The Splintering of OS X

| Ted Landau's User Friendly View

I want to tell you a story. It’s a story about a possible future for Macs and OS X. It’s a future that, if the story turns out to be true, would take shape in 2013 — heralding a major, unexpected and completely new direction for Apple.

Let me be clear. This story is not based on inside knowledge of Apple’s plans. It is not even a prediction of what I’m convinced will happen. Rather, it is speculation about what might happen. However, I believe there are enough signs out there, all pointing in the same direction, to merit taking the story seriously.

But before I tell you the story, I need to tell you another one…

Mac Pro + Mountain Lion = ?

Mac hardware today

For people waiting for a new Mac Pro, last week’s speed-bump upgrade, the first revision to the Pro model in almost two years, was almost certainly a disappointment. There was no external change to the box, not even to add a Thunderbolt or USB 3 port.

The Mac Pro is not the only Mac currently experiencing upgrade fatigue. Apple has not updated the iMac for over a year — not even for a minor speed bump. And no update is in sight. We did see the arrival of the “all new” 15” MacBook Pro with Retina Display. While the rest of the portable lineup, the MacBook Airs and non-Retina MacBook Pros, got a few internal hardware improvements and the addition of a USB 3 port, they are fundamentally similar to the machines released last year.

This slow rate of upgrading is unprecedented for Apple. What’s going on? What’s especially going on with Apple’s desktop models? Something unusual must be going on. Apple’s official response is “wait until next year.” Replying to a user’s questions about the future of Apple’s desktop Macs, Tim Cook said: “Don’t worry as we’re working on something really great for later next year.” An Apple executive made a similar statement to David Pogue: “New models and new designs are under way, probably for release in 2013.” [But see my comment below regarding a revision to this statement.]

Huh? Apple is a company that doesn’t foreshadow its future products 12 hours ahead of an official announcement, never mind 12 months. Why would Apple go out of its way to broadcast its plans for late 2013, even in this vague manner? The most likely explanation is that, recognizing that the atypically long delays will raise user concerns, it wanted to assure customers that Apple was not abandoning its desktop products. Given that Apple offered no specifics about what exactly was coming next year, there seemed little harm in this one time partial exception to Apple’s lips-sealed mentality.

This leaves one remaining set of questions: Why is Apple taking so long to come out with these upgrades? Does it really need three years to add a Thunderbolt port to the Mac Pro? What revisions are coming to the iMac that could not be completed in time for release this year? It’s not as if Apple was caught off-guard that these models were due for a refresh. Again, what’s going on?

It could be that Apple is facing some unexpected obstacles in the redesign of the hardware. Maybe it needs to wait for certain components to become more widely available. Maybe. But perhaps the reason for the delay has nothing to do with hardware. Perhaps Apple is instead delaying the hardware while it waits for a software upgrade coming in 2013. Perhaps the hardware revisions require the software upgrade. The software in question would, of course, be the next iteration of the Mac operating system: OS X 10.9.

This software possibility finally brings us back to the story I promised at the top of this article…

OS X Splintered

What might be included in OS X 10.9 that would account for these hardware delays and vague statements from Apple? The seeds of the answer may lie in OS X Mountain Lion, due out next month.

As I noted in a prior column, every highlighted new feature in Mountain Lion is a feature already in iOS 5 or coming in iOS 6. There seems no doubt that this is all part of Apple’s long-term Mac strategy to make OS X the functional equivalent of iOS. Despite some potential downsides, this strategy is working well for Apple. The transition started in Lion, moved into high gear in Mountain Lion, and will likely be completed in OS 10.9.

So far, we’re on solid ground. Here’s where things get more iffy. What might a “completed” transition look like? How far can Apple push iOS-ification beyond what’s already apparent in Mountain Lion? To me, the only major transition step that remains is for Apple to go “all in” — to take the last big leap — and put in place the same restrictions on the Mac that already exist on iOS devices.

This means limiting software on Macs only to apps that come from the Mac App Store (possibly also allowing Gatekeeper-approved software from elsewhere, but I doubt it). It would also mean cutting off end-user access to the Mac’s operating system (a trend begun with Apple making the user’s Library folder invisible in Lion, but which would vastly expand in 10.9). It would mean the ejection of any third-party software that “tweaks” the operating system. Apple would also remove its own system-level utilities, such as Terminal (Apple doesn’t permit anything like Terminal on iOS devices). It is even possible that the Finder would be eliminated (as I previously considered). Finally, it would mean that the software used to develop software (e.g., Xcode) would no longer run (just like you can’t now develop software for iPads on iPads).

“Wait a second,” I hear you shouting, “If Apple does all of this, how do developers create new software for Macs and iOS devices?”

I’m glad you asked. Here is where we finally get to the bottom of the mystery and tie everything together. Apple could solve this dilemma by splitting OS X in two: a consumer version (that includes all the restrictions I’ve just described) and a professional version (without restrictions, that retains most of what we still see in Mountain Lion, perhaps even dropping some iOS-related features).

Mountain Lion/Kitten

The pro version would be marketed to developers, IT professionals, graphic/video artists, and anyone else in need of high-end hardware. The consumer version would be for “the rest of us.” [I’m still working on exactly where the Mac mini and OS X Server fit in here; let’s ignore them for now.]

And here’s where the hardware angle comes in. The consumer version of OS X would be preinstalled on all of Apple’s “consumer” machines: MacBook Airs and iMacs. The pro version would be pre-installed on Mac Pros (or whatever new thing replaces them) and MacBook Pros. Most likely, the “pro” machines would be able to switch between the two versions of OS X, allowing developers to create and test apps on the same machine. Consumer hardware, however, will not be able to install the pro version of OS X.

