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Apple vs. Microsoft November 16, 2014

Posted by ethlite in Uncategorized.
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Came across this on Quora today.

“If you ever installed Microsoft Windows in the 90’s or early 2000’s you probably remember the interminable wait which happened after the OS was installed the the computer booted up for the first time. The scads of little applications which the OS included – the calculator, the calendar, notepad, and so on (which, let’s face it. hardly anybody ever actually used) had to initialize themselves and their registry settings for the first time. Each one was individually trivial, but collectively this little ritual added a long time – I remember it as being 30-40 minutes, but perhaps my memory exaggerates – to the process of installing a new copy of windows.

My informant told me that it would have been simple to include the initial files with the Windows. He said, however, that this was not done because the person(s) at Microsoft who did the final build of Windows release candidates didn’t like waiting thirty or forty minutes every time the release candidates were built and tested.  So, they decided to save themselves half an hour a few times during the release cycle by not including the settings…

…thereby sentencing every one of the tens of millions of people who installed Windows during that decade or so to an extra half an hour of waiting.

My guess is that this system affected something like 50 millions installations of Windows. At half an hour a apiece, that totals a bit more than 2,891 years of wasting other people’s time – including leap years. It’s the Great Pyramid of time wasting, the Taj Mahal of using other people’s precious moments on earth like disposable handi-wipes.”

Now compare that to this better known story about Steve Jobs:

One of the things that bothered Steve Jobs the most was the time that it took to boot when the Mac was first powered on. It could take a couple of minutes, or even more, to test memory, initialize the operating system, and load the Finder.

One afternoon, Steve came up with an original way to motivate us to make it faster. Larry Kenyon was the engineer working on the disk driver and file system. Steve came into his cubicle and started to exhort him. “The Macintosh boots too slowly. You’ve got to make it faster!”

Larry started to explain about some of the places where he thought that he could improve things, but Steve wasn’t interested. He continued, “You know, I’ve been thinking about it. How many people are going to be using the Macintosh? A million? No, more than that. In a few years, I bet five million people will be booting up their Macintoshes at least once a day.” “Well, let’s say you can shave 10 seconds off of the boot time. Multiply that by five million users and thats 50 million seconds, every single day. Over a year, that’s probably dozens of lifetimes. So if you make it boot ten seconds faster, you’ve saved a dozen lives. That’s really worth it, don’t you think?”

We were pretty motivated to make the software go as fast as we could anyway, so I’m not sure if this pitch had much effect, but we thought it was pretty humorous, and we did manage to shave more than ten seconds off the boot time over the next couple of months.

That is the difference between Microsoft and Apple. Not the hardware, not the software, not the UI, not the marketshare, not even the market cap. But in the relationship to the work itself in each and every employee who choose to work there.

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