Mac OS X on PC


Does anyone ever wonder why, when there are so many Macs out there, LINUX gets far more respect?

No one ever talks about Apple toppling the Microsoft empire. No one ever mentions Apple when talk of an alternative OS comes up.

Everyone, however, brings up LINUX.

Never mind that Apple is poised to ship more "UNIX" based systems in the next year than any other computer vendor out there, (including the soon to be lumbering laughing stock HP/Compaq. )

The only OS anyone mentions with any respect, after Windows, is LINUX.

Why is that?

It's because LINUX runs on existing PCs, and a whole hell of a lot more of them than WindowsXP does. Linux even runs on Macs.

That makes it real attractive, even though Apple arguably has what LINUX has been missing all along, a user friendly UNIX.


Simply Daemonic
I think the "geeks" made linux popular but he geeks will also make OS X popular, along with web devs, illustratos, graphics arists and so on.



Senior Lurker
xphile makes a great point - there's a lot of rhetoric about Linux: The Alternative OS, but from the a home usage or business productivity standpoint the Mac is a much, MUCH more appropriate Microsoft alternative.

I think one big reason that you don't <b>tend to</b> see journalists touting the Mac's potential as a Windows-killer or Windows alternative (there have been a few in the last year) is because they're afraid of rehash - that is, "alternative" has been the Mac story since the beginning, and even up until the last year there's been little <b>new</b> to report about, OS-wise, from year to year (though I think journalists have been consistently, if not happily reporting Apple's biggest successes, i.e. the iMac, etc)

Linux is a platform whose popularity came about in part riding on the back of the Internet boom (some would argue that the reverse is true). Its popularity with "geeks" is one of hundreds of factors into its success, but when it comes down to it, its popularity is mostly based on its main revolutionary feature: It's FREE. (Again, some would argue with just how free Linux is) Yes, it is possible for me to build a 1ghz, reasonably loaded Linux box for $350 (sans monitor), and have it running with a full office suite, web server, mail server, etc. etc. (I know Apache's been ported to OS X, most Macs are bundled with iMovie, AppleWorks, etc., but for $350?)

From the journalists' perspective, Linux is (relatively) new to the market at large, doesn't require a huge investment to try, even on existing machines (Apple included), and due to timing and tto the crowd that most helped push it into the initial, peripheral view of the world (the "geeks") became synonymous or directly associated with two other huge buzzphrases of the last few years - "open source" and "Internet".

Apple's MacOS releases have been excellent, steady, but little innovation took place in the OS over the last 15 years. The Mac has always remained an excellent workstation and home computing platform (and Windows alternative), but, especially 1995-2000, Apple introduced very little to give journalists an excuse to revive the old "Mac vs. Windows" debate (we're talking about the CNBC, CNN, Wall Street Journal folks here as well as the computing mags, which are at least as important to the discussion these days as the industry mags, since Joe Web Surfer/Jill Email Jockey is NOT likely to be a computer buff (and get all their computing news from the 1 minute nightly spot on the 11 o'clock news), but are certainly computer consumers.

I do think, however, that talk of Apple dominating the market is scarce for very good reasons. For Apple to "topple" the Microsoft empire would require one of three things: 1) Continuous erosion of the Wintel empire, 2) New Disruptive and Revolutionary technology, or 3) Disaster in the world of Microsoft/Intel.

#1 is the most likely to ever happen in this case, and could happen with a string of clever moves, innovative products, good marketing, etc., but will require a LOT of things going right for Apple, some things going wrong for M$, and a lot of time.

#2 - The last time Apple was poised to dominate based on revolutionary technology was 15 years ago, with the introduction of the Mac. At the time, Apple offered home users a computing experience that was unavailable with any other platform (and often superior). X was still in its infancy (Unix workstations in the home were almost unheard of, anyway), and Windows 3.0 was years off (1990). WYSIWYG, OS usage simplicity (no editing config.sys to install extended memory drivers, no config "tuning" to squeeze more free memory into your base 640k), and other features offered a <i>drastic, and obvious difference</i> to users desiring the features. In the end, cost of the machine, difficult software development environment, etc. slowed Mac acceptance until M$ was able to release products more closely simulating the Mac "experience", and taking away one of Apple's major advantages. M$'s existing dominance, some platform advantages and poor (anti-competitive) business practices allowed it to continue to erode the market, despite Apple's obvious strengths in many areas.

Subsequent releases of MacOS continued to strengthen the Mac as a platform and OS, but very little "revolutionary" has been introduced from rev to rev - There was never again a point where the Mac was the "only" platform for a genre of apps (certain markets, yes (graphic design, etc)), and its ability to distinguish its advantages from the PC have slowly shrunk.

Flash forward to today: OS X is a revolutionary OS for the Mac. It's a wild (and much-needed) swing from the previous line of OSes. After passing its infancy I expect it'll be a VERY strong OS and home computing platform (if it's not already!). However... Is it a Revolutionary OS for computers in general? Discounting some of the soon-to-be-eliminated shortcomings, from the perspective of Joe Home User, are Mac OS X and the Mac able to provide a revolutionary experience - one unavailable to users otherwise?

