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Summary:

Reading over this post gives a decent overview of why you might initially think porting MacOS to other hardware platforms is a good idea. Oh, other hardware is so much cheaper, it would offer such great competition. MacOS should stay firmly where it is: on Apple-controlled […]

Reading over this post gives a decent overview of why you might initially think porting MacOS to other hardware platforms is a good idea. Oh, other hardware is so much cheaper, it would offer such great competition.

MacOS should stay firmly where it is: on Apple-controlled hardware. Why? The same reason that Microsoft shouldn’t allow third-party Xboxes to be sold: the only way to ensure a good experience is to manage that experience end-to-end. Apple’s control over their platform has afforded them a user experience and a brand simplicity that is just unmatched in the PC world. It’s worth noting that not everyone values user experience and brand simplicity over the commodified choice that PC parts offer; that’s fine. But Apple will never be able to compete in that world.

Install a buggy graphics card in a whitebox system and slap MacOS on it, and you’re likely to see a breakdown in that ultra-smooth Quartz Extreme rendering of Exposé effects. Which ruins it. The entire MacOS user experience is premised on one thing: “don’t worry.” The Human Interface Guidelines are little more than a hundred ways of saying one message: “worrying is bad.” You shouldn’t worry about the ambiguity of interfaces, you shouldn’t worry about accidentally doing things that are wrong and irreversible, and so forth.

But the only way to produce that worry-free environment is to manage the hardware. Apple has proven that they can compete with low-cost PCs in the form of the Mac mini. They’d do well to resist the siren song of an Intel MacOS port.

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  1. Totally agree, however PC makes who want to use OS X should be told to use Power PC (As Freescale/IBM chips or possibly the new Cell in a modified form in a few years).

  2. I also agree, I just didn’t cover this aspect of it in my post. Windows tossed on decent hardware is actually decent as long as you know how to setup stuff security wise, can deal with the fugly GUI, and don’t mind the annoying stuff it does all the time (personally I hate the notification tray crap more than anything else, every time I use XP I have to dismiss some stupid thing popping up down there about every 3 minutes). On the right motherboard with the right CPU and the right GPU and the right sound card and the right drives and etc I think Mac OS X would be just as good on the x86 platform (especially the 64-bit CPU’s) as it is on PPC. The problem is there is just so many components and so many low quality ones that ensuring compatibility and stability is almost impossible. If they were to do any type of release for custom built machines they would have to maintain lists of compatible and incompatible hardware like some of the Linux distributions do.

  3. Sounds to me like these PC manufacturers want a slice of the expanding switcher market and should get lost. They are only interested in getting into bed with Apple because they want to profit from the hard work Apple has put in over the years developing such a great Operating system. Maybe these same manufacturers should start banging on teh doors of teh behemoth of Redmond demanding better software from them

  4. It also seems that most people who clamor for Apple to switch to Intel/AMD processors claim the MHz speed difference would benefit the Mac OS experience. These people seem to be oblivious to the fact that PPC is an inherently more effecient processor (and the OS takes advantage of this engineering) and doesn’t necessarily need the extra processing cycles. And I really doubt that cost of the machine would be affected much if Apple switched to x86 parts (for those who argue that point). Apple would have to account for so many new device drivers and profiles to encompass the expanded base of peripherals, to make sure everything worked with Mac OS, that it would be more added expense (to the OS), negating any savings of processor parts.

    And Mac users certainly don’t need all the added headaches mentioned in the article. Personally, I’d rather get meaningful work accomplished rather than having to troubleshoot hardware issues with my system. Let the Windblows crowd have that frustration!

  5. Sebhelyesfarku Monday, February 14, 2005

    You Maczealot morons. Apple’s overpriced hardware is made in the same Chinese factories built from the same parts like other PCs like Dell HP etc. the difference is only the CPU and the IO chipset and of course the Apple tax. But you like to be ripped off, that’s the “Macintosh experience”, isn’t it, retards.

  6. I think Sebhelyesfarku hit the nail on the head for me…I love getting ripped off.

  7. Count me in, too. I’m sure I’d consider a cheap Windows box if I could be assured there was an additional premium figured into its price.

