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As Linux grows, Mac market share set to increase?

It's been a long time coming. With all the changes happening at Apple these days it is becoming hard to imagine how bad it really was for the company back in the 1990s. So much has changed since then, OS X has indeed brought the fortunes that Steve Jobs predicted.

The reason OS X has been so successful is based on the culture it has created. When I studied in Computer Science at the beginning of my degree OS X was something new. Perhaps it was my shiny blue iBook that looked like a hello kitty purse or perhaps it was the beta operating system, but either way the general feedback I received was "weak computer" when in the halls of the computing concourse.

Back then OSX was difficult to use and the real savvy Mac users were all in the graphics arena. The Macintosh interface was nowhere near finished and documentation was sparse. Arguably, compared to Linux it still lacks documentation given all the howtos out there. The philosophy is different than Linux or Windows too... in most online guides you will find that there is in fact only one way to do "that" on a Macintosh. For many users this is a sigh of relief. To nerds, this is a burden.

So what changed? Was it the legions of devoted Unix-types that jumped the Microsoft's ship when Apple unmasked the largest widespread Unix implementation in history? Or, did the disparity of tools available spark a creative chord with those who had given up on the Windows world? Was it just the viruses?

The nerds took over.

Years later I am looking at the current version of the operating system and a little awestruck at what has happened. The Unix underpinnings of the system made thousands of new software titles available at the flip of a switch. The programming environment enabled cross-platform development which supported Apple's move to Intel. Then they made a boot loader that supports Windows. In short order Apple will likely support running Windows programs within the Mac interface, and this is where things start to get crazy.

Following these moves it is now clear that the Macintosh is positioned to be "everything to everyone" by supporting both Windows and Linux/Unix applications in addition to the easy to use Mac fare everyone loves. Market forecasters are predicting that with some agressive pricing strategy the Mac is slated to take off. Some say that changes are happening but we don't know the direction yet while others are claiming that Apple's sour times are over. Others in the Mac community are even a little more excited about the prospects.


Verbosity. Systems for communication.

Welcome to Verbosity, this site is both a technology review page and a system administrator's soapbox. I work with three operating systems every day analyzing technologies and making things work. In my spare time I lament about these platforms of imagination. At home I'm a Linux guy, on the road a Mac and in the office a Windows user. I have used many desktops in my short lifetime. The simple ones are those I enjoy best.


Microsoft finally changes their message on Linux

In the late 1990s Microsoft stepped in to help Apple out when the stock price fell through the floor. The effort was enough to let Apple continue operating while they radically changed their direction to embrace Unix as the core of the Macintosh operating system. In return Microsoft provided a really terrible version of Internet Explorer to help people along on the web with their old OS 9 machines. Years later that move paid off, Microsoft abandoned the Apple deal but the software support for the Mac is better than it ever was now that everything is running smoothly on Unix.

Now Microsoft plans to strike a deal with Novell. They distribute a version of Linux, called Suse, which competes with Red Hat in the enterprise desktop and server markets. Up until now Microsoft has been denying Linux any headway by promoting a "Get the facts" campaign that seeks to dispel any studies that find Linux to be more efficient than Windows. So this move is shocking but familiar territory for the software giant.

Maybe they'll finally release a stable and secure version of Windows based on Linux. We can only dream.

Here's that clip from Macworld 1997 in case you missed it -