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Cringely on OS X for PCs

Mark Stephens, AKA Robert X. Cringely, is a smart guy who has good ideas and interesting predictions. Every so often, though, he writes something that makes me wonder, "Is he just saying that to see if we're paying attention?" In 2003, he proposed a business called Snapster that would digitize music CDs and share them freely with all its shareholders, claiming he couldn't find a lawyer who could find a "serious flaw" in his logic -- which made me wonder exactly which lawyers he had been talking with.

In his current column (quoted below), and in a similar op-ed piece in The New York Times, he talks about Boot Camp and the future of Mac OS X on Intel hardware:

Microsoft and Apple are happy with each other for the moment, and rather than representing some Apple attack on Microsoft, Boot Camp just represents the state of their happy partnership. But this won't last for long. It never does.

I predict that Apple will settle on 64-bit Intel processors ASAP (with FireWire 800 please), and at that time will announce a product similar to Boot Camp to allow OS X to run on bog-standard 32-bit PC hardware, turning the Boot Camp relationship on its head and trying to sell $99 copies of OS X to 100 million or so Windows owners.

This ignores virtually everything that is fundamental to both how operating systems are developed and how Apple does business today. To call a hypothetical version of OS X compatible with off-the-shelf PCs "a product similar to Boot Camp" is to misunderstand at a profound level how operating systems are developed.

A Mac running OS X is simpler to install, use, and maintain than a PC running Windows because Apple controls both the hardware and the software. Apple only has to design for hardware configurations that it itself has built. Were Apple to ship OS X for "bog-standard 32-bit PC hardware", it would be just as frustrating as Windows. Microsoft has a far more difficult time shipping new versions of their OS not because they're incompetent, but because their task is orders of magnitude larger than Apple's, made so by the unending hardware configurations forced upon them by the commoditized market for PC hardware. In other words, were Apple to ship OS X for any old PC, its ease of use would drop dramatically, while its development and support costs would rise astronomically.

[Could Apple solve this problem by only offering OS X pre-bundled with certain Intel-based PCs? Yes, they could: doing so would limit the scope of the work required. But why would they do this? Users can already buy an Intel-based PC with OS X pre-bundled. It's called a Mac.]

Then there's the issue of margins. I don't know what Apple makes on an iMac, or on a MacBook Pro, but I'm sure it's substantially more than $99 -- hundreds of dollars more. I wouldn't be surprised to hear that Apple makes $500 per system on their high-end laptops and desktop computers. If they were to ship OS X for any old PC, customers would say to themselves, "I can have a Mac experience with cheaper PC hardware," and Apple's hardware business would dry up. Apple would then be dependent on a pure-play operating system business. Users would quickly figure out that OS X was just as difficult to use on their PCs as Windows -- maybe even more so, given how far behind Apple would be in driver support. The customer choice would be between Windows (better driver support, far more applications, bundled with virtually every PC made) or OS X (poor driver support, far fewer applications, only available aftermarket). Apple would have effectively killed their hardware business with no offsetting software business waiting for them on the other side.

Let me put it this way: Steve Jobs is famous for being obsessive about even the most seemingly trivial aspects of design. This obsession has paid off by creating loyal customers who -- whether using an iPod or a Mac -- appreciate how Apple gets all the details right in creating an integrated and complete experience. To me, it's laughable to think that Jobs would give up this control and turn OS X into a generic PC operating system. Leaving aside the fatal usability issues, support costs, and margin concerns described above, what Cringely proposes is impossible on aesthetic grounds alone. I think Jobs would rather have dental surgery without benefit of anaesthesia than see his beautiful software running on clunky PC hardware.

It's not going to happen. And I'm willing to make a public bet with Cringely that it won't.

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Comments

Microsoft's issues with being able to deliver an OS in a timely fashion has more to do with Microsoft's size than the PC's they plan to run the OS on.

OS-X could ship today and run on every pc built in the past 3 years. Sure, it might not regognize that odd TV card or some weird weather sensing package, but neither does Windows out of the box. Windows depends on the hardware makers to provide drivers for odd cards. This is one area where OS-X would have issues.

The other area where OS-X would have issues is in the world of 3D graphics for games, an area they don't compete in anyway.

When it comes to running Photoshop, Word, Excel and the host of other standard applications, OS-X would run out of the box.

Why?

Because Linux does. Linux even runs on older hardware. With the PC's now being down to two basic video chip sets (nVidia and ATI), its much easier today to come up with an OS that knows how to talk to the hardware. Now in 1985, this would not be the case, there were dozens of video cards, dozens of modems, dozens of network adapters.

So OS-X on standard off the shell PC's is a very real possiblity.

"Apple would then be dependent on a pure-play operating system business."

Well, of course they have a few side projects (iPod?), and being an OS business would make them kinda like... Microsoft? We all know Microsoft isn't a profitable company as a purely OS business.

"Apple would have effectively killed their hardware business with no offsetting software business waiting for them on the other side."

Then again, there is the whole iPod deal. They have something to fall back on. Granted, it may not be too much, but with the number of iPods sold each day, I can think of thousands of companies that would do anything to be completely reliant on that.

"Steve Jobs is famous for being obsessive about even the most seemingly trivial aspects of design."

Give him a nice big Newegg gift card and have him write drivers for a few months. When Windows started crashing because of drivers, did they pull everything from the market and back down? No. They fixed the issues and moved on. Enough people (like myself) would buy OS X when it came out to make it well worth your while, and then you could work on doing support. I would buy OS X for the same reason I'd buy Vista or any other OS that comes out, so I can be up to date and efficient.

"I think Jobs would rather have dental surgery without benefit of anaesthesia than see his beautiful software running on clunky PC hardware."

I'm going to make this argument two ways, one very civil and one very offended.
Civil: So what you're saying is, Jobs would rather have a beautiful operating system running on a "beautiful" Mac than on a PC?
Offended: I built this thing with my bare hands, I fine-tuned every component to just the way I wanted it, I work on this thing, It's beautiful to me. If you don't think the same way I do, then get your head out from under the covers and come out into the real world where people work to troubleshoot problems and don't just sit and wait for Stevie to release some new hardware. You may not think the product of my blood sweat and tears is nice looking, but I sure as hell do. I'm sure Steve Jobs wouldn't care if I gave him money for an OS if it was running on a nice iBook or a beat up Gateway or something I put together with parts from Newegg. Buy a Ferrari, Steve, but you aren't going to insult my hard work.

Basically, listen to this: I'll buy an OS for $99, but I'm not paying two grand for a MacBook. The most you're going to get out of me is that $99. I'm not alone, either.

Even if MacOS could work on all pcs out the box, it would end up with far more issues that the above comment suggests. Linux does not run all PC hardware out the box. In fact I would say it runs a tiny fraction of it. It just happens the it runs on the faction of hardware popular with the people who use it. But that is not unexpected when they are the very same users that write the drivers.

MacOS will almost certianly not run aon PCs though for the sake of iSteve Job's ego. He also might be completely right. But buying a beige box with MacOS on would not be the apple experience.

For example, Front-Row one of Apples latest toys couldn't possibly work how it is meant to without an IR port on the machine. They won't even ship it to a mac without an IR port.

Here's the tiny issue with this piece: Windows is a nightmare of drivers because that's the way it's designed. The insistence on maintaining legacy support is mostly to blame, not only for the stability and compatibility issues, but also for the security issues. To a lesser degree, it is also to blame for the usability issues.

The better comparison is BSD or Linux... because OS X is pretty much just FreeBSD polished for use in the real world (i.e. not just for geeks). These operating systems have almost as much driver support, with few of the security and stability problems that Windows carries. Furthermore, the only real reason that Linux/BSD driver support is behind, is that there hasn't been a single company with the weight of Apple to demand it from the manufacturers. With Apple's heft addressing those issues, I could see a much more competitive generic OS X than you describe.

Also, Apple just joined BAPCo, the Wintel benchmarking standard committee. I believe their reasoning here is to prove, on a level playing field, that they make superior hardware.

I believe that Apple wants to have its cake and eat it too. I also believe that it's possible (if not probable) that Apple could pull it off.

Rob, first, to say that "OS-X could ship today and run on every pc built in the past 3 years" means you're either a) underestimating the broadness and complexity of the PC hardware business, or b) overestimating the configurations that Apple currently supports. Apple ships and offers support for very, very few hardware configurations. How many, say, motherboard designs has Apple shipped in the last three years compared to motherboard designs in the PC market? I'm guessing the ratio of PC:Mac motherboard designs is 100:1. But that's just a guess. And there are many, many more examples.

Let's say you're right and that OS X on third-party PC hardware could do a credible job of running Photoshop, Word, and Excel. So what? Windows already does a credible job of running those applications.

As for Linux, forgive my bias, but as a matter of course, I distrust any reference to Linux on the desktop as an example of compatibility or ease of use.

Apple's current position as an alternative desktop OS is based in large part on the perception that it is far easier to use and maintain than Windows. For a shrink-wrapped aftermarket version of OS X for Intel to be anything other than an unmitigated disaster, it would have to be, again, easier to use and maintain than Windows. Otherwise, Apple would be destroying its own claim to superiority.

I'm an Apple owner and fan, but the thought that they could out-Microsoft Microsoft strikes me as impossible. And to think that Apple would ever take on Microsoft in its own backyard, where it's strongest, and where it would leave no earth unscorched to maintain its position, is just silly.


You are right on. Cringely is
writing this to get attention,
not because there is any IQ
behind his arguments.

You missed the point of the cringeley article entirely. I am no cringeley fanboy, but his prediction is not much of a prediction - there is no doubt apple will sell their OS to people using standard PC hardware.

You are using old arguments for why apple software is superior. Look at the hardware apple is using, it is not any different than what Dell is using. It isn't much different than what Shuttle is using in their XPC barebones for that matter. The difference is the OS.

The idea of a bootcamp like product for non-mac intel hardware is probably just what apple will create. It will allow you to install the off-the-shelf OSX on a 32bit windows machine. That is all it would do.

Apple has around 2% of the worldwide PC market. They ship around 1 million PCs a quarter. Compare that to Dell who ships 10 million a quarter. They also have nearly 20% of the worldwide PC market. HP is not far behind, then Lenovo. Last year there were 218 million PCs shipped, most with some flavor of windows. Just think if Apple gets just 1% of the total worldwide PC shipments to buy OSX. Do the math.

OSX for commodity PC hardware could be the biggest product apple has ever sold.


-ec

Jon, if you hand-built your own PC, way to go! You're obviously a capable guy. You're also not in any way, shape, or form a member of Apple's target market.

You wrote, "I'm sure Steve Jobs wouldn't care if I gave him money for an OS if it was running on a nice iBook or a beat up Gateway or something I put together with parts from Newegg." In fact, I'm reasonably sure he would care. Again, it's about the entire experience. When people see OS X running, they see it on elegant Apple hardware, with an extremely high level of operating system-hardware integration -- every function of one supported by the other. That's what makes OS X so attractive, and that's what Apple would lose. So I think Steve would forgo your $99 for the larger picture.

Comment for each comment :
1) If OS X on a PC would support only what Linux does, it would fail. Linux isn't used by enough 'joe normal users' to get all the problems a consumer OS would run into. Linux users by their nature are narrowing down their hardware and their expectation of what the OS does for them. Windows users are a much wide range of users It would be an absolute nightmare of customer support of Apple to run on generic PCs.
2) Apple is in the business of selling prestige items at a mark up. There is nothing wrong with that. That's the business model, as it is for luxury cars, fashion items, furniture, etc. It's not about selling as many as you can at any price.

