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Windows 7 vs. Mac OS X Snow Leopard: competitive origins

Vista vs. Mac OS X

In contrast, Microsoft has had to keep Windows a general purpose, one-size-fits-all product that it can license to every PC maker on earth apart from Apple. Microsoft's business interests often fail to align with those of its licensees, resulting in skirmishes with its OEMs. These broke out particularly with the release of Windows Vista in 2006. For example, Acer was irritated by Microsoft's price hike on Vista and its strategy to sell the OEMs a crippled Home Basic version that users would have to upgrade directly with Microsoft in order to get the same features they had with XP. Dell and HP pushed back when Microsoft tried to cancel XP and make Vista the only option.

Vista ended up a colossal failure due to the way it was sold by Microsoft, its problems with existing hardware, incompatibilities with software titles, and its poor performance relative to XP, despite offering new features and, in particular, strong new efforts to bolster Microsoft's security reputation. Not even Microsoft's most loyal pundits could defend the release of Vista after months of sales data proved beyond any doubt that consumers didn't care about the new operating system's features or its security advancements; they were only upset that their existing software and hardware ran worse under Vista than it did under XP, and that Vista cost more.

Snow Leopard vs. Windows 7

Windows Vista was released Jan 30, 2007 to horrid reviews.

Those events set up circumstances that favored Apple's strategies: all Apple has to do is deliver incremental improvements to Mac OS X and its already happy and expanding pool of Mac users will remain loyal customers, while Microsoft is tasked with rethinking Vista to make it palatable to OEM licensees, suitable for existing users, and yet also feature competitive enough to compare with Apple's offerings. Additionally, Microsoft is running out of potential new customers as the PC market matures into a slow growth phase. Apple has lots of potential for growth, as it is now very profitable with less than 10% of the market, leaving it plenty of Windows users to woo over to its own platform.

Windows 7 vs Snow Leopard

With that background, the game is set for a rematch between Apple and Microsoft, with the Mac maker's latest Snow Leopard due in the first half of the year and Windows 7 aggressively scheduled to arrive shortly afterward. The next segment will look at how Apple plans to reward loyal Mac users while tempting Windows users to switch with Snow Leopard, and how Microsoft plans to correct its mistakes with Vista to regain the upper hand with Windows 7.

Snow Leopard vs. Windows 7

Windows 7 build 7000 was released publicly on January 7th, 2009.