To accommodate this software split, Apple would want (need?) to make significant revisions to its hardware. The release of these new models, of necessity, would have to wait until the arrival of OS X 10.9 “later next year.” Until then, Apple has decided to pretty much tread water. This is why we have to wait until 2013 for major upgrades to the Mac Pro and the iMac.

Will there be protests about doing this? Of course. Will there be problems with the implementation? Probably, but not unmanageable ones. This would certainly be a radical change for Apple; they have never previously split the OS in such a way (Steve Jobs consistently chided Microsoft for its multiple versions of Windows). And iOS-like restrictions have never been enforced on a Mac. Many people will cite objections to these changes just as they have objected to the iOS-related changes Apple has already implemented in Lion and Mountain Lion. However, with the hordes of users comfortable with how things work on their iPhones and iPads, and with another year to accept the changes in Mountain Lion, Apple may rightly assume that the majority of its customers will be ready for this transition.

And that will be that. Game over. Will this speculation turn out to be reality? By next year at this time, we should know. Mark your calendars now.

Image made by Bryan Chaffin from an idea by John Martellaro with help from Shutterstock.

Comments

Lee Dronick

Hmmmm, Apple is usually several chess games ahead of the competition.

John Martellaro

I don’t think Apple will do this.

I WANT Apple to do this!

Don108

I respectfully disagree.

iOS is a new UI and comes from a new attitude. It was inevitable that good ideas from iOS would merge into OS X and vice versa.

It’s using the best of both according to the different needs and advantages of the hardware.

As they become closer, what would be nice, is a programing environment that allows developers to program once and automatically create software for iOS, iOS HD, and OS X, perhaps with notifications of needed tweaks.

geoduck

I like the concept. The trouble with Windows Versions was not that they had more than one version, it was how many versions they had. I believe Vista had ten or twelve different levels and configurations so that nobody was sure what they needed. What was worse was that all but the top Pro version had “gotchas”, that is things that were crippled but that were not documented. For example why does Windows 7 Home include the Remote Desktop Connection application but it won’t work because the connection is blocked? That’s just asking to get flamed.

Apple has Consumer and Pro hardware why not a Consumer and Pro OS? Make the Consumer one at the current $29 but the pro at $99 or $149. In the Pro version let us have all the controls and the Terminal and the ability to see the Library files and so on and so on. How about even more advanced tools? A built in Visualization system. An updated Rosetta. An improved x11. Some of us want and can use these tools.

As far as locking Macs into the MacAppStore however, NO. That would be bad for users and developers alike.

Aftermac

I really don’t see a reason to do this. I don’t mind some overlap, but splintering Mac OS would be a bad move.

Sharing features between iOS and Mac OS is one thing, but splintering Mac OS would lead to product confusion, and price most of us out of a full-featured Mac. If Apple wants to drive people back to Windows, this would be an excellent way to do so.

iOS devices should be “The consumer version would be for ?the rest of us.?”

Mac’s should “be marketed to developers, IT professionals, graphic/video artists, and anyone else in need of high-end hardware.”... or in need of a real computer.

With that said, I do think there is a market for something like an iOS MacBook Air.

geoduck

With that said, I do think there is a market for something like an iOS MacBook Air.

Yeah something like an iPad with a flat rubbery keyboard. Maybe with a built in stand to hold it up…

Uh… rolleyes

Never mind.

Aftermac

  1340150910 said:

  With that said, I do think there is a market for something like an iOS MacBook Air.

Yeah something like an iPad with a flat rubbery keyboard. Maybe with a built in stand to hold it up?

Uh? roll eyes

Never mind.

LOL… not exactly… I was thinking something with a bit more industrial design… not something that looks like a 3rd-party, after-thought-of-a-keyboard, that retails for $29.99 at your local Wal-Mart.

Lancashire-Witch

This is not altogether inconsistent with the strategy SJ outlined on his return to Apple when he cut the peripheral products and said he wanted 4 good product lines - basically split into pro and consumer. 

He was talking hardware back then; but there’s nothing wrong with splitting the OS (and applications,e.g. Final Cut Pro on a Mac; iMovie on an iOS device)  on similar lines.

But, the boundaries between the two could be messy.

As always, I could be wrong.

SeaBeast

Projecting current tendencies aren?t the brightest way to foresee the future.  Kitten has a tendency to growth, that?s a fact.  But that doesn?t mean that you will see any giant cat in the future.  There are opposites forces out there.

I agree that OSX is currently integrating iOS features.  This doesn?t mean that it will go this way all along.  iOS is a new growing OS which got all kind of fresh ideas implemented and it?s a normal tendency to spread the innovation; multitouch, notification, etc.

On the other hand, the intent of iOS is for mobile devices which have significant hardware limitations; screen size, CPU, memory, etc.  These limitations are the main drivers for many iOS choices that brilliantly find ways to overcome them.

That is where I disagree with the projection made. The current tendencies may be that great ideas are spread between iOS and OSX.  But will it goes where the fundamental limitation to iOS hardware will end?s up limiting desktop software?  I think that’s where opposing forces will adds up to create something unexpected.

I don?t think that 2013 is the end of the Finder or Xcode nor 2014.

webjprgm

I can’t see any merit to this idea as written. 

Rather than splitting the OS between iOS-like Consumer version and SnowLeopard-like Pro version, it makes more sense for Apple to continue in the line of “admin” vs. “standard” vs. “limited” accounts, and the line of having Launchpad as an add-on where the full OS is present but perhaps user accounts could be limited to just an iOS-like Launchpad.  As you say, developers will need access to both.  There are also consumers who are “power users” who would opt for the more complete desktop experience.

Why would you lock iMac hardware to the consumer version?  I use an iMac as a pro product.  To me the Macmini is the consumer one, but that’s not even clear-cut because of Macmini server edition.  It makes more sense to allow all hardware to run the full Pro-level OS, even if it ships initially with a consumer version.

