Can you leave Apple? Someone at Microsoft says it’s easy. All you need is Microsoft Office and you’re good to go. Literally. Someone at Google says it’s easy, too. All you need is to keep everything under Google’s watchful eye, and then you can switch to anything, anytime.
Chris Matyszczyk explains exactly how Apple’s famous walled garden ecosystem works:
You buy one Apple product and, when you get another one, it works with such blissful ease that you wonder why the whole world wasn’t built like this.
Or, something like that. Remember, Apple has a history of making products that simplify the most complex technology. Mac? Point and click. iTunes? Rip. Mix. Burn. iPod? 1,000 songs in your pocket. iPhone? A smartphone with smarts. iPad? The tablet everyone wanted. Watch? It’s like an iPhone on your wrist.
Apple has always dedicated its soul to making its products human-friendly. This, though, has become harder as the technology sphere has become more complex.
What, though, if you just want to get away from Apple? Is it possible to go somewhere else and experience the same seductively-synced ease?
The true answer, of course, is both yes and no, despite what Microsoft and Google want you to think. What happens if you visit a Microsoft Store and ask about how it all just works?
Is it possible to get the same seamless experience with Microsoft as I get with Apple?
The answer should not come as a surprise.
What do you need?
Microsoft’s about the software. All you have to do is start working with Windows and you’ll easily be able to have your files everywhere.
Yet, I have Office already and my files are everywhere already, and without the need to leave Apple’s walled garden ecosystem. Yet, at Microsoft, they have become somewhat hardware agnostic, despite their own line of Surface PCs and desktops.
As long as you use Microsoft software for everything, Redmond is happy and you should be, too.
Why? Despite a line of Windows hardware, Microsoft makes most of its money with software, and Office works everywhere. Almost. Not so much on Linux, but there’s always a browser window somewhere.
This entire approach also works with Google, because, like Apple and Microsoft, the search engine giant has both hardware and software– an ecosystem of its own. Stick with Google apps the way you stick with Microsoft apps and what you get in the end is someone else’s version of Apple’s walled garden ecosystem, right?
Right? Uh, no.
Motivations between Google, Microsoft, and Apple remain substantially different.
Google gives out free software in exchange for private information; data which is then used by advertisers to manipulate your behavior (that’s what ads do). Microsoft sells software– Office apps– and that makes their ecosystem somewhat more anemic than Apple, but an ecosystem with walls nonetheless. The Windows publisher does not have the hardware line to match Apple. The search engine giant sells roughly the same amount of hardware each year as Apple does in a week. It should be obvious that there is a hardware limitation on Google and Microsoft’s ecosystem.
To one degree or another, I belong to all three ecosystems. Office is used as a standard for work. Google’s apps are available and usually sync well together. By choice I live in Apple’s walled garden ecosystem because there is better privacy and security, and applications tend to have more features and functionality than Google and integrate better and have more options than Office, regardless of the hardware platform.
Dumping Apple’s ecosystem might be easy and there are alternative gardens to take up residence, but why bother? Neither one is better.