In his written testimony, released on Friday, Apple's senior vice president of software engineering, Avadis Tevanian, appears to blame everything that ever went wrong for Apple on Microsoft.
Microsoft has attempted to portray its detractors as whining competitors that couldn?t win in the marketplace, and are trying the courtroom instead. So is Tevanian whining?
Tevanian?s 45-page account, in many places, reinterprets history in a quite remarkable way. As in his retelling of Apple?s acquisition at the end of 1996 of Next Software ? the company owned by Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.
Apple bought Next in order to use its Unix based operating system and transform it into a next generation OS for the Mac, codenamed Rhapsody. But Rhapsody was a failure. Software developers refused to take the financial risk of porting their applications to a new, unproven operating system from a struggling hardware company.
Tevanian claims Microsoft is somehow to blame for this failure. Indeed, Microsoft was one of the many ISVs that refused to port to Rhapsody. But far more damaging to Apple was the lack of support from key software vendors in Apple?s core market, desktop publishing.
According to Tevanian, it?s still Microsoft?s fault in the end because ?most professional developers are simply unwilling to develop applications programs for a new platform in a world dominated by Microsoft?s Windows operating system?.
But that?s distorting the facts - in the DTP market, the Mac still outsells Windows by a wide margin. And DTP vendors such as Adobe or Quark were not abandoning the Mac for Windows. They just weren?t convinced that Rhapsody was the right way to go. It probably wasn?t.
Apple was forced to change its OS plans. It currently plans to release, next year, Mac OS X, an operating system still based on the Next technology but offering better compatibility with the existing Mac OS. If this were all a result of pressure from Microsoft ? as Tevanian would have us believe ? perhaps Microsoft should be praised for helping save Apple from a fatal mistake (abandoning its strongest asset, the Mac OS) and securing the future of the Macintosh.
Tevanian also fails to mention another reason why software developers refused to support Rhapsody - the fact that, only a few months before, Apple had been trying to sell them on another next generation OS called Copeland. When Copeland was shelved, after years of unkept promises, that naturally made developers wary of the new project.
Tevanian also reinterprets the high profile deal cut by Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, interim CEO of Apple, in August 1997. At the time, Jobs was given much credit for securing the continued support of Microsoft for the Macintosh, as well as bringing in $150 million of investment from the former foe.
But Tevanian doesn?t seem to give his (interim) boss as much credit as Apple investors, or the media, did. Instead, he claims Apple was pressured into the deal by Microsoft?s threat to scrap Office for the Mac.
?If Microsoft had not exercised its monopoly power in the office application market by threatening to stop support for Office for Macintosh, Apple would not have [agreed to the deal]," writes Tevanian.
Not only does this version of the facts dismiss Steve Jobs? considerable negotiating skills, it also appears to blame Microsoft for the fact that, apart from Office, there isn?t another real productivity suite for the Mac.
If Microsoft indeed has a de facto 'monopoly' of office suites for the Mac, why not blame Lotus or Corel, who never bothered to port their own products?
Not only does Tevanian insist on blaming Microsoft for virtually everything that ever went wrong for Apple. He also, at one point, lectures Microsoft on its tough licensing deals with OEMs.
In the antitrust trial, Microsoft has been accused of refusing to let PC makers replace Internet Explorer with Netscape Navigator. Tevanian wants to show that Apple is more open: ?We provide Vars with the flexibility to remove browsers or other applications, and to reconfigure the Macintosh desktop to address what they perceive to be their customers? desires," he writes.
But Apple is badly placed to lecture Microsoft on openness towards OEMs. Apple last year decided not to license its operating system to OEMs like Umax anymore, effectively shutting them out and killing the blooming Mac clone market.
Apple did to Umax what Microsoft allegedly only threatened to do to Compaq - cut off its OS licence. The circumstances where somewhat different, granted. But as the fierce guardian of the ultimate proprietary platform, the Macintosh, Apple really should not be giving Microsoft lessons in openness.
Avadis Tevanian would have been wiser to tone down his anti-Microsoft rhetoric, and attempt to present a more balanced view. He would have been more believable. And he would have given Microsoft?s combative attorney John Warden less ammunition to discredit his testimony in Court.
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