Saying that Apple has never split their OS is not exactly true.  There used to be Mac OS X and Mac OS X Server.  Now there is only OS X and the extra features can be purchased as a Server.app add-on.  I would expect them to continue in this model if they did split out pro-level features.  Also, one can argue that iOS vs. OS X is also a split of the OS, since they both have Darwin underneath.

I can’t see why Apple would hold off hardware updates for the *pro* level Macs waiting for software changes.  The current software is closer to what you described as this pro-level OS and you said 10.9 would be more iOS-like.  So if anything it would make sense to update the pro desktops now and the consumer Macs later.  So I don’t think it’s software they are waiting on, at least not in the sense of splitting pro and consumer features.  Plus software is easy to update, so they could ship hardware now and leave a few things on it that didn’t quite add up, and then when the software update comes it would take advantage of the new hardware’s features.

Also, you seem to classify iMac as a consumer desktop, but yet you also lump both MacPro and iMac as desktops that will be updated in 2013.  If the iMac is consumer-level, then what Tim said does not preclude getting an updated iMac in 2012.  Note that the Macmini was not updated yet either.  We could easily get both of those some time later this year.  Or maybe early 2013.  There’s also no reason to insist that all Mac hardware is updated every 12 months, even though we generally like that cadence.  It’s just the MacPro’s 2 year delay that makes us worry about that one Mac configuration.

Don’t even get me started about limiting to Mac App Store only.  It would be stupid if Apple did that.

Kurt

IMO, splitting the OS is foolish and ceding the initiative because now you’ve got two development teams working on essentially the same product.  Yes, they may all be on the same project, but with Apple’s penchant for compartmentalization I can’t see how this would be a “good thing”.

If anything, the recent “upgrades” surprised me in not having Wireless AC.  Usually Apple is the one pushing the envelope on this and I had hoped they’d kick things up another notch.

Ted Landau

Why would you lock iMac hardware to the consumer version??

Because Apple is pushing for these devices to be considered “consumer-friendly” machines. And keeping it simple, restricting access just to what consumers need, is how Apple sees this working. Why doesn’t Apple open up the iPad, allowing it to do things that you would otherwise need a jailbreak to do? It could do that, and it would be more like a Mac. But it chooses not to. Why can’t the iPad run Terminal? There are jailbreak versions of it. Again, Apple chooses not to. The Mac situation may simply be another case of Apple doing what Apple chooses to do.

Regarding your other comments:

Having the pro/consumer split work similarly to how the OS X vs OS X Server split works right now may indeed be how Apple could handle this. Yes, I like this.

My point about the holding off until 2013 is that both the consumer and pro models will need to be “updated” to be consistent with the OS X split, so they are all being held up, consumer and pro. As to the iMac, while it was not included in 2013 statements from Cook et al., I’m suggesting that it might be delayed as well. If Apple comes out with major new iMacs before then, I will be wrong.

As to the Mac App Store limitation, if it happens, it would not be the first time that Apple did something that many people felt was “stupid.”

Ted Landau

Another interesting thing I discovered when checking things out for my prior comment:

David Pogue quietly changed the relevant text to his column. Originally it said:

“Many Apple observers also wonder if Apple thinks that desktop computers are dead, since not a word was said about the iMac and Mac Pro. An executive did assure me, however, that new models and new designs are under way, probably for release in 2013.”

This is mainly what led me to conclude that the iMac upgrade was in for a delay. However, the text now reads:

“Many Apple observers also wonder if Apple thinks that desktop computers are dead, since not a word was said about the iMac and Mac Pro. An executive did assure me, however, that new MacPro designs are under way, probably for release in 2013.”

Presumably this change was made at Apple’s request. This does suggest that new iMacs may be coming sooner. Or it may just mean that Apple doesn’t want to imply anything about iMacs right now, for whatever reason.

graxspoo

OK, here’s another crazy idea: what if Apple ported Xcode to Ubuntu and simply said “if you want to develop for the Mac, buy generic PC hardware and install Ubuntu + Xcode.” This would save them from having to maintain an entire separate branch of OS X for the (relatively) miniscule “Pro” market. Then they could devote all their time to turning the Mac into an over-sized cellphone with a keyboard.

rtw

Actually I think you are close but no cigar
It is clear there is some sort of hardware software tie up that is in the pipeline, but I would doubt it is about iOS ification, after all that is just a software update surely? (Albiet a dumbing down one!).
So what new hardware features would require such software resources?
The new MacBook pro demonstrates the retina display does not require a special tie up.
The only thing I can think of is touch. Bringing touch to the mainstream OS would require such a tie up.
Intriguing thought….....

Kurt

OK, here?s another crazy idea: what if Apple ported Xcode to Ubuntu and simply said ?if you want to develop for the Mac, buy generic PC hardware and install Ubuntu + Xcode.? This would save them from having to maintain an entire separate branch of OS X for the (relatively) miniscule ?Pro? market. Then they could devote all their time to turning the Mac into an over-sized cellphone with a keyboard.

This doesn’t seem like Apple’s style…“We want you to develop for us, but we also want you to go buy a different manufacturer’s hardware so you can develop software for us.”  That’s sort of like Microsoft saying, “You can’t develop Windows applications on Windows, you’ll have to use Linux.”

geoduck

what if Apple ported Xcode to Ubuntu and simply said ?if you want to develop for the Mac, buy generic PC hardware and install Ubuntu + Xcode.?

Hmmm…
It would also bring the Hacintosh community into the mainstream. Rather than alienating a portion of the community it would build bridges to a significant subculture and reduce the price of admission for a large number of hopeful developers.

The only thing I can think of is touch. Bringing touch to the mainstream OS would require such a tie up.

Nice idea as well. An iMac or Apple Display lying flat or upright depending on how you interact with it.
Once again Hmmm….

macobjectivist

Of course none of us can say if Ted is exactly right—but its a logical explanation.   

