The Death Of The MacOS?
Yeah, I know you have all read similar headlines before. “The Mac is doomed”, they usually proclaim. Mac users, however, accustomed to this sort of reporting from both the mainstream press and the so called “PC-Press”, have pretty much ignored it. “Yeah, right. Whatever you say” we answer, rolling our eyes. But perhaps a few recent rumors and developments should be heeded by Mac users more closely.
Recent rumors and speculation (from a variety of sources, most notably Computer World) have openly reported that Apple, in their quest to grow the MacOS into a more viable computer platform, will support Windows applications from within the MacOS. What does this mean? First, when Copland (System 8) ships, any so equipped Copland Mac will be able to run Window programs from within the MacOS. (These would include 3.1, 95, and NT). A user simply launches the Windows program, and the correct OS takes over. When you quit that application, you are returned to the MacOS desktop. Sounds like a good plan at first glance, no? Well, I don’t think so. And I will tell you why.
First, I will admit that the ability to run Windows software on the Mac I now own sounds great. Hey, I am a die hard Mac user, but Windows has SO MANY cool games. Much more than our platform does. Really. If I could load up a great Windows game, and play it on my Mac, I would be a happy camper. But as we all know, most games and applications designed for the Windows platform are much harder to operate than the Mac versions. What’s more, nearly all of these applications make rules that only apply to that particular program; there is NO standardization in the PC world. None. On the Mac side, we all know that command-Q will quit a program. That Command-P will print. That Command-V will paste. These are all givens on the Mac side. Not so on the Windows/PC side. So if I did buy some Window games or applications to run on my Mac, I have more basic stuff I need to learn, more time spent figuring out what to do. In other words, more time reading manuals. That means less time being productive.
Configuring software on a Mac is also very easy. On a Mac, if you do not have enough memory to open a program or game, we simply give that application more memory in the “Get Info” window, turn on Virtual Memory, or restart with some extensions off. Again, this is not the case with Window machines and programs. Besides which, most PC games run under DOS, not Windows. Yeah, I am sure most of the Mac users LOVE the idea of using a command line interface. Nothing like using your Mac as an Apple ][.
Does all of the above mean that porting Windows as part of the MacOS is a bad idea? No, it would make the MacOS a more compelling computer, right? You would have the best of both worlds. So why, you ask, am I against such a move on Apple’s part? To find the answer to that, we Mac users must look beyond the next few years, and further into the future. (Hey, I want to be using a Macintosh many years from now, not just for the next few).
The biggest problem with this move to port Windows to the Mac is a simple one many users will overlook. If we Mac users can run both Windows and Macintosh applications on the same computer, why would software developers need (or want) to create Mac-only applications? Hey, if I were creating a Web browser, game, spreadsheet, program, etc., what incentive would I have to make a Mac-only version? I figure a Mac user can run Windows programs, and so I will save time, and more importantly, money by releasing a Windows only version. And why not? Mac users can use it too! Sure, the Mac only version would be easier and most likely more stable, but I am here to make money. I am no longer forced to create a Mac-only product.
Don’t think this is a real possibility? Think again. If a Mac can run Windows, what incentive will people have in ten years to buy a Mac? They will more than likely cost more than a PC. (They do now.) The only benefit would be the MacOS, which can run Windows, which is what most programs will be created for. So what good is it? A little faster in processing speed? So what. Computers are so fast today, just imagine the speeds ten years from now. This is a never ending battle, one that will never be won by ANY chip maker. So what benefits, as either a business owner or a home user, do I have in buying an Apple box? None.
The Macintosh, to me, speaks of creativity. Of shucking the norm. Of being different. Of doing things MY way. “The Power To Be Your Best” and all that. But if Apple caves in now, and makes Windows a part of OUR Operating System, what difference will I have from my PC computing comrades? That my computer is faster? Big deal! The ease of use? If, as I believe, in ten years all software will be Windows native, that will be moot. It won’t be easier. Because I will OWN A WINDOWS MACHINE! The Mac will simply be a neat “add on”, nothing more.
I leave it to you to draw your own conclusions, of course. This is mine, and I hope (pray) I am wrong. I hope the majority of software will still be created as Mac-only. I fear, however, that I am right. But I want YOU to write in and tell me not only that I am wrong, but WHY I am wrong. If you don’t agree that what I have said here is a real possibility, tell me why. Prove me wrong. I WANT you to. Of course, some of you may agree with me, and can add to what I have written here. I also want to hear from you as well. And the best letters I receive will be printed in the next issue. Not on the letter page, but in a special feature on YOUR thoughts.
So write in. My address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Write in, and prove me wrong.