  8. Well Mac OS on non-Apple hardware could work but this wouldn’t be the same as building any-old PC.

    First it would need to be OEM exclusive. There should not be a way to buy it off the shelf. Secondly, there would need to be a certified hardware list. Prior ro shipment Apple would implement some kind of certification test, to ensure the hardware meets the guidlines.

    In general Apple hardware is extremely similar to the PC components, setting up a stringent process for Apple OS X licenses would solve the vast majority of problems. The ideal marketplace for X on X86 would be the high performance workstation market where Apple products do not compete. I.E. where the ultra high end graphic cards play in: rendering studios and so on. By limiting the PC partners to this market, they can increase their margins, and Apple will not cannabilize sales.

  9. The OS X system is so tightly integrated with hardware and chip architecture that it would be ridiculous to move to the dying X86 platform (not to mention a waste of development time.) The IBM Power architecture and the time-tested UNIX core are so efficient that this will provide the backbone for a strong computing platform for years to come. Intel would love for Microsoft to keep up with the pace of chip development because they know that the X86 architecture is reaching it’s limits. They are fully capable of developing the next wave of multi-core 64-bit processors, but Microsoft has been slow to develop a 64-bit operating system and probably won’t have one ready for years. It’s bloated legacy code will limp along and trail behind. That leaves two alternative operating systems– Linux and OS X. Desktop computers are reaching supercomputer capabilities and the hardware needs to be super-efficient, well-designed, and highly integrated to reach top performance. Although it’s fun and cheap to slap together a bunch of random components, you get what you pay for. It is in Apple’s best interest to continue to develop and focus it’s resources on an efficient and robust architecture rather than waste R&D to try and support a disparate collection of hardware components.

  10. fuka duka duka Monday, June 13, 2005

    In the past, Apple was the definite innovation leader in applied computer science and related technologies. Apple was the heir apparent to Xerox PARC, and had built a significant cluster of world class researchers in the mid-to-late 80s. These folks weren’t just dreaming the future, they built it too. But hard times fell and the great Apple R&D machine known as ATG, Applied Technology Group, was disbanded and redeployed into distinct product groups. Thus, core R&D was dead at Apple.

    Microsoft, on the other hand, has over time consistenly been building the world’s premier computer science organization, with extremely deep basic research units. It is hard for the average person to fathom the significance of all this without a visit to Microsoft’s R&D facility. Highly recommended if you get the chance, but be warned that it will mess with your world view for sure. These are the folks dreaming and building the future now.

    Apple has been backed into a corner, assembled a number of “special projects” and built them into nice businesses, however the margins are quite low, commensurate with systems integrator (i.e. Dell) pricing. You can’t feed a world class research staff on crumbs, so there you have it.

    Instead, Apple has become the premier integrator, designer, marketer, AND retailer of advanced consumer electronics. For the elite, mostly. Microsoft is more like the Walmart of the industry, and their software is running in phones, watches, PDAs, set top boxes, game consoles, tablets, uh … oh yeah in computers, too. So that is the current situation. Look at the cash flows and profit margins of the two companies for more chuckles.

    Imagine the outcome if Microsoft bought Apple. Since Apple these days is a collection of small innovative groups, based mostly on a relentless Apple “land grab” of great but small technology companies, these groups would get refreshed with deep resources (i.e. Ca$h) to realize their roadmaps MUCH more rapidly. And the audience would grow from 3% to the rest of that target 97% rather quickly.

    Great Apple design and usability would be everywhere: watches, phones, game consoles, set top boxes, etc. No more having to choose or switch, ’cause your already there, dude. Microsoft would be doing a good deed by spreading the wealth of Apple innovations into more people’s hands at better prices. The USDJ should’ve made provisions for this, but I guess they were too busy too worry about a niche company.

    There’s more good news. By joining forces, the MSFT/AAPL hybrid would set the software standards that consumer electronics manufacturing titans like Sony and Nokia would be forced to follow. This would give U.S. companies that form the MSFT/AAPL “eco-system”, i.e. those that complete and extend MSFT/AAPL products into solutions, a distinct and strategic economic advantage in the global information economy.

    Hey, if Sun is willing to take money from Redmond, why not Apple?

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