However, I could see them pushing Mac App Store only and of course cutting special % deals to developers who sell apps costing 100’s of dollars.  Maybe only charge them 10%.  If apply went this route, offering, free or nearly free OS updates every years—they would be selling integrated computing appliances.  They make the software and the hardware.  I think by positioning themselves this way—they will stop any potential lawsuits from people / government who say they are blocking competition by not licensing the Mac OS to other hardware manufacturers. 

Also if they truly did go Mac App Store only—and big ticket developers still developed for the Mac—would you still be a Mac buyer? I probably would…but if key applications (3rd party of course) stopped being developed—I couldn’t put up with that.

Ross Edwards

Not sure this passes the Occam’s Razor test… right now the general speculation on the iMac is that it has been held up by the release of a new Nvidia GPU, and may be deployed along with Mountain Lion and a refreshed Mac Mini much the way the Air and Mini were refreshed upon the release of Lion last year.  Notice that Apple clarified their statement about 2013 as pertaining to the Mac Pro—conspicuously omitting mention of the iMac.

froshea

Apple are confused

d'monder

Everybody is reading waay too deeply into this.

My take?  Those old enough to remember “Macintosh.  And Apple II, too.” should be able to readily recognize “iOS.  And Mac, too.”

Matt Washchuk

No offense, but I’m tired of seeing these kinds of articles. You see it a lot over at Macintouch, and it’s basically the sentiment wherever long, long-time Mac users exist. They’re all afraid computing-as-they-know-it will come to an end. Well, it’s not going to, so stop with the anxiety attacks.

Just because few Apple customers want Mac Pros doesn’t mean Apple will also eliminate your ability to add LaunchDaemons to your system. I think long-time, “Power” Mac users tend to think they’re the only ones who want “real” Mac OS X features.  While the average Mac user may not open a terminal, mess with their Library folder, or install launch services, millions of Mac users do, and virtually none of them own Mac Pros. Why? Because virtually no one owns a Mac Pro.

It’s quite possible that Mac OS X gets to the point where you have to turn on lots of power user features, but so what? They’ll still be there. Developers will demand them, and most developers, like most regular Mac users, are on MacBook Pros.

I know I’m just ranting here and it’s not that coherent, but I’m tired of old Mac users believing that the only people who really use the advanced features of Mac OS X are on Mac Pros, and because Mac Pros are dying, so are pro users. They’re not. Yes, Apple will have to make a decision regarding whether they want to support video editors who don’t want to connect 6 Thunderbolt devices to their iMacs or who want 64 GB RAM. If they don’t update the Mac Pros (which they seem to say they’re going to do, eventually), they may lose them. And you may lament that and say that Apple has decided they only care about profiting from the consumer market. But just remember that the “pro” user market spans all product lines, and Apple is going to be supporting developers on MacBook Airs and Mac minis far more than they are on Mac Pros.

“Advanced” features and “pro” users of Mac OS X aren’t going away, so please stop worrying.

Cousar

I don’t see a split; I see a merging. I can see a default consumer OS with the advanced pro tools as add-ons purchased through the app store.

xmattingly

The splintering of OS X has already happened: it’s called iOS and runs on Apple’s mobile devices (sans laptops, of course).

Bregalad

As someone in the software development world I absolutely need access to the root file system. The average person, however, does not. They would probably be better served by an iOS style world where each app is responsible for storing its own data and the OS is responsible for providing a solid foundation for the apps. Time Machine and iCloud provide redundancy so users can be blissfully unaware of what’s going on inside their computer until something goes wrong.

Provided the ability to put a “pro” face on the OS still exists then I think most users will happily move toward that kind of future.

The only sticking point is that HFS+ isn’t the most solid foundation and the OS X file system APIs do unsafe things with data. I know I’ve lost data because Finder let me do something stupid, I’ve lost data because something went wrong during a copy operation and I’ve lost data because I’ve put my Mac to sleep with a USB hard drive still mounted. I don’t know if I have any HFS corruption, but I probably do in a file I haven’t opened in a while. A solid OS wouldn’t allow any of that, but in a way I’ve only got myself to blame because I haven’t bothered to set up a Linux file server or use an alternative to Finder.

furbies

Because virtually no one owns a Mac Pro

I own an Early ‘09 Mac Pro Quad 2.66 w/ 16GB RAM

&

MacBook Pro late ‘08 C2D 2.4Ghz

Who else here has a Mac Pro / G5 Tower ?

skipaq

I’ll go with the this isn’t going to happen. Most of the reasons have already been posted. I believe we will see new iMacs this year. I also see the Mac remaining open to software outside of the App Store.

My son has my G5 Tower.

David PR Bailin

I am becoming more disillusioned with computers. Windoze has always sucked. Have owned mac since the Mac SE/30. And am a shareholder. But now Apple is going mobile. I am still running Snow Leopard and may stay there. I just want a computer that computes and works.  I long for my vanished punch cards and my IBM 360/65 mainframe.

Aftermac

I have a G5 Tower… and before that a G4 Quicksilver Tower… and before that a G4 Digital Audio Tower… and before that a Blue & White G3 Tower (whose processor I eventually upgraded to a G4 to get a bit more life out of it)...

Eventually, once the G5 has outlived its usefulness, the plan is to replace it with a Mac Pro.

Lancashire-Witch

I long for my vanished punch cards

I sympathise David -

I still have about half a box left (maybe around 1000 cards).

My wife uses a punch card box to keep her candles in. They hold more than Apple keyboard boxes.

I still use empty IBM 1403 printer ribbon boxes to keep Apple odds and ends in and my collection of Firewire 400 cables.

I don’t know why I’m keeping my IBSYS 12 manual.

