Microsoft accuses rivals of being “boring” and a “mess”

Since its inception, Microsoft has habitually bad-mouthed its competition. I recall disparaging commentary during the DOS versus CP/M era, through the OS/2 era, and on to Linux. Back then the atmosphere was competitive and Microsoft dominated everything. Those days are long gone and its continued trash talk is crazy.

Now at this week's D: Dive Into Mobile conference, Microsoft's Terry Myerson slams Apple's iOS for being "boring" and Google's Android for being a "mess" because there are so many versions in the wild. Perhaps he should look at Windows and explain "mess" to the audience again. I have four different iterations of it in my home office!

This bashing gets the audience to giggle and tweet jokes on their iPhones and Android phones. I'm sure Myerson was the only person in the place with a Windows Phone.

It was the actual assertions, rather than the childish nature of the assertions that drew my attention though. In particular, I was confounded by this crazy comment that Android is a "mess." While Microsoft sees the number of discrepant versions of Android out there, I personally have to wonder why anyone cares. These are phones that people discard over time. I've run into some with old phones running Android 2.0.0, 2.2.2, and who-knows what. I have to check my Galaxy Nexus just to find out what version of Jelly Bean I am running.

Generally speaking, the newer Nexus phones get the most up-to-date OS. That said, these differences mean nothing to many users. And what difference does it make to Microsoft? The phone works. It runs apps. It takes pictures. How is this a mess?

It's less of a mess than Windows XP, Windows XP SP1, Windows XP SP2, Windows XP SP3, Vista, Vista SP1, Vista SP2, Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 8.1. When you throw in all the patches passed out every Tuesday, you are looking at a serious mess. Some people are still running versions of Windows 2000 and swear it is the greatest ever! I'm sure we can find plenty of people running Windows 95, Windows 98, and server versions of Windows, as well as Windows NT – don't forget Windows RT on the tablet! And this guy is calling Android a mess?

More importantly, these versions of Windows are functionally different. The printer drivers, for example, have to be re-written constantly. With Android, most of the updates are superficial organisational or interface changes.

Of course, nobody suggests that Myerson is a lunatic for making this claim. Nowadays, conference hosts go out of their way to be polite and allow the corporate shills to pitch their pitch without any intervening queries of importance.

Myerson's other comment that iOS is boring is almost as baffling. Let's see, the hot topic today is the electric car. I can talk to almost all of these cars with an iPhone app; I can check the battery; I can turn on the heater; I can schedule maintenance. How many auto companies have made the app work on a Windows Phone?

Boring means "uninteresting" or "tedious." When your phone doesn't do anything except flash pictures from your photo album and make phone calls like any other phone, smart or dumb, then I'd say it's your phone that's boring, dude. Get a clue.