Running a business is about balancing investment and profit, not necessarily about giving away your stuff to as many users as you can.

Your arguement that Apple makes more on computers is spot on. BUT, do you think Steve would rather make $500 per computer on 10% of the computers sold (and that's being nice) worldwide, or make $99 per computer on 50% of the computers sold worldwide. I'll take your bet, and say the latter.
The one thing I kept waiting for in your arguement was "it won't work" for this technical reason. You gave none. If it CAN work, Steve will make it, and sell it.
Will the end customer blame Apple for problems? I have never in 10 years of computer service heard someone say "Damn, Microsoft." An Apple-naut friend of mine swears that Steve will never sell OS X for x86 because Apple doesn't want to support it. May I point out that Microsoft doesn't support Windows. HELLLLLOOOOOO!
When I install Windows on a new box, the accompanying book says if there's any problems to contact the machine manufacturer, not Microsoft. And guess how many calls I've had regarding software issues (ok, not counting viruses, spyware, etc.)? None.
Same thing with drivers...not Microsoft's problem. It's up to the device manufacturer to make it work. And if it doesn't we won't put it in a computer.
Steve believes in "the American Way." Part of that is choice. And when it comes to OS, we don't have it. Steve will give us that choice.


Apple's biggest obstacle to wider acceptance has been its insistence on proprietary hardware: no I.T. manager is going to deploy a single-manufacturer hardware platform on the corporate desktop. That in turn dissuades many software manufacturers from adapting their products to run on the self-capping market for OS-X hardware platforms.

For software manufacturers, the issue is not now and has never been the superiority of Apple's hardware or software: it's been about revenue generating volume.

By moving away from its closed hardware platform, Apple may finally be taking the essential first step towards wider use of its software.

"I have never in 10 years of computer service heard someone say 'Damn, Microsoft.'"

You must be living in some alternative universe. Those of us here on earth hear it every day.

Apple is known well enough by the public, at this stage (i-pod, etc...) that they could easily yank 30% to 50% of the new PC OS market right out from under Microsoft. The BSD-like Unix base from which they built, as well as the standing knowledge out there in the community on driver standards for existing devices, will allow a 99% driver compatibility rate (if they have already been doing their homeeowrk.)


If they release before Christmas, especially with some OEM support, they stand to turn the OS market on its ear!

"I have never in 10 years of computer service heard someone say 'Damn, Microsoft.'"

I don't think I've ever used a single Microsoft product that hasn't made me say something like that. Probably about once a week, on average. Where did you find these amazingly forgiving users?

"When people see OS X running, they see it on elegant Apple hardware, with an extremely high level of operating system-hardware integration -- every function of one supported by the other."

Maybe this would make sense if Apple "MacIntels" were built around some central proprietary hardware. But they're not -- especially now. Standard Intel x86 CPU, Intel-derived motherboard, ATI video card, industry standard memory, storage, buses, etc. -- at the end of the day, a MacIntel *is* a PC. It's simply a standardized PC. There's no magic pixie dust. OSX is no more uniquely 'coupled' to the hardware than OS with appropriate drivers. OSX provides the exact same "experience" on a DIY PC so long as its components fall within the narrow range of hardware for which OSX includes drivers. Whether OSX would retain its stability with a wider range of drivers for a wider range of hardware is an open question, but not the point. The point is that a MacIntel is simply a standardized PC. There's nothing more to the "experience", besides aesthetics.

It would do OS X good to allow 3rd party hardware drivers in, be able to run on just about any 32- or 64-bit PC, and to allow anyone to use great hardware (i.e., not Apple) with great OS software (OS X).

I'd shell out 400 bucks for such a version of OS X to run on any of my PCs before I got another piece of Apple hardware.

I think you got it absolutly right.

OS X is stable because of the control of hardware, not because of some voodoo magic. So OS X on your average custom-build "cheap Walmart PC" would lead to the same havoc than windows usually does.

I also estimate that 90% of windows instability exists because of badly written and uncertified drivers from Taiwan and other "cheap-made hardware sellers".

I agree. I hear people blaming Microsoft everyday. And Microsoft does support their products. It's called "Microsoft Support" and they have thousands of people working at call centers around the world providing support. Are you sure you are in computer service?

I want to say Apple will never release OS X for crappy PC hardware.

I want to say they'll never find a way to make OS X on the PC profitable, and that they'll never be able to pirate-proof it.

But then, once upon a time, Apple moving to Intel chips was unthinkable, too.

Well, we've been saying "Mac on Intel!? Never! It has different endian, it would make Macs PCs, etc."

A lot of folks say they hope to never see OS X "for crappy PC hardware".

What about OS X for really good PC hardware?

This idea that "PC hardware" is a singularity and by definition "crappy" is BS. Indeed, there are *lots* of crappy PC components -- crappy soundcards, crappy motherboards, crappy cases...

But don't forget -- there is some really good PC hardware, too. Really good motherboards. Really good soundcards. Really good cases.

What if...and don't let this blow your mind too far out the back of your heads...OS X on *really good* PC hardware was *better than a Mac*!?!?

Once again, a MacIntel is one configuration of a PC. That's all it is. It is a relatively good PC. I agree. Better than many cheapo PC's. But a MacIntel is not the best possible PC. There are better processors, better motherboards, and so on. How great would OS X be on these? I for one would love to see that.

As many a Mac fan, I like the idea of going down to CompUSA or CircuitCity and picking up a copy of OS X that can be installed anywhere, but I agree with you that it would be a foolish idea for Apple and provide no real sales or marketing benefit.

We are left with the issue of adoption of Macs by the many PC users out there (most of whom have never really used a Mac). The iPod has gone a long way in the promotion the Apple brand and way of making products (quality, attention to detail, keeping the user first, etc.). So, you're able to get somebody's who interested in Apple but unwilling to take thre risk of going OS X. How do you get them to take the plunge?

I think virtualization is an O.K. option and I've used VMware quite a bit and have also been poking around with Parallels Workstation beta for OS X, but I don't believe that is a good option for average users. The best way to reduce the risk of "going Mac" almost to 0 is a polished version of WINE for OS X. There are rumors that that is exactly what Apple is doing for Leopard (OS X 10.5 due early next year). WINE would work just as the Classic environment works for OS 9 on PowerPC Macs. Now, one can simply run the apps they have commited their data to (with no conversion options) or cannot find a suitable OS X version (i.e. many vertial market apps) along side all the premium OS X apps that enamor us with the platform.

"As for Linux, forgive my bias, but as a matter of course, I distrust any reference to Linux on the desktop as an example of compatibility or ease of use"

Remind me to send you an Ubuntu CD for easter.

Why do PowerBooks still only have one mouse button? If Apple would just make a laptop with two mouse buttons there would be much less of an incentive to go buy a Sony.

Now, if i have to buy a Sony to get something as basic as two mouse buttons, it sure would be great to be able to run Mac OS on it.

Interesting article - but you have missed a fundamental problem - Windows is invariably a much less frustrating GUI (Note GUI!) than OS X which is in most ways very poorly designed. The only reason for the popularity of Mac OS X has nothing to do with the Mac GUI but much more to do with the underlying OS being a BSD based Unix OS.

The only reason for a corporation to exist it to make profit. Many people already use dual boot (windows/Linux) computers, some for business and some just for fun. I would buy osX for my computer and run a tri boot system just because I could and so would many other computer users.

One percent of the pc market would be huge profit and Steve will look at the bottom line. The face of the computer industry is changing fast and Mac is changing with it. Let’s face it the Mac os is dead (the original) osX is open source software with a Mac GUI, and the new Mac's had to move to Intel hardware as not to fall behind in performance.

The proprietary Mac will always be around but not everyone needs a dual proc system or wants to be locked into a slow system that can’t be repaired with off the shelf parts.

Mac selling osX to the masses is a reality and if Steve does not sell it some one will hack it and spread it on Bit Torrent, then Steve will loose out completely. Steve will give the people what they want to foster the Corporation the almighty dollar is the only reason Mac’s exist.

I'll buy an OS for $99, but I'm not paying two grand for a MacBook. The most you're going to get out of me is that $99. I'm not alone, either.

Pricing is always the primary concern with Generic PC purchasers, but I don't believe it is as much with Apple's customers. They are after a complete, well thought out experience and will pay a few bucks extra for it.

Look at the iPod as a perfect example. There are plenty of cheaper alternatives, but they've failed because the total experience generally sucks.

While it is certainly possible, I don't think it is likely Apple will ever offer the OS to generic PC users.

Some things to remember:

Apple likely wouldn't sell their OS for $99 (seems pretty undervalued when Windows XP Pro goes for around $200 retail). But even at the $99 price point, there are issues.

Most PC users don't buy their OS retail. It comes as part of new hardware they purchase.

Most PC users are often times cost conscious. Getting them to dish out another $99 for an OS isn't a walk in the park. And then Apple would need to charge them for iLife as well.

Even if Apple did provide an OS, it wouldn't likely change the IT situation beyond anything that the new Boot Camp scenario currently does. IT departments are big on uniformity, not as big on price. (If anything, Apple's more uniform platforms may prove easier to manage from an IT perspective -- even if it was just to run Windows software).

OEM OS licenses don't generate $99 per machine. More like $25-$30.

There doesn't seem to be a great understanding of the software and hardware businesses (both at the consumer and business levels). There are a lot of assumptions being made that just aren't accurate.

"When people see OS X running, they see it on elegant Apple hardware, with an extremely high level of operating system-hardware integration -- every function of one supported by the other. That's what makes OS X so attractive, and that's what Apple would lose"

So the public idea of the Apple OSX experience would be diluted? Good point. So stop the public from completely associating OSX on COTS hardware with OSX on mac hardware. Call the COTS hardware version OSX-lite. Ship it with stripped down versions of the apps that come with Mac OSX. Make it clear that there will be less support from apple than for Mac OSX users. Change the default wallpaper and the boxes that it comes in - give them a similar yet obvious different (and hell, maybe just a tiny little bit tackier) look. Make it clear to the world that while you can get most of the OSX experience on COTS hardware, there is nothing shinier, flashier and smoother than running OSX on an Intel Mac. Let people who always thought macs looked nice, and liked using them when they had a chance to play with one at a friends place/work/school or university, but had never seriously considered buying one due to the price tag. And if you're feeling really smart, use the cash gained from selling cheap, product-differentiated COTS OSX to offset price cuts in the mac line so the price tag is that little bit less unpalatable when joe sixpack decides that maybe he'll take one more look at the mac store and let himself dream about being able to afford the full mac osx experience.

Makes sense to me.....but then I'm not a businessman :)

What if Apple's margin on their actual computers is not that high?

What if Apple has been taking steps toward running their OS on a PC for a little while now in order to break into the OS market?

What if it's their goal to get out of the computer hardware market and stick with everything else they do?

No rumors of proof on this one. Just a thought from someone who used to sell them.

Oh and for the guy who said "I have never in 10 years of computer service heard someone say 'Damn, Microsoft.'".... that's why I switched to a Mac. I was saying "Damn Microsoft" a little too often. My Mac just works.

It is hard to predict what Apple will do - except that whatever it is, it will usually be compelling and elegant.

I could see Apple hatching a deal with say, Dell to ship MacOS X on some large percent of their PCs by default (perhaps 50%?). I don't think it would kill Apple's hardware business. Apple still makes the nicest looking and some of the best designed computers out there regardless of what OS you are running.

