Will we ever see OSX marketed on non-Macs?

I have recently been taking a great deal of interest in computer hardware prices. Every month I have been buying Computer Shopper (an excellent magazine), and scouring the adverts for the best deals, trying to get a feel for the market. The reason? I’m thinking, seriously, of buying a new computer.
 
Now, regular readers will be aware that I am an Apple Mac user. However I also have a Windows desktop PC, on which I also run Linux (on a separate HDD), that I use as a fixed workhorse for image work, printing, and occasional gaming. Everything else, such as writing, email, surfing the net, and coding (the very basic coding that I do) is done on Apple laptops.
 
It has always been assumed that when I next buy a PC, I’d get a MacBook Pro, but looking at the prices for the specification I want, I’m going to have to spend around £1,600 – plus a bit extra if I want the full 4GB of RAM that the Pro can handle. I’m buying the new machine primarily for Photoshop, so I’m after as much RAM as I can wedge into it.
 
Having consulted Computer Shopper, I can get an ASUS F7Sr 17” WS laptop, with 3GB of RAM and plenty of dedicated video memory, for £705 inc. VAT. That’s a pretty good saving, eh? ASUS are well-built inside and out, and while the graphics card and styling may not be quite as hot at the MacBook Pro I want, it is a similar machine for a lot less.
 
The other question is whether I do indeed buy a laptop, or do I get a desktop. Again, huge savings can be made by sticking with Windows. I’d easily save £1,000 if I went with Windows, and get more power too. You’d think it’d be a no-brainer. But it’s not quite that simple.
 
Windows is rubbish. I mean really rubbish.
 
I could run Linux, but that would mean the trouble of ensuring that all the hardware is compatible with Ubuntu, and living with Photoshop being run using Wine (no Linux version of Adobe Photoshop is available). Admittedly you could use the excellent open source image editor, GIMP, but you’d miss some of the cutting edge stuff that makes Photoshop the industry standard.
 
What it comes down to is, whether or not I dual boot Linux and Windows together, I’m going to need Windows if I don’t get a Macintosh. The question is: Is Apple OSX actually worth £1,000?
 
Which leads me to my next question… Will Apple ever allow its OS to be used on non-Mac machines? I know, that old chestnut.
 
But why not? Macs run on Intel chipsets and Macs will happily run Windows, why not blow open the market by allowing OSX (or the next OS) to be run on a standard computer?
 
There are several obvious reasons why this hasn’t happened. The first is hardware sales. Manufacturers need a USP, and let’s not forget that Apple still do hardware. They will not want to sully their brand by opening up the main USP, the gloriousness that is Mac OS, to competing brands. But surely the potential sales of the OS would be huge? Apple’s stock has never been higher, and it’s accepted wisdom that OSX is more elegant, secure, and reliable than Windows. If the platform is opened up, even more developers would embrace it, and this could only aid adoption.

The second stumbling block is security. Mass-adoption of the Mac OS would mean greater attention from virus writers and fraudsters in general. Macs are famous for their reliability and the lack of viruses and other such problems (although rare cases do appear on occasion). And finally, Apple enjoys unprecedented control over its OS by only allowing it to be used on custom-built machines. And as we know, Apple likes to be in control.

But think of the sales? With iPod sales finally cooling, and further growth in music sales harder and harder to come by (what with Play.Com and Amazon entering the arena), couldn’t Apple further boost its share price by flogging OSX (say at a premium for non-Mac buyers) in much greater quantities?

Okay, it probably isn’t going to happen… ever. But I could save so much money if I could only run OSX – without resorting to hackkery – on a non-Mac laptop. Grrrr.

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11 thoughts on “Will we ever see OSX marketed on non-Macs?

  1. I do hope that OS X is NEVER licensed for cheap, tawdry, generic hardware. I see the problems my Windoze friends are having with Vista and drivers. The last thing I want is to deal with the driver who, what, when, and why things don’t work dance. My clients and myself LOVE the Mac because it is a mostly closed system. We know what to expect and know who to talk to when things go wrong. I will pay a little more for ease of use and troubleshooting on those rare occasions when I have to – not to mention just down right DAMNED sexy hardware.To me this has always been the argument of people really wanting a BMW, but don’t want to pay more then the price of a Ford Focus. You want the best, expect to pay a little more.

  2. Unlike Microsoft, Apple, first and foremost, is a hardware company. Almost every application they sell is used to attract you to buy THEIR hardware, not others. Fortunately, since their hardware is of very nice quality, this isn’t a bad deal. For Apple to give OS X away is to destroy their computer sales. They give away iTunes because it leverages iPod sales. Safari now aids in iPhone development. Mac OS X client itself is leveraged to sell Macs. Pretty simple formula. Apple has a good OS, but they can’t compete on Windows’ entrenched level. So, they invent a level of their own that Microsoft can’t reach. Microsoft Zune players are the best example of that.

