Ballmer Appears with Windows 7 Mac In the Background

I'm seeing a lot of this in my RSS feeds: apparently, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer appeared on TV with an image of an Apple MacBook Pro with the Windows 7 logo in the background.

So what?

I don't get the big deal. For some reason, people make a huge deal out of the apparent competition between Microsoft and Apple. Let me lay it out.

Microsoft is a software company. Sure, now they make Zunes and X-boxes and keyboards, but their PC business is in software. Their flagship product is the Windows operating system.

Apple is a consumer electronics company. They make computers, iPods, iPhone, and some accessories. I'm simplifying it a bit. Apple also makes it's own operating system.

So here's the deal:

Apple's Mac OS X is a competitor to Microsoft's Windows.

The computers that Apple makes will also run Windows. It is not a competitor to Windows. It is a client platform.

So a MacBook Pro running Windows 7 isn't a big deal. Microsoft should take it as a complement, and they probably do. Apple fans shouldn't assume the media is playing games with Steve Ballmer.

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