Hi, let me start first in stating I am a Microsoft fan. I do like a lot of things that Apple does, but have never owned one.

There where a lot of comments stating that Mac will get 99$ from OS! Really? There’s no manufacturing costs? No support cots? Just burn DVD and latter all that money?

What about the cool? I am MS fan – but APPLE IS COOL. I have never had any problems with any Apple machine. I’ve never really used one, but who cares – the point is made – Apple is cool. Now let’s replace Apple hardware with ugly PC case, and monitor. Less cool. But cheaper! But now regular Mac looks just expensive… and less cool – with all the hardware problems and system locking-up, not working and all. Now it looks just like Linux with make-up. And no-one wants that thing – not even for free!

Ok, now what about Windows? People seam to think that if you just give them a choice everyone will switch from it. And most people agree. Even me. But here’s a point – there is no alternative to Windows:
- Linux is free – it does have a lot of hardware support, it has alternative applications (you can even get Win apps and games running), and it is free. Did I mention that it is free and it can do everything Windoze can and better? Did I mention that people are getting Linux CD’s in the mail like AOL disks a decade ago? Linux is the proof that you can’t replace Windows not even if you offer it for free! Not even if you have armies of enthusiasts twisting people hands to install it for them and offering even support for free. Not even with live CD’s and pre-loaded configurations.
Windows stays.

But here’s an idea (which will not happen):
- Apple creating OS X version with “Windows engine”! –
- It’s about choice – you can get OS X with Unix or Windows “engine”. But it is still 100% Mac!
- With Windows OS X – you get ALL APPLICATIONS – best from both worlds!
- It’s not about Wintel or Mac anymore – it’s about getting less or getting MORE!
- No more driver & hardware problems! Your Mac can now use ANY HARDWARE! You’ll never hear again “unsupported”.

- Microsoft would not mind – why would they? They sell OS in all forms and versions (see embedded XP)
- Apple fans would have OS X with Unix if they want or OS X which can run all games, all applications… Some might boo at first
- Apple might mind (see cool factor) but it could limit Win OS X on Apple hardware only.

At the end – Apple had a choice – support Windows on Macs or allow OS X on generic PC. Did you notice that the first requires coding and the second does not? Did you notice they’ve made a choice?

The Cringely comments I have read in the past have all sounded plausible in a superficial way, and been wrong. (I haven't read him consistently, so I don't know his hit ratio.) Some have revealed serious ignorance, some merely suffered from a lack of deeper analysis and understanding. I think the bottom line is to consider Cringely's goal-- to come up with an entertaining column by his deadline. If he sells papers/increases page hits, he's successful by his most imortant measure.

I long ago stopped taking him seriously. He does that well enough for make up for all of us.

There are really two separate questions to this:

(1) Is is technically feasible? Yes, but it would be terribly expensive in both development & support costs to get OSX to run on all the same PCs that MS-Windows does. But that doesn't keep Apple from minimizing the hardware it supports to only the most recent hardware from a limited number of vendors.

(2) Does is make financial sense for Apple to do it? Apple makes about $60 profit from every Mac sold (5 million annually, see their latest SEC filing), but could make $90 from every copy of OSX sold (70% of 200 million annual worldwide), then Apple would make $12B/year profit instead of its current $2B/year. Even if MS still kept 50% of the OS market, Apple would still make $6B instead of $2B. Seems straightforward to me!

I think the thing that many people like Cringely forget is that Apple is not a hardware business or a software business... it's a hardware-software marriage business.

The Apple Experience is derived from the complete merging of these two Apple products. It's why the iPod only works with iTunes... it's guaranteed to work the way that Apple wants it to. Mac OS X works with Mac hardware because it's guaranteed to work the way that Apple wants it to. Final Cut Pro, Garageband, and Front Row work in the same way: Apple has control because it can guarantee to give the performance and experience that it wants.

In the 90's when Apple (pre-Jobs 2.0) licensed their OS out to other hardware makers, it was a business disaster. Their hardware business took a nosedive, and the cut in $$ resulted in lower development resources for apps and OS. It was the first thing that Jobs cut when he returned.

Also: Look at MS. They make money on three things, and three things only: Windows business licenses, Office business licenses, and keyboard/mouse hardware (believe it or not!) The X-Box and X-Box 360 only LOSE money for them... along the range of $200 for each X-Box sold! And Flight Simulator isn't raking in the dough, either! MS is a one-trick pony with a dubious business model, regardless of how much $$ they make because it's only made on narrow ventures. The three aforementioned products subsidize their entire other product line. Apple doesn't play that way. If they don't make money on it (like most businesses), they don't do it. It's why more and more applications are being included in the iLife suite: It's not worth selling on its own (and wouldn't make money), so they bundle all these mini-apps together as a suite.

The closest comparisons that Apple's business model come to are luxury cars, but I don't think it's even that way. I compare Apple more to a rock concert: The performer has a certain image to uphold, and concert gives new material with all the corresponding material on stage, in publication, etc.... People don't want to see Aerosmith in Wayne Newton clothes, it doesn't fit!

Apple software on beige box PC hardware won't happen because Apple would lose control over the experience: If they can't guarantee this "Apple Experience" for the customer, then they'd rather take the hit on $$, and do it their way.

After all... when Apple currently has $9 billion in the bank (comparable to Dell's $10 billion), I don't think that Apple's doing that bad on their own. Marketshare is only part of the equation. Experience is all of it, as far as Apple is concerned.

Based on what you have written here I can safely conclude that you are totally ignorant of how operating systems work, OS design, driver coding etc.

You are ignorant of the history of OSX, the history of OSes, the history of Mach, the history of BSD. Please go and educate yourself before you spout off this utter bullshit as if you actually knew something.

"Could Apple solve this problem by only offering OS X pre-bundled with certain Intel-based PCs? Yes, they could: doing so would limit the scope of the work required. But why would they do this? Users can already buy an Intel-based PC with OS X pre-bundled. It's called a Mac.

Yeah, but not everyone can afford Macs. They're expensive machines. So I think that being the more affordable machine, it is the reason they would buy the prebundled PC's.

Why would Apple sell OS/X for a "bog-standard" PC? Because of thier partnership with Microsoft.

Microsoft is not making any headway in derailing Linux on a PC, so their thinking might be to simply dilute Linux's penetration into the PC market.

Apple has certainly been at least a little friendly to MS, is a "real" business, does not deal with the dreaded GPL, is not a bunch of "neck beard Unix geeks". So, the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

JMHO. YMMV. -- I could be wrong.

I work for Apple.

Don't make that bet, Frank.

You will regret it before the year is over.

Michael Dell said he wants to sell OS X.
I imagine other OEMS do too.

IMO OEMs are tired of MS Windows problems.

I see Apple doing a licensing deal for their technology for PCs meeting Apple's spec requirements.

Ulric, you got it exactly right when you wrote:

Apple is in the business of selling prestige items at a mark up. There is nothing wrong with that. That's the business model, as it is for luxury cars, fashion items, furniture, etc. It's not about selling as many as you can at any price.
Selling high-quality items at high (or at least higher than normal) prices is deeply embedded in Apple's corporate psychology. Is it conceivable that they could transform themselves into a vendor of $99 operating systems? Yes. Is it probable? Not at all. Apple's current model made them momentarily worth more than Dell, and they have every reason to believe they'll be worth more than Dell once again. There's no reason for Apple to take an all-or-nothing swing at a home run; they're consistently hitting doubles and triples right now, and the market is quite happy with them for doing so.

There is one more thing that Cringley didn't mention. And that's the intel angle. I beleive strongly that Intel is not happy at the rate which Microsoft is churning out new OSes, and would play a strong part in enticing Apple to offer OS X on non-Macs. They also don't think Windows is offering enough incentive for people to buy new machines, and hence new chips. If there is one company who's to profit from OS X on PCs that would be Intel.

And on another front, I also find Apple inviting Microsoft over to thier Intel-Macs very intriguing. Why would they do this? They are trying to create a space where it would become normal for an Intel machine to run two distinctly seperate operating systems. They don't want Mac fans (fanatics?) to find the concept of a computer running Windows and OS X revolting. It's a step done to make sure that Apple won't be seens as "uncool" when OS X does eventually run on vanila intels. So, I am with Cringley on this.

beagle, you wrote:

Standard Intel x86 CPU, Intel-derived motherboard, ATI video card, industry standard memory, storage, buses, etc. -- at the end of the day, a MacIntel *is* a PC. It's simply a standardized PC. There's no magic pixie dust. OSX is no more uniquely 'coupled' to the hardware than OS with appropriate drivers. OSX provides the exact same "experience" on a DIY PC so long as its components fall within the narrow range of hardware for which OSX includes drivers. Whether OSX would retain its stability with a wider range of drivers for a wider range of hardware is an open question, but not the point. The point is that a MacIntel is simply a standardized PC. There's nothing more to the "experience", besides aesthetics.
I use both a Dell Latitude D610 and an Apple iMac G5 on a daily basis, and from where I sit, though in theory what you say could be correct, in practice it's absolutely not. The level of seamlessness between hardware and software on my iMac is vastly higher than that on my Latitude. I never think about driver issues on my iMac; I'm reminded of them all the time on my Latitude -- the clunky Bluetooth drivers, the overly complex video driver control panels (that change from chipset to chipset), you name it.

Because Apple exercises complete control of both hardware and software for their platform, they're able to ensure a far more pleasant experience. Generally speaking, I believe that distributed solutions win, and it's true that the distributed Windows hardware market is over an order larger than the Mac market. There are vastly more choices when it comes to PCs and their components. And yet I still prefer using the Mac -- because Apple focuses on the important things and solves problems elegantly.

kL, you wrote:

Well, we've been saying "Mac on Intel!? Never! It has different endian, it would make Macs PCs, etc."
This argument has been made on Slashdot as well. I don't buy it. Although I was skeptical of Apple ever switching to Intel, when they did so, it didn't represent a fundamental change in their business model. As a matter of fact, it didn't represent any change in their business model. Offering OS X in shrink-wrapped packages for aftermarket sale to PC owners would not only be an utterly fundamental change to Apple's model, if poorly executed, or if outmaneuvered by Microsoft, it would represent a "you bet your company" (and lose) proposition.

I think what most people are forgetting or simply don't understand is that Apple is first and foremost a hardware company. they write software to support their hardware lines. iTunes was written to sell iPods (thus being cross-platform).

MacOSX, iLife, Final Cut Studio and iWork are all written primarily to sell Macs. Otherwise you would see cross-platform versions to maximize software profits.

And let me remind you that Apple has already been down the OEM path with PowerPC Mac clones. It nearly put them under, until they brought Steve back. And guess what the first thing he did was. Kill the clone market.

Now many people decry "But Apple switched to Intel and doesn't use proprietary hardware anymore!" True, but for many years Apple has had builds of there OS that ran on Intel. It was their secret life-line in case the PPC platform couldn't or wouldn't keep up in the desktop processor market. And that's just what happened.

Now, as for Apple releasing Boot Camp. Makes sense to me. Eliminate another reason for people to migrate to Apple hardware. Let them run their WinXP, but also experience the MacOS, and see what OS they are really using after 6 months. It's a formula for success.

It's not a question of whether Apple could release Vanilla MacOS X Intel, they just choose not to.

Windows is invariably a much less frustrating GUI (Note GUI!) than OS X which is in most ways very poorly designed. The only reason for the popularity of Mac OS X has nothing to do with the Mac GUI but much more to do with the underlying OS being a BSD based Unix OS.

