I’m coming round to this idea. Fred Davis made the point that upgrading to Vista isn’t going to be fun for people, so if OS X were available, they might jump for it. Fred Davis also hinted that he believed (I’m not that well versed in early PC history) that Microsoft wouldn’t have created Windows if Apple had opened up Mac OS for the PC. The problem back then was that Apple was keeping Microsoft’s applications in a cage. It’s also undeniable that putting OS X on PCs would open up a considerable market for iLife, iWork and Aperture (any other applications out there that might appeal to folks that are not already using them?) Furthermore, Microsoft have put themselves in a corner by creating an office incarnation that is so different from previous versions that people are going to be hesitant to switch to it. (The folks over at OpenOffice.org are rubbing their hands already.) There’s probably never been an easier time to defect, especially given that XP OEM licenses are quite cheap and available with Macs from independent vendors, allowing you to run any Windows app you might need via Parallels Desktop (get this – an XP OEM license plus Parallels Desktop still come to less than a license for Vista). People have argued that Apple would need to provide an interface for drivers if they’re going to enter the PC market, where many devices are currently unsupported by Mac OS X. I don’t find that argument plausible, because Mac OS X if the current range of supported hardware is sufficient for one part of the userbase, it will be so for an extended userbase – and lessons could be learnt from the Linux kernel, where a more pluggable, yet secure interface for binary-only device drivers is currently in place.
The majority of Apple shareholders would probably be for a move into the PC market, but Steve’s persona would lose some credibility. It would be a tough decision for nobody but him… But that’s why he’s boss.