Mac News Review

OS X and Safari Shares Grow in September, Toxic Mac Pro?, Green Hard Drives, and More

This Week's Apple and Desktop Mac News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2008.10.03

PowerBook, iBook, MacBook, and other portable computing is covered in The 'Book Review. iPod, iPhone, and Apple TV news is covered in The iNews Review.

All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted.

News & Opinion


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News & Opinion

Mac OS Share Breaks 8%, Safari Gains Ground In September

NetApplications Hitslink has posted Operating System Market Share stats for September 2008 showing the Mac OS's market share among online users hit 8.23% during the month, its high-water mark for the 21st century. Windows and Linux both slipped slightly over the month, while the iPhone version of OS X was up slightly, carrying momentum over from its big gain in August.

Operating system market share, September 2008

Here's the rundown of the significant players for September (August figures in parentheses):

  • Windows 90.29% (90.66%)
  • Mac 8.23% (7.86%)
  • Linux 0.91% ( 0.93%)
  • iPhone 0.32% (0.30%)

Comparing longer term, at 90.29% Windows is still down nearly five percentage points since May 2006 (95.09%), while the Mac OS at 8.23% has still not quite doubled its share over the same interval from 4.43% in May 2006. Linux has more than doubled its from 0.40% to 0.91% percent - but is off two-tenths of a point from August.

OS market share over past yearIn terms of versions:

  • Windows:
    • Windows XP 68.67% (69.49%)
    • Windows Vista 18.33% (17.85% )
    • Windows 2000 1.89% (2.02%)
    • Windows NT 0.80%
    • Windows 98 0.34%
    • Windows ME 0.19%
    • Windows CE 0.06%
  • Macintosh:
    • Macintel 5.80% (5.44%)
    • Mac OS (Classic) 2.43% (2.42%)
    • iPhone 0.32% (0.30%)
  • iPod 0.04% (0.05%)
  • Linux 0.91% (0.93%)

Hitslink also posted August 2008 Browser Market Share stats yesterday, showing Internet Explorer dropping back slightly, with more than a point drop from July, Firefox down slightly to 19.46 percent from 19.73 percent, and Safari gaining more ground last month to 6.65% from 6.37%, and Opera bumped from number four spot by newcomer Chrome.

browser market share, September 2008Browser Total Market Share

  • Microsoft Internet Explorer - 71.52% (72.15%)
  • Firefox - 19.46% (19.73%)
  • Safari - 6.65% (6.37% )
  • Chrome - 0.78% (new entry this month)
  • Opera - 0.69% (0.74%)
  • Netscape - 0.63% (0.72%)
  • Mozilla - 0.09% (0.10% )
  • Opera Mini - 0.05% (0.05%)
Link: Operating System Market Share
Link: Top Operating System Share Trend
Link: Browser Market Share
Link: Top Browser Share Trend

Vista Terrible as the Mac Attracts More Converts

CNet's Matt Asay reports:

"Newsweek's Dan Lyons digs into Vista's problems in a recent article. While not the first to highlight Vista's many problems, Dan's focus on Vista's macro problems is timely and interesting.

"'Nobody here looks at Vista as a fiasco,' says Brad Brooks, a Microsoft marketing vice president. If that's true, and nobody at Microsoft thinks Vista has been a public-relations nightmare, then the company is in trouble....

"Meanwhile, Apple's Mac computers, which run Apple's OS X operating system instead of Windows, have been gaining share, reaching 11 percent of the US consumer market, according to researcher NPD . . . Remember how AOL used to be cool, but then became the service used only by people who didn't know any better? Microsoft is heading down that path. 'You fly business class today, and it's nothing but Macs,' says one former Microsoft executive, who's now carrying a Mac himself, albeit with Vista loaded on it...."

CrossOver Mac Professional - Run Windows Apps on Your Mac Without Installing Windows

Macworld UK's John Brandon reports:

"Virtualisation software such as Parallels Desktop and VMware Fusion let Mac users run the Windows operating system and Windows-only programs on a Mac, but the install process is complex and time-consuming, and the programs can slow down even a speedy Mac. As an alternative, Codeweavers CrossOver Mac Professional 7.0.2 uses just the Windows application programming interface (API) to run Windows apps on your Mac, without the Windows OS.

"CrossOver is a kind of 'translator of a translator' and relies on an open-source program called Wine. When you install and run Windows apps, Wine is actually translating the API calls that allow a Windows program to run, such as "pull up this dialog box" or "save this file". CrossOver hides the clunky interface of the open-source Wine software behind a more Mac-like interface.

"CrossOver is an ingenious idea for a program that can save time and costs less than buying a separate copy of Windows...."

Could It Be Dangerous to Work with a Mac Pro?