My G5 runs just fine under Leopard. It holds all the family media and drives 2 Apple TVs. I’ve added RAM and replaced the disks and optical drive (How come optical disks can still be problematic? - they’ve been around for 30 years)

The more I use my iPad the less impressed I am. It’s too heavy for an e-book reader and too light on features to be a laptop replacement.

After a while Siri becomes annoying and I’ve stopped using it (probably because it keeps telling me I’m not in the US using US English).

end of rant.

geoduck

and before that a G4 Quicksilver Tower? and before that a G4 Digital Audio Tower? and before that a Blue & White G3 Towe

Holy C***
I had the same series of towers, less the G5 that is. A couple of years ago I sold my Quicksilver G4 (1.25Ghz Dual Processor and 1, count em 1Gb or RAM) and still got $400 for it. Now that’s value.

It shows how the hardware has advanced. My current MacBook (not Pro, that arrives Thursday) is far more powerful than all of those towers put together. Now I can do vastly more while sitting on my deck overlooking the ocean.

Now that’s progress.

Peter

Who else here has a Mac Pro / G5 Tower ?

G5 Tower, here.  I didn’t get a Mac Pro because they were more expensive than the G5 Towers they replaced.  Instead, I got a MacBook Pro.

Paul Goodwin

Lots of professionals don’t need a Mac Pro to do their work. And imagine a professional going on the road with the only option being a hulking Mac Pro. This approach would be a horrible bummer. Plus, as stated by others, not everyone can afford a Mac Pro to do pro work, nor do all pros need the power of a Mac Pro. You don’t need 8, 12 or 16 cores to do graphic design or audio work.

I’m not opposed to having a consumer and pro version of the OS. There’s surely a market for it. But I couldn’t imagine spending $2K on a laptop and have it operate like an iPad. Don’t get me wrong, I love the iPad. I spend a lot of time on it. I love it as an iPad but it has so many shortcomings as a computer.?

As long as there was a switch in the OS to make any Mac change from the consumer to the pro version, I’d be OK with it. But calling the entire laptop line Mini, and iMac lines consumer level products and restricting them to iOS-like operation would be a terrible decision. ?

I’d rather see the OS X-ification of iOS.

aardman

I think splitting OS-X into consumer and pro versions would be a disaster.  Apple would get a lot of hate mail and bad publicity if they erect an artificial roadblock that forced power users to buy the expensive hardware.  OSX-gate anyone?

More likely is that pro OS-X features will be switched off by default in the consumer machines but is easily switched on via a simple command.  This would be in line with the default practice of hiding the Library folders in Lion.

Paul Goodwin

Hopefully, the delays are because they know the MBP and iMac lines of hardware would have to be able to switch from one to the other. So they have many months of development on both the HW and SW. Maybe they put only the iOS-like consumer OS on the Mini and MacBook Airs in the future. But that seems like a bummer to me. They’re real computers now. I’ve been buying Macs since 1988 because to me they were the best computer. If all but the Mac Pros are classified as consumer devices and get the dumbed down OS, they will not be anything near thenworld’s best computer without a lot of changes to iOS to make it do what computers do now.

I don’t want FOP. I want Dapper Dan.

Lee Dronick

“I only carry FOP, if you want Dapper Dan I can order it for you, take two weeks.”

Features will cross between iOS and OS X, it is inevitable.

furbies

?I only carry FOP, if you want Dapper Dan I can order it for you, take two weeks.?

Lee, can you translate “FOP” and “Dapper Dan” for those of us from below the equator ?

Paul Goodwin

Hahahaha. Lee

Paul Goodwin

Furbies. My and Lee’s FOP and Dapper Dan comments are quotes from a great movie-Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? from the year 2000.

Lee Dronick

In the movie FOP and Dapper Dan were hair pomades. George Clooney was obsessed with how his hair looked and only wanted to use Dapper Dan. He and two others were escapees from a prison chain gang, the Sherrif’s bloodhounds tracked them by following the trail of discarded Dapper Dan containers. Here is a clip of the FOP scene.

iJack

I WANT Apple to do this!

In God’s name WHY?

Lee Dronick

Furbies, Here is a two minute clip comprised of a number of scenes. It will give you an idea about the movie, it is broadly based upon Homer’s The Odyssey.

Sorry to take the comments off track, I will put splinters of OS under my fingernails.

furbies

I will put splinters of OS under my fingernails.

Which one will you use ?

OS9, rather blunt, old & rusty.

OS (mountain) Lion, new sharp, shiny & pointy.

Lee Dronick

I still have System 7 floppies in my ossuary of computer stuff.

Got get some sleep “The deep of night is crept upon our talk,
?And nature must obey necessity.”

Christopher Pelham

Terminal is just an app. Most people already just ignore that it’s there. IOS was/is locked down (unless you jailbreak it…) because it runs phones, and no one wants their phone crippled by a virus or by deleting some critical system file by accident, etc. And the iPad for practical reasons shares that OS.

But people are asking for better file management and more power on the iPad as it’s hardware capabilities grow and as people use it for more and more things and accumulate more apps and files over longer periods of time. So I expect IOS, at least on the iPad if not quite so much on iPhone, to get more and more software capabilities even as it remains comparatively locked down and tidy.

on laptops and desktops, I don’t think there’s a need to cripple them but I think the OS can be made simpler and simpler to use by default without crippling them…so why cripple them?

I think the delay in Mac Pro’s is because the hardware, not the software, just isn’t ready and for whatever reason they didn’t want to do a temporary redesign.

I do agree with whoever said that a lot of pro work is being done on iMacs and Macbook Pros etc now. I still work on a 2008 Mac Pro but will probably not replace it with another Mac Pro unless it is a much smaller, energy efficient box.

adamC

Called me conservative, I hope this will never happened because it is called losing focus.

Remember in the pre Jobs days there were many models of Macs and it is now all history.

I would prefer them to concentrate on a few things and do great thing with them.

