But Gruber wasn’t talking about whether Windows 7 will stop more
people from leaving Windows; he was talking about whether it’ll
convince Mac users to switch from Macs, and saying that if Windows
7 is really good, it will.
I’m not so sure. History suggests that people don’t like to switch
operating systems and the most striking significant shifts in
operating-system market share have happened when one OS has been
on alarmingly shaky ground. Back when the exodus from Macs to
Windows 95 and Windows 98 that Gruber refers to happened, Apple’s
OS was floundering and it wasn’t clear that the company was going
to survive. And Apple has made major inroads over the past couple
of years in part because Windows Vista was such a mediocrity.
It’s not so much that if Windows 7 were good, it would attract some Mac users, but rather that if Microsoft were driven by technologists rather than sales and marketing guys, they would be hungry to build an OS that wins those switchers back. It’s not that they need those customers, but that they used to drive the industry’s technical agenda, and now they don’t.