Snow Leopard vs. Windows 7: Does It Matter? - InformationWeek

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Government // Mobile & Wireless
01:38 PM
Jake Widman
Jake Widman

Snow Leopard vs. Windows 7: Does It Matter?

As President Obama said, the media loves a ruckus. But should SMBs really care about the alleged Snow Leopard-Windows 7 throwdown? And is the OS where the real battle is anyway?

As President Obama said, the media loves a ruckus. But should SMBs really care about the alleged Snow Leopard-Windows 7 throwdown? And is the OS where the real battle is anyway?The close release dates of the two new operating systems -- Apple's Snow Leopard last Friday, Microsoft's Windows 7 on October 22 -- has breathed new life into that journalistic standby, "Windows vs. Mac: which is better?" Not that everyone can even agree on what the terms of the fight are: my colleague and bMighty editor-in-chief Fred Paul recently opined that Windows 7 was a performance upgrade, the same way Snow Leopard is, and could be priced as such. On the other hand, a PC World writer today argued that Snow Leopard is nothing more than a service pack while Windows 7 is a whole new OS.

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Whatever. The underlying question of all these articles is whether Windows 7 will halt the growth in Mac market share or whether Snow Leopard will spur it to greater heights. My suspicion, especially when it comes to SMBs, is neither. This is not the best economic climate for businesses to be switching platforms -- in either direction, the costs of retraining and acquiring new software overwhelms any perceived difference in price. I'd expect companies to stay with what they know for now.

Further, for Windows 7 to make a difference, you'd have to assume that the issues with Vista were responsible for the Mac's growth in market share, and I'm not sure that's supportable. Using the best data I could find, I graphed the growth in Mac share from 2004 through 2008, and the big bend in the curve came in 2005, a year or more before Vista was released. Since then, Mac market share has been increasing roughly 25 percent a year. If the Mac's growth was well underway before Vista stumbled onto the scene, is Windows 7 really going to change the game?

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An article on today quotes Phil Libin of the cross-platform program Evernote: "Maybe the total lead that Mac had over Microsoft in terms of user quality will be smaller this fall than it was in the past couple of years." So Macs might be a little less better than PCs than they have been -- I don't think that's going to get any Mac owners to reconsider their purchases.

That article does point to another trend that may prove to be troublesome for Apple, though: the increasing popularity of netbooks. There's some question whether they will be major players in the SMB market, and Apple may have an answer up its sleeve. But those are major questions, and I'll address them in my next post.

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