We are entering into the new paradigm of mobile computing and I hope they will devote more resources to keep them ahead of the competitors.

One thing I am sad to say is they will always find new ways to do old things and the new ways are not the old ways we are comfortable with (example FCPX).

Paul Goodwin

Like not having a “Save As” function in an OS/AS.

Otterfish

Can’t wait for OS X 10.9 Ocelot to come out next year with another 200+ features I don’t need. Apple might just have gone crazy enough by then to do what Ted is suggesting.

sideliner

Heres an interesting take on tower upgrades. I have had 5 of them from the 9600 ,G3.G4,G5 2ghz and now a Mac Pro. The G5 worked so well for audio mixing that I continued using it for about 6 years which is long for a music professional. We normally upgrade to the best we can afford as often as possible. The thing is I bought the Mac Pro 8 core 2.6 as I was working with a new client and was sure I would need more power to finish a big mixing project but ended up using the G5 as installing all the software and checking all the plugin compatibilities on the Pro was a daunting task. I am sure the hard core users out there would be shocked to know that I continued to use the G5 for another year with the Mac Pro sitting right next to it waiting for all its day in the sun. On the G5 I sometimes mixed projects with over a hundred tracks of 48k 24bit audio. I have still never pushed the Mac Pro like I did the G5.
    I guess my point is even from the perspective of a power user we may be closing in on the day we have more power than we need and the Mac Pros of the future may serve only a small group of users, at which point it will be a very specialized market maybe served by specialty customizers. Either that or maybe a new Mac Pro will be easier to rack and link up as nodes without having a whole server farm. My friend has a video graphics company and about four years ago I saw the computer room with 125 dual 2.5ghz servers doing the rendering!

Brian

As far as locking Macs into the MacAppStore however, NO. That would be bad for users and developers alike.

It’s be great for the consumer version, not the pro version.  Pro and consumer OS is an Interesting idea.

geoduck

even from the perspective of a power user we may be closing in on the day we have more power than we need and the Mac Pros of the future may serve only a small group of users,

Quite astute. I used my G3 and G4 towers to do paintings and drawings, the sort of stuff I’m using my iPad for now. A 200 page document with graphics (like my first book) left the PowerMac of the day panting. Now a Mini or 7” air wouldn’t stumble with it even if it were playing a video at the same time. Your iPhone has more computing power than most of the Mac models sold over the years. The number of people that actually NEED a full on 12 core Xeon 36Gb Pro Tower has got to be declining.

Brian

The only sticking point is that HFS+ isn?t the most solid foundation and the OS X file system APIs do unsafe things with data. I know I?ve lost data because Finder let me do something stupid, I?ve lost data because something went wrong during a copy operation and I?ve lost data because I?ve put my Mac to sleep with a USB hard drive still mounted. I don?t know if I have any HFS corruption, but I probably do in a file I haven?t opened in a while. A solid OS wouldn?t allow any of that, but in a way I?ve only got myself to blame because I haven?t bothered to set up a Linux file server or use an alternative to Finder.

I used to believe this argument, that there were problems with HFS+, back in the Classic days.  I don’t buy it anymore.  I very rarely ever get any sort of corruption, and when it happens, I can fix it with Apple’s included tools every time (since the OS8/9 days, I have never needed anything more than disk utility).

Aftermac

  1340211785 said:

  even from the perspective of a power user we may be closing in on the day we have more power than we need and the Mac Pros of the future may serve only a small group of users,

Quite astute. I used my G3 and G4 towers to do paintings and drawings, the sort of stuff I?m using my iPad for now. A 200 page document with graphics (like my first book) left the PowerMac of the day panting. Now a Mini or 7? air wouldn?t stumble with it even if it were playing a video at the same time. Your iPhone has more computing power than most of the Mac models sold over the years. The number of people that actually NEED a full on 12 core Xeon 36Gb Pro Tower has got to be declining.

Which is all the more reason NOT to relegate “entry-level” Mac’s to some sort of neutered version of OS X. I can see having a user account setting to activate Pro-level features, but not at an additional price, or just crippling the OS.

Ted Landau

Thanks for all the comments. I’ve appreciated the lively discussion. Many of the postings have given me “food for thought.”

For example, the idea that, rather than restricting consumer Macs to a consumer OS, you could unlock an “advanced” pro mode on any Mac, is indeed another way Apple could go. I think it is less likely, but it’s certainly worth considering.

Several comments offered good reasons why Apple would never do anything like an OS split at all. I’m not surprised at these responses. I have hesitations myself. That’s why I stressed that this was speculation…not what I am convinced will happen.

However, if Apple does go in the split direction, I wouldn’t view it as negatively as some of the comments here suggest. A split has the potential for a big upside. As things stand now, OS X is trying to be all things to all users, and not doing a great job of it. Many “power users” have complained that they feel constrained by some of the iOS-ification features in OS X, and they don’t want changes like an invisible Library folder, etc. etc. They view it all as dumbing down the OS. On the other side, there are presumably “consumer” users who are pleased with these changes. By splitting the OS, it potentially allows Apple to make both groups happy. And it frees Apple to move as extremely as it wants in either direction without worrying about losing one side or the other.

iJack

I didn’t get much sleep last night for thinking about Ted’s calculus.  I still don’t get why Apple would want this.  Where is the profit in such a move?  Apple knows that there are still a few million people that want/need and buy pro-level machines and the kind of OS needed to run them.  There is still a lot of money there, albeit a small share of Apple’s profit.

Maybe the future is not with the MacPro ? I have trouble imagining what a modern iMac can’t do ? but removing the ability of developers/users to tinker with the OS to get it just so, makes no sense.  What is the motive?

To be honest, Ted and John M’s enthusiasm for this “possibility” is shocking, and it creeps me out.

