Analysis: OS X on ordinary PCs? hmmmaybe…

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.

How to get Linux up to scratch

I’ve been watching the recent competition between compiz, beryl and metisse with some worry, as Linux developers seem overly keen to make the case that their graphics are at least as good as those of Windows Vista or Mac OS X, while aspects of the Linux desktop that would actually improve productivity get left behind. Is Linux stagnating? Are we really copy dogs after all, and while Microsoft isn’t improving their product in ways that go beyond what Linux already has, and Steve is not letting on what the new features in OS X are, we can’t make any progress on the core product? I’ll be posting more about this in a while, but here are some suggestions of how to improve Ubuntu (as an example…)

  •  Bluetooth support, esp. a GUI
  • WiFi GUI that allows discovering networks (it’s silly that I have to use a separate program, kismet, to do this!)
  • expand the screen resolution GUI to support external monitors and screen spanning

So the old saying that Linux is no use for laptops, doesn’t die…