....Please Everyone knows "frustration" relative, Macs have been consistently hailed as the best example of successful user interface principles. Perfect? No. But that doesn't mean it isn't pretty good.

A key thing to understand is that the business rules that apply to Microsoft don't apply to anyone else because MS is still a monopoly. In other words saying that MS makes a massive profit without having to sell hardware is irrelevant, because MS effectively control the hardware market.

This applies in 2006 as much (and even more) than in 1995 when Windows '95 appeared, and that's the right place to look when comparing OS X on a standard PC with Windows XP/Vista.

That's because in 1995 MS finally launched their first 32-bit (ish) operating system, seriously late and over 2 years after IBM (the guys who invented the PC) released the arguably superior and (undoubtably) far more stable Windows 3.1 compatible, but 32-bit OS/2 2.0 (/3.0 / Warp).

Since PCs had been 32-bit for about 7 years you'd think that people would have flocked to buy OS/2, but they didn't, instead Windows '95 marginalised it to the point of oblivion.

Nothing has changed since then. In fact, MS is even more dominant now. So, all the hypothetical estimates of how many copies of OS/2 (sorry, OS X) Apple could sell are totally misplaced - it doesn't matter how good or how cheap it is, only the (small minority of) people willing to actively challenge MS would buy it and those are the same people (like me) who would buy Apple hardware too.

I should emphasize this further: I think the vast majority of people would sooner put up with totally infested, under-specced PC's grinding away and rebooting every hour or so than move away from MS, because 100% MS compatibility (in terms of looks, behaviour and function) is more important than anything else :-)

Great discussion!
In fact, it will be a huge effort for Apple to move OSX to the real PC world!
If you have questions just download "Darwin" http://developer.apple.com/opensource/index.html
and try in on your PC... I hope you will get all answers.
The second aspect will be the ability of Apple to protect own renommé of "software company" in the "free PC world" and sacrifice all advantages of Apple HW. Indeed, Apple can do it as the linux community does and question only is "Do we have any development masses around or inside Apple?"

Michael, you wrote:

The best way to reduce the risk of "going Mac" almost to 0 is a polished version of WINE for OS X. There are rumors that that is exactly what Apple is doing for Leopard (OS X 10.5 due early next year). WINE would work just as the Classic environment works for OS 9 on PowerPC Macs. Now, one can simply run the apps they have commited their data to (with no conversion options) or cannot find a suitable OS X version (i.e. many vertial market apps) along side all the premium OS X apps that enamor us with the platform.
This seems plausible to me -- whether it's probable or not, I can't say, but it seems within the realm of possibility.

I don't know much about WINE. Let's imagine for a moment that it's mostly there, workable, but still clunky. Were Apple to devote resources to finish, polish, and maintain it, including tuning it for their hardware-software platform, this could give them exactly what they need.

Speaking personally, what I want from Apple is a MacBook Pro with a built-in two-button mouse, and I want the ability to switch quickly between OS X and Windows -- I don't need them both running simultaneously, but I do need to be able to switch faster than going through a reboot.

Of course, this all depends on WINE being somewhere in the ballpark. And Apple would have to feel that they could do this without negatively impacting the OS X software market. They apparently went through that mental exercise for Boot Camp and decided it was okay. WINE might or might not be a different matter.

dan, consider yourself reminded to send me an Ubuntu CD for Easter. :-)

Beagle is right: this "all or nothing" talk about running OS X on any random, crappy old PC is missing the point.

What if Apple rolled out a "compatible with MacOS X" certification program, and OS X supported only certified hardware? You could order, say, a *new* Dell or HP with OS X pre-installed. Apple would make $50-ish a pop, and the PC manufacturer would deal with customer support. Unbundle the OS from the machine, and let the consumer choose OS X, Windows, or both! Heck, throw in OS X as a 30-day trial with every machine whose buyer chose Windows.

Apple *might* make a profit of $500 on each high-end machine they sell, but I'd guess that their *average* margin per machine is about $200 at best. Check out Apple's prices -- they are quite competitive these days, especially at the lower end. No, they're not the cheapest, but the price premium seems reasonable (10-20%) compared with competitive machines.

If you buy my theory of an average profit of $200 per Mac sold, and an average licensing fee of $50/copy of OS X, then Apple would be ahead if OS X gained about a 12% market share (4x their current 3-ish%) even at the cost of never selling another Mac again. Personally, I don't think their hardware market would disappear -- there will always be a market for upscale products, just like the existence of the Honda Accord hasn't driven BMW and Mercedes into bankruptcy.

Jwblase, you wrote:

Apple software on beige box PC hardware won't happen because Apple would lose control over the experience: If they can't guarantee this "Apple Experience" for the customer, then they'd rather take the hit on $$, and do it their way.

After all... when Apple currently has $9 billion in the bank (comparable to Dell's $10 billion), I don't think that Apple's doing that bad on their own. Marketshare is only part of the equation. Experience is all of it, as far as Apple is concerned.

This states the case quite well. All one has to do is listen to a few Steve Jobs speeches, and one quickly realizes that whether it's with the iPod or the Mac, Apple is about creating a seamless, end-to-end, completely integrated experience.

The iPod is a great example of this. Apple makes the hardware (iPod), the software (iTunes), and the online service (iTunes Music Store). You can't play their DRM-encoded music on anyone else's hardware, and you can't play any other service's DRM-encoded music on your iPod. iTunes and the iTunes Music Store support Apple hardware and Apple hardware alone, and vice-versa. And this has led to Apple having a market share in digital audio players of 73 percent. If I'm at Apple, I look at the iPod model as complete and total confirmation of the integrated, end-to-end, Apple-creates-the-entire-experience approach.

Rob Miracle you are an idiot. Yeah, I'm sure we'd all LOVE your fancy homebuilt POS with the neon lights inside and the cutout window on the side. Get a life.

There are some nice comments and some very uneducated comments in this thread. As someone that worked with Apple on a major project (Core Team member of System X), I can tell you that I've been behind the curtain and know a lot about Apple's business practices that would surprise most of you.

1. There is no way in Hell Apple will ever release a version of Mac OS X that will boot on a non-Apple branded system. PERIOD. Not as long as Steve Jobs still draws breath.

2. There is a very strong possibility that Apple will resurrect the Yellow Box for Windows and the Red Box for Mac OS X that were part of the original Rhapsody development strategy. These two components will allow Mac OS X apps to run seamlessly (in virtualization, NOT emulation) under Windows, and for Windows apps to run seamlessly under Mac OS X, respectively.

3. Apple sells elegantly designed and integrated hardware and software solutions at competitive prices. The days of selling 'prestige items at a mark up' are long gone. Apple hasn't been able to sell at extremely high margins for nearly a decade. On average, Apple systems (excluding monitors) are within $400 of similarly configured competitors' machines.

Also, take a look at the historical prices of Apple hardware over the last five years. As new hardware rolls out the prices stay almost exactly the same while new systems slide into the price slots. This is a carefully planned strategy to keep prices (and margins) stable while rolling out new technologies. It's an incredibly novel business practice that few seem to pick up on (other than Apple's investors). It guarantees a steady revenue stream while keeping the flow of innovation going. There have been a couple of recent exceptions, like the Intel-based Mac mini. That system did take a $100 price hike on both models when released as compared to its PPC predecessor.

Getting back to the bet. If I had some disposable income right now, I'd up that bet well over $500 against Apple *EVER* selling a version of Mac OS X (bootable, not running in virtualization) for generic, built from parts, white box Intel systems. Not gonna happen. Will some clever hacker figure a way to do it? Most likely, but it will never be supported by Apple. It's not the way they do things and it never will be.

- Jason

I think what a lot of people don't want to understand is that Steve Jobs isn't in the business for purely money and market percentage, and so no he really doesn't want your $99 for a copy of OS X to run on a common PC no matter what the market statistics are. If he was, they would of released OS X for PCs a long time ago.

They only released Boot Camp to bring over the percentage of users who wouldn't make the switch unless they had some easy way to run their Windows apps on a Mac. This was to capture the "easy sale" market so to speak. They didn't have to do anything special except put out an inexpensive (to develop) utility to run Windows, and then sit back and watch the new sales come in and capture another 1 - 2% of the PC market. Apple picks the battles it can win without compromising their core business.

Apple is all about the culture and the experience that is what makes Apple, Apple. They only want people that want that same experience. The best comparison is buying jeans at the GAP or Old Navy. Most people won't go to the GAP to buy $200 jeans when they can go to Old Navy and buy $20 jeans. Only the people who want the GAP experience and name will go to the GAP. Apple wants their business the same way. You want the Apple experience and name, then come buy our products, else go to Walmart and buy your cheap PC. They're not out to compete on the Walmart scale market, at least as far as PCs go.

Are there high-end PCs that perform better than Macs, of course there are, they're also not $500 either, more like $1500 - $2500 or more. But most Apple users don't need that kind of performance, so Apple doesn't market there either. But I'm not sure what more you'd need then the dual duo-core or quad-cores that Apple will be putting in their G5 workstations later this year or early next year. You won't see that kind of power in a cheap PC that's for sure. Apple will give it to you for under $2500.

The under $1000 PC market where all the cheap asses want to run Mac OS X on isn't the market that Apple is going after either. The hardware in this market is unreliable, and will not last the 4 - 5 years typical Mac users keep their hardware for, and is not up to par performance wise with what typical Mac users need. Selling OS X to this market would hurt Apple's core business and ruin the experience and brand name recognition that Apple has developed.

So if you want Apple, pony up and buy the whole package, or be content with your cheap PC with Windows. Cheap ass Joe Schmoes need not apply.

Everyone is playing chess without seeing the entire board. Steve Jobs pulled an amazing stunt by keeping osx on intel parallel development going and under wraps for several years until last year. And until last year, osx on intel was unthinkable. So doing a linear extrapolation of his moves without knowing what's up his sleeves is pointless.

Hi, I'd just like to comment that Leopard's release will likely mark the availability of OS X for generic hardware. I spoke to an Apple Representative and was squeezing him for information on this matter 2 weeks ago. Whether it be by a Bootcamp'ish product, or a modified installer for OS X retail (more likely), I see OS X on generic boxes very soon. As soon as I touched on this matter (Leopard running on generics), he refused to talk anymore. Benefit of the doubt anyone? My prediction is that with the release of Leopard, it will have an installer that will detect whether you have BIOS or an EFI compatible motherboard, and install accordingly. All evidence points towards this direction. Apple could have taken far more drastic measures to make sure their OS would run *only* on their hardware, and didn't. DRM you say? pffft. They knew full well their TPM chips would get cracked, Apple is not run by a moron. Disclaimer: I am a Windows and a Linux user

(Win XP 32/Pro/Corp, Kororaa/XGL)

How many people are buying Macs specifically because of the operating system and the hardware, and how many are buying them because they have pretty cases? Look at sales since the iMac was released.

There will always be a market in expensive, high-end hardware in a pretty case. If customers only wanted the cheapest ugliest tat, companies like Alienware wouldn't be doing so well for themselves.

I really can't see the logical argument against opening up OS X to generic PCs. OS X remains the only viable competitor to Windows at the moment and Apple should take the opportunity while it has it.

Most of the arguments I've heard against the move just strike me as elitist, from customers happy to remain a minority.