Lee Dronick

Professionals who used to need a MacPro are doing great things using a current a iMac or MacBook Pro. Maybe very few of them really need a MacPro, but imagine what could be done using using something that is much more powerful than the current models. Maybe the best thing about a MacPro is its robustness, the ability to repair on site, add cards, swap hard drives and such.

As to operating systems. I like having one OS, one that is just as capable be it on the most entry level Mac or the highest end MacPro. Don’t go MicroSoft with a confusing menu of numerous versions of Windows that become less crippled as they increase in price. Server OSX being a different beast.

iJack
Ted Landau

I’ve sort of said all this already, but it seems worth underlining:

When I write articles like this, it can come from one of three perspectives.

The first is that it is a “wish list” article: “Here is something that I think would be really cool. I wish Apple would this. It would be great if it did.”

The second is a predictive article: “Here is something I’m convinced Apple will do and here’s why. Whether I like the idea or not is irrelevant.”

The third is a speculative article: “Here is something that has its pros and cons, that Apple may or may not do, but seems worth considering.”

Though parts of the article can be squeezed to fit into the first and second categories, it is really in the third one.

Lee Dronick

When I write articles like this, it can come from one of three perspectives.

And look at the dialog in which we engaged. Discussions are good.

iJack

Ted ~ My unease is not with which category, or even level of speculation your piece fits into, rather it is with the level of glee and enthusiasm with which you embrace the possibility.  You have speculated the virtual end of the Mac, and shouted “Hoorah!”

Aftermac

Ted, I think articles like this are extremely useful, because it creates conversation. As a Mac user for the last 20 years, this is the most uncertainty that I have seen about the future of the Mac, since Apple bought NeXT.

Even considering small sampling of comments to this article, the wide range of opinions underscores the diversity of Apple’s user base. The fact that Apple has been able to provide solutions to so many users of varying needs, with such a streamlined product catalog is a testament to the quality of both Apple’s software and hardware engineering. Simplicity in the product lines is just as important as the simplicity of the products themselves.

Aftermac

An additional thought I’ve had, is that it kind of feels like Mac OS X has been a stop gap OS, buying Apple time to develop and mature a new OS (iOS) that takes Apple back to the simplistic roots of the original Mac.

Once upon a time, I knew what every file on my Mac was used for, and what would happen if I deleted it. Over time the OS was glommed onto, but you still had a general idea of what everything was for. Mac OS X was a drastic deviation from this. Suddenly, there were thousands upon thousands of files out in the open for everyone to see. Personally, having a background in UNIX and Linux, this didn’t phase me… I welcomed it, but it just didn’t feel the same.

To me, iOS feels like Apple getting back to the roots of the Mac. I just don’t want them to abandon Power Users on a budget in the process.

mrhooks

Maybe the best thing about a MacPro is its robustness, the ability to repair on site, add cards, swap hard drives and such.

That’s why I want one.  Also, I don’t like working on laptops (and I would never own one as my primary computer), and I don’t like the iMac’s glossy displays (my NEC is better anyway).  I’d be perfectly happy with a Core i5 in a Mac Pro configuration, at ~$1000 less than the current low-end Mac Pro.  (Hackintosh isn’t entirely satisfying, because of occasional issues with OS updating, and the lack of the Mac Pro’s awesome form factor.)

Aftermac

I?d be perfectly happy with a Core i5 in a Mac Pro configuration, at ~$1000 less than the current low-end Mac Pro.

I’d love to see a baseline Mac Pro @ $1,200. I think it’s a huge mistake not having one. I think there are a lot of people buying them a couple years out of date, in that price range, to fill their needs of a Mac tower. It’s absolutely a market that Apple no longer caters to.

jdb8167

My thoughts.

Apple is not going to fragment OS X in this way. If they want to create a consumer environment they will do something better than what Microsoft does with Windows.

Two ideas come to mind:

1. Virtual Machine. The consumer environment runs on a virtual machine running on standard OS X. This has a lot of advantages. The environment is inherently sandboxed by the VM. Any problems can be wiped away trivially with a redo of the VM environment. Users could break out of the VM for troubleshooting or other purposes if needed but the underlying OS would rapidly become too scary for the many users—much like the command line is today.

Modern VMs are fast and efficient. Performance should be no problem. Technically, there is little effort involved in doing this. The pieces already exist. Apps from the App Store could be limited to running only in the VM environment motivating users to keep it running beyond just simplicity.

2. Create an environment that follows the user across multiple systems. This was Jobs original vision that he espoused in an early video after returning to Apple. Users no longer deal with their computer’s file system, everything is in the cloud and when you log in to another OS X device, everything is magically available. This ties in with the VM idea because the actual VM environment can also be in the cloud and follow you around.

Now developers and other power users can get a custom VM that has the capabilities that they need. And there is no reason to deny owners of the machine root access. Just hide everything sufficiently that no one who doesn’t need it, has to ever be aware of the underlying OS and file system.

Lancashire-Witch

I’m more concerned about the increasing rate of hardware obsolescence that started with dropping “Computer” from Apple’s name and seems to have accelerated with each new release of OS X and iOS.

Buddy Love

I think this concept is more skating to where the puck has been than where it is gong to be.

We’ve already been down the road of Pro vs Consumer. People are making hit records and editing feature films on iMacs now. The consumer is the Pro now days. You don’t need a gigantic Mac Pro to get any graphic,video,audio work done. The MacPro is EOL.

Lee Dronick

You don’t need a gigantic Mac Pro to get any graphic,video,audio work done. The MacPro is EOL.

I agree, for the most part, though processor speed and RAM are still better on a Mac Pro. I do something on my iMac and have to wait a bit, on a Mac Pro it is much faster.

wab95

Ted:

This article needs another comment like a millipede needs more feet. My current limited internet access and duties once again bring me late to the discussion, but I thought to add a somewhat different perspective.

