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The Back Page - John C. Dvorak: Apple Plans Move to Windows

by - February 16th, 2006

John C. Dvorak, the master cage-rattler, is at again, and this time his whip-up-the-Mac-masses angle is that Apple is going to dump Mac OS X, and move to Windows. This is one of his clumsier arguments, but it bears mentioning (and debunking) mainly because there are some folks worried about this very issue. Accordingly, let's shred Mr. Dvorak's arguments.

Mr. Dvorak attributed four basic ideas as presented to him by Yakov Epstein, professor of psychology at Rutgers University, as evidence that Apple was working on such a move. They are (and I quote):

  1. The first was that the Apple Switch ad campaign was over, and nobody switched.
  2. The second was that the iPod lost its FireWire connector because the PC world was the new target audience.
  3. Also, although the iPod was designed to get people to move to the Mac, this didn't happen.
  4. And, of course, that Apple had switched to the Intel microprocessor.

Rubbish, all.

  1. The Switch campaign was one of the reasons Apple's Mac sales didn't fall even further at a time when the G4 processor was seriously hurting the platform. This is an oft misunderstood issue, but the fact is that the Switch campaign was a great success, and one of the primary ways that Apple pulled people into its then-growing fleet of retail stores.
  2. The new iPods lost their FireWire connector because of cost and space, at least that's what my sources tell me, and all I can tell you about them is that I trust them. Even if that weren't the case, however, what the heck does that have to do with Apple moving to Windows? USB and FireWire is an issue that concerns Intel, not Microsoft.
  3. The iPod has been a great attractor for Windows users to move to the Mac, and is one of the reasons Apple's market share has grown so fast in the last 18 months.
  4. The move to Intel would indeed allow Apple to also move to Windows, but this is the stupidest reason of the four. If Apple wanted to save money by allowing Microsoft "to do the grunt work" of supplying an OS, an argument Mr. Dvorak also made, why would it invest the enormous resources necessary to move Mac OS X itself to Intel? It's extra development work, work that was done for five years according to Steve Jobs, and the company has to maintain two platforms -- PPC and x86 -- for a while yet. If Apple was going to move to Intel in order to move to Windows, I have little doubt that it would have done both at the same time.

So much for a psych professor's take on the situation, but the interesting thing is that it is psychology, more than any other factor, that negates the idea that Apple would move to Windows. That issue is that Steve Jobs thinks controlling the whole widget is Apple's competitive edge. More importantly, I firmly believe that from his perspective the only OS good enough for his own computing is the one that he's in charge of.

Macs running Windows are running an inelegant OS that Apple can not control. That is entirely antithetical to everything Steve Jobs has talked about for the last 30 years.

Of course, Mr. Jobs has reversed himself before whenever it was necessary for Apple's marketing message (PPC is better than x86. "It's about the music, stupid."), but this is a fundamental issue that goes far deeper than any marketing issue. Steve Jobs has always felt that to make a good computer, you have to control the OS and the hardware. That trumps every other argument.

Professor Epstein probably doesn't understand that, and it's impossible to know what Mr. Dvorak really believes, but this statement from his column is telling:

"From the Mac to the iPod, it's the GUI that makes Apple software distinctive. Apple popularized the modern GUI. Why not specialize in it and leave the grunt work to Microsoft?"

This is so close to the truth, it's easy to read past it and say, "Yeah, that makes sense." It's not quite right, though. Apple's GUI is superior to anyone else's, but what makes the iPod and the Mac so great is that they just work.

Why do they just work? Because Apple controls the software and the hardware.

Rinse. Repeat.

In short, as long as Steve Jobs is CEO of Apple, the company will not move to Windows.

Astute readers will note that I said many times in the past that Apple would never switch to Intel. We all know how that worked out, of course, so why should you trust my analysis of this subject?

In my own defense, I also always said that if Apple did move to Intel, the Mac would remain a proprietary platform, and that Mac OS X for x86 wouldn't run on beige boxes. The reason I have always given for that is that Apple wanted to control the whole widget.

Rinse. Repeat.

I'll close with a congrats to Mr. Dvorak for finding yet another topic with which to push the Mac community's collective button, but there's nothing here to merit anything more than a quick dismissal.

began using Apple computers in 1983 in a high school BASIC programming class. He started using Macs in 1990 when the Kinko's guy taught him how to use Aldus PageMaker, finally buying a Power Computing Power 100 in 1995. Today, Bryan is the Editor of The Mac Observer, and has contributed to the print versions of MacAddict and MacFormat (UK).

You can send your comments directly to him, or you can also post your comments below.

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