More OSes? Are You Crazy?

Do we need more OSes?  Some feel that the domination of Windows is the biggest evil that is stagnating the PC industry.  But is the answer really more OSes?ADHERER

John Gruber wrote a few weeks back (sorry, I was on vacation, or I would have written on this earlier) that there is an OS Opportunity.  He argues that there is an opportunity to, much as Google is, introduce new OSes into the world of PCs.  He says, and has a point, that Apple’s Mac OSX is a wonderful and stable OS and that Apple enjoys this status due to it’s controlling both hardware and software in the form of the operating system.

Whereas Mr. Gruber has some points, I have to disagree, and here’s why.

First of all, Apple didn’t so much invent an OS as they invented a UI.  OSX is built on a BSD framework, and so the guts of the OS is really there.  Don’t get me wrong, Apple has added some truly innovative things to make OSX what it is.  And I agree that it’s the combination of controlling hardware and software that allows Apple to thrive.  I’d written some time ago about my opinions on Windows vs. OSX, so I won’t reiterate my points here; just suffice it to say that I believe that Apple’s only true advantage lies in their control of the hardware.

Mr. Gruber writes: “All things considered I’d much prefer a PC running Mac OS X to a Mac running Windows.”  What he doesn’t seem to realize is that once the driver inconsistencies of the vast array of PC permutations grabs hold of OSX, it will be just as unstable, if not more so, than any version of Windows to date.  And half the bundled Apple goodies won’t work if there aren’t compatible drivers for all the hardware.

Mr. Gruber then goes on to say, essentially, that there won’t be too much pandemonium if the Dells and the Sonys of the world create their own OSes because everything’s on the web these days.  All they would need is enough of an OS to run a browser.

Huh?

So, let me get this straight.  Since we’re all on the web, doing all our work there (as Google is wagering with their ChromeOS), the underlying OS that runs our browser is unimportant?  Okay, I can buy that.  But then why waste time and money developing an operating system?  Why not just use an existing one?  I’m sure there are several great ones out there… Windows, Ubuntu, ChromeOS…

What I think should be done, instead, is for greater testing and certification of hardware platforms with Windows.  The Dells and the Sonys (and the Microsofts) should have hardware sets that are pre-tested and approved.  And then, much like Apple, also have approved upgrade paths.  NVIDIA puts out a new card?  Certify it with your existing hardware combinations.  If it doesn’t pass muster, then don’t include it in your lineup and refuse to support or warranty a platform where some enterprising end user has installed non-certified hardware.

Really, this can’t be that difficult to understand, can it


Filed under Apple, Microsoft, Opinion, Windows

2 Comments on More OSes? Are You Crazy?

  1. McDave says:

    “What he doesn’t seem to realize is that once the driver inconsistencies of the vast array of PC permutations grabs hold of OSX, it will be just as unstable, if not more so, than any version of Windows to date.”

    Yet in 8 years this hasn’t actually happened.

    McD

  2. Michael Swanberg says:

    I’m not sure I get your point. Are you saying that OSX is run on a lot of non-Apple hardware and is rock stable? If so, then I beg to differ… but on the first point, not the second.

    Apple seems quite litigious of anyone or any group that tries to offer a way to get OSX on non-Apple hardware. Do a search for Psystar for a recent example.

    The point is that OSX gains a lot of its stability from being able to be rigorously tested, which is only possible on a finite (and small) number of hardware permutations… i.e. Macs.

    Conversely, Windows’ instability comes from the nearly infinite number of hardware combinations (and thus driver combinations) that exist. I would submit that it’s a miracle Windows works at all.

    Thanks for the comment… if you could clarify your point further, I’d love to discuss it.

    -Mike


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