I agree with your basic arguments. What a lot of people forget is that Apple is first and foremost a hardware company. Everything it does is designed to sell more hardware. The profit margins for iTunes are very small, but the margins (and revenues) from using iTunes to sell iPods are much larger.

If the above premise is true, it would be insanity for Apple to ship OS X to run on generic Intel hardware. Its goal is to get Windows users to buy Apple hardware; if it carries along sales of Apple software, great, but that's not the core objective.

Here's an idea:

What if Apple took a page out of the Be handbook?

Let the PC-Joe Shmoes have a dumbed-down and time-limited version of OS X. Perhaps not 100% free, but also not the 'full experience.' Think along the lines of a livecd which, if installed, stops booting after ~30 days or so.

A.) Who wants to reinstall their OS every 30 days?

B.) Would not such a tactic be one of the better advertisement campaigns for selling more Apple hardware?

Forgive my ignorance but - when it comes to OEM installation of OSX on non apple harware; isn't that in violation of the agreement a box maker like HP or Dell has with MSFT? I could have sworn there was a "no 2 OSes" clause in those agreements?
If that is true why would any box maker forsake 90% share MSFT for 3% share Apple?

Boosman, you are wrong, and Cringely is right.

Apple will do it. Marketshare.

If I could buy OSX and install and dualboot it on my Windows PC, I would. I am not interested in the magical Mac hardware.

It sounds to me like the majority of comments against releasing a PC-compatible version of OS X come from people who have little to no experience with Windows, Linux, or the details of operating systems in general; I have to wonder exactly *what* they are basing their opinions on.

Windows runs poorly because it is a poor operating system, period. Ask anyone who has to program for it; ask anyone who knows anything about OS design. Other, cheaper OS options do everything Windows does, better *and* faster. The two things that keep Windows ahead of Linux in the commodity PC market right now, however, are its (mostly) unified presentation and its large library of software (installed user base really falls into the second category).

If I could get the OS X presentation and software on my PC, I would pay a large amount of money to do so, and I think I can say the same for most of my compatriots. I would even go so far as to say that Apple has been driven / is driving to this goal for nearly a decade: the move from proprietary buses to PCI, the switch from SCSI to IDE, dropping ADB for USB, and finally adopting the Intel Core architecture all have brought Apple to the point that releasing a general-purpose PC-compatible OS X derivative would barely be a stretch for them. And now that more hardware companies, graphics card companies especially, are creating drivers for Linux, OS X has even greater potential.

I would also argue that Apple is not a hardware company but a brand company. Controlling the hardware was a pragmatic move which happened to increase their profits, true, but the main benefit was in the user experience - you get a better, more uniform user experience from the Mac OS, and if Apple can force you to buy their hardware at the same time, so much the better. It's the same with the iPod and iTunes: iTunes was the end, iPod was the means, and selling more iPods is now just gravy for Apple.

Now that the difference between Mac hardware and commodity PC hardware has essentially evaporated (Quanta makes most laptops sold here) and hardware manufacturers have been trained by MS to provide their own drivers, Apple is in a position to get a huge market share for relatively little development cost. Let us not forget, developer versions of Tiger already run on white boxes, although without official Apple sanction.

The real question of PC-based OS X isn't, "Why would Apple do that?" It's, "why hasn't Apple done it?"

What seems to be the obvious way for Apple to confront windows and the PC business is the revival of the "yellow box" project, which would allow software developed for macs (compiled to x86) to run under windows. This would allow software houses to target windows and apple for their binaries, attracting more developers to their platform. If they could manage to do that and an optional port of yellow box to linux/*bsd, Apple could boost in the mid term the amount of software available to their platform, while crushing the idea of using .net and java for developing desktop applications completely. Problem is that Apple has its own internal conflicts, and the yellow box project can be halted again anytime.

I would pay 500 for OsX on a pc. anyday.

bsd has a base for drivers. they have the popularity. They could easily kill microsoft right now.

As for support, if you ever wanted to know why windows costs so much, call microsoft support and ask what the last case number was in the ball park. they take an average of 7000 calls a day taking at least 1 hour to resolve and 2 hours for pro. you do the math. 10k man hours a day x 365 x times an average pay of 15hr for personal and 25 hr for pro. Lets add to that number all the Oems. who do take more calls a day. lets just say HP, gateway, dell and Ibm take the same number of calls a day.

10k hrs x5 x 365 =
182.5 million man hours of support per year and lets say they all use over sea's and only pay an average of $10hr. 1.8 billion dollars a year. Ok now lets say Apple is gonna take that loss. You now have to add to the firstt three or so years, training hundreds of thousand tech to support mac. lets say mac sold with no support avail. then what you have is a really nice looking KDE, and they lose image. Ok lets add yet another part. osX is now availible to cheap, broke sob's who would rather pirate they pay. now you have yet another problem, hack software that breaks alot. so we have another image problem and sales losses.

All in all i don't think apple will do it not becuase they can't, they don't want to take on ms. but because it would be a real big pain in the arse.

There are a few pretty serious flaws in your logic. I won't go into all of them, but will address the most important flaw in your logic. Apple's Mac business would not suddenly dry up if they offered OS X for Windows machines. The fanatical loyal Mac base would continue to buy Macs. A number of people hesitant to buy a Mac prior to Bootcamp will now also buy a Mac instead of a Dell. Apple's computers have a cool factor unmatched by anything in the PC world. A number of PC users would buy OS X and have dual boot capability. With enough purchasers of OS X, more applications would be developed and make OS X more desirable. Apple could solve the driver problem by relying on the manufacturers to produce drivers, or the open source community.

Apple can do this, and they will, just because it will rattle Microsoft. It doesn't have to work with every single thing right out of the box - just PCs that are XP-capable, which means (thanks to Microsoft's enforcement of requirements on PC makers) that it has a reasonable set of capabilities. And it doesn't have to work as fast as a made-by-Apple box; in fact it's BETTER if it works just a little slower, fast enough to show Windows people what they're missing and slowed-down enough to make them want to buy an Apple product next time.

Even better would be a "Live OSX" CD, like the Live Linux CDs one can download. Imagine an Apple salesman walking into a Windows corporation, booting off a CD or DVD or USB drive, and demonstrating an Apple environment and capabilities ON THE USER'S OWN DATA. They may not sell hardware today, but they'll get the replacement orders as equipment gets older.

One thing most people are missing is that this is the logical next step after the Mac mini.

The Mac mini allowed people to keep their prior investment in keyboard, mouse, and monitor while upgrading the computer. Boot Camp allows people to keep their prior investment in Windows XP and Windows applications.

The switch to a much faster computer just became easier because prior investments are not thrown away. And with so few Intel Core computers being sold by others, Apple has an edge. (If I look at Sunday's ads from the big stores, they are still littered with Celerons and Pentiums.)

So I can see Apple moving on to virtualization with this philosophy but they won't be selling OS X for use on PCs from other manufacturers.

I don't believe that Apple's hardware business would dry-up if OSX ran on any PC. I think that a large appeal to Apple's hardware is its design, and so far that is something that PC manufacturers haven't even come close to matching.

The mac mini is a great example of a computer that I would like to have in my home. It's not the OS i care about. In fact, the OS is the reason I haven't bought one, because I feel like dumping $500 for a showpiece that I can't really work on (.NET developer) would be a bit of a waste. But now, being able to dual-boot, or just run XP all the time, I am seriously considering one.

I do agree that opening up OSX to be used on any PC would have little appeal to many people. This is especially true if it didn't work flawlessy with all of the hardware on the market.

I disagree with Cringley's belief that Boot Camp is good for selling more copies of Windows. XP has been out for a very long time, and since most people buy computers to replace old ones, they probably have a spare license available.

I don't think that OSX is any competition for Windows in the short term. In the long term, however, I wouldn't be surprised if some Linux-based OS becomes usable enough for most consumers and does end up providing serious competition for Windows. And when this happens, it just might be OSX leading the way. All it is going to take is for a few other issues to be addressed, many of which will as more and more apps move from a Windows platform to a Web platform, and as more open source software matures.

It is greatly misunderstood what exactly comprises the OS X kernel. "The no it's a mach kernel" crowd never got a simple fact: it is both. The mach roots of the OS X provided only basic internal kernel scheduling and some memory management, but of the mach kernel threads one is an in-house usb stack, one is an in-house graphics driver, and one runs the "rest" the great majority of which is actually FreeBSD based--just as the unix userland is.

So if you want to know how well OS X can work on generic computers, get yourself a copy of the FreeSBIE livecd and try it out.

Apple is in the business of selling really cool copy protection dongles for their software.

The only exceptions are QuickTime Pro (strategic API), FileMaker and PowerSchool (business units that would go broke without Windows versions).

You can get OS X for PCs today, starting at $599: It comes in a tiny square box with a really cute, Windows-compatible copy protection device inside called the Mac mini. Works great with KVM switches and standard networking to fully integrate with your generic homebuilt PC.

bsd runs out of the box why would OS-X be so much harder?

What if Apple took a page out of the Be handbook?

Call Be and let us know how it worked out for them.

You're right, he's wrong. It's suicide for their hardware business, they'd never do it.

First: generic drivers do exist. Linux runs on a plethora of hardware because of generic drivers. The PC/XT, PC/AT ans PS/2 specs define how different pieces of hardware interact. Generic drivers for video cards can work perfectly, but will not use hardware acceleration, for example.

Second: Apple will not rely on 3rd party computer makers to create their own drivers for Mac OS X. Today, only a small fraction of the add-in card makers develop drivers for OS X. Some of them, because they develop hardware specificly for the Mac. Others because they simply want to.

Third: Apple is not providing BootCamp because they want people to have choice. Nor because Apple is a nice company. Nor because of the added ease for switchers... They are doing it because their hardware is now pretty much a plain PC. And a plain PC "should" be capable of running Windows. Just like France is trying to make Apple open their DRM so other online music stores can sell iPod compatible DRM'ed audio files, they could also demand that Apple made their computer capable of doing what someone would take for granted. Apple is releasing BootCamp for fear of antitrust lawsuits!

Fourth (and last): Yes, Steve is very careful about the whole Mac experience. It's the only reason why Apple has been successful (iPod aside) and Steve will not change his mind so easily. I would enter this bet against Boosman and Cringely with another option: Apple will never release Mac OS X for "ordinary" PC's, but they can release the Cocoa API's so people can run Mac OS X apps on Windows, just like WINE does for Windows apps on linux. And it's not a novel idea. NeXT had this product way back in the OPENSTEP era.

I use macs, linux, solaris, and occasionally (usually when I fix a family member's machine) windows. Let's look at this logically, shall we?

1. Windows GUI does suck. If it didn't then Microsoft wouldn't be trying to copy OS X. OK? Cancel.

2. Apple had 'clones' years ago, it's a tried-and-failed business model. I'm not sure what margins Apple makes on hardware -- some think that they are not all that great -- even so at most I think you would see Dell making Apple branded Macs to recapture that margin, not some kind of free-for-all PC market.

3. Microsoft is a monopoly. Remember? That's stood up in several courts. They are able to use that leverage to gain excess profits. Does anyone think Apple can demand those kinds of profits off a mere operating system?

4. FW800 is probably going way of dodo. FW400 will stick around for DV but FW800 will prolly be replaced by USB2. This will largely be due to USB1/USB2 having similar connectors/ports and FW400/FW800 having different connectors/ports. I know there's supposedly a hybrid connector but I've yet to actually see one.

5. 64 bit is overrated. Most apps are 32 bit and will remain so, only switching to 64 bit in performance critical regions of code.

