At the moment, I'm finding it really hard to concentrate on work, so I thought I'd share my thoughts with you.

Readers of this blog will recall that I have an iMac, that I've done a fair bit of Apple development prior to moving to MS, and those who know me often find amusement in my insistance of wearing Apple tshirts to work.

While this may be thought of as the "bombshell that wasn't" - rumors have been circulating literally for months - the implications of this are pretty intense.  A few minutes ago something snapped in my mind; I'd been wondering all weekend, "Does this mean Apple now see themselves as a software company? Is Microsoft facing a competitor in the platform space?" Well, the answer hit me like this: even if Apple wanted to prevent people running OS X on PCs, it would likely be almost impossible.  Sure, there might be some hardware differences, some odd devices, maybe even a completely new BIOS.  But how hard is it - really - to emulate those things and run at near-native speed?  How hard is it for hardware vendors to be compatible? Or OEMs?

Apple must be aware of this.  The only question is whether they intend to be behind it - making money from it - or make it difficult and lose that revenue to software pirates.  Either way, it will happen; and faced with this choice, the first seems likely.  When these rumors started, they started by claiming that a major OEM had approached Apple and asked for this.

Perhaps this is all a good thing.  I mean, I'm not afraid of healthy competition or anything - that helps everyone make better products, and customers are the beneficiaries.  But I can't recall a time since OS/2 when the desktop client was really subject to intense competition.  How will MS adapt, culturally, to being concerned with what's over its shoulder?  Competition means that customer-focus has to become the primary focus; dropping the ball on what the market wants on any minor point can cause massive harm.

Perhaps that's what I'm getting at here: to all the MS people who read this, don't shrug off the threat that Apple poses.  They really do have some pretty cool stuff down there.  Lowering the transition cost to their OS (by eliminating hardware cost) will attract people.  Application vendors are attracted to platforms with users.  This is critical mass thinking.  I can't recall a time in the last decade where it has been so important for MS to focus on the needs of customers, and the needs of developers, to provide real platform leadership.

Bottom line: the standard just went up a notch. Time to step up.