Cyberdog Biscuits

Musings and bruisings about Apple, Macs, iPods and everything we love and hate about thinking different.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

The REAL reason Apple does Windows

The real reason Steve Jobs "allowed" Windows booting? Well, he didn't just allow it, but probably ordered it a couple of years ago, if not much earlier. OS X, iPod cross-platform integration, the move to Intel chips- all of it was part of a long-term plan to have Windows run on Macs. But for what reason, really?

Steve Jobs, regardless of what you think of his personality, is indisputably a visionary. I think it's safe to say that the majority of what he does and has accomplished has not been by accident. Additionally, his style, the whole "RDF" thing, the "one more thing" thing, etc., the very things that endear him to his legions of fans (and seems to irritate non- believers and critics), is precisely what makes this look to be just another of his impeccable planned and executed strategies.

We have heard official dictums by Apple that WIndows would not be supported on Macs. There was the contest and bounty to see who could hack a Mac to boot Windows. Then, a couple of weeks later, Apple releases Boot Camp. Some Mac users were aghast, some overjoyed.

Did Steve do it out of philanthropy- was he finally yielding to the wishes of some users? Was he admitting that because there are certain "proggies" that users needed that couldn't be found on Macs that Macs were inferior? Was he trying to increase the Macs' market share by giving in to the masses' will which made them follow the heard? Was he attempting to penetrate Dell's inroads into the educational and commercial markets by making them replicate what Dells could offer? Was he trying to crack the all-important "gamers" market to increase hardware sales?

Unlikely.

I won't go into each reason why these reasons are improbable, but suffice it to say that Apple has never been marginal regardless of its overall market share of PCs. Apple has made a lot of money just fine, thank you, with its 3 or 5%, or whatever. Apple, as sometimes is said, has been "proudly going out of business for 30 years!" And, Steve was never one to particularly give much weight to what the vocal masses whims were. He always just kind of did what he thought was right and, so far, he's been kind of right more often than not. So, what reason was there to move the immovable Steve Jobs?

He did it to finally castrate Redmond's last stranglehold on Apple; to wit, "Office:mac." (sic) No longer would Apple be subject to the MBU's whims, threats, foot-draggings and feigned indifference to gain leverage and force Apple to do its bidding. The impetuous, jealous and child-like Bill Gates made truck-loads of cash peddling the horrendous (but vital to millions because, as Chef Joanna says "it's what everyone else uses") Office to Mac users, but it's not like he needed the money. No, it did something much more entertaining for Bill- it gave him power over Steve. Now, if Microsoft folds up the MBU tents (takes its ball and goes home), who cares? Windows can be run on a Mac, along with Office or any other crappy-but-necessary Windows "proggie."

Beginning with storied interactions between the two men and their companies, Bill has always enjoyed toying with Steve; like a cat toys with an injured mouse before devouring it. Humiliating it, prolonging its suffering for its own perverse amusement. Unfortunately, this "toying" has also affected we Mac users. When Microsoft bailed out Apple with an investment, part of the conditions were that Apple cease its own web browser development and other coercions- the whole "knife the baby" deal. For a decade we had to suffer with either Internet Exploder or Navigator and what outsiders felt like porting to the Mac. That is why Mail, then Safari, when the terms of the agreement expired, were so important to those of us who remember. Now, the last vestige of bullying by Redmond is gone. With an Intel Mac and a copy of Windows XP home, we can go out and pay extortion prices for crapware just like 95% of the world does minus the bullying and hassling courtesy of Bill Gates.

Gates and the Evil Empire are finally slain (as far as their sway over Apple and Mac users.)

Thank you, Steve, for being such a brilliant visionary and strategist.

20 Comments:

At 8:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You might want to consider two things (this is coming from someone who has worked pretty much exclusively on Macs for the last 20 years):

1. the Mac OS version of Office is seen as an example of what Microsoft can do *right* by lots of 'softies outside the MBU, not some half-baked abomination as you make it out to be.

2. Whether virtualization solutions exist or not, no native Office=no Mac for a lot of people. Why buy a Mac at a premium if you've still got to run Windows to get your work done? Spend $450 on a Dell in that case rather than $700 for a mini + $129 (Windows).

 
At 9:16 AM, Blogger Joel Mueller said...

MacBU won't close shop. And most people won't reboot into a new OS just to use Word. Thanks for your words though.

 
At 10:22 AM, Blogger Cyberdog said...

Hi, anonymous. Thanks for your comments. Here is my take on what you say:

1. I know plenty of people who use Word, Excell and PP everyday and I have not yet met one who doesn't despise them all. I, for one, also despise Word, but have to use it as little as possible to exchange files with PCers.

Complexity, bloating and non- intuitive interface are hallmarks of any non- game MS product because it keeps vast numbers of IT, support and instructional entities gainfully employed. This is no secret.