6. Apple currently has no replacement for Microsoft Office. This should discourage them from angering the Microsoft Gods lest Office For Mac cease to be. DarWine may provide some cover for Apple, but Apple doesn't have a native spreadsheet at this time. Microsoft is famous (see Dr.Dos) for "sabotaging" their own products and they could certainly add feature X or Y which would make it DarWine incompatible.

7. MacOS would *not* run on older hardware. Too much is done in the graphics hardware-- hardware that simply doesn't exist in older machines. Tried running OS X on a G3? Not good. twm under linux 2.6 on a P3 runs great but tonight I'll drink one beer for every person in America that would prefer that configuration. If you are reading this using w3m, that probably includes you as well. ;)

8. Most of these arguments are made from the perspective of Apple being "in trouble" or needing to "branch out". Umm.. No. Actually they have a few billion of profit every year.

I think Cringley will lose the bet.

I think one of the things most people fail to realize is that BootCamp gives Apple an undeniable market edge: Want to buy a piece of hardware that can run virtually any modern OS? Buy a Mac!

With one piece of hardware you can now run OS X, Windows XP and forseeably, Linux or even Solaris 10 x86. For developers, this would be a big deal. For some companies, it would mean they could have whatever OS they need for a task, and only one hardware platform to run it all on. That could reduce support costs considerably.

OTOH, I do believe that if Michael Dell says he'll guarantee a million copies per year, Apple will license OS X for him.

BTW, OS X currently sells for around $130 per unit for current Mac owners. So the $99 cost previously quoted is already too low. Likely Apple will sell OS X for beige boxes for more than the current Mactel boxes.

What's interesting now is that the market share numbers lose their meaning now.

The number that's still quoted as "2%" but is now really around 4% is the market share of operating systems on computers currently sold.

So if Apple sold OS X for any PC, it couldn't even grow this market share number, unless they got competitors to sell PCs with OS X installed.

Maybe then we should consider using the installed based percentage number to describe market share.

That number would represent what OS people are currently primarily on their computer. It's estimated that around 6% of home computer users currently use OS X on their machine, and it may be more than that.

- Martin -
It sounds to me like the majority of comments against releasing a PC-compatible version of OS X come from people who have little to no experience with Windows, Linux, or the details of operating systems in general; I have to wonder exactly *what* they are basing their opinions on.
- Martin –

Well, Martin – first I am a Windows developer since VC v1 and now .NET, with a lot of knowledge and experience with Windows and details of operating systems in general. I do have much less experience with Linux and Mac than with Windows, but I can assure you I have tried both, especially Linux against which I had even developed few applications. In my honest opinion and experience - Windows wins. But this is not the topic.

There are a lot of people who think that there is anyone who would not like to see OS X on generic PC. Hey, even I would like to see that (and have seen – nudge, nudge ;-) ).

But this is the point – will it happen?

Most of you seem to want OS X on generic PC because you believe that it will destroy Windows (good luck with that), not because it would be better for Apple. I’ve even found such ‘visions’ of future as OS X on generic PC and once Bill Gates is begging for money, make OS X run on Linux and make the whole thing Open-Source! And queue the elves!

But Apple does what is good for Apple, and the reason it most likely will not happen is because it is not a good move for Apple.

- Martin –
The real question of PC-based OS X isn't, "Why would Apple do that?" It's, "why hasn't Apple done it?"
- Martin –

Well, Martin I believe the answer you are looking for is because they don’t want to.

- Hello There –
What seems to be the obvious way for Apple to confront windows and the PC business is the revival of the "yellow box" project, which would allow software developed for macs (compiled to x86) to run under windows. This would allow software houses to target windows and apple for their binaries, attracting more developers to their platform. If they could manage to do that and an optional port of yellow box to linux/*bsd, Apple could boost in the mid term the amount of software available to their platform, while crushing the idea of using .net and java for developing desktop applications completely. Problem is that Apple has its own internal conflicts, and the yellow box project can be halted again anytime.
- Hello There –

As a developer I can tell you that idea off cross-platform libraries is a bad one. Developers mostly hate them, because they are limiting them to common set of APIs, and users hate them – because they want software written in mind with their platform (see Microsoft Office for Mac – it’s not the same as Windows-one is it – they’ve tried that and users didn’t want that).
As for attracting developers – Apple has done a horrible job in the past and has alienated developers because of constant compatibility problems and, well, mostly ignoring developers. Apple seams to prefer Mac OS on Mac H/W with Mac S/W only, if possible.
Plus it takes much more to attract the developers than just making a same API for Windows and Apple.
And that is where entire secret of Microsoft’s (and Windows) success lays – “developers, developers, developers”. .Net is Microsoft’s heavy weaponry – it is extremely easy to learn, develop in and support, with free SDK and RAD from MS and open-source community and a lot of different languages (C#, C++, VB, Python…). And there is nothing that Apple has or can do against .Net!

And my last point is: if I was MS-basher running Linux box with *that* UI experience I would also pay $$$ to get quality non-MS OS GUI. Stepping from Linux to OS X world is worth that much money :-)

Just for completeness sake... I just finished reading all the comments (that's a lot) and saw mentions to the yellow box and red box. I am talking about just that when I talk about Cocoa API's on Windows. And I felt I didn't make myself very clear...

About the 3rd party add-in card manufacturers not making drivers, I also should put it clearer: Apple will not release Mac OS X for "ordinary" PC's and wait for the 3rd parties to release drivers because they'll probably not do it. They don't do it for Linux and most probably won't do it for Mac OS X.

This is Tom-Cruise-Crazy. Though it is still far fetched, IMHO Apple is far more likely to use windows as its operating system ( kernel) The whole reason they run a BSD based OS, is because their value is NOT THE OS. Its the widget frosting, and finding hardware that just flat works together well. Apple could run their shell on the windows kernel, on their own superior and well tested hardware configurations.

(for some that might not know the GUI can be completely replaced on windows, just like BSD, unix)

Then (aside from the zealots) mac users wouldnt give 2 squirts what the OS is. Is it a windows kernel? is it BSD? Umm... i dont know, looks like a mac to me.

All of sudden all the PC games start to play on Mac's!

But who knows.. im just as dumb as the rest of you.

I think that it's very likely that Apple will release OS X for the standard PC. What makes Apple great has been the fact that they have been in control of all of the hardware, but as another poster has said, there are fewer and fewer chipsets to deal with.
Serial ports (and to a large extent modems) are a thing of the past and most external devices are USB or network enabled. That means Apple's other business, the IPod, would still be flawlessly integrated into the machine.
Perhaps Apple is going to move into the consumer electronics market full force with devices like phones and handhelds, in which case they're going to want to have their OS on every machine. Ease of use is what gets consumers to buy products.
Why do you think Palm originally took the market by storm? It wasn't because they were the first people with a handheld. It was because they put out their own desktop app which made using their product easy.
All the major software that people buy to run on their desktop is available on MAC right now anyway, so that's not what is keeping people from switching and frankly I don't think it's the price either. Apple needs to make their desktop ubiquitous if they're going to compete.
They would also then become less dependand on hardware manufacturers. Software is a great business to be in if you can swing it because there is no incremental cost, a much better model. Why do you think IBM sold off their consumer computer division.

Apple will do it simply because they know that if they don't, someone else will. Apple would never allow a third party to be the de-facto mediator between their OS and "bog standard" PCs, especiall not with the potential money to be had.

In fact, look at all the platforms that FreeBSD runs on... I wouldn't be surprised if Steve Jobs was ballsy enough to make it so OSX runs on much more than just Intel. That's a whole lot of easily adaptable "legacy" support right there. This would definitely be a gloves-off proposition, beyond the direct attack on MS' base, it would cut into the market share of desktop-aimed Linux/BSD distros with nowhere near the brand recognition of Apple.

Remember, Steve Jobs already knows how annoying it is.

When the PowerPC was struggling/delayed, NeXTstep switched from 68k with their own hardware, to running on "commodity" Pentium computers.

But the driver support was so poor that it would only run on a very small number of configurations. AND it killed the profit from the hardware business for a lower margin OS.

Steve Jobs seldom repeats the same mistake twice.

Apple won't lose out on hardware sales if they continue to offer features that are completely innovative relative to the PC hardware world such as the PowerBook's shock sensor, or the MacBook Pro's built in camera and magnetic plug, or the iMac's remote -- not to mention the simplicity and beauty of Apple's case styling. OS X on standard PCs is a possibility -- but it will be sad to see.

Apple is making it easier for anyone (consumer or business) to transition from Windows to Mac. Many people would like to switch for whatever reason but find the cost of switching to be too high. But Boot Camp allows previous investments in Windows software to be maintained.

So consumers and companies can start using Mac iLife software, and when upgrade time comes for other software, switch to Mac versions of the same software, or to different Mac software, as long as backward file compatibility is maintained. Note that Apple bought a small company that specialized in MS Office formats a while ago; I've not seen any Apple products that are clearly using those translation technologies yet. My guess is that some of this will be made available as part of Mac OS X.

The next piece is virtualization in OS X - a move which will gently make OS X the base of the user's computing experience. Once companies start having Macs, albeit running Windows apps most of the time, it doesn't seem as far-fetched that someday they will switch those Macs over to OS X, with Windows apps running in virtual mode. At that point, Apple may decide to license.

So for now, Apple has to make its Macs attractive, whether through design or user experience, and to remove obstacles, to entice people to consider using Macs, even to use just to run Windows. It's just getting in the door. Once inside, the Mac running Windows can be transformed. At that point, Apple has to release some software (possibly beyond virtualization) that causes people to want to cement the switchover.

And so it begins...

The argument that something like bootcamp to make it run on 'any clunky pc hardware' is implausible because of an inherant lack of understanding of OS design is, well for lack of a better term fucking stupid. It is not hard to believe that they could/have simply made the kernel have binary driver (module) compatibility with say freebsd, or any of the other bsd's. Despite what most of the posters here say, that is a *large* amount of hardware support. What becomes left is those esoteric $500 video cards, this makes the world an easier place to code for and well puts it within the realm of possibility.

Furthermore you fail to realize that *ALL* PC/Intel based hardware is clunky, cheap and generally suck. The argument that they would never do it out of pride is silly because they already put their software on crap.

Watch, Apple is moving in and trying to take over the desktop.

To the typical blind Apple loyalist from the previous post... Speaking of fucking stupid, look who's talking! Do you even know what you just said?

Hobbyists already have OS X running on non-Apple branded PCs. When the popularity of the hacked version starts to grow, Apple's hand may be forced to enter the market in order to control the adoption, just as they have with BootCamp...

Hacked versions of OS X are not ever going to go mainstream. My grandmother doesnt want to figure out how to download a torrent of an OS.

Yeah, I gotta agree. OSX on non-Apple hardware is a big stretch. Besides, Jobs pronounced Billy Gates a brother-in-arms, Michael Dell is the new Apple whipping boy, remember? We can't get into bed with him!

RE the technical difficulties of getting OS X to run on Intel.

Well, I don't see this as being much of an issue. OPENSTEP ran on both Motorola-based NeXT hardware and Intel-based PC's (or as we used to call it, black and white hardware). I ran OPENSTEP on a Gateway for several years of serious software developement work, and the only time I remember it crashing is when I did stoopid things, not because of any inherent instability of the hardware platform. (Or to put it in terms of the commentary here -- sure NeXT controlled black hardware, but they didn't control Gateway, Dell, Compac, HP, etc.)

