With the release of Apple's Snow Leopard operating system Friday, the next generation in operating system battles has begun. Snow Leopard is set to take on Windows 7, which is still slated for a late October release. And although it promises to be an interesting battle, it seems that Microsoft will hold the upper hand when it's all said and done.
Microsoft still dominates the operating system market, but it lost the last-gen battle. Apple's Leopard simply made Vista look like the also-ran in the market. Apple used its marketing budget to take Microsoft to task on all the issues its operating system suffered from.
Microsoft could do little to fight back and eventually enlisted the help of comedian Jerry Seinfeld. It was an ill-fated move. And it made Microsoft look even more desperate. So after considering its options, Microsoft decided to focus its efforts on Windows 7 and admit defeat against Leopard. But now that Snow Leopard has been released and Windows 7 is just two months away, it's a new battle. Apple will continue its time-tested strategy of appealing to consumers while trying to capture more market share. Microsoft will stay true to both enterprise users and consumers and attempt to take back some of the market share it lost in the last generation. It's a tall order for both companies. But at this point, it seems that Microsoft might be in a better position to capitalize.
Although Snow Leopard received high marks in early reviews, it isn't a revolutionary upgrade. It features some iterative updates that do make it more appealing, but at the same time, those small updates limit its appeal. The new operating system sports better 64-bit support for Apple applications, including Finder and Mail. It also has Exchange support, which is a major update for businesses. But other than some fixes and a few upgrades, Snow Leopard is Leopard with a new name. That's probably why Apple isn't trying to gouge the consumers -- Snow Leopard costs just $29 for a single upgrade.
Windows 7 is an entirely different story. Microsoft realized that Windows Vista was a nightmare. It's aware that both companies and consumers are thinking twice about deploying new operating systems from Microsoft. So in an attempt to right the ship and bring Windows back to a place it once enjoyed with Windows XP, Microsoft has substantially improved its operating system.