Different Opinions in Convergenceland


I published these bits regarding how I think Mac OS and Windows are doing two different things in their OS strategies (via the metaphor of “What are the Steves up to?”). Then some interesting articles appear:

First, from Ross Rubin on Engadget, this piece which sorta’ agrees with my assessment that Windows is going whole-hog to total convergence. But the money quote:

It’s going to be an ugly transition, and not just figuratively.

Yeah, that’s an understatement. The current interface is a horrible thing as it is, and it’s only going to get worse for desktop users if the trend continues.

Then this piece appears from Kyle Baxter via ShawnBlanc.net in which he asserts that Apple is the one doing the converging, and that Microsoft is not.

I think Apple’s attempting to converge Mac OS and iOS… That’s a very different approach. Apple is pushing their two operating systems toward each other, while Microsoft is integrating touch as a layer on top of their pre-existing Windows operating system without bringing them closer to each other.

He and I are 180° out-of-phase with each other on this opinion. Though his points are reasonable, I think he’s missing something that I figured out as I contemplated the two companies’ different approaches, namely that the UI and the OS are not one in the same. Viewed with this perspective, it’s reasonable to see that Microsoft is indeed converging everything (as both Rubin and I think), but that Apple is willing to sacrifice developers’ effort in order to make the user experience seamless on whatever device is being used.

That’s not to say that Apple isn’t going to make it easier for developers to create excellent UI’s for both platforms (Xcode is already headed that way). What I’m saying is that the UI for Mac OS will never be Cocoa Touch, just as surely as Cocoa (plain) will never become the interface for touch devices.

Steve Jobs has said (though I can’t find the direct quote) that nobody wants to hold up their arms to a touchscreen monitor. True. And given that that’s how one would touch a touchable interface, I don’t see the UIs for iOS and Mac OS converging anytime soon, if at all. While they certainly can and will make use of elements of each other, the two use models are so fantastically different that I just don’t see them becoming one.

And only time will tell.

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