What ever Job's official position may be on OS X on Intel, I can't believe that Avi Tevanian didn't have a complete build running on a Dell somewhere in the basement.

everyone is missing the whole point of OSX running on a mac. it "just works". out of the box. doesnt anyone remember those commercials apple ran a few years ago where people talk about plugging in a digital camera to a pc vs a mac?

ive never owned a mac, but ive been running osx86 on my dell 600m for about 8 months now--i have everything but quartz extreme working perfectly. 10.4.5. the whole community at osx86project jumped on the oppertunity, and have developed (hacked) drivers for everything from wireless to nVidea graphics cards. despite all the efforts, even this os has a VERY limited hardware compatability list. and it takes a lot of hours of tweaking and knowledge of the terminal to get things to start to run smoothly.

coming out with boot camp, apple is just taking advantage of those intel chips, and hoping to get a few more "Colin"s packing MacBooks into their briefcases.

having osx tied to their hardware so closely gives apple an advantage. jobs would never want to see pc's running osx because it would dramatically reduce the one main theme that apple has worked so hard to (arguably) achieve: having things "just work."

De'ja Vu!.


I pointed out the same OS X to PC porting issues while preserving OS X experience, to Bob (Gringely) last fall :)

I thought Apple never would do that too, but yesterday it occurred to me, there is a big but!

All that complexity can be avoided with targeting OS X to a carefully selected VMM like VMware Player and VMTN. Now, besides having some very interesting and eyebrow raising effects somewhere, too also it would propably also make Apple win the WMWare Virtual Appliance challence :)

Q: Why would Apple do that?

A: There are many answers to that, I don't even try to cover them all, but for starters I mention two:


  • To give a very large audience even a glimpse of true experience of the OS X

  • For security, we are forced to go towards VMM and supporting features (signed & trusted flash boot images in EFI etc.) straight in firmware. Virtualisation is needed to be done very early stages, before anyone else (malware) and secure that nothing gets 'below'. Why you may ask? Read this pdf paper, please. So Apple needs to go towards virtualization anyway, sooner or later.

Cheers,

:-) riku

Why does everybody always say "oh Microsoft has such a hard job because they have to write drivers for gazillions of hardware configurations!"

Guess what: Microsoft doesn't write drivers. Microsoft writes the OS. The hardware vendors write the drivers. At most, Microsoft bundles the third-party drivers on the Windows disk. This does NOT make Microsoft's job "orders of magnitude more complicated" than Apple's.

If you're looking for a reason why Microsoft hasn't released a new OS since 2001, keep looking, you didn't find it yet.

If Apple released OS X for Sonys and Dulls, it would be up to the hardware vendors whether or not they would choose to write drivers for it. It wouldn't have anything to do with Apple.

Windows doesn't support hardware. Hardware supports Windows. It could just as easily support OSX or Linux if the manufacturer thought it would be profitable.

I own two macs and a pc. If OSX was to become available for the general|newer PC box, ala UNIX, I'd build three new boxes out of shithot parts and pay full price x3 for the OSX to install on them.

Microsoft is a software company. They don't do hardware, they do software.

All this caca about the 'Apple Hardware Experience' is horse puckey. Apple exists today in spite of it's own worst enemy - it's marketing department.

The heck with all this pussyfooting with OSX. The heck with 'Leopard' - call the next OSX 'Sabertooth' and go after Microsoft.

I must agree with jtalle.

Apples hardware business is shoddy, at best. In the past three years I have gone through several ( 13 ) macs of all kinds ( from iBook to PM G5 ) None of them has been flawless.

That said, none of the PCs I've had has been flawless either. However, the PCs have been in almost all cases easily fixable by the end user. That is not possible with Apple. Get a whiny MacBook and your'e left at the mercy of the Jobs to have it fixed.

Apple releasing OS X for intel to the masses would actually give the end user the possibility to build a better system than Apple are able to, and for less money too...

I'd say it's about time Apple came to their senses, realized theyr'e a software company, not a fashion company, and started to behave as such.

You guys don't get it. Jobs has planned an all out assault on MS for years. Now that the iPods have filled the Apple war chest, the OS battle is about to begin.

Yes, OS-X is coming to the PC world, not only with Job's approval but by his will and with his highest hopes. Those who think Jobs would not allow this are clearly unfamiliar with the man and the long term goal of Apple.

You don't have a clue. Even the hacked OSX Intel betas allegedly ran very well on totally unsupported hardware, like IBM laptops. The main reason Mac OS X is so reliable with hardware :- IOKit

Don't know what it is--go look it up at developer.apple.com

This is a *HUGE* difference between the OSX and Windows ways of supporting hardware. Wake UP or p i s s off.

I've seen OS X running on a DIY box (a 3GHz P4) and simply put - it was awesome and it screamed. The computer wasn't an ugly beige box either. It was well-built and stylish.

I, therefore, am among those who certainly would purchase OS X in a retail box if it were available.

Unfortunately, I agree with many of the arguments put forth by Frank and some of the other contributors against this happening anytime soon. I just cannot see Apple taking these kinds of risks.

On the other, it is entirely conceivable, and highly likely IMHO, that we will see licensed systems sold by major OEMs (HP, Dell, Lenovo/IBM, and/or Sony within the next year, or two.

Arguments against this happening typically reference the near annihilation of Apple caused by the Mac clone program of the mid 90's.

There are a number of reasons this will not happen again. Primary among these are...

1) Macs presently are quite cost-competitive compared to other PCs, as opposed to the early to mid 90's when Macs were insanely expensive. The cost differential now is a few hundred dollars rather than several thousand dollars more than a PC. They can in fact be less expensive. Try building something like a DIY Mac mini for $800. I researched this and the parts alone were well over $1000. I am sure Dell, HP, et al would probably welcome a little bit more margin to sell OS X systems. Do so also would give them a bit of leverage to use against Microsoft.

2) As everyone on this blog already knows - Macs are PCs now... Proprietary interfaces are history and PPC soon will be. The costs (and risks) to a top tier OEM interested in building OS X capable systems are gone.

Also, as someone alluded to above, the primary reason large customers (business and government) migrated towards Windows PCs over the last decade was because Apple, as the only vendor of Macs, was a risky choice. This risk is reduced greatly if selected top-tier OEMs make/sell them as well.

DIYers are not a market that would interest Apple, at least not currently. I cannot comprehend, however, how Apple could ignore an opportunity to attract the business of large customers, maybe whole governments, who currently are screaming for open source OSs and open document formats.

I also believe strongly that licensed OS X systems sold by top-tier OEMs is exactly what the industry needs. It certainly wouldn't spell the end of Microsoft, but it would provide some much-needed competition.

Apple's OS X could run on PC's, they just would have to use (and possibly modify) the Linux and BSD drivers that are available
for PC's.

You know, memories are very short around here on the in-tar-web. I was working for an Apple 3rd party retailer when 10.3 was released, and the indiginity and rage that beige box owners felt when they found out that they needed USB native on their machines to run 10.3, i.e. not their slow-as-molasses beige box, was something to behold. They did have a point, because it was stated that OS X would support all g3 processor machines, something that Apple reneged on, but the greater point is this:

There is often for general end-user computing experience a can/can't should/shouldn't matrix. For example, you CAN try and make your standalone fat32 based (read: no file permissions) OS try and have features of your enterprise-level networked OS, but you SHOULDN'T *cough*WinME*cough*. Likewise, you COULD try and make the latest release of your OS run on the lowest common denominator of the hardware line (beige boxes), but you SHOULDN'T. And Apple didn't, and IMHO Panther was the release when OS X really began to shine.

Apple isn't afraid to draw a line in the sand an say "You people on the other side of this line, you gotta get your cheap-ass act together and get over here with us good-looking people." So if they did this on their OWN HARDWARE PLATFORM, why wouldn't they do it for PC? Intel, Via, or Nvidia chipsets only (maybe SiS, but I sure hope not), Geforce or Radeons only, The big dogs for pci based peripherals (Realtek/Broadcom for NIC, AC97 based audio only, etc) And anybody else is S.O.L.

This is unthinkable for both PC and Mac advocates, for different reasons. MS has this retarded devotion to legacy support (An Asus A8N motherboard has a freakin SERIAL PORT ON IT FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!), which makes MS supporters belive this kind of neverending support is their birthright, and Mac devotees don't like to remember how much is sucked when Steve held that mock funeral for OS 9 and all their Quark-based design software was a $2000 frisbee set (they forgot pretty quick then they saw the G4 towers and there was all that "We can't sell them to China" nonsense). The (albeit long-winded and parenthases filled) point is this; Apple strenght since Jobs came back is the fact that they are willing to say "This is the way this computer/personal mp3 player/video editing software/operating system HAS to be experienced, and if you don't like it, well, enjoy your leathery mammaries." You can say "Apple will never insert assertion here" till you're blue in the face, but their willingness to cut out dead-weight and move in new directions is the only consistent characteristic of Apple over since the return of Jobs.

PS-The only big stumbling block I can see is copy protection/product activization, something which not many people here are talking about.

I've posted a follow-up to this discussion here. Share and enjoy!

Technically, Apple could have sold OS X on Intel kit years ago.

I believe they didn't do so, because it might hurt their hardware sales and BeOS proved it is futile to fight the Monopoly. And, yes, OS X has the disadvantage of fewer drivers and applications.

My pet conspiracy theory is that Apple will drop OS X in a couple of years and switch to Windows.

"Were Apple to ship OS X for "bog-standard 32-bit PC hardware", it would be just as frustrating as Windows. "

That's a wrong assumption.

The reason that it's a nightmare for Microsoft to maintain the OS for multiple vendors is not only because of the number of PC makers. But also because of the inherent complexity and bugginess of Windows code (.dll, registry, BSoD, etc..).

If one starts from a much more stable OS and kernel based OS like, BSD (Linux like). I'd say that it would be a hell of a lot easier for Apple to develop and maintain OS X for the PC makers.

Plus, the industry has pretty much standardized on a lot of peripherals like USB 1.1, 2.0, ATA, SATA, PCI-X, AGP, HD-15, DVI, PC RAM, etc..

It's not like it was in the mid-nineties where PC vendors followed much more looser specs.

Plus, all Apple would have to do is select a few vendors models (Sony, Dell, HP, etc..) and go from there.

"Sony: Introducing the OSX Ready VAIO!"

Cringely is a troll these days :-/

"Microsoft has a far more difficult time shipping new versions of their OS not because they're incompetent, but because their task is orders of magnitude larger than Apple's, made so by the unending hardware configurations forced upon them by the commoditized market for PC hardware."

The above comment is simply not true. It is a platitude.

After having been a dedicated Mac user from 1987, with only intermittent, work-related use of Windoze (3.11 was the last version until XP this past December), I was forced to use XP on an Acer laptop full time. Aside from the usual clunky nature of the operating system, the main objection I have currently falls squarely on the fact that PCs are just plain ugly. Only SONY's Vaio makes an attempt to present any aesthetics at all.

I wouldn't own an ugly pen, cellphone, PDA, briefcase, or watch, why should I own an ugly computer?

Apple's hardware is the best looking personal computer equipment available, and their OS is the best personal computing environment. It would make no sense to have OS X running on generic PC hardware. You wouldn't take a MacLaren engine and stick it into a Buick.

Just my humble opinion.

I agree with IcEbox's (update: and von Asmuth and others') statements earlier. Remember, Apple isn't making a ton of money off of OS development. While there have been plenty of good arguments both for and against the possible transition to generic pc's, I think that Icebox (and others) have got the right idea - why bother continually working on an operating system which (this I agree with too) will NEVER remove Windows from the scene?

