less than rosy. This is why, despite there being 100,000+ apps in the Marketplace, the software selection is so sparse. The quality of all of these apps is remarkably poor, and there isn’t a top tier of well-designed and thoughtful apps to displace this, as there is on iOS.
It’s back to the chicken and egg. Microsoft and their partners must sell a tonne of Windows Phones in the next few months, I mean a shitload, for this to change (though even then, it’s no guarantee). There are no indications currently that this will happen. If Apple are selling 27 million iPhones a quarter, the baseline should be about half of that. Given that it’s a launch/holiday quarter coming up, it should be even higher.
I’ll make a prediction. If we don’t see a marked improvement in Windows Phone sales over the next few months, the app situation will barely change. If we do see this improvement, the app situation will gradually improve over the next six months. That’s a vague prediction, but there is just so much that is unknown right now, it’s hard to be any more specific.