The Zune HD and Windows 7 as test case
It’s been my contention, for some time, that a lot of the anti-Microsoft sentiment from certain fans of Apple isn’t actually based on good-faith considerations of Microsoft’s products and services but out of simple partisan sentiment. (As a pillar of stoic neutrality and sterling integrity, I am beyond such accusations myself.) This is similar to a lot of the general negative attitudes towards Microsoft, concerning the anti-monopoly suit (fun fact: Apple packages a Web browser with their OS), and how Microsoft supposedly wants to “take over the whole electronic world” (when Apple, in fact, produces a far broader range of products than Microsoft).
We have a bit of an opportunity to see who really cares about the quality of the product and who is just a shrill ideologue. Windows 7 has been out as a free-to-download release candidate for months. (I’m writing this post on my computer which is currently running that RC.) It has been released to manufacturing and will soon be available to purchase. By almost all accounts, it’s an elegant, fast, powerful operating system that removes many of the typical complaints of the Windows experience. Meanwhile, the Zune HD is coming, and it looks awesome. Really, really awesome. (Check the link and watch the movies.) This is a big turnaround for Microsoft, for the previous Zunes, while not as bad as many have made them out to be, were truly poor cousins of Apple’s iPod, a near-miracle of smart design, style and functionality. The Zune HD doesn’t just look like a competitor to the iPod touch; I think, if it lives up to the promise of its features, it’ll be a flatly superior product.
Now, it may be the case that the Zune HD isn’t as awesome as it seems now. And perhaps Windows 7 has a host of flaws that we’ll come to discover. I’m certainly not saying anyone has to claim to like either of them if they don’t. But if all the smart tech writers who are praising them are right, then chances are, a lot of Apple partisans will be impressed by them. If that’s the case, there will be a clear decision to be made: tip the cap and praise Microsoft, and recognize that Microsoft products are attractive alternatives that smart people can prefer; or ignore them, and continue to act like there is no appreciable reason to choose to buy Microsoft products. I’m interested to see how it goes down.