Tag Archives | OS X

It’s Official: Microsoft to Offer Windows 7 “Family Pack”

Households that have multiple computers will be able to buy Windows 7 at a discount, Microsoft revealed in a blog posting yesterday–confirming recent rumors. “We have heard a lot of feedback from beta testers and enthusiasts over the last 3 years that we need a better solution for homes with multiple PCs,” according to the blog entry. The license is limited to installation on three PCs in select markets, it noted. In comparison, Mac OS X family packs permit end users to install the operating system on up to five Macintosh computers.

“I’ve been one of those people nagging on that. Glad to hear it. Anything you can do to make it easier to buy the product helps facilitate its acquisition. Apple has already done this for some time,” said Michael Cherry, a Directions on Microsoft analyst. “Multiple computer families is a factor– particularly with netbooks coming along.”

Likely customer demographics will be families that have children or teenagers, he added.

It makes sense for Microsoft to offer greater value to families. The message of its recent “I’m a PC” advertising campaign is value, and its licensing policies should be consistent with its marketing.


Mac Clonemaker Psystar Files for Bankruptcy

The second-largest manufacturer of OS X computers on the planet can’t pay its bills, which will make it tough to defend itself against Apple’s lawsuit:

Unauthorized Mac clone maker Psystar has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in Florida, temporarily slowing down Apple’s legal case against it. The filing may be an indication that the company’s financial backers have pulled out, signaling they see Apple as the clear winner in court.

The bankruptcy documents were filed with the Federal Courts in Florida on Thursday, and Apple’s legal team was most likely made aware of the situation over the Memorial Day weekend.

The Mac Observer says that Psystar will have to disclose who its financial backers are at a June 5th hearing. That should either be really interesting–or put an end to the theory that the tiny company has some corporate Svengali calling the shots.

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Chrome for the Mac: Still Waiting!

Chrome IconIt’s been seven months now since Google released its Chrome browser for Windows and said that versions for OS X and Linux were in the works. In the time since then, Chrome has become the browser I turn to first when I’m using Windows. And when I’m using a Mac? Well, I spend a fair amount of time brooding about the absence of Chrome, not to mention the absence of any reliable information on when it might show up.

Charles Arthur of the Guardian did more than brood–he downloaded a developer build of Chrome for the Mac, and found it to be a work in progress. And it sounds like a lot more progress has to be made before the browser is ready for mass consumption–many basic features aren’t in place yet.

On one hand, it’s reassuring to know that Chrome for the Mac isn’t in limbo, but I’m now recalibrating my expectations for when it might arrive in a form that anyone’s going to use as a primary browser. I’m thinking it’s going to take months, not weeks, and I’ll be relieved if it’s ready before Chrome for Windows celebrates its first birthday.


Four More "Get a Mac" Ads, No Direct "Laptop Hunters" Rejoinders

Back on Friday, I wondered if we’d ever see Apple’s “Get a Mac” guys again, and speculated that they’d either come back with a direct response to Microsoft’s Laptop Hunters spots or stay away for good. Which just goes to show that even the most innocuous speculating about Apple is likely to be wrong. The company’s released four new “Get a Mac” spots, and none of them take on “Laptop Hunters” directly.

Here they be:

The only one that feels like it tiptoes into “Laptop Hunters” territory is the third one, “Stacks,” since it points out a feature of iLife 09 which PC says sounds expensive, then explains that iLife comes with all Macs. Maybe that’s a subtle response to the Microsoft ads’ painting of the cost of Macs as including a large premium for meaningless cool factor. Or maybe not–a pretty high percentage of all “Get a Mac” commercials have touted iLife as a principal reason to buy an Apple computer.

I’m not sure if the second ad, “Legal Copy,” is referring to something specific with its conceit that an ad claiming that Windows PCs are more simple and intuitive than Macs must carry a lot of fine print. As I’ve written, one of the striking things about the “Laptop Hunters” series is that it makes no claims about Windows. The message is all about the specs and features you can get at a particular price point, and anything relating to software seems to beside the point.

(Side note: I’m not a fan of fine print, but it’s better than not using it when an advertising claim badly needs clarification–as I wrote in this post about Apple’s iPhone 3G advertising.)

Then again, maybe ignoring “Laptop Hunters” is Apple’s way of responding to it. While Microsoft keeps doing its price comparisons and saying that Macs provide no added value for the price you pay, Apple is returning to the basic mantra that “Get a Mac” has repeated all along–that Macs deliver fewer hassles and more powerful included software than Windows PCs.  The implied message is that you should be including those factors when you do the math on a computer purchase. It’s a far more reasonable point than the one that Microsoft has busily hammered away.

And maybe the fact that Mac and PC are back at all is an oblique acknowledgment that Microsoft’s ads are attracting attention, and Apple needs to reinforce the pro-Mac, anti-PC case it had already been making.

One other thought about the new commercials: Poor PC seems to have drunk the Mac Kool-Aid himself somewhere along the way–in “Time Traveler” he actively argues that PCs don’t work the way they should and are inferior to Macs. The early ads in which he touted his own virtues and disparaged the Mac were at least as effective, and a lot funnier


Microsoft's New "Apple Tax" Charts: Hey, They Look Familiar!

