Welcome to the latest issue of About This Particular Macintosh! This month we mark the 30th anniversary of Apple Computer, and in this column we take a brief look at the two new operating systems that mark the next step in personal computing. It’s April and there’s a Fool’s story here; but the victims of the prank aren’t you, me, or other people who choose a Mac. Please read on…
People who own a late model car know the annoying indicator that pops up at planned intervals signaling Maintenance Required. It can be as much a marketing effort for dealer service departments as it is a warning of potential car problems. No one suggests the indicator should be taken lightly, and owners of new cars should keep to the recommended service schedule. But often times it’s little more than an alarm because the car hasn’t been to an authorized dealer’s service department in quite some time.
The Windows PC industry learned a great deal from the folks in Detroit. It became no longer enough for a one-time PC sale to a customer. Similar to the auto industry, the Windows PC industry’s profits now require buyers coming back for more whether it be contracts for services on a new PC or an upgrade to a new model every couple of years. Most new Windows PC desktops are littered with ads for services or software enhancements. Without the revenue from upgrades, software, and services, the Windows PC industry would now be suffering the same fate as the two largest US automakers in Motor City. Who hasn’t seen a pop-up on a Windows PC saying “Maintenance Required”?
This leads us to our next topic…
Windows Vista (formerly code-named Longhorn) is the new operating system from Microsoft. Recently the software maker announced that the release of the consumer version of Windows Vista will be delayed until January 2007. This follows a string of previously announced delays and a litany of once-promised features removed from the pending product in order to make the much-delayed release date.
Lacking the long-promised new file system, Vista becomes little more than an expensive XP update. The hardware requirements for this new Windows OS will require many PC users to purchase a new computer or buy expensive component upgrades if they wish to use it. The delay is setting back plans for software developers and component makers dependent on Vista’s hefty hardware burden for new product sales.
Apple Computer is set to release Mac OS X, 10.5 (now known as Leopard) the same week in January that Microsoft releases the consumer version of Vista. With the next variation of Windows and Mac OS X running on the same Intel architecture, straightforward comparisons between the two operating systems using the same hardware can now be made. In March, Apple joined BAPCo, a Windows benchmarking organization. This has lead to speculation Apple is preparing to match OS X against Windows in side-by-side tests. The winner may surprise millions of Windows PC owners.
Leopard v. Vista
One of the big differences between Leopard and Vista is the issue of compatibility. Apple solved its first compatibility issue following the release of OS X by providing for Mac OS software written for its older operating system to be run in an emulation environment called Classic. Apple has solved the compatibility issue following the release of Macs with Intel chips through Rosetta and the development of software with Universal Binaries that can be run on both the PowerPC and Intel-based computers.
Legacy software challenges have plagued Vista’s development. Microsoft cannot afford to release a new version of Windows that causes serious conflicts with most Windows-based software currently in the marketplace. It would be like Detroit releasing a car that worked only with all new parts and different fuels.
Compatibility and lingering security issues have led to these delays. If Microsoft makes compatibility a problem, developers and enterprise clients have even more reasons to search for alternative operating systems. Microsoft’s “solution” to backward compatibility is to water down the changes in Vista rather than break with the past and offer a faster, leaner, and inherently more secure product. Instead, security “enhancements” and functionality “improvements” mandate the need for hefty new hardware.
Redmond v. Detroit
Delphi, one of the nation’s largest auto parts suppliers, is now in bankruptcy. General Motors is restating its earnings for the past several years. Ford is also losing money and losing market share. Detroit lost its market when it focused more on supporting the industries the town created than on the quality of the product and tastes of the consumers who purchased its cars. Sound familiar? Redmond may be making the same big mistake.
One of the biggest factors behind the past success of Windows wasn’t the quality of the solution; it was the thousands of third-party developers, component manufacturers, and peripheral makers who had a vested interest in the sale of an operating system that compelled consumers to buy their products. Windows developed its own industry. Both Detroit and Redmond continue to operate as if they have no competition.
April’s Fools Game
It’s April 2006, and the PC industry is about to change. The Intel transition opens new opportunities for Apple and Mac users. No longer will there be “Mac versions” of peripherals and accessories. All of the major PC makers, including Apple, will be using the same hardware architecture. The race is on to provide consumers with the best user experience and the best price-to-performance ratio on their computer purchase. If Apple developed a successful emulation solution for OS X for software written for the old Mac OS and now for software written for the PowerPC, what’s to stop Apple from doing the same with Leopard for software written for Windows?
Software developers, component manufacturers, and peripheral makers can move to support the Macintosh much more quickly than troubled auto and auto parts makers can move their businesses from Detroit. Suddenly, buying or supporting Windows-only PCs may become be the biggest fool’s game in town. In short, Windows has just become “Too Much Maintenance Required.”
No Fools Desired, No Maintenance Required
The editors of ATPM continue to bring you the best Macintosh Internet magazine in our easy-to-read monthly format. Each month we chronicle the “personal computing experience” in a unique way with the discerning Mac user in mind. The next few months will bring many changes to the Macintosh world and the PC industry. We look forward to Apple’s new product announcements as the Intel transition continues and to the many pleasant surprise we will encounter along the way.
Our April issue includes:
Bloggable: We Didn’t Start the Fire
Famous—at least in the online world—switchers to the Mac platform have abounded since the new year began.
Segments: Building a Web Site
Reader Heather Isaacson wanted to build a Web site to sell her art online, but her old Mac wasn’t up to the task.
Segments: Copyleft, Right?
Software such as Firefox pushes in the opposite direction of proprietary, copyrighted works.
How To: Making Calendars in iPhoto ’06
Calendars are one of those ultimate craft items; they’re near universal office tchotchkes, as well as excellent family gifts at birthdays or holidays.
Desktop Pictures: English Lake District
Mac user Andy Bannister shares some of his amazing photos of England’s Lake District.
Cortland learns there’s no accounting for taste, as desperation sets in for Chad while Angie may find that love is even closer than she thinks.
Review: Password Retriever 5.1.8
Password Retriever looks pretty good on the surface, but gives this reviewer no peace of mind.
Review: SuperDuper! 2.1
Is the backup solution for the rest of us something you can find in a Shirt Pocket?