I say no. Don't get me wrong - I love OS X. It's a great mix of Unix, kick-ass GUI, sleek design, and most of the best elements of previous versions of MacOS that has kept the platform alive for the last 15 years. But from an industry standpoint the Apple Experience still isn't enough to distinguish it from Wintel. There is VERY little that I can do on the Mac that is unavailable to me on my PC. The experience is BETTER in a lot of cases, but that's been the case with the Mac for much of the last 15 years, hasn't it? The innovation of OS X, the hardware, the physical Mac design, and the apps (to an ever-lessening extent), and the fact that Apple <b>isn't</b> Microsoft certainly are enough to distinguish the Apple as a Personal Computer, and in the past few years this has been able to attract a lot of the brightest, most creative folks in the industry. However, the money is in the mass market, and to combat market ignorance, reluctance to change, and the certain drawbacks of the Mac platform (I know a die-hard is going to yell at me for this, but yes, there are some...)Apple <b>needs</b> to be able to clearly distinguish the advantages of the Mac platform to the home consumer, business production, and educational markets. However, even with the current product set, I don't think this is possible, and the hurdles are still to high. Even further innovation and a "killer app" or two is going to be necessary to bring back the Mac as a big player in the mass market. Either that, or a lot of hard work, excellent decisions, and a bit of luck :cool:



Old Rhapsody User
I think we are all missing the views of the average users. I have worked with most of the major operating systems of the last ten years, I know from experience what they offer and what they can really do (I'm sorry, but you can't get that reading about an OS in a magazine). Plus most Mac users are force to work with Windows in many areas of daily life so they have experience with both and can usually argue the pros and cons better than PC users who are arguing based on personal investment rather than acctual experience. But the average user, there is a mind set very different from people who argue the platform holy wars. What do they think about?

It occurred to me that most PC users use and feel the same way about their computer as I did about my typewriter in college. I can't remember what brand it was. I don't remember why I choice one over the other. I just bought what was there, and easiest, and cheepest at the time. Computers were a different story. I wanted to run a special group of math programs (Theorist and Expressionist) that would only run on a Macintosh. The same thing with Mathematica which only ran on a NeXT workstation, and Geomview which only ran on NeXT and Silicon Graphics workstation. But still, I can not remember what brand typewriter I used.

The point is that nothing that Apple does can change the market share of Windows because you have to CARE to buy a Mac. With Linux you have to CARE to uninstall Windows and install Linux. With any alternative, Solaris for Intel, BeOS, OS/2 Warp 4.0, QNX, etc., you have to CARE to make those choices. The fact of the matter is, most people don't. When Windows 3.1 was preinstalled on most PCs, and those same systems could have run NEXTSTEP or OS/2 Warp (both far superior to Windows), you still had to CARE enough to get them and put them on. As long as Microsoft can preinstall their software on almost every new PC made, they are going to be the market share king because people just don't care.


ischorr, you completely understood where I was coming from. I started the other thread about LINUX to make myself clear, but your response is what I was looking for.

You hit on many major points. I completely agree concerning the value of OS X vs. the value of WindowsXP. OS X is a beautiful piece of work. Nonetheless, as you and RacerX point out, it isn't that revolutionary. It isn't so wildly different in user "XPerience," that the average user will see the difference.

The concepts touted as so great are actually years old. We had preemptive multitasking, protected memory, etc. etc. etc. back in the late 70s!

This is one reason that I believe that XP won't be the savior of the industry analysts are predicting (hoping for). Most people (average consumers) aren't going to see enough of a difference to purchase bigger computers and upgrade. Many will, most won't. Most large corporations haven't even completed a quarter of the transition to Windows 2000. In these really tough economic times, the average secretary isn't going to type a letter any faster under XP on a 2ghz PentiumIV than he/she would on a Pentium II running Window 95 or 98. There simply isn't enough of a change. There is something called the "Minimal Acceptable User Experience." Windows95 meets that, as does Mac OS 9.2.

So, unless there's a Xerox Parc out there somewhere with advanced A.I. including speech recognition, voice synthesis, and holographic displays, I don't see either OS making that big a splash.

The thing that helps to sell OS X however may be M$ and it's heavy handed tactics. When I look at M$ licensing issues for OfficeXP and WindowsXP it makes my head hurt. I just don’t want to deal with it on a corporate scale. Man does LINUX look attractive now.

WindowsXP is still extremely foreign to the LINUX/UNIX world, but I’ve got this Mac here, that looks extremely familiar all of a sudden. Its got similar operational issues, similar security issues, and so on.

That synergy is the thing I want to see Apple go after.

Also, somewhere in the back of my mind there is the Sun issue.

Bees do it, birds do it. HP and Compaq did it.

Why not Apple and Sun ? That would preclude the LINUX thing, to begin with, but Apple and Sun have a great deal of Synergy.

The egos of the two CEOs would be a major problem though.

One way or another, Apple is going to have to work and play well with others. She just can’t go it alone any more, and my god she’s to valuable to lose.