After I finished writing about the oddities and errors in the white paper Microsoft released today about the so-called “Apple Tax,” I read a post on the same topic by Joe Wilcox over at eWeek. He said the charts in the paper, which is credited to Roger Kay of Endpoint Technologies, looked vaguely familiar. They did to me, too. So I dug through my e-mail to find the stuff Microsoft had sent me in the past about Windows PC and Mac pricing,

Here’s a chart that a Microsoft representative sent me back on October 24th, comparing the MacBooks against Windows laptops (sorry it’s so small):

Apple Tax

And here’s the laptop comparison chart in the new white paper:

Apple Tax chart

This is a chart on Mac and Windows desktops that Microsoft sent me on January 5th, when it and the world thought Apple might announce one or more cheap new Macs at Macworld Expo (it didn’t):

Apple Tax chart

And here’s the desktop chart in the white paper:

Apple Tax chart

Both charts have gotten updates–for instance, the new laptop one has the $999 MacBook with a DVD burner (which is right, even though it’s not the $999 MacBook configuration you’ll buy today) and some of the PCs are different.

I’m not saying there’s anything fishy going on here–maybe Microsoft hired Endpoint to create the charts and analysis it sent out earlier, but didn’t credit it that time.  But it’s worth noting that the new charts aren’t really new–they’re updates (albeit insufficiently updated ones) to ones that Microsoft was distributing under its own name several months ago. And Kay’s argument that the cost of Apple-brand networking equipment and a Sony Blu-Ray player is a penalty Mac owners must pay is also repeated from another round of materials that a Microsoft representative sent me on October 13th.

Bottom line: The white paper is a rehash, not a revelation…


Microsoft Does the Math on the "Apple Tax." Badly.

As I said in my post last Sunday on Microsoft’s “Laptop Hunter” ads, it’s unrealistic to expect TV commercials to contribute to a thoughtful discussion of anything. An exercise in comparison shopping between Windows and PCs that takes place in a sixty-second Microsoft commercial just isn’t going to be fair and balanced, any more than an Apple commercial is going to explain that it’s possible to get respectable Windows laptops for a whole lot less than the cheapest Macs.

But Microsoft’s latest salvo in the Windows-vs.-Mac war isn’t a commercial–it’s a ten-page white paper by veteran analyst Roger Kay (a friendly acquaintance of mine, and, like me, a former IDG employee). Roger is independent and knows the personal computer market as well as anyone on the planet, but his paper was sponsored by Microsoft, which means that even if it’s a third-party take on things, it’s going to be one that the company is comfortable with. But the whole point of vendor-sponsored white papers is bring an independent expert’s analysis and data into a discussion in hopes that it’ll be taken more seriously than mere marketing materials.

Roger’s paper includes a bunch of tables that compare Windows PCs and Macs–sort of like what I’ve been doing, although in less excruciating detail–and an analysis of the cost of ownership of the two platforms that concludes that a family than buys two Macs instead of two Windows machines will pay a cumulative Apple tax of $3,367 over five years.

In his laptop section, Roger compares the white MacBook, new MacBook, and 15-inch MacBook Pro against various notebooks from Dell, HP, and Sony, and finds, unsurprisingly, that the Macs cost more. He shows, for instance, that the $999 MacBook comes with a skimpy 1GB of RAM, a bare-bones 120GB of hard disk space, and Intel’s uninspiring x3100 integrated graphics. For hundreds of dollars less, the chart proves, you can buy a Windows laptop with double the RAM, more than twice the disk space, and better graphics.

Pretty compelling. Except that the $999 MacBook doesn’t come with 1GB of RAM. (It has 2GB.) It doesn’t have a 120GB hard disk. (It’s 160GB.) And it doesn’t have X3100 graphics. (It has the considerably more potent NVIDIA GeForce 9400M.) Here, look for yourself. The analysis is based on the old MacBook configuration that Apple refreshed more than two months ago, but the white paper talks about it in the present tense.

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5Words for March 6th, 2009

5wordsNot a huge news day:

Snow Leopard: June eighth? Maybe!

Buggy Firefox gets fixed fast.

Robert Scoble leaves Fast Company.

GameStop mocks Amazon resale program.

Craigslist sued over prostitution ads.

Unauthorized iPhone software stores emerge.

Palm investor has high hopes.

TV converter box coupons return.

Washington types bash BlackBerry Storm.

MacBook Pro graphics card woes?

Chinese officials are chatting online.

32-gig SD cards arrive.

Apple is going increasingly green.

Windows 7: turn off everything!


Palm’s Pre Gambit and the Joy of Starting Over

Palm PreMy apologies if you think I’m overcovering Palm’s Pre smartphone here, but it’s not just a promising device that runs a promising operating system. It also represents a brave attempt at starting from scratch–something almost no technology company ever does.

Hardwarewise, the Pre looks nothing like a Treo. It doesn’t run PalmOS apps. The user interface probably has a fair amount in common with early Palm devices in terms of overarching philosophies, but there are only minor nods to the specifics of the old UI, such as the desktop full of icons. (Which come to think of it, looks as much like the iPhone as it does previous Palms.) I’m assuming that Palm’s new WebOS, which has Linux underpinnings and a top layer based on Web technologies, shares not a single line of code with PalmOS.

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Two Things About the Apple Tax: It Doesn’t Just Apply to Apple, and It Isn’t a Tax

vistalogoIn a move that’s apparently a new tradition, Microsoft is once again helpfully assisting reporters ready themselves for whatever news Apple will reveal this morning by talking up the idea of an “Apple Tax.” The idea is based on the undeniably-true proposition that you can buy Windows PCs with better specs than Macs for a lot less money.

But once again, the e-mail I got from a Microsoft representative takes a heavy-handed approach to making this perfectly valid point. “Apple continues to impose the Apple tax” was the subject line, a notion repeated in a statement within the message so important it’s in boldface: They continue to impose the Apple Tax on consumers even in the midst of a very challenging recession.”
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