2. Well, there's lots of reasons and people who won't consider buying a Dell PC, myself included. For one, there's the add'l hassle of maintaining a Windows box, space considerations and aesthetics. One of the reasons I love my Macs is because of their thoughtful design and the way they blend in my environment. Plunking down a big, black, ugly box on my already crowded desk isn't something I would do unless no other solution existed.

 
At 10:33 AM, Blogger Cyberdog said...

Thanks for your comments, Joel. You're probably right about the MBU. However, I didn't say that I thought they would close MBU, I said if they do get mad and decide to do that, Mac users, just like any other PC user, could still install and un Word just like everyone else.

I did say that their stranglehold and/or threats (real or potential) of discontinuing it are negated. The importance of Word for Mac is very well established and has been crucial to Apple for over a decade.

It is highly unlikely that this importance and leverage of that arrangement was lost on Bill Gates or Steve Jobs considering their contentious relationship.

 
At 12:29 PM, Anonymous woodsman said...

It is no use to have windows in a mac if one has to reboot every time one wants to use word. Microsoft's power over apple is still pretty much intact.

 
At 1:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Skipping over various items - like the renewed commitment of 5 years by MBU and the extra costs to run Windows Office on Mac - let's just ask ourselves one thing:

Where does Apple improve on their bottom line by this?

Surely not by sales of Windows, or sales of Office for Windows. No - only one things improves for Apple due to BootCamp.... hardware sales.

DaringFireball put it best: Windows is the new Classic.

Dave

 
At 1:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How can you keep a straight face and tell me that this has anything to do with Office.

Nobody is going to reboot their Mac throughout the day to run Windows so that they can use Outlook or Word.

 
At 2:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not sure the idea of thousands of Mac users buying Windows XP and Office for use on their Mactel computer really is keeping Redmond up at night, except maybe to count their newly-accrued money.

I'm a pretty typical Mac user, I think. There's no way I'd switch into Windows just to use Office, then back to Mac to web browse and mail. Especially if downloading a .doc file from a site means having to switch OSes to open and work with it.

By the way, I use Word daily. I don't dispise it. I prefer it to Pages and Appleworks. Sweeping commentary regarding "all" users of such a common piece of software is far more likely to make your opinions look even more slanted and off-base when one example to the contrary can be so easily found.

If a way were found to make Windows software and Mac software interoperable in a near-invisible fashion, then the Office stranglehold might be over, but the only true end will be when a viable alternative to Office is available on both Mac and Windows, and becomes the industry best-seller that Office currently is.

 
At 3:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The key point is removing the power to withold development. If MS has no leverage, then Apple is free to develop a real office suite and *oops* port it to windows just to be snarky.

Boot camp is just the first step, parallels is cool, but windows apps without windows is the destination. Apple obviously has something like DarWine in house and operational. When it's appropriate, like when another Vista delay happens, or when the last PPC Mac is EOLed it will pop into the wild just like Boot Camp.

Phil

 
At 5:05 PM, Blogger Johnathan said...

The MacBU doesn't engage in "whims, threats, foot-draggings and feigned indifference to gain leverage and force Apple to do its bidding." IMO.

Microsoft at large, certainly, has feigned indifference toward the Mac and Apple at times, and according to public records, has made threats against, for example, QuickTime.

The worst I could say the MacBU's done is foot-dragging. And that may be in appearance only; again IMO it is due to a lack of clear communication. Not that I expect everything to be pre-announced, but I think they need more than a few occasional bloggers. We need a "Mac version" of Scoble IMO. Someone who, on a regular basis, blogs about MacBU and/or its products, and will take questions and provide complete, non evasive answers.

As far as Microsoft at large - the only other thing they should do for the Mac is give Flip4Mac a Windows Media DRM license. They certainly did the right thing so far, by licensing Flip4Mac's QuickTime Components as the official Windows Media encoding & playback solution on the Mac. But now we need DRM, so that all the sites with WM DRM content (particularly streaming video) are accessible.

 
At 5:29 PM, Blogger looker said...

while some of this type of thinking might work in certain situations, what real gain is there???

if you boot into Winblows, then you have no access to your Mac stuff unless you now go out and buy one of the less than effective/efficient apps that allows you to read Mac volumes

and if you create something in Winblows, and then need to go back to the Mac OS to use an application, you need to reboot, etc, etc, etc...

so while dual booting is nice.... how many people are going to be willing to boot back and forth between the 2 OS's ??

 
At 5:37 PM, Blogger Cyberdog said...

Too many "anons" to keep up with, but to the one who doesn't mind using MS Word, it's not the stranglehold of Office on the productivity suite market that I'm talking about, but the stranglehold of the leverage over Apple, Inc. (and Steve Jobs) afforded by withholding a Mac version of MS Office.

In re "industry best-seller that Office currently is" is not necessarilly because it is superior to anything else, but it so because people are forced to use it, they become used to it, then it becomes the de facto standard, and developers of alternatives are squeezed out of the market. Using that as an example of its worth is like saying Windows is the best selling OS because it is superior to OS X or Linux.

