Steven Sinofsky was responsible for development of Windows 8, so He is one of the people who can speak more appropriately than it takes to work on creating a new Microsoft operating system.. For many people, it will also be among the people with the least authority to speak about the matter, due to the failure of the 2013 system in many ways. In any case, as an industry insider, it is always interesting to read him for all the experience he has.
Recently, he wrote his impressions of everything presented by Apple at the software level (and integration with hardware changes) in the WWDC20, and in addition to being a very interesting read in general, it is especially for How do you explain the way of working in Windows within Microsoft. Above all, one of the things that is most often praised by the system, and also criticized: backward compatibility.
“It is literally impossible to get rid of something at Microsoft. I can’t tell you how many times I tried (or tried). An inside joke was how long the Excel team continued to fix bugs in OS / 2 Excel for a European bank. It was a long time after nobody used OS / 2 (except that bank). The hardest thing for me was getting rid of something nobody used (MediaCenter!) “.
Loved backwards compatibility, hated backwards compatibility
The backward compatibility that Sinofsky mentions with old elements of the system, and all the time that they are supported, is one of the great advantages that many people have Windows and in general a lot of Microsoft software compared to other systems. Compared to Apple, the difference is abysmal.
Today, in Windows 10 it is possible to run very old software such as Internet Explorer 2.0, but in macOS it is impossible to run anything from the days of Classic, PowerPC or literally 32-bit, after losing the system support from macOS 10.15 Katherine. Something that was really “dramatic” for many users of old apps on the platform.
On the other hand, all this backward compatibility it is a drag on Microsoft on issues like really moving the system forward at a good pace. As we have already mentioned, after almost 5 years, Windows 10 continues to be an unfinished system and one that has not just made the leap in unification that was expected. Its biggest advantage is at the same time what makes it impossible to make big leaps, something that Apple does not require as much effort.
Sinofsky praises how Apple has been able to carry out the plans, especially regarding their execution:
“I was shocked when Tim Cook commented on the transition to Apple Silicon (ASi) as a two-year journey. First, it’s as if it wasn’t time. Second, it’s an incredibly long time frame to communicate how long it will take and what You have to be patient. But in reality that is incredibly brave when so much could change, or more importantly, it could go wrong. All the big companies plan for several years (I did), but everyone knows that those plans mean little after a fiscal year. Apple is completely different in that regard. “
And within that “bravery”, he delves into the reasons that according to him explain why it is so:
“The great thing about this is how Apple’s model allows this to work. Every aspect of the system has to come together to create an environment where decisions can be made and supported that allow these plans to have integrity.”
“What I mean by the Apple model is that it’s not about your direct-to-consumer or vertically integrated business, but the culture of having a ‘point of view.’ Apple makes products that customers love and love. But it does them by studying the technology, the market and the use to come up with plans and strategies. Unlike what you read in textbooks, Apple has much less to do with responding to micro changes, hype cycles or even ” feedback. “In fact, you can often see how Apple’s model doesn’t work as well when it launches products to market in a hurry or listens too carefully (eg HomePod). Apple is a company that has one point of view: When the point of view is aligned with a great product that people love, it can become an unstoppable force. “
As an example of what it costs Microsoft to execute plans, Sinofsky reviews the transition to 64-bit on Windows, and what allows it not to be over: “It took 20 years. It is not over yet. On the other hand, Excel 2.2 still works on 32-bit Windows, just like MS-DOS WordPerfect, which is a miraculous achievement, and honestly, highly valued by large customers. Different worlds. “Here you see again the best of that Microsoft that loves backward compatibility. To use software that is as old as Apple you have to resort to emulators or ancient hardware.
The slow pace of Microsoft applying changes and leaving behind old technologies is highly appreciated by large customers, according to Sinofsky. And Microsoft cannot understand itself without these unwritten rules.
The transition of both companies to 64 bits has nothing to do: “[En Windows] The patience shown to maintain compatibility has been remarkable. Even today, Office installs the 32-bit version by default and recommends it. Our team made that decision in 2003. […] Apple started requiring 64-bit applications in 2017. Two years later, 32-bit applications were no longer supported. “Here, Sinofsky points out that Apple’s transition actually began in 2009 with Snow Leopard.
It is a review of a chiaroscuro strategy, from which many good things come out:
“We did not do [Microsoft] nothing bad. Many argue that the commitment to compatibility and customer advancement made Microsoft unique. I agree and believe it. What it does, however, is make it much less interesting / important for customers to stick with you. “She means that the incentives to upgrade are much lower.
And again, the opposite in a current Apple who also loves:
“Watching WWDC, you can see a clear and relentless prioritization of that multi-year strategy in a MASSIVE product development team. It’s really amazing to watch and I really think it’s underrated. […] It is incredibly clear that everyone at Apple puts strategy requirements above anything “local.”
Sinofsky refers locally to work on a specific product versus everything on a strategy. “Microsoft operated much more locally and was therefore much more resilient, in many other companies, and served many different types of customers. Some would even say more responsive to customers. Activity versus progress?”