Why Apple Really Needs to Do Something Special Now

by Aaron Wright Jan 31, 2007

After exactly half a decade and almost three XP service packs later, Microsoft finally gets around to releasing Windows Vista.

As an ex-Windows user—I say ex because I no longer use Windows at home—I can honestly say that a stupid amount of people will be looking forward to this Windows upgrade, and I can’t blame them. Why should Windows users have to put up with rubbish graphics, a sorry excuse for searching through your computer, constant driver finding, error messages, and not forgetting a silly amount of security holes?

While many are saying Vista is purely XP in disguise, there are a few notable upgrades to Windows that any PC owner is going to be grateful for.

The disgusting graphics of XP have been replaced with translucent windows, beautiful shadows, and smooth “Exposé” like movements.

They finally have a decent search engine built right into the system, allowing them to quickly find photos, music, movies, and documents without waiting for two hours.

They finally have a more secure (so we’re told) system that promises to crack down on spyware and viruses, although I dare say we’ll hear of a virus being released for Vista next week.

They finally got their own gadgets (widgets), inspired by Konfabulator, allowing them to check up on weather, news, stock information, and other interesting tidbits with the click of a button.

They finally have decent software pre-installed on their system that allows them to do decent things, such as browsing photos and sending them to Kodak for real prints—no more of those trashy programs that they have to uninstall as soon as they get their computer.

Oh yes, things are looking up in the world of a Windows user, and I’m happy for them, honestly. I’m actually pleased Microsoft has finally gotten their rear ends into gear and released Windows Vista and given their users something Apple has given us for many years—a real computer.

But that’s just the thing: Apple has given us a lot of this stuff for years. Widgets, pretty operating system, Spotlight, iLife, decent security—we’ve got it all, so why the big fuss about Vista? Well, it’s no fuss to anyone who has used a Mac, but a fuss to those who haven’t. Now Apple has a challenge on its hands.

Microsoft has finally caught up with the game and Windows can do pretty much everything a Mac can do, give or take a couple of things (sure, a Mac doesn’t have all the fancy Media centre stuff just yet, but that’s what Apple TV is for.

While Microsoft may not be releasing another Windows operating system for a good 20 or 30 years (excuse my sarcasm), Apple will most likely continue releasing upgrades every year, the next one being OS X Leopard. The challenge for Apple is to continue to innovate, continue to push forward and make Vista look out of date with each release of a new Mac OS. Sure, Spaces and Time Machine are pretty fancy things, but it’s not going to be enough to convince a Windows user that a Mac is better, especially as Vista is now out and about. At present it’s probably only going to be a mixture of small things that make a Mac better, but Steve Jobs and co. need to find a way to bring these now-content Windows Vista users over to the Mac platform.

How about those gamers?

An argument I keep hearing time and time again appears to be that Macs don’t run many games, which is stopping an awful lot of hardcore PC gamers from making the switch. There have been a lot of arguments in the past and Apple seems to have rubbished them all off, but the gaming one still stands. When you think of PC gaming, you think of Microsoft: why? With each new game that comes out, it seems that users need to upgrade their processors, their memory, and their graphics card in order to run the game at full capability—something that can be easily done with a PC but not on a Mac. Yet with the Microsoft Xbox 360, this isn’t necessary, because everything is built in and games are designed with that console’s power in mind. I seriously believe that if Apple were to release a computer with some decent horse power behind it, enough to run decent games, it would attract a large number of users to the OS X platform. Perhaps this is just one of the ways Steve Jobs could make the Mac more enticing to new Vista users?

We could always go back to the talk of an Apple games console being released, but this wouldn’t really increase OS X market share, unless Apple is just going to concentrate on the phone and music market now.


  • Wow, you left out a few things.

    1) Upgrades, after installed over XP VOID the XP license so it cannot be used again.
    2) Vista constantly sends text packets to MS showing what’s installed in the system and checks wether it’s legit or not. If it cannot verify it’s legal it removes it from the system.
    3) You cannot make backup copies of your DVD movies. So after it’s scratched or warped you have to re-purchase it.
    4) It will consume 1gb of Ram after a fresh restart with Ultimate.
    5) Bloats to 44+gb in 2 months time with it’s Time Machine style backup system.
    6) 95% of the PC’s out there can’t run it as is.
    7) You’ll get no less than 5 nag screens when installing a software product.
    8) Not 100% of all Software products out there work. Filemaker, Zune, Visual Basic 6, ProvideX, VS 2002, as well as pretty much anything that drops to a command prompt to automate tasks.

