The release of Mac OS X 10.1 (apparently off to a great sales start) and Windows XP (to be officially launched on 25 October) may help pump up personal computer sales, especially in Apple’s case, according to Charles Arthur, a columnist for the Independent.
Both Microsoft and Apple are dumping their 20-year-old code with the operating system upgrades. In a
new column, Arthur opines that the medium-term prospects are better for Apple than for Microsoft, “interestingly enough because Apple is becoming more internet-based.”
He notes that analysts aren’t particularly upbeat about XP’s ability to generate new Wintel hardware sales. Last Tuesday Kevin McCarthy, PC sector analyst at Credit Suisse First Boston, lowered his forecast for PC sales growth from a 6 percent drop to a 14 percent fall and suggested “a poor outlook for early acceptance” of Windows XP. “Initial consumer interest [in XP] appears limited,” he said in a note to clients.
The principal downside is that it continues Microsoft’s mission of locking Windows users into its other products, such as the online data repository Passport, Hotmail, Windows Media Player, Microsoft Moviemaker and Internet Explorer and Outlook Express browser and mail programs, Arthur writes. However, he adds that this also applies to Mac OS X: built-in media player (QuickTime), digital video editor (iMovie), online repository (iTools, with a free @mac.com account), mail application (Mail, written by Apple).
“The only reason US Justice Department lawyers aren’t storming the gates of Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, California, as they do Microsoft, is that Apple has just 4 per cent of the market,” Arthur said. “So it’s hardly a monopoly like Windows. OS X does, though, offer Apple a far greater potential to gain market share, because it moves from the older proprietary Apple OS to one whose heart is a version of Unix — the grandfather of all operating systems (including DOS).”
That Unix source and the open source connection is bringing new applications to the Mac platform, such as Maya. Arthur says other such programs are sure to follow since many can be shifted to OS X simply by “recompiling” them. Another boon for Mac OS X — it comes with Apache, the most commonly used Web server on the Net.
“Last week the Gartner research group advised companies to drop Microsoft’s IIS web server, because of its vulnerability to viruses like Nimda, and shift to something else,” Arthur said. “Apache was one suggestion. Enterprising Apple salespeople, one might think, would call those companies and suggest they give Apache on OS X a whirl. ‘It can’t hurt,’ one can imagine them saying.”
Meanwhile, Mac OS X 10.1, which went on sale Saturday, is apparently a major hit. We’re getting reports of many stores selling out of the operating system update.