Welcome to Macintosh

Good-bye PowerPC and Classic Mode, Hello Intel and the Road Ahead

- 2006.12.22

Bong! . . . :-) . . . Welcome to Macintosh!

This was another banner year for Apple.

Some important changes took place this year - a transition year, if you will. We saw the end of two eras. After a successful 12 year run with the PowerPC, we saw the beginning of what will hopefully be a great new Mac era with the transition to Intel.

Admittedly, I was one of the skeptics about the move from PowerPC to Intel. However, I'm now convinced this was the right move at the right time for Apple going forward.

There's still much work to be done here. There are still more apps that have yet to become Universal, but in due time, it will happen.

Good-bye Classic

We also saw the end of the Classic era. From 1984 until 2006, the Classic Mac OS evolved from System 1.0 with a few icons, windows, and capabilities in 1984 into a feature of the next generation OS: Classic Mode in OS X to run our older programs.

In one form or another, Classic lived for 22 years. You've got to hand it to Apple for being able to stretch the usefulness of the Classic Mac OS that long. Let's never forget our roots as Mac users as we wave good-bye to the Classic era and say Hello (again) to the next generation of the Mac and fully embrace OS X.

Had it not been for Classic, I may not have fully appreciated what the Mac is and what it has always stood for. (In a word, simplicity.) Apple has always been a master craftsman of simplicity.

There are some things I feel Apple could do differently from a user interface standpoint, but for the most part, they've nailed it. Even though I'm moving forward with OS X, my commitment to bringing you good articles on older Macs and the Classic Mac OS will never waiver.

We here at Low End Mac can never forget our roots and we can never forget the countless people who continue to use older Macs as well as Classic with pride!

iPod vs. Zune

We also saw the continued success of the iPod. New iPods were introduced with new enclosures that provided more bang for the buck in terms of storage capacity.

We also saw the introduction of Microsoft's Zune. I'm not going to berate the Zune. The jury's still out on whether the Zune will eventually dethrone the iPod.

I have this to say on the Zune vs. iPod battle: I've read on message boards from countless people berating the Zune and saying it will never beat the iPod. Where else have we heard that before? Oh yeah, back in the 80s with Windows vs. the Mac. Funny how history can repeat itself.

I hope it doesn't happen, as I feel Apple has the superior product, just like it has always had with the Mac.

It's funny that Steve Jobs doesn't see the Zune as a potential threat.

If you watched the movie Pirates of Silicon Valley and believe that it portrayed the true story of the rivalry between Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, remember that Jobs is the same man who dismissed Windows. I quote from the movie, Steve said: "Our stuff is insanely better, we have better stuff."

And here's Gates' reply, quoted from the movie: "You still don't get it, do you . . . it doesn't matter."

If that is in fact how it all went down back then, I'd say Gates was right in the end, and Jobs was wrong. Although Windows was and still is technically inferior as well as aesthetically inferior to the Mac, "cheap and good enough" won the race.

Whether Pirates Of Silicon Valley painted the true picture or not, I believe in some way Steve Jobs and Apple did dismiss Windows in the early going. The dismissal of Windows was a big mistake for Apple, and we're still paying for the arrogance that Apple displayed then.

Yes, it took Microsoft a long while to become successful with Windows, but they were successful "eventually". If there's anything we can learn from the Mac vs. Windows war, it's that the vast majority of people will choose "cheap and good enough" over a seamless package that's superior to the "cheap and good enough" solution.

Why do you think Walmart is so successful? "Cheap and good enough." 'Nuf said!

And part of the reason why IBM was dominant and its PC became the dominant platform was because the hardware was cheaper at the starting gate. Yes, DOS and Windows were both hell to use for years, but people endured and learned it, because in their eyes, they were saving money - and it was "good enough". The vast majority of people will not pay a big premium for a product, even if it's clearly superior.

Before everyone chimes in saying, "Macs include so much more for the price then a PC does. You don't have to buy antivirus software or use anti-spyware software. You'll spend more time and frustration keeping a Windows system clean and less time actually using the computer."

I'm not denying any of that, not by a long shot. But again, the majority of people look at the starting price, not so much the feature list or what they'll be saving in time and efficiency. If they see a new low-end Mac (the mini) with a starting price of $600 with no monitor, keyboard, or mouse, while a comparable Dell with monitor, keyboard, and mouse costs $300 to $400, which do you think they'll choose?

The same thing could happen with the iPod/iTunes package. Maybe not price-wise, but Microsoft has other ways of beating the competition. And you can bet they'll use those other ways.

The Zune may not seem like a viable threat right now, but neither was Windows until the mid-90s, and we all know who got the shaft end of the stick in that one. Keep an open mind and never underestimate Microsoft when they're down.

Microsoft is not stupid. Despite what we all may think of how they got to the top of the computer industry, one fact remains: They did it, and there was a reason for it.

The Road Ahead

Looking down the road to 2007, I see another great year for Apple. The iPod may have begun to reach its peak in popularity, but the Mac can only continue to grow in popularity. More and more people are finding their way to the Mac and, with any luck, we'll have more to celebrate in 2007!

A toast, to Apple. Here's to your continued success.

Another toast - to Mac users everywhere. May we continue to stand behind Apple, as well as continuing to be productive and efficient with our Macs.

As for Welcome to Macintosh, it'll return in the new year with even more interesting articles.

I'd like to propose another toast. I want to thank everyone out there who has supported Low End Mac. Without your support, we wouldn't be here. We wouldn't be able to bring you all we bring you. Here's to you!

I'd also like to take the time to thank everyone who has read Welcome to Macintosh since I started writing it in August. Thank you to those who sent me emails, whether it was to ask questions or to comment on one of my articles. I really appreciate your support and feedback.

With that I close by wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. Stay tuned to Low End Mac and Welcome to Macintosh for a whole new year full of surprises. LEM

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