Apple, Mac OS and the future of personal computing
This is perhaps a foregone conclusion when considering operating system options or solutions. So where do we turn to? Of course there is FOSS (or free and open-source software). But it can be argued that open-source operating systems such as Linux may still not be the best option for an end-user desktop solution because not everyone is a geek. And it would take an enthusiast some time, effort, and commitment to successfully maintain and smoothly run a system entirely on Linux and FOSS. What more for a regular Juan dela Cruz who can’t tell a pixel from a megabyte?
However, the fact that Microsoft’s family of operating systems is plagued by numerous vulnerabilities and weaknesses would nonetheless compel a regular Juan dela Cruz to be, or at least attempt to be, an expert on security. The slew of malware plaguing the wired and unwired world would simply mean that it’s bad housekeeping not to protect your system against malware threats. It’s important to be familiar with working that oh-so-important set of antivirus and anti-spyware software because the moment you establish a connection to the world-at-large, you’re vulnerable to attacks.
And it doesn’t stop there. By being vulnerable to attacks, your system may also end up being source of the attacks itself, once infected. This is how smart malware has become.
So again, we ask. Where do we turn to?
I’d say save yourself the headache and go get a Mac.
Yes, a Mac–one of those beautiful, shiny machines from the fruit company we all love so much: Apple.
You get virtually no viruses nor spyware (maybe it’s because the MacOS‘s user base is too small to be worth targetting by malware authors?). You get a powerful, rock-solid UNIX-based operating system without the fuss of maintaining Linux–you don’t have to be an expert. In short, you get something that gets the job done without giving you a headache. Oh, and don’t forget the coolness factor!
Alas, but a Mac’s so expensive, compared to their PC brethren, you say. True. The cheapest brand new Apple computer, the Mac Mini, retails locally for about PhP 40,000.00 just for the CPU. That’s about twice the price of a decent complete Pentium-4 based clone desktop set.
So what’s all this crap about the Macintosh being the best alternative if the Pinoy computing public would most likely be unable to afford a Mac?
It’s about timing!
Yes, the average computer-buying Filipino could probably not afford a Mac today. But recent developments in the industry would probably mean a Mac-based system can be affordable in the next couple of years, after all.
It was talk of the town a few of months back when Apple made the announcement at the Worldwide Developer Conference that it would shift from the PowerPC architecture to Intel-based processors. Apple admitted that it had been secretly developing an Intel port of its acclaimed OS X after all (yes, since time immemorial). The company will sell Intel-based Macs by third quarter of 2006 starting with the entry-level machines (the Mac Minis) and eventually working up to the more powerful ones.
It shook the industry like nothing had ever shaken it before. It’s like saying the Earth will start rotating clockwise starting tomorrow.
What’s important with this announcement is that it opens up the possibility that the company might consider selling the Mac OS as a solution independent of Apple hardware, or in other words, you may be able to install Mac OS on your existing generic Intel-based grey box.
What an exciting possibility! I can see your eyes widen in anticipation.
But wait–a problem may be posed by the fact that Apple was firm and categorical in stating (also during the WWDC) that it will not consider developing and selling the Mac OS for use with non-Apple hardware. After all, Apple is primarily a hardware company.
I wouldn’t worry about this. Yes, Apple is saying this now. But precedents in the IT industry will tell that they may actually be likely to deviate from this paradigm in the future. After all, didn’t Microsoft’s Bill Gates say something about not needing more than 640KB of RAM? And after all, wasn’t Apple’s own Steve Jobs stubborn in holding out against having more than one mouse button?
Look now: Microsoft’s operating systems and suite of office applications are probably the most memory-hungry apps around. And Apple’s new Mighty Mouse doesn’t only have two clickers, but even a scroller and squeezer!
Gee whiz, I’d say this is certainly a fickle-minded industry, if you ask me. But that’s good in a sense, because there will always be the possibility that Apple will decide to sell Mac OS as a separate solution for non-Apple hardware owners. However distant, this possibility is always welcome in my book.
And IMHO, if this becomes a reality, it will reshape our entire computing experience. Mac OS may, after all, be the Windows-killer we’ve been looking for.