Yes, Microsoft Did Change The World More Than Apple Did

A new poll in France says 7 out of 10 people think Microsoft did more to change the world than Apple. We think we would have similar results in other countries, if only because a lot more people (still!) use Microsoft products than Apple products, at least for personal computing which is (still!) the most important part of computing.
It’s hard to see a mention of Steve Jobs without the worlds “change the world” or “changing an industry.” And let’s give him his due. Let’s give him his due as one of the greatest entrepreneurs in history, as an amazing entrepreneur and visionary who left many “dents” in the universe. And he did change many industries, like music, film, and yes, personal computing.But in terms of sheer impact on the world?

Bill Gates

Microsoft founder Bill Gates speaks during a forum on education at the National Urban League annual conference in Boston, Thursday, July 28, 2011. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

 

Microsoft wins, hands down.

Microsoft gave the world two things:

  • Microsoft was the first real software company.
  • Microsoft did put a PC on every desk and in every home. 

At the end of the day, it’s that last part that matters. By shifting the value in computing to software, Microsoft commoditized computing hardware and made computing accessible to the masses. If this isn’t one of the most significant events in history, nothing is.

Now, some people will say that Microsoft did this by copying Apple’s innovations like the graphical user interface. Whatever. First of all, Apple famously copied those from Xerox PARC. Great artists steal. Second of all, by any meaning of the word, the person who changes the world isn’t the one who comes up with the idea, it’s the one who executes on it, and 1980s Apple failed to execute (a lesson well learned by Apple under Steve Jobs 2.0).

The original Macintosh did show where the future of computing was headed, but it was also a commercial failure. 1980s Apple failed to understand the value of software, in particular third party software, which was lacking in the Macintosh. (This writer’s mother bought two computers in the mid-1980s: the first Macintosh and the first IBM PC. There was a lot more software for the PC. So she kept buying PCs, to this day–though she has an iPhone.)

Microsoft, being a software company, built an operating system platform that let thousands of others innovate which, along with Moore’s Law, made PCs cheaper and more valuable every year which meant more and more people could get access to them, in a vicious circle.

e2805174-ad5c-4371-9da5-64a1844fee20

Being the first big, viable software company also meant Microsoft cleared the way for thousands of other software innovators,when it was in no way obvious at the start that a company could be viable making just software.

The hardware may have been ugly, and the software clunky (a big reason why Windows is buggy is because of Microsoft’s amazing 20 year commitment to backwards compatibility, which makes PC software a cohesive environment, a tremendous service to users and the world, for which it gets no credit. With less software to support, Apple can afford to wipe the slate clean every ten years, a strength born of weakness.), but it was the software that millions of people used, and loved.

Nowadays Apple is so huge and efficient that it can afford to make the best products at the best prices. But when the personal computer revolution happened, the Macintosh was a Mercedes and MS-DOS was the Model T. The Model T might have been ugly, clunky and cheap, but being cheap it also changed the lives of millions and transformed the world in a way that the early auto pioneers, amazing and necessary though they were, didn’t.

microsoft-apple

Now, Apple may yet get its revenge. The mobile computing revolution, with smartphones and tablets, will be at least as big as the desktop computing revolution, and Apple is seriously taking the lead. Android has a good chance of disrupting iOS, but Apple also has a great chance of remaining the dominant mobile platform. Maybe 20 years from now we’ll look back and see Apple had an impact at least as big as Microsoft in the 1980s.

But if we’re looking now, Microsoft clearly had a bigger impact on the world than Apple. The fact that we all love Apple products and they’re gorgeous doesn’t change the fact that the company that actually made the world realize the magic of software, and made computing accessible to almost everyone on the planet, is Microsoft.

How to Enable the New Facebook Timeline ‘NOW’

You’ve been hearing about all the wonderful new Facebook features, and like us, you’re probably super-eager to get started with them.

If you’re willing to go through a series of eight steps, you can get into the brand-new Facebook Timeline right now.

Simply follow the instructions in our gallery below, and suddenly you’ll be basking in a new world of Facebook goodness, just like the developers are. Follow the instructions carefully, and good luck.