As much as I like your analysis and train of thought, and I do, my reaction to the piece in toto is that, the entire discussion around iOS and OS X that has engrossed the Apple user community and likely misdirected Apple?s competition is both misplaced in emphasis and a distraction when discussed outside of a wider context. At least, that is my admittedly non-professional opinion when I survey the timescape since SJ?s return to Apple. That observation takes my train of thought in a somewhat different direction. 

I suggest that the feature porting and harmonisation between iOS and OS X is about neither system, but about the future that Apple are trying to create, namely the cloud and cloud-level systems integration and services as the bedrock of their strategy going forward. The key features of this foundation are already discernible, and are presently in demand by Apple?s clients, namely complete harmonisation of workflow and seamless continuity of recreation and play across devices and location; a work and play protected by deep system-level state of the art security protocols that shield the user from the bad guys on the one hand, and protect the user?s privacy on the other.

To achieve this, Apple have to provide feature harmonisation across both platforms and all devices in core areas of content creation and consumption, currently defined by industry-standard apps, including Apple?s own suites. This is distinct from feature parity, which would imply being able to accomplish the same tasks across any device or platform, and is neither practical nor sought by Apple?s user base. Apple will have to be smart about both which OS software features to harmonise as well as how their client base use what hardware to accomplish which tasks. Not every software modification will please everyone, and mistakes will be made. Apple, afterall, is a human venture. I see not only the operating systems being bent to this purpose, but the hardware as well. This means that before Apple commit itself to retooling its manufacturing processes for any hardware, it needs to be clear on both whether that machine still has a role in that future, and if so, what capacity and therefore form factor, ideally suit it. This is my assessment of the Mac Pro and the iMac refresh question. By comparison, the MBP and MBA are, as some might say, ?no-brainers?. Larger questions loom for both the large location-fixed machines, as well as the ultra-portable iPhone and iPad.

As for OS features, system-level access and the like, in the context outlined above, I posit two Apple objectives. First, ensure that whatever access is granted to rank and file users, they should be able to freely move about the OS without accidentally killing core features and functions. Second, create deep system-level security that the user cannot accidentally disengage. I personally don?t think that Apple are trying to rain on anyone?s parade (except the bad guys) or simply seize operating system control for control?s sake. To what end? They?ve nothing better to do? Doubtful. Rather, exposing the average user (not the geeks or pros) only to those things that they can safely manipulate, on the one hand, and hardening the system against misadventure, on the other, not only makes for a common and robust user experience, it protects all users in that interconnected ecosphere.

To be sure, feature harmonisation between iOS and OS X has the virtue of facilitating adoption of OS X hardware, and therefore Mac marketshare, by the larger fraction of Apple?s client base who still do not use them, namely iOS clients; however that, I argue, is a mere side benefit and not the primary objective.

Nor is the primary objective OS feature harmonisation and hardware optimisation, however ideally these adapt themselves to seamless cloud-based workflow and content consumption. Rather the primary objective is an unparalleled user experience that will propel Apple?s ecosystem beyond reach of its competitors for years to come. This, I argue, is Apple?s Moonshot, their Mars quest, the culmination of that strategic long game they have played for well over a decade, and that has taken on a near fanatical determination and commitment to the ?best in class? user experience.

If Apple pull this off, not only will they have created an unrivalled ecosystem of products and services, they will have taken the user experience to the next level and next generation; and they will have unveilled, without anyone - competitors or clients - having seen it coming, ?the next big thing?.

stanley lippman

i was at apple when their group was developing os x and all the macApp folks were furious with them for breaking the gui. i was at microsoft in visual c++ and they were dying because people were refusing to move away from their comfort zone even those it meant inferior capacity do their work because they valued the ease of the GUI to the improvements we kept pouring into the compiler, etc.

i don’t necessarily disagree with what you say, but you don’t really take it to an interesting level, no offense. apple is positioning itself to survive—every major technology ends up throwing a new Powerhouse. Google never trumped microsoft at what it was good at, it just found a different patch of ground. from DEC to SUN to IBM to Microsoft to Google—each emerged out of a technology.

they’re trying to save their company, and it won’t work because iOS is built on Cocoa and Objective-C and next step, and they’re doomed unless they manage to do what no other company has managed, imltho grin

Arnoud

I think microsoft is one step ahead this time. Having the same kernel that can run on phones, tablets and laptops/desktops. Developers can greatly benefit from that and end-users don’t have to make concession.

webjprgm

I think microsoft is one step ahead this time. Having the same kernel that can run on phones, tablets and laptops/desktops. Developers can greatly benefit from that and end-users don?t have to make concession.

As has been said many times, iOS and OS X do share a common kernel.  They also share many of the same frameworks, so it isn’t too bad to convert an app from an OS X app to an iOS app and visa versa (it’s the UI code that’s all different, and a few other differences and restrictions).

So I think Apple is definitely a step (or two) ahead, since they prepared their shared kernel long ago.

The only thing Microsoft has here is that developers can make one app that runs on both tablet and desktop by writing for the Metro user interface.  We’ll see if that works well, or if Apple is right that different device form factors require customized UI for that device.  Note that Google likes to say that an Android app should be one app for both phone and tablet sizes, while Apple says they should have different UI since the screen sizes are different enough to allow different interactions.  So it’s not just desktop vs. tablet, it’s also vs. phone, and it’s also not just Microsoft who thinks differently from Apple.  Again, we’ll see who’s right.


(Apologies to everyone who already knows this and will get an email notification for this old thread.  Couldn’t resist giving the clarification.)

John

Who says that OSX will splinter, who’s to say that iOS isn’t currently the splinter you are referring to? What if we were to get Macs that ran iOS? and possibly iPads and iPhones that ran OSX?

wx

The last great mac pro was the g5, after that there’s not much reason to have one besides aesthetics, the operative system, and probably the most common one, being apple.

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