    There’s a bit more but all I’ll say is be cautious with it. In fact wait to buy a new PC next year if you want it. The above has been my experience with the Business edition on 2 customer sites.

    MSDE 2000 has issues as well, but there’s a patch for most of it.

    xwiredtva had this to say on Jan 31, 2007 Posts: 172
  • Sure, Spaces and Time Machine are pretty fancy things, but it’s not going to be enough to convince a Windows user that a Mac is better, especially as Vista is now out and about.

    Oh, tell that to those millions of Mac switchers in the past year, Aaron. I think the Mac (just by its simplicity) can readily wow ordinary computer users when they walk in to those nice Apple Stores. There is no need for comparisons to Vista.

    What you’re mentioning here are features that are public knowledge. We haven’t seen the full list of features when Leopard is released. So, give Leopard the benefit of a doubt that it will be spectacular compared to Vista.

    I do agree that Vista is an improvement to XP when security counts. That is essential to keeping their corporate presence. The gloss and candies they can do without but an XP or earlier user can use them to (hopefully) increase their productivity or fun meter.

    Robomac had this to say on Jan 31, 2007 Posts: 846
  • So Windows gets buffed up a little - and I still don’t care.

    PC-gaming is a money-extraction business these days. In the good old days(tm) programmers would simply learn to work better within the limits of the hardware of their Ataris and Commodores (as with consoles) instead of just stating “well you better upgrade this or that”. If you define that as your hobby, so be it. People who just want to play with ease buy a console. People who just want to work with ease buy a Mac. New year, same game.

    Bad Beaver had this to say on Jan 31, 2007 Posts: 371
  • About your title:

    I’m sure that Apple planned an event to one-up Vista after the hoopla died down enough that they’d be heard. However, the hoopla died down sooner than expected, and that creates an unplanned gap between Microsoft’s hype and Apple’s retort.

    The silence isn’t because Apple’s PR machine is starting late, it’s because Microsoft’s PR machine sputtered to stop a little early.

    Hugmup had this to say on Jan 31, 2007 Posts: 40
  • I honestly think it’s time all Linux Distro’s get together and put a series of commercials out there to inform the public of the other option.

    Apple aside, Linux and BSD based desktops are EXCELLENT. And we won’t have this massive influx of recycling issues to deal with. And they run on the 95% of machines that Vista won’t. Maybe it’s time Apple released Aqua ontop of a Linux kernal… Then they can introduce OS X to every PC user out there… Applinux? Mac Linux? Mac OS Linux?

    xwiredtva had this to say on Jan 31, 2007 Posts: 172
  • You suggest a number of ways that Apple might convince Windows users to switch, but before you do that, perhaps you should ask yourself: Why do I care?

    I have been a Mac user since 1994, and have always been pleased with my Macs. (Before 1994, I used Atari and various other computers. I’ve never owned a PC.)

    Personally, I like Apple to innovate to improve my time spent with my Macs and iPods. If Windows people want to switch, then they’re welcome to do so, but why would I care?

    mvanlamz had this to say on Jan 31, 2007 Posts: 1
  • Aqua on top of Linux doesn’t make sense, because, in a sense, that’s what OS X already is—actually, OS X is Linux’s older cousin. They are parallel derivations from UNIX. OS X started out earlier as the OS for the NEXT Computer Company.

    There are a number of tools that allow you to install Linux software on Macs, if you speak fluent Geek as a native language. You can do that because of their common heritage.

    Hugmup had this to say on Jan 31, 2007 Posts: 40
  • Yes I understand… And Fink does it easy… Was thinking more or less in an open manner to introduce OS X to those not familiar with it, but in retrospect it’s either all or none.

    Linspire and Xandros are both the two I could see making a large impact on the PC boxes. They are the two that charge, but also provide toll free support. Following close by Ubuntu and Mandriva, since there both very easy to install and get working on with mandriva taking a nose lead due to it’s new interface that’s Vista like (3d).

    PC-BSD is by far my favorite though. Problem is fewer apps exist in easy to install PBI’s right now to make a large impact. It does win out in my home because of it’s BSD backbone and solid and stable operation on older hardware. Haven’t tried the new installer in 1.3 but I didn’t see a problem with .3-1.2’s…

    xwiredtva had this to say on Jan 31, 2007 Posts: 172
  • There are two ways of doing business: hardware and OS manufactured separately, as Microsoft does it, or hardware and OS sold as an integrated solution, as Apple does it. I think Apple and Microsoft have demonstrated that Apple’s way is better.