Please note: If you haven’t already verified your Facebook account with either a mobile phone number or credit card number, you’ll be asked to do so before you can try the new features. If you need more help with that, here’s a helpful link.

First, you’ll need to go to the Facebook developer page, which is a part of your Facebook account. Make sure you’re logged into your Facebook account, and then simply follow this link to get started.

Owl City’s Unlikely Climb: From the basement to the charts.

 

01

As musicians, we all start from humble beginnings. In fact, many people begin by making beats in mom’s basement but few of us ever went directly from mom’s basement to the #1 spot on iTunes, deafening internet chatter, and a sold out US concert tour. However for Adam Young, better known to everyone as “Owl City,” that dream has truly become a reality in the last two years.

Adam Young’s transition from working in a Coca-Cola warehouse in Owatonna, Minnesota, to crafting a platinum record a few years later, is one of the biggest musical success stories in recent memory, a Music 2.0 success story. While working each day at a factory warehouse, he was busy leveraging social media sites like MySpace to distribute music direct to fans and hone his song-writing/production skill by getting instant feedback from listeners. Each day, Adam would rush home from the warehouse and sit down to capture whatever melody he had been kicking around all day. When Adam sat down to create music, he launched Reason.

capture-2

“I wrote and recorded Ocean Eyes in my parents’ basement,” Young, the voice of Owl City, says, reflecting on the story we’ve now all heard: the basement-trapped kid producing a chart-topping breakout LP with a smash single (“Fireflies”). Things, surprisingly however, didn’t change that much for the recording of his new LP All Things Bright & Beautiful. Despite now recording in his own house, Young couldn’t part with a certain setting. “Still in a basement”. Young says, explaining where he recorded the new album.  This basement did have its perks, though. “It was a bit more isolated in the way that I could just go downstairs and hit record whenever I wanted,” Young says. “I could make as much noise as I wanted to at night and not bother anybody.”

capture2

Young does confess that the recording environment wasn’t the only distinction between Ocean Eyes and All Things Bright And Beautiful. “The biggest difference between these two albums is just the way it’s put together,” he explains. “I spent a lot more time pre-recording All Things Bright And Beautiful, just really polishing what I knew about the gear that I have in the studio, what attack and release time and threshold values on compressors and things that really affect the end result. Thus the new record feels a lot more stitched together and a lot more resolved.”

owlcity032411

From the hip-hop-inflected, electro anthem “Alligator Sky” (which features MC Shawn Chrystopher) to the orchestrally-tinged, club-friendly “Galaxies,” the songs on All Things Bright And Beautiful contain Owl City’s most fully-formed musical ideas to date. “’Alligator Sky’ is kind of a rabbit hole on the record, “Young explains. “It was just a place to create a sore thumb in a likable way. The whole hip-hop thing is something I’ve never experimented with and it was a fun thing to tackle. I’m a big fan of a lot of older hip-hop like A Tribe Called Quest and some early pretty legendary hip-hop stuff from the ‘90s. It was kind of my homage to that in an abstract way.”

capture3

All Things Bright And Beautiful also features an appearance from Canadian musician Lights, who lends her vocals to “The Yacht Club.” There was never a doubt who Young wanted on the track. “I knew when I was writing the song that I wanted a female, kind of dreamy, breathy, sort of innocent vocal on this track,” he explains, “and Lights was the first person I thought of. I reached out to her and she was kind enough to oblige.” Even though All Things Bright And Beautiful is a huge progression for Owl City, Young admits he’s still getting used to all of the success he’s experienced over the past few years.

“When I wrote ‘Fireflies’ I never imagined it would resonate with people,” Young admits. “It really blew me away; I don’t think there’s any equation you could really put together to get something as magical as that was.” And while he may still be recording in a basment, once the songwriter steps outside, roaming the streets of Owatonna, it’s certainly a different experience. “When I was growing up in that little town I was kind of a nobody,” he says. ” (But now) people will stop me and say ‘You’re that guy.’”