Hardmac's Lionel reports:

"About one year ago, we were reporting on our French website ( that some Mac Pro owners were complaining about a weird and irritating smell coming our of their Mac Pro when it was switch on. We did not hear about this issue anymore, and Apple did not communicate about it, as defective parts were simply exchanged apparently.

"Today, an article published in one of the leading French newspaper ( might bring this story back to the front page while bringing embarrassing information for Apple.

"A scientist from the CNRS (National Center for Science and Research) was affected by this strange smell coming from his Mac Pro. As Apple could not fix the problem, he contacted Greenpeace to get the vapors analyzed by an independent laboratory. Results are surprising and might place Apple in a difficult position, while potentially igniting a scandal. Indeed, vapors were identified as toxic, harmful and among the compounds identified, there were styrene, benzene and other derivatives. All those chemicals are known for being highly toxic, and the benzene has been forbidden and is use is strictly controlled due to its carcinogenous properties...."

Are Macs Toxic?

The Wall Street Journal reports:

" ran an article recently citing an unnamed researcher who, after noticing a strange smell coming from his Mac Pro, tested the computer and found that it contained a chemical called benzene, which can cause skin and eye irritation. Exposure to large amounts of benzene can cause leukemia. (We're working off of a Google translation of the article, which includes lines like 'Pugnacious, Greenpeace contacted the scientist who goes back to a laboratory for analysis.' Here's the original article, for anyone who speaks French.):

[For Google machine translation, click here.]

"Apple, for its part, doesn't know anything about benzene. 'We have not found anything that supports this claim but continue to investigate it for customers,' an Apple spokesman tells us...."

Apple Says No Evidence of Benzene in Mac Pros

Macworld's Philip Michaels reports:

"Apple says it has not seen any evidence to back up a French newspaper's claim that Mac Pros are emitting toxic odors, including benzene.

"The report, first appearing in Libération and picked up by tech blogs in the US, contends Mac Pros built before 2008 emit an odor. A scientist quoted in the article says the odor contains several toxins, including benzene. Prolonged exposure to benzene raises the risk for diseases, including cancer.

"While not dismissing the reports, Apple noted that it hadn't found any evidence to prove the claim...."


SimpleTech Pumps Up Pro Drive External Storage Family

PR: Fabrik's SimpleTech Pro Drive and Duo Pro Drive with RAID 0/1 now shipping with a quad interface (eSATA, FireWire 800, FireWire 400 and USB 2.0), a reinforced design, and higher capacities, giving you the speed, reliability, and simplicity to store and protect your stuff.

If you're part of the digital media generation, a power user, or even a small business owner, there's no doubt that your computer is quickly filling up with tons of video clips, songs, digital photographs, and documents. To help relieve you of this data overload, SimpleTech, a Fabrik company, announced two affordable ways to easily add more storage capacity and backup power to your home or office computers - the 1.5 TB SimpleTech Pro Drive and the first 3 TB two-drive RAID 0/1 solution, the SimpleTech Duo Pro Drive. Each solution now ships with a reinforced design for added reliability and durability, higher capacities so you have room to grow, and a quad interface (eSATA, FireWire 800, FireWire 400 and USB 2.0) that future-proofs your investment, so you'll be prepared to connect to whatever system, device, or peripheral - in the future as well as today.

Do Everything Faster with eSATA

With data transfer rates up to 3 gigabits per second (3 Gbps), eSATA is three times faster than USB 2.0 (480 Megabits per second), giving you amazing speed to back up in a blink, save video in a snap or store your entire music collection in minutes.

SimpleTech Pro DriveIf your desktop computer does not have an eSATA port, you can easily add one with the new SimpleTech ProSpeed eSATA PCI Adaptor Card (MSRP $69.99). Simply grab a screwdriver, open up your computer, and pop in the new card. You'll be up and running in no time flat. No brilliant engineers are required, or you can even call your local teenager to help. With a dose of high-speed 3 Gbps transfer speed, you'll never look back at USB again.

SimpleTech Duo Pro Drive

SimpleTech Duo Pro DriveThe SimpleTech Duo Pro Drive offers massive performance, capacity, and protection. With two drives in one, the SimpleTech Duo Pro Drive gives you two ways to save: Speed Mode (RAID 0) and Copy Mode (RAID 1). Speed Mode, or striping, leverages both hard drives to read and write your files, making storing and accessing your files significantly faster than using one disk alone. If using eSATA in Speed Mode (RAID 0), you can receive six times the speed of USB 2.0, ideal for home video editing and streaming or working with graphic-intensive files.

rear of SimpleTech Duo Pro DriveFor added data protection, Copy Mode, or mirroring, makes an extra copy of your files on the second internal hard drive, so you always have two separate copies of your important stuff. That way, if the first drive fails, the second one swings into action so there's no data loss or downtime. Now shipping, suggested retail pricing is $279.99 for 1 TB, $419.99 for 1.5 TB and $549.99 for 2 TB. The 3 TB model will be available in late Q4. Pricing has not been set.

