Why a .Mac service for PCs could be in the cards

Mwsfdotmac_2The web continues to quake with aftershocks of “Safari-gate”: the Apple Software Update that installs Safari 3.1 for Windows by default. I tend to side with the folks that claim this practice isn’t the most forthcoming, but there are numerous examples of other companies doing the same thing for years. In the end, it’s up to each individual user to actually examine which check-boxes are activated and therefore, which applications are installed.Having said that, I started thinking about Safari 3.1 on PCs. Maybe I’ve been spending too much time writing about file synchronization applications lately, but it got me wondering if Apple is working on a “.Mac lite” service for Windows PCs. We’re getting to the point where assuming there are PCs and Mac co-existing in the same household isn’t that far-fetched.

The immediate benefit is to leverage the Sync functionality of .Mac. No, you wouldn’t want to sync your Dashboard widgets and your Leopard Dock settings, but there’s a good bit of information you might want in sync. How about Safari bookmarks? Contacts and calendars? Will we eventually see Address Book and Mail apps for PCs out of Cupertino?Then there’s the 10 GB iDisk that .Mac offers. That’s twice the storage capacity of Windows Live SkyDrive, although that Microsoft service is currently free of charge. SkyDrive can’t be mapped as a network drive however; the iDisk appears in the Mac Finder as if it were a mapped drive for intents and purposes from an end-user point of view. And if AOL can get their Xdrive mapped in Internet Explorer, I’m thinking Apple could replicate that feat.Online backup is also in the .Mac package. Show me a PC user that doesn’t want their data backed up and I’ll show you a PC user that is bound to lose data and then complain about it. [Sorry folks, you’ll get no sympathy from me].Mac also has that nifty “Back to my Mac” feature allowing you to control your Mac from another Mac. It’s a nice implementation, but when you peel off the PR spin and the simple UI, you’re left with a Remote Desktop client. Guess what, Windows has that functionality built-in as an optionally installed component and I’ve used similar functionality in Linux on my Eee PC.Maybe I’m pipe-dreaming or maybe I’ve had one too many cups of coffee this morning. By and large, I could see this happen now that Apple is pushing Safari for Windows out there. I think the browser was just the beginning and Apple is poised to leverage “switcher” households and homes that have both PCs and Macs playing nicely. I realize how much .Mac integrates into the OS, but I think there’s a case to be made here. Especially when .Mac earns Apple $99 a year in revenue per user.

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