What If Microsoft Had To Approve Every App On Windows?

from the playing-the-what-if-game dept

I've been pointing out why an open platform beats a closed platform over the long haul with regards to the iPhone, and linking to various stories concerning the arbitrary nature of being allowed (or not) on the iPhone. But, Harry McCracken, over at Technologizer, does a great job illustrating the point by playing the "what if" game, and thinking about how Windows would have developed had Microsoft similarly controlled every app. It doesn't take long to realize how much slower innovation would likely have been on the PC platform (though, it might have opened up more of an opportunity for other platforms):
Would Microsoft have distributed Microsoft Office rivals such as SmartSuite or WordPerfect Office via its app store?

Well, maybe, in theory at least-after all, it doesn't sell Microsoft Office as part of Windows, so it couldn't use the "it duplicates functionality that's already in the product" excuse. Call me a cynic, though, but I suspect that competitive office suites would have run into trouble if Microsoft had controlled all Windows software distribution. And hey, didn't WordPerfect duplicate features in Notepad?

How about Netscape Navigator?

When Netscape first appeared in 1994, the current version of Windows (3.11) didn't have a browser. Even Windows 95 didn't have one at first--Internet Explorer was part of the extra-cost Plus Pack. Then again, Windows 95 did ship with the dreadful client for the original version of MSN, a proprietary online service which definitely did compete with the Web. That might have been reason enough for Microsoft to nix Navigator for duplicating Windows functionality. And once IE was part of Windows, Microsoft could have given Navigator the boot retroactively.

Safari? Firefox? Chrome?

They all appeared long after Windows got a browser as standard equipment. No, no, and no.
And it goes on from there. Fun thought experiment if you're one of the believers that Apple's closed iPhone system is somehow "good" for innovation.

Filed Under: closed, innovation, openness, platforms
Companies: apple, microsoft


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  1. icon
    Mikael (profile), 29 Jul 2009 @ 8:22pm

    Bad comparison

    Like one of the commenters said, the iPhone is a phone, and Windows (that the article was referring to) is for a PC. They should've at least compared it to a Windows Mobile based phone. I can install an app for virtually anything I could want to do on my Tilt. ALL for free. On the iPhone if you don't like the web browser, you're stuck with it. On my winmo phone if I don't want to use pocket IE, then I'll just use MiniMo (early mobile firefox), Opera, or Skyfire. Skyfire, by the way, shows any website just like you'd see it on a desktop. I'm not limited to anything with this phone. I've considered getting an iPhone, but there are too many cons to outweigh the pros. I've always been able to do cut & paste (in any app, not just texts), I can use google voice, plus I can do a number of other things that you couldn't do with an iPhone just because I don't have some company telling me "You can't do what you want with YOUR OWN PHONE".

    Oh...and to aguywhoneedstenbucks who said in the first post
    "But it ensures quality and makes sure my iPod doesn't slow to a crawl! Otherwise my iPod would probably catch on fire from all of the horrible applications that I unwittingly installed! Dammit, I forgot that I jailbroke my iPod Touch for certain command line functionality. There went that argument.
    Um...see that's why you pay attention to what you are installing. I can install any app I want on my phone, but that doesn't mean I'm going to install any and every program I can think of. I have a number of third party programs on my phone and it still runs great. To the iPhone users here...Can you use RDP with your iPhone? How about remote controlling your phone from your PC? I don't know if there are apps for that on the iPhone.

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