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.