After posting my last post, and knowing how big of a deal this all is to the Mac camp, I thought I'd post some more of my musings on this topic. Why, after all, would I believe that Mac might move to Windows? Well, I'm not convinced of that, but here's what I am convinced of: One of two things will happen within the next few years - Mac hardware will ship with Windows, or OSX will be sold for non-Mac PCs.
Why am I convinced of this? Well, it starts with the article that prompted my last post. One of it's points that I sort of glossed over was that Mac had recently run a big ad campain that had failed miserably. Now, the Mac people all made comments along the lines of "So what? That's no big deal. It's just an ad campaign." But as I thought this through, I realised that it was far more relevant then I'd initially thought. The ad campaign was designed to convince people to "make the switch" from Windows to Mac. Apple invested a lot of money into it, and it failed miserably. They were unable to increase their market. And this is where I think it becomes critical. Apple are a business. If they sell Macs to the same people who always buy Macs, they're not going to increase their market, and their shareholders are going to become unhappy. I know I would be. So how do you increase in a market where people aren't willing to throw away what they're used to? They have to undo the lock between Mac hardware and Mac software. Push the line of either "you can now run OSX on your non-Mac PC!" or "Macs now run Windows!"
Now, the second one of these they've half-heartedly doing already. Contrary to Nathan's comments on my previous post, several sources have confirmed that Microsoft will be supporting EFI booting on Intel Macs with Longhorn/Vista. Check the title link for one such assertion. Apple have said all along "we're not going to stop you." How much trouble would it be for them to go "and now we'll support you doing it." Not much. Suddenly, their profits increase as all the people who like shiney pretty things in their living rooms but aren't willing to change OS go out and buy Mac hardware to run Windows on. Bundle the iStuff suite and a custom theme along with with Windows when you buy using standard OEM methods, and they still maintain the Mac "look and feel" while not having to shell out money for OS development of an OS that in it's current hardware-locked state is preventing increase in their market share.
The other option is of course to release OSX for non-Mac hardware. Personally, I can't decide whether this is a more or less likely scenario. "More likely" arguments include the fact that it would be fairly easy for them - however, with no 3rd party driver support they'd be pretty damn screwed. So scratch that. They won't do it. It would fall on it's preverbial ass. Microsoft already have all the peripheral vendors on board with long revision histories, so it makes much more sense for Apple to go with the previous option. Greater perspective for profit. Can you imagine Apple having to go to all of the chipset manufacterers for driver support? And then how buggy the first releases would be? They'd kill their "it just works" image (which was the first of their "10 reasons to switch, btw) in about 0.32 seconds flat. Besides, I think there are other pointers that it will be Windows on Mac, rather then Mac on PC.
I know all the Mac advocates would like to think that Apple will remain "loyal" to their existing Mac-otaku fanbase (which being a part of is aparently a good reason to switch platform - reason number 7, in fact) rather then doing something that would make them unhappy - but let's be honest here. Business is about money. New money, in particular. That's why sales representitives are so well paid. No new customers equals level cash flow. Shareholders are investors, and level cashflow is a bad investment. To bring the numbers down to a smallish example, if you were a company who bring out 1 new product every 5 years, and you have 1,000,000 loyal customers who you know will buy your new product, you will never make more then $200,000 p.a. I know it's more complex then that, but if you just look at Macs+OSX as a sales entity, that's pretty much it. People who have Macs, buy Macs. And that's about it.
Now for your reading pleasure, an article entitled "Why Windows Vista Won't Suck."
STATIC DISCLAIMER: All the stuff in here is purely my opinions, and they tend to change depending on what mood I'm in. If you're going to get bitter if I say something about you that you don't like, then maybe don't read. I avoid using names as much as possible, and would request that people who know me do the same in their comments. Basically, I often vent my frustrations on here, so if you happen to be someone who frustrates me, expect to read a description of someone very much like you in here!