SimpleTech Pro Drive

SimpleTech Pro DriveThe SimpleTech Pro Drive works like a pro, and it is plug 'n' play simple. Delivering capacities up to 1.5 TB and a quad-interface, it is a smart investment that delivers everything you need to succeed. Now shipping, suggested retail pricing is $159.99 for 500 GB, $209.99 for 750 GB and $259.99 for 1 TB. The 1.5 TB single-drive model will be available in mid-Q4. Pricing has not been set.

Two Levels of Protection

rear of SimpleTech Pro Drive2 GB free online backup: As the first drive family to offer both local and online backup protection, the SimpleTech Pro Drive and Duo Pro Drive automatically back up your computer files to the drive or to secure remote servers using Fabrik Ultimate Backup. With online backup, you receive 2 GB free - or for only $4.95 per month you can upgrade to unlimited capacity and protection. So now, no matter what happens to your drive - a spilled drink, a curious toddler, a theft or a natural disaster - you know your files are safe and secure online and offsite.

SimpleTech Pro Drives"Whether you're a heavy-duty computer user who needs more space, or you want separate backup copies of your files, the SimpleTech Pro Drive family makes a nice addition to your computing environment," said Mike Williams, senior vice president and general manager of Fabrik. "Because our solutions are simple and reliable, you should never have to worry about your data or suffer needlessly. Think of us as a computer insurance policy; you'll feel safer in knowing that your stuff is backed up and protected on the drive and offsite on our secure, remote servers."

As storage needs evolve, the Pro Drive family also features a secure stackable design, ensuring a snug fit so you can add more storage without taking up more desk space. A variety of solutions are available based on performance, protection or capacity. All members of the Pro Drive family are Mac and PC compatible, and they ship with a security lock slot to help prevent theft.

Caviar Green Hard Drives: Save Energy without Sacrificing Performance

PR: As hard drive capacities increase, the power required to run those drives increases as well. WD Caviar Green drives make it possible for energy-conscious customers to build systems with higher capacities and the right balance of system performance, ensured reliability, and energy conservation.

Key Features

  • Reduced power consumption - WD has reduced power consumption by up to 40 percent compared to standard desktop drives with the combination of WD's IntelliSeek, NoTouch, and IntelliPower technologies.
  • Helps enable eco-friendly PCs - WD Caviar Green drives yield an average drive power savings of 4-5 watts over standard desktop drives making it possible for our energy-conscious customers to build systems with higher capacities and the right balance of system performance, ensured reliability, and energy conservation. This power savings equates to reducing CO2 emission by up to 13.8 kilograms per drive per year - the equivalent of taking a car off the road for 3 days each year*. By using environmentally conscious PCs with our WD Caviar Green drives on board, large organizations with many desktop computers can minimize their carbon footprint and save real money on electricity costs.
        *Assumes that a car produces 1.60 CO2 pounds per KW/hours/year. Calculation of automobile emissions depends on the car's g/km emission levels and km/year of driving.
  • Cool and quiet - GreenPower technology yields lower operating temperatures for increased reliability and low acoustics for ultra-quiet PCs and external drives.
  • Perfect for external drives - External drive manufacturers can eliminate the need for a fan in a high-capacity product with a WD Caviar Green drive, the coolest and quietest in its class.
  • IntelliPower - A fine-tuned balance of spin speed, transfer rate and caching algorithms designed to deliver both significant power savings and solid performance.
  • IntelliSeek - Calculates optimum seek speeds to lower power consumption, noise, and vibration.
  • NoTouch ramp load technology - The recording head never touches the disk media ensuring significantly less wear to the recording head and media as well as better drive protection in transit.
  • Perpendicular Magnetic Recording (PMR) - Employs PMR technology to achieve even greater areal density.
  • Low power spin-up - WD Caviar Green drives consume less current during startup allowing lower peak loads.
  • Advanced power technology - Electronic components deliver best-in-class low power consumption for reduced power requirements and increased reliability.

Ideal for environmentally friendly PCs and external storage requiring lower power consumption and cool, quiet operation.

This drive requires a SATA interface

Capacities: 1 TB, 750 GB, 640 GB, 500 GB

NewerTech 11-Piece Portable Toolkit for Servicing Computers, Adding Memory

NewerTech 11 Piece Portable ToolkitPR: The NewerTech 11 Piece Portable Toolkit includes everything a student needs to service, add memory, and upgrade desktop and laptop computers, as well as small consumer electronics devices like iPods.

The toolkit features a variety of straight blade and Philips head screwdrivers, Torx drivers, a scissor clamp, tweezers, and two nylon "spudgers" pry tools organized in a padded nylon carrying case for ready access.

The NewerTech 11 Piece Portable Toolkit is priced at $17.99.

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