The Macalope: Who's driving this bus?

In today’s episode of To Catch a Troll, TechCrunch’s Alex Wilhelm says:

“Apple Follows In Microsoft’s Windows 8.1 Footsteps, Makes OS X Updates Free” (no link but tip o’ the antlers to Varun Pramanik).

Microsoft provided an update to an existing major release. If we are to follow Wilhelm’s logic—the logic of alternate realities—then technically we would have to go back to the first upgrade Ada Lovelace provided for free to fix bugs in her wood- and spring-based computer. (They were actual bugs.)

This is a change for Apple, a company that in the past charged for updates to its desktop operating system.

It’s a change, but it’s also the end result of a natural progression. Apple’s operating system release have been getting cheaper and cheaper over the years.

Those fees were low …

How low?

… less than $50 …

TechCrunch: Yesterday’s vague answers, today.

Actually, the three most recent releases of Mac OS X were all less than $30. Snow Leopard and Lion were $29.99 while Mountain Lion was just $19.99.

… but they existed.

As opposed to Microsoft’s significant updates, which have always been free.

[eyes dart back and forth]

[pretends to be interested in a pamphlet on discount mufflers]

[slides out of chair and crawls out the door on his belly]

And by dropping the cost of OS X updates to zero, Apple is following in Microsoft’s footsteps.

If Apple is “following in Microsoft’s footsteps” then the Macalope looks forward to Microsoft releasing Office for free sometime soon—you know, to retrospectively lead Apple to releasing iWork for free, which it did on Tuesday.

Boy, coming up with ways to make Microsoft look like the market leader in free software sure gets convoluted and violates the laws of space-time, doesn’t it?

If Apple were to charge for the update to OS X after Microsoft—a company notorious for high software prices—made its own update free, Apple would appear quite miserly.

Yeah, Microsoft sure has Apple over a barrel here, doesn’t it?

Should someone at TechCrunch be calling social services?

Now, there are some small pieces to keep in mind.

Like, say, how each company actually makes money and how this whole trend works to Apple’s advantage and literally destroys Microsoft’s business model.

We’re seeing certain software cost points decline to zero. That will squeeze margins.

Boy, you’d think that someone should have told Microsoft that before the company led everyone down the glorious path to free operating systems.

Whatever the case, if you Windows, you get an update. If you Mac, you get an update. Everybody gets an update.

What? Is that right? Has Microsoft said categorically that it will no longer charge for Windows updates? You buy a computer and you get updates for life? Really? Did the Macalope miss that somewhere? Is Wilhelm just being coy about the different definitions for “update” versus “upgrade”? Seems to the Macalope that Windows 8.1 being free was just a mea culpa to people who bought Windows 8 and hated it.

Now, Apple hasn’t said that it’ll never charge for an OS again, either, but because it’s been charging less and less over the years for them and actually makes money in other ways, it seems logical that Cupertino can actually do that. What’s Microsoft going to make money off of? Surface sales? The company probably makes more money on interest. Maybe it should just become a bank—might be easier.

The horny one will also note that Microsoft is not providing a free copy of Windows 8.1 for Windows 7 license holders. If you want to go from Windows 7 to Windows 8.1, please pass Go and pay $120. Mavericks, meanwhile, is free to anyone running Snow Leopard or higher.

There’s misunderstanding the dynamics at work in a situation and then there’s jerking the dynamics around like balloons and contorting them into unnatural circus animals in order to get clicks. That difference explains why there’s no link to this piece.

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