macnews.net.tc
2005-08-12
So, what now, Steve?
Let's jump into the future for a moment. The year is 2007, the month is February. Apple is happily selling intel and PowerPC hardware, Mac OS X 10.5 has just been released (the box contains two DVDs, one for intel Macs, one for PPC, or maybe it's a hybrid that does boot both type of machines) and warez traderz have built a valid ISO that actually boots on plain vanilla PCs, installs Leopard and comes with third party, hacked together drivers for a couple of motherboards and graphics cards. Some sound cards don't work, but who cares.
Once the average PC user out there only needs to know where and how to get the right DVD image and how to burn it in linux or Windows, Apple's got a real problem. Sure, Software Update will become more 'intelligent' and won't allow installation of system updates etc. on these hacked together OS X systems, but the underground will simply take the updates and hack those, so the hacked-together OS X machines will get their updates maybe a week or two later. "No big", as Kim Possible would say.
So, what then, Steve? Will Apple have to continuously fight the underground, resulting in wasted work-hours that result in just yet-another-successfully-hacked-version-of-OSX? Microsoft has shown that whatever they do, the underground circumvents. Windows XP Pro? You can take the installed Windows XP Home on your computer and run a few patches and it's a Pro version. Or you just get an illegal copy of Windows XP Corporate, which doesn't need activation. (And surely enough, people are sharing that version, not the one that needs activation...)

I guess Apple's solution is rather simple: They'll change how OS X checks whether it's running on the right hardware from time to time, so the casual user has a rather hard time getting it to run and keeping it up-to-date, resulting in the casual user actually buying a Mac mini or an iBook. They'll tolerate (although not publicly, of course) the underground and lure them into buying Macs the next time they're buying computers. After all, installed user-base is also an important number. And it's better to have people want to use OS X on their PCs than just being ignored.
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