Microsoft to borrow -- and improve -- another Apple innovation

I wouldn't be a true Apple fanboy if I didn't believe, somewhere in my heart of hearts, that Microsoft Windows is a patched-together hodgepodge of elements shamelessly lifted from Mac OS, altered just enough to avoid a lawsuit (and to be terrible). Therefore, it's quite validating to hear Steve Ballmer openly contemplating another such act of flattering imitation, as he did before a group of Australian developers last week:

I actually will agree that there's some good work, particularly at Facebook and also with the iPhone, where both of those companies have made it easier for developers to distribute their applications. [They've] made it easier to kind of get exposure for your applications. There's not much money being made, but the general concept of giving developers a way not only to get their code distributed, but to really get visibility for the code, is a good idea.

Who even knows what exactly Ballmer is contemplating here; all we know is that the end result will be a thousand times clunkier than the App Store, but will get more market penetration through sheer inertia. I suppose it's possible that Ballmer is thinking about an App Store rip-off for Windows Mobile devices, but I first read this as a potential vector for selling PC software. This makes a good deal of sense for Microsoft, which is, after all, a software vendor first and foremost. The question is, if Microsoft can do it, why not Apple? Why shouldn't I be able to go to the App Store and buy OS X desktop apps just as easily as I do iPhone apps? The dynamic is different, surely -- there are tons of other ways to get desktop apps, whereas the App Store is your only route to get code onto an iPhone -- but just having everything in one place, handled by one purchasing interface, lowers the barrier to purchasing and loosens the purse strings.

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