Of course, that's just IMO, too;)

 
At 6:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It would be an incredibly poor substitute to have to run Office by booting into Windows; in fact, few people would tolerate it, they'd just choose to use Windows altogether.

It's essential that Office stay on the Mac; that's why Apple made a 5 year deal with MS to ensure it. The fact that the Mac now runs Windows makes us no less dependent on MS than we were before. What will break that dependency is the spread of OpenOffice, or Apple's continued efforts to improve and expand iWork (especially its compatibility).

 
At 7:20 PM, Anonymous Glenn said...

The risk is that other major software makers may also stop producing Mac versions. If the windoze versions of their software run well on Macs, firms like Adobe would seriously consider whether to continue spending large sums of cash compiling mac versions of their software.

 
At 8:38 PM, Blogger Cyberdog said...

Hi, Glenn. I have to disagree with you on both points. I am forced to run certain stuff through Windows and all it does it make me more appreciate the wisdom of my choice of platform. The ability to boot into XP on my Mac would just be another option rather than running it under VPC, borrowing my wife's Dell notebook from her work or, if I had to, buying a cheap PC for essential Windows- only programs. I spend too much time and make all of my living on the Mac and I need it to be as pleasant as possible which would rule out Windows for me.

Secondly, Adobe and other 3rd party develpers don't write software for Mac because their PC version products don't work for us; they could care less, as have many other developers who leave out Mac users. If we don't get a comparable product from somewhere else, we just don't get to do what PCers do. Rather, they pour money into developing Mac versions because they earn enough profit to justify it.

Your example is not an accurate one on at least a couple of parameters because Adobe, etc. don't sell competing and potentailly sales- damaging OSes, not to mention the personal and long-standing grudge Bill Gates has against Apple and its founder. If Adobe was only selling 1 PC version to every, say, 1000 Mac versions, they'd probably abandon the PC development. Adobe doesn't care what platform their product is used on, they only care if they make money. Furthermore, Office and Word are much more prevalent and embedded than pro image editing software. If I edit an image and want to distribute it, the recipient is going to get an image that is viewable, not a .psd file.It doesn't really matter what app or program made the source. Now, Word documents are so ubiquitous with PCers (and to an extent Mac users) that being sent one and not being able to open a document, either way, was and is a deal breaker. Office for Mac is extremely important to Apple and many, many Mac users. MBU hasn't developed it for all these years out of philanthropy- they made loads of profit, often more profit than Apple made selling computers- but neither was that importance, or leverage, lost on Gates. The fact remains that he could have pulled the plug on a whim at any time he wanted and both men realized this.

Do you sincerely think that Gates didn't take some smug pleasure knowing that he had Apple's feet to the fire for all these years? I certainly do.

Again, I don't think MBU will pull the plug (especially now!) I don't think that Mac users will en masse migrate to Windows, buy a copy of XP and Word for PC to run on their iMacs. But something dramatic has happened; now they can if they want to. This is not lost on someone as smart as Jobs and additionally I believe that was his motivating strategy all along.

 
At 10:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another bit of 2 cents on this subject worth exactly that. This has so little to do with petty ego power struggles and Office it's not even close.

Say what you want, but if Apple has to spend little to no money supporting Windows, and it increases sales of their hardware, then it's a win. It all comes down to profit. These aren't teenage boys in a pissing match. Grow up.

 
At 11:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's pretty obvious to me that the reason Apple released Boot Camp was to make its hardware desirable to those who don't want to run MacOSX or want to run Windows natively and don't want to mess about with 3rd party hacks.

MBU will release Virtual PC, and VMWare might even find its way onto MacOSX. Then, for the same reason nobody needs to dual-boot Windows with Linux, Boot Camp will become redundant.

 
At 2:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I may be going out on a limb here... but in my opinion, "Boot Camp" is only the opening salvo from Cupertino (remember: this is beta, with the final version incorporated within 10.5).

I fully expect that the final shipping version of 10.5 (or 10.6, etc.) will have the capability of running Windows apps sans the Windows OS.

Now THAT would be a dagger in the heart of Redmond... access to the Windows apps junkyard, and not a dime going to MicroSloth!

 
At 11:05 AM, Anonymous Andy said...

I think Boot Camp is simply a stop-gap measure until true virtualization of Windows arrives (most likely in Leopard). And it wouldn't surprise me if Leopard (or the next version) virtualizes Linux and now you have the most beautiful PCs (a Mac) as one of the most powerful systems to run all three Operating Systems without rebooting.

Now THAT is what I have been waiting for, for a long, long time!!!

 
At 11:11 AM, Anonymous Andy said...

I think Boot Camp is simply a stop-gap measure until true virtualization of Windows arrives (most likely in Leopard). And it wouldn't surprise me if Leopard (or the next version) virtualizes Linux and now you have the most beautiful PCs (Macs) as one of the most powerful systems that can run all three Operating Systems without rebooting.

Now THAT is what I have been waiting for, for a long, long time!!!

 

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