It seems far more likely that this dual-booting is merely a nod in the OTHER direction entirely - why (aside from rabid angry fans) would Apple not use a tweaked version of Windows? This would do several things in one shot, some of which ICe listed:

1) Apples will be able to play games. Huff and puff all you want, but the lack of games (I know, I know, the situation's improving) for Macs is a HUGE obstacle to their adoption as mainstream computers. I've heard some on here argue that Mac users are apparently too good for gaming, but the fact remains that if those people spending $4,500 a pop on Alienwares could have a comparatively priced Apple, most would do it. They're just cooler.

2) Speaking of cooler, one can go on and on about how 'M$ is a peice o' poo and people want options,' but the fact is that MANY (I won't even say most, to avoid offending if possible) people who spring for Apples ARE springing for the coolness factor. There's all the talk about iPod this and that - what's better about an iPod? There are many cheaper players that work just as well. (Many) people like Apple simply for the graceful lines that compose both the hardware and software ends of the bargain.

But 'Oho!,' you say. 'Neener-neener-neener, you JUST SAID they'll give their OS up! Hah! You're a dirty Windows-lover! Eeew!' No, I said they'd develop an internal OS BASED on Windows. Why on Earth WOULDN'T they let MS do all the hard work for them, and just sit back and collect the benefits? OSX does NOTHING but highlight and reinforce the all-important user experience. It's eye-candy to back up eye-candy. Note: there's nothing WRONG with that. I'm getting a MacBook (my first Mac, BTW) in a few days, and am really looking forward to the experience. But I'm not kidding myself. I want a MacBook instead of a Dell for the sleek lines, inside and out...and because I dislike Dells. :P

The point is, I'm not getting an Apple because I want tech support. (I run my own blocking when it comes to computer maintenence. It WILL be interesting to have a 'no-shit-this'll-always-work' computer, but then, if I always bought the highest-end parts for my PC, they'd always work too.) I'm not getting an Apple because I think Bill Gates is a Big Meanie. I'm getting one because of the whole experience - an experience which could be easily replicated (with lower cost to Apple, added compatability, and ever-growing hardware sales) by an in-house version of Windows.

My personal bet (as long as we're waving dicks in the wind) is that MS and Apple will eventually be running versions of the same OS, but that it will neither be called 'Windows' nor 'insert cat-name here.' They will sell us (and the rest of the world) on an integrated, next-generation OS experience that will run everything, play everything, and put poor Linux to rest (which is sad, don't get me wrong). They'll claim that they're burying the hatchet to make the world a better place, and 99% of users will believe them. Why? Because it WILL be a better place. We'll all be running variations on the same thing (except for an ever-more 1337 group of Linux-junkies), everything will be compatible, and mainstream users (remember, they're the ones who push the sales) will be satiated.

Haven't you considered the implications? Why fight in a business where everyone can win? Do you REALLY think Jobs okay'd BootCamp out of good-will? Even as a good business move, would he have done that during the early days? Definately not. He's warming up to the idea, and getting ready to make the big switch.

The point is that both companies can have their cake and eat it too. And hell, since they're different firms, probably avoid monopoly woes at that.

Just put two and two together.

2: Apple makes money off hardware, but is severely limited by MS's compatability and enormous user-base.
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2: Microsoft makes its money off software, but has never had the desire to corner the hardware market. After all, if you've got the oil that makes the machine run, who needs to spend funds putting the thing together? They'll come to you regardless.

= Apple solves ALL of its woes (except for aforementioned fans, who will quit their sobbing eventually when Apple soothes them with the notion that their version of the OS is superior anyway) AND sells more hardware. MS starts making money from hardware sales (Apple liscencing) for the first time, puts to bed its biggest competitor, shoots one across the bow of Linux, and becomes less 'prevalent' and more 'ubiquitous.'

Why the hell not? (I know, there ARE reasons...viruses and malware would become more targeted, creativity may suffer, Apple-users would cry.) In my mind, there's simply not room for two rulers. But 'co-owners of the pc market' always has a good ring to it. OSX will not (in supported form) move to PC. 'PC' will come to it.

The main area of contention between Macs and Windows-based systems is the domestic market, surely.

We're now in the third generation of IT managers who only know about Windows and are scared of everything else. Corporate IT is the most herd-like, bureaucratic, illogical universe. Plenty of evidence for that. Given the insecurity of W2K servers and the cost per deployment they still prefer it to the open-source server OS alternatives. No way that Mac OS is going to penetrate the mainstream corporate market. That is, until a killer step-change takes place similar to that which broke IBM's stranglehold over the corporate market in the 1970/80's.

Mac has reasonable penetration into the professional creative market. That's why they developed Mac OS Server so that they could offer integrated vertical solutions. That's also probably why they've taken the leap to Intel in the light of PPC chip development being slow to compete at the high-end. Creatives need max power in their workstations.

Apple's attempt to hold onto the education market (with things like the eMac) is a grim struggle as corporate IT types in education and the universities continue to try and winkle out non-windows systems using "security" (hah!) or "compatibility" excuses.

The grail is to get a bigger cut into what people use at home.

Domestic buyers buy Windows PCs on price, but also because it's what they use at work, what their children are expected to use at school. The other major attraction of the Intel switch is that it makes it possible to run virtualised Windows applications at full speed within the GUI. Forget Bootcamp, except what the thinking reveals -- virtualisation is the key. Once they have that then it removes the final obstacle to much wider domestic use.

Don't forget that the fundamental thinking behind the Apple brand is "appliance" computing. "It just works" -- ie you don't need to know about the registry, device drivers, blah, blah to do wireless networking, videoconferencing, amateur movie editing etc.

My guess is that the numbers that Apple marketing people look at are mostly about their share of the domestic market. Making Mac OS available on vanilla boxes makes no sense because Mac OS X is not the product -- any more than the engine software makes a Mercedes. The product is the overall design -- the box, the GUI, the useability.

Getting the appliance right, and minimising obstacles to its adoption, are what this whole tempest in a teapot on Intel/Mac Os/Windows is about.

The main area of contention between Macs and Windows-based systems is the domestic market, surely.

We're now in the third generation of IT managers who only know about Windows and are scared of everything else. Corporate IT is the most herd-like, bureaucratic, illogical universe. Plenty of evidence for that. Given the insecurity of W2K servers and the cost per deployment they still prefer it to the open-source server OS alternatives. No way that Mac OS is going to penetrate the mainstream corporate market. That is, until a killer step-change takes place similar to that which broke IBM's stranglehold over the corporate market in the 1970/80's.

Mac has reasonable penetration into the professional creative market. That's why they developed Mac OS Server so that they could offer integrated vertical solutions. That's also probably why they've taken the leap to Intel in the light of PPC chip development being slow to compete at the high-end. Creatives need max power in their workstations.

Apple's attempt to hold onto the education market (with things like the eMac) is a grim struggle as corporate IT types in education and the universities continue to try and winkle out non-windows systems using "security" (hah!) or "compatibility" excuses.

The grail is to get a bigger cut into what people use at home.

Domestic buyers buy Windows PCs on price, but also because it's what they use at work, what their children are expected to use at school. The other major attraction of the Intel switch is that it makes it possible to run virtualised Windows applications at full speed within the GUI. Forget Bootcamp, except what the thinking reveals -- virtualisation is the key. Once they have that then it removes the final obstacle to much wider domestic use.

Don't forget that the fundamental thinking behind the Apple brand is "appliance" computing. "It just works" -- ie you don't need to know about the registry, device drivers, blah, blah to do wireless networking, videoconferencing, amateur movie editing etc.

My guess is that the numbers that Apple marketing people look at are mostly about their share of the domestic market. Making Mac OS available on vanilla boxes makes no sense because Mac OS X is not the product -- any more than the engine software makes a Mercedes. The product is the overall design -- the box, the GUI, the useability.

Getting the appliance right, and minimising obstacles to its adoption, are what this whole tempest in a teapot on Intel/Mac Os/Windows is about.

Well as u guys speek i am writing this piece of information from my PC. installed through a hacked image.
I think most of advanced user will be doing what i hav done. I think what apple should do is to alow users to run mac on PC with warnings like 'Not Optimized for your machine' or some crap like that. Point is spred the word but not support it officially. So the guy like me who cannot afford an intel mac will run os x on my pc with minimal problems(due to community) and some one who can afford it would buy an intel mac. profit both ways

I'll share a thought (I might come back for more sharing later, time allowing):

Quite a few have argued on the basis that Apple could relatively easy grab 50% of Microsoft's windows customers. Are you insane?!? Virtually NO corporation would switch, since it would entail the same difficulties as today, with a windows-based infrastructure and apps.

That means that every home user would have to switch. Considering that most of them don't know that office exists for OSX, I seriously doubt they'll abandon their "safe" windows in droves. I'll grant that more would use/buy OSX than today, but not every second windows user. No way. Not even close.

It's easy to get stuck in our tech-savvy views and not see this from the perspective of the regular consumer, but that's where the bottom line is.

Come to think of it, I'll actually share two thoughts. Some have mentioned that losing the whole or a big part of the mac hardware sales is no big thing, especially since the iPod business is so good.

Are you insane?!? Would losing 5 billion+ in revenue be no big thing??? And for what? A very uncertain part of a market they've never competed in before. A market that MICROSOFT will defend to the last thrown chair.

I see the attraction of dethroning windows, but for that to happen I think some more sophistication is in order.

Dont forget that Intel and Core DUO support EFI. Look at up. This is an abstraction layer for hardware devices. So drivers should become less of a problem.


HEY - I would buy a MAC notebook right now - Except they only have ONE MOUSE BUTTON built in!! What's up with that? I like to RIGHT CLICK on my notebook!

I dissagree with the compatibility issues. For the most part the PC is now very standardized and hardware is abstracted via drivers. Video is owned by Nvidia and ATI with a handful of others that could be ignored. Audio same thing. The rest is in the chipsets and while there are several it is not an insurmountable issue. Besides Apple could only support Intel chipsets and maybe AMD, ATI and Nvidia video, who ever has the most audio market share and call it a day. The rest is up to the hardware manufactures to build drivers for. Just like on OSX right now. Although I dont think they want to marginalize thier own hardware business which is the real reason not to support other PC platforms.

Please check out Wikipedia's pages on the OSX86 project. The list of fully working, tested hardware is huge. It's a proven fact that OSX can run on many off-the-shelf PCs. Even on Dells. No reason why Apple won't sell it in box for $99. The only reason they may not is that they want people to buy their hardware. We can't know the answer to that. Only Apple knows.

I recently purchased a little G3 450 iMac(off EBay), Running OS X 10.3.9, It boots faster than my 2.4GHz windows box, it runs far more stable than my windows box, I don't need Antivirus software, or a firewall programs, and it NEVER crashes.

I to was hoping that Mac would release a version of OS X for generic PCs, But have recently change my mind on the matter, Why waste time writing OS X for what I now consider to be inferior hardware? Give me a Mac any day! I've been using windows since 3.1 was the newest thing around, and consider OS X to be far better at all tasks than any generic PCs.

basically what I'm saying here is Mac hardware kicks generic PC hardware to the curb, couple that with OS X, and you cant loose.

So in summing up, Once you've tried Mac, you wont look back!

it was a very good idea the the prososal of the business called Snapster, it help to share freely musics, etc.. with shareholders. Its nice!

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