Mac OS: The Beginning of the End

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I’ve got a real bad feeling about this…

A couple of weeks ago the Mac community was all abuzz over news that Apple CEO Steve Jobs had unloaded almost half of his stock in the company. While the consensus eventually came to be that he did it only for tax purposes, this morning the other shoe dropped—a public beta of Boot Camp, an official software product from Apple that will let owners of Intel-powered Macs dual-boot into either OS X or (gasp) Windows!

In the short term this is great news; Apple’s stock price will surely surge, and Macs will likely make that big dent into the enterprise market that everyone’s been talking about for so long.

But further down the road I see dark clouds gathering. With Adobe and Microsoft still holding out on Intel-compatible versions of their critical Macintosh software, they now have every reason to shrug off development and say: “What’s the point? Macs are gonna run Windows anyway…”

In time, I see the library of Macintosh software steadily shrinking while the Windows partitions on our Macs get bigger and bigger. Eventually, maybe five years from now or whenever Jobs finally retires to run Disney full-time, the Linux-based, crash and virus-proof operating system that we’ve grown to know and love will be reduced to a single Windows app—something like iLife with Apple Mail and maybe Safari thrown in for good measure.

Mark my words: This is the beginning of the end for the Mac OS…

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10 Responses to “Mac OS: The Beginning of the End”

  1. Tim says:

    I’m afraid you’re right on the money. It amazes me at how many Mac fans are celebrating today.

  2. Frank McDermott says:

    Have you seen Chicken Little ?

  3. And somebody’s already got a slide show up on Flickr showing the installation process:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/speedye/sets/72057594099504282/

  4. Robert B says:

    There may be some drop outs in the software vendors; but the profits are still there in the smaller Mac market that Microsoft and Adobe won’t want to jeopardize. You’re obviously a PC user and perfer Microsoft’s OS. This makes a clear evaluation more difficult. Remember there have been scores of Apple deaths and purchase rumors for the past decades. It ain’t going to happen anytime soon.

    What you may find is Apple reviving software they developed but never released. That is a programming package for dual platform development. Who knows; but we live in intersting times.

  5. scott anderson says:

    You could be right. But, it just doesn’t ring true to me. I also didn’t”get” the iPod when it was introduced, so maybe my radar isn’t all that sharp.

    I think Apple’s in it for the long-haul. I like to think of this as a trojan horse, more so than the opening sentence in a last chapter. No one using the Mac side will use Windows and think, “Wow, what a great experience.” Plenty of people – enterprise included – will likely buy them, and discover the grass is greener on this side.

    More units sold = more market share. More relevance. More traction. More converts.

    Also, Jobs could have retired to paint goldfish or run Pixar or knit doilies a long time ago. This appears to be where his heart is – I’ll “trust in Jobs” for now – it’s been ages since he let me down.

  6. Alex says:

    Now I begin to understand why Avie Tevanian left last week.
    This move is risky, and I fear you’re right about the prediction: unless they license the OS to other manufacturers some years from now, MAC OS will cease to exist.

  7. Jeff says:

    If Steve knew he were doing this, he’d have predicted the stock surge as well – would he have sold back then, or now?

    The man’s not an idiot.

    The true concerns about XP/OSX on the same machine is the security one. Unless XP is prevented from writing to the OSX partitions, a whole bunch of infection vectors just got added to the OSX world, effectively nuking any previous reputation for security.

  8. Chris says:

    Except that Steve Jobs hates Bill Gates and is doing this to capitalize on the Vista debacle. Relax, the mac is the OS, so there is no way in hell that Apple is dropping OSX. You are like any conspiracy theorist. Take two seemingly innocuous points and link them and stir… and VOILA! Conspiracy!!

  9. RWD says:

    I think the software vendors will continue to release Mac software as a defensive move if nothing else, especially if Apple’s hardware market share is growing as a result of this move, as seems likely. Say you’re Adobe. Apple already has various apps that nibble at the edges of Photoshop’s space. No doubt they could produce a competent photo editor pretty quickly if Adobe vacated the Mac market. Add a spreadsheet to iWork (which is already rumored), and that’s a competitor to MS Office for all but the most sophisticated users. If MS Office for Mac is out there, it will probably still capture the power users—if it’s not, iWork will evolve to meet their needs, and people running Apple hardware will have less of a need for MS Office.

    As a Mac user, my loyalty is to the platform, not the software vendor. Lots of software customers probably feel the same way. If someone drops Mac support, I’ll find an alternative. All someone like Adobe or MS is going to do by dropping Mac support is lose me as a customer and give rise to competitive products.

    That’s not to say I won’t use the occasional Windows app under Boot Camp (or, hopefully, virtualization solutions like Virtual PC if they go native), just like I use various open source Unix software apps now. But faced with two pieces of software, one of which runs crisply in OS X and one which doesn’t, I’m going to use the former.

  10. Peter J. Pedersen says:

    “Linux-based” ?

    How long have you been a Macolyte? not long, I wager.

    As for Mac OS X being “diminished, and move unto the West”, I doubt that double-booting will have anything near that effect. At most, a sizable number of people will be attracted to the coolness of the hardware (as you point out) and buy it to run XP (and later Vista) on. More money for the Fruit War Chest…

    Unfortunately, I believe “Leopard” (or “Cheetah” – whatever the follow-up will be termed) will introduce not only dual-booting but also some kind of virtual environment that permits running Win apps in windows in Mac OS X. I guess it will be based on Intel’s coming hardware-implementation, rather than any of the software solutions extant; if so, it will probably be in a later update of Leopard, or in the successor.

    I write “Unfortunately” because I find it hard to foresee the consequences of such a move: is it Good since it opens up for running lots of games on Apple’s advanced hardware, or is it Bad because it will make many software developers cut away the costs of Mac-native versions and go for the (sorry) “Big Apple” – meaning Microsoft – instead? Now, Apple earns most of its money on hardware, so as long as it has a market for that, the company as such will survive. But…

    I have a bad feeling about that – but then again, I had a bad feeling about the release of the iPod…

    Are the times a-changing?

    Peter J. Pedersen