    The Linux distros are currently doing it Microsoft’s way. Why don’t they do it Apple’s way? Wouldn’t it be nice to go to CompUSA and choose between an OS X machine, an Ubuntu machine, a Red Hat machine, and so forth. Since they are all standards-based, they are all compatible with each other; since they are all integrated solutions, they work better; and since they are all different companies, they can target different market segments.

    Hugmup had this to say on Jan 31, 2007 Posts: 40
  • While Microsoft may not be releasing another Windows operating system for a good 20 or 30 years (excuse my sarcasm)...

    That soon???

    TexasAg03 had this to say on Jan 31, 2007 Posts: 17
  • In all the Mac vs PC ads, the Mac is promoted as the ‘fun’ one. However, the ‘fun’ element is incomplete due to the pain of gaming on the Mac, and will remain so until Apple does something about it - starting a studio à la Microsoft would help, as would making a DirectX-alike to encourage Mac developers. At the moment, Mac developers rely on OpenGL, which is becoming outdated compared with DirectX 10. Perhaps even integrate DirectX, although I doubt Microsoft would like that….

    However, with the approach of Cider amongst others, it is becoming easier to port games to Mac, so maybe, just maybe, it will become a good platform. We can hope.

    mickeymoose had this to say on Jan 31, 2007 Posts: 6
  • Linux distros can’t even agree on which desktop UI to standardized upon. For Pete’s sake merge KDE and GNome and come up with one developer layer (toolkits) instead of choosing one or the other.

    I have used Linux (sparingly) since the baby days of Red Hat but I can’t get myself comfortable. There are just too many ways to accomplish the same task (i.e. unintuitiveness), too many places to dump user files (i.e. /usr, /local, /usr/local, /usr/local/bin, etc…).

    And for what? These apparently are what keeps Linux geektoids a happy camper but we’re talking getting Linux to the masses, not to the privileged few who can drive the bash terminal like its the ultimate high.

    As for OSX paralleling Linux in historical development. I beg to differ. OSX is a direct descendant of the Berkeley distro (hence BSD) while Linux was developed as a clone but not really a descendant of any *Nix branch. It is close enough that minor tweaks to old C programs will run by recompiling. And we know how much fun it is to recompile, right? It’s like you hope it will run even a successful build. Not my kind of fun.

    Robomac had this to say on Jan 31, 2007 Posts: 846
  • I agree with OSX-on-Linux. Even if Apple only picked one Linux distribution (though better 2 or 3), it would allow them to support every PC that the Linux supports. However, I believe it’s a major overhaul to make OSX run on Linux.

    Greg Alexander had this to say on Jan 31, 2007 Posts: 228
  • Interesting conversation. I would like to point out that Apple has broken out of an old problem it had a few years ago. That is whenever it increased market share it lost money and whenever it made money it lost market share. Today Apple is making money and is increasing market share at a rate it has not done since the 80’s. Now if you look at Microsoft and its recent attempts to increase market share in vertical market spaces, it has struggled. The reason is pretty simple; people are seeing things simply work on a Mac. I can relate some anecdotal evidence. The office where I consult has about 30 employees, 50% in just 6 years have moved over to Mac’s as there personal computer. None are going to go back – not one.

    Dataman had this to say on Jan 31, 2007 Posts: 1
  • starting a studio à la Microsoft would help, as would making a DirectX-alike to encourage Mac developers. -MM

    If you are referring to Bungie (Halo fame), MS did not exactly build Bungie from the ground up, they snatched them away from the Mac side.

    They were my favorite Mac game devo with cult titles like Marathon and Myth. Halo was inspired by Marathon and introduced to the Mac as an exclusive title at Macworld 1999. But Bungie was acquired a year later to become the anchor of the Games Division and we know just how important Bungie was with the introduction of the XBox system. Halo, anyone?

    As for Apple cloning DirectX, they don’t have to. Apple already have a very powerful image manipulation and animation frameworks called Core Image and Core Animation aside from Quartz. These are relatively new. Core Image was introduced with Tiger, and Core Animation will be introduced with Leopard. And on top of those, they still work along with ol’reliable OpenGL.

    All the “Core” frameworks will give Apple game developers the boost to ease design constraints and speed to market and that means money realized.

    Robomac had this to say on Jan 31, 2007 Posts: 846
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