  3. I feel your pain but thank God they do not offer OS X on competing hardware. Besides the obvious reasons (loss of hardware sales, support headaches, etc), it keeps the riff-raff out. I know it sounds elitist but really, let the masses keep their $5 hardware with Windows. I’m really not excited about legions of hackers happily affording and working on the Mac.;)

  4. I want OSX to stay on Apple hardware. I want that revenue to go to Apple alone. If Mac products eventually do grab a bigger share of the computer market then all the more Mac hardware will be sold. Apple does not need the headache of supporting all the odd versions of PCs that OSX will likely be installed on. Apple will end up having the same driver problems as Vista does and Apple doesn’t need that bad press.If you want to run OSX, then buy a Mac. If it’s trouble-free, then maybe it’s worth paying the hardware premium.Next you’ll be saying that iTunes should operate with Zunes and Zens. I don’t feel I’m an elitist either. I respect those that want less expensive computers, but let them run Linux, Vista or WinXP. I like using WinXP on my MacBook Pro.

  5. Your thinking that PC manufacturers can produce the exact equivalent for leas than 1/2 the price. You’re seriously misleading yourself. Many a Dell order has been tweaked to the equivalent of a Mac model and you couldn’t get more than 60 pounds difference. Some were more!My advice is to buy the best tools you possible can. They’ll pay for themselves with your productivity and satisfaction.

  6. The Mac is the only computer that can run all three operating systems – Mac OSX, Windows and Linux.Apple’s superior quality of build widely is acknowledged.The only logical choice for a computer to buy is a Mac.

  7. This is an age-old question. The correct answer is that Apple will never license Mac OS X to third-party hardware makers.Apple makes the whole widget. This means software and hardware that is tightly integrated to optimize the user experience. This means that to maintain compatibility with Mac OS X, the third-party hardware company has little choice but to copy exactly Apple’s hardware specs and to use Apple’s customized chips so that drivers and applications won’t crash. This means that Apple not only has to license Mac OS X but their hardware designs to third parties – or have Microsoft’s headaches of trying to maintain compatibility with third party hardware. Who is doing the research, then? Third parties? NO. Apple has to do all the work. All third parties would be doing then is to steal from Apple’s profits.This is what happened the last time Apple licensed the Mac OS. The clone companies contributed to driving Apple almost to its death.As an Apple shareholder, I realize that Apple does not have to increase marketshare much. It doesn’t have to dominate marketshare like Microsoft does. It only has to make a profit and stay alive. The best way for Apple to stay profitable and stay alive is to make the best products it can. Obviously, it shows. Apple’s lineup is the best of any computer maker. Apple’s products are also less expensive than competitors such as DELL – when configured equivalently.Never again will Apple license its OS. Rather, Apple will use it in other products such as AppleTV, the iPod, and the iPhone. OS X is what differentiates Apple from the competition.As you see, Windows and Linux have similar apps as on Mac OS X, but they are clearly not as good. Apple sets such a high standard that other companies can’t reach it. This is competition at its best. As Jobs said, “Redmond start your copiers.”If you can’t afford a Mac, then fine. Get the PC or Linux computer you want and live with the compromises. If you can’t afford a BMW, get the Yugo you can afford.If you can’t compromise, then get a Mac. Save your money (I saved 3 years for my first one, 20+ Macs ago) and get another job or two or more. The Mac is worth it.

  8. Your two stumbling blocks are just plain wrong…Apple does not license its OS not because it is afraid of hardware competition – there is no competition when features are taken into account – Apple’s hardware is equivalently priced with equal hardware of equal build quality from other manufacturers. Apple does not license its software because it does not want to deal with the compatibility headaches rampant in so many hardware configurations. The only reason Microsoft can cover their costs with that is because they stronghold all vendors to distribute it, and do they’re own compatibility testing. As was evidenced by the fiasco that was Vista UPGRADES, making an OS run on all the hardware out there well is not easy.Look, I just bought a Mac Pro. I priced it out with a Dell, and the Dell was over $2000 more (for a Dual Quad Core Xeon 2.83 vs the dual quad Xeon 2.80 – I wanted the 1600 MhZ frontside bus)You get what you pay for, and with the Mac, if you get the same features (weight, screen size, ports) you pay the same or often less.The only valid argument I can see is Apple does not make the box you want – say you want a tablet, or an ultralight with a DVD, etc. THOSE are valid reasons. But to complain that Apple does not make cheap crapware or that you cannot put MacOSX on cheap crapware (legally that is) is just missing the point….

  9. Now more than ever before, Apple is a hardware company. iPhone, iPod Touch, MacBook Air, Airport Extreme, Time Capsule…these are the products. OS X is the clockwork that keeps their products running, but it is simply a common piece and not a product that will ever exist alone.

  10. You answered your own question, Rateek. I would love to see what desktop you compared the Apple machines with by the way: did you take account of bus speed, L2 cache, shared RAM cache, ATA or SATA for HDD connections, etc?But, let us remember what happened last time Apple licensed the OS (to Power, Motorola and Umax): they started losing money hand over fist. Now, the OS licensing wasn’t the sole reason for this, but I really don’t see Apple making that mistake again.And, frankly, I wouldn’t want them to. The hardware is important. Let us say that Apple’s profit is £200 on a £1,000 machine (about right from what I can glean from their accounts); do you really want to have to pay, let us say, £400 for the OS upgrade (in order to make up the difference)?Further, do you really want to encounter all the registration problems that Windows users have that we Mac boys don’t have to worry about?No, we users would suffer and Apple’s hardware design would suffer too. You know what I always say…?BURN THE HERETIC!DK

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