I was reading the latest issue of Mac|Life tonight (I liked it better as Mac Addict, by the way), and it struck me how dependent Apple is on Microsoft. For all the cool things that come with Mac hardware and OS X, a large swath of the Mac user population would be crippled or wiped out if Microsoft decided to stop supporting Office for Mac.
The Mac faithful (of which I am part) won't like to hear this, but it's true. OpenOffice is an excellent program (It actually is now--three years ago it was rubbish), but many of us simply couldn't use it "in production." Sure, I could run Office for Windows in Parallels' coherence mode (and almost certainly would), but that's an unnecessarily roundabout way of solving something best done directly.
This is a relatively small problem for Mac users, right? I suppose so. The same thing, however, is true in the enterprise. Many prefer to run Linux for an increasing array of server-based applications. But they don't want to be stranded, just as I would be on my Mac without Office. Net net: interoperability is a Very Good Thing. It's good for open source, but it's also good for Microsoft (and everyone else, because no one has a complete lock on any particular area of enterprise software).
All of which makes me wish we could, as an industry, talk about interoperability with more candor. More honesty. This isn't a dig at Microsoft, though it has been guilty of conflating patents (a desire to get paid) with interoperability (a desire to get along). The two don't necessarily go together.… Read more