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  • The Leopard Report: Apple’s Golden Opportunity?

    February 13th, 2007

    Although the sales figures aren’t quite in yet, there’s a general feeling that Windows Vista isn’t really doing quite as well as Microsoft hoped, at least as far as early adopters are concerned. Unlike the arrival of Windows 95 to the chords of “Start Me Up” from The Rolling Stones, you didn’t have all that many people standing in line for the Vista’s debut in the store shelves.

    Of course, after five years, maybe people are just a little too tired and worn out over the whole affair. Even Microsoft’ s promotional campaign doesn’t seem to have as much authority as in the past. In fact, when I last examined their Web site, Exchange Server 2007 was getting the lion’s share of attention, and Windows Vista was consigned to some tiny headlines; it may have changed by the time you hit the site. So much for the operating system that dominates the planet.

    I’m not saying, of course, that Microsoft is setting aside Vista as a failure. It won’t be, even if it takes the sale of new PCs to make it credible.

    Of course, a Vista upgrade raises larger issues. As with other Windows installations, there’s no guarantee it’ll actually work. Yes, I mean it, and the Vista reviewers say the very same thing. Sometimes it works just fine, while other occasions cause havoc. It has always been that way with Microsoft’s operating system, and even another five years of development wouldn’t make any improvement, as far as I’m concerned.

    Ah, I can hear it now: They’re going to be lining up in our Comments panel, complaining that I’m bashing Microsoft again. Oh well.

    But even if the PC users in our audience opt to buy a new box, with Vista preloaded, things won’t be simple. Sure, lots of companies have Vista-savvy drivers. No doubt your printers, scanners and multifunctions, not to mention your digital cameras, will probably work pretty well, unless they are older models.

    As far as applications are concerned, it’s a mixed bag. Many will run just fine, and they do for me. Yes folks, I do use Windows Vista. But it’s also true that Vista-savvy software may not arrive right away. Adobe, for example, which is returning Premiere to the Mac after three years, will deliver the Mac version ahead of the Windows version. Now isn’t that a change?

    With the expense of a new PC and application upgrades looming large, I rather suspect many Windows users will begin to seek out other options. There is, of course, Linux, which has made decent strides over the years to become a more compelling desktop platform. I suppose, once you get past the installation hassles and lack of drivers for a whole lot of hardware, it works pretty well. But even Linux can still strike you as a Windows castoffs, since the interfaces tend to be similar. Those Office substitutes are no doubt reasonable substitutes, but again, it can make you feel you’re not gaining much of an advantage.

    This isn’t to say that Linux isn’t a good operating system. Our sites are all run on Linux servers, and performance has been fast and reliable. Why not a Mac alternative? Well, for one thing, they cost more for a similar amount of storage and bandwidth. This isn’t to say that an all-Mac option is out of the question. Maybe some day.

    In any case, there is, of course, that other alternative that we all know about. Certainly, it does appear that Apple is doing its part to convince PC users to switch. The latest round of Mac Versus PC ads do well to convey the message. Take the one where someone standing behind the PC demands he answer the Allow prompt every time he tries to do something. Funny, but true. In Microsoft’s efforts to protect us from ourselves, they’ve gone way overboard, and it’s quite likely that many Vista users will tire of the annoyance and simply turn off the feature. That will defeat its purpose, but it can happen, and they will have to hope and pray that Vista is really more resilient.

    Indeed, Apple’s sly humor — as expressed by their ad agency — may indeed strike gold. For years, efforts to gain traction against Windows haven’t succeeded. The climate appears to have changed, witness those reports that 50% of the folks buying new Macs are new to the platform, and many of them are Windows switchers.

    However, the Leopard promotional machine hasn’t left the starting gate yet. Assuming Apple can deliver a 10.5.0 version that’s relatively free of show-stoppers, it could be smooth sailing.

    OK, I’ve said my piece. Let the complaints begin!



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    10 Responses to “The Leopard Report: Apple’s Golden Opportunity?”

    1. shane says:

      Heres one for you
      A mate bought his first Mac a week before Vista came out… he asked me one question.. Can I do my banking online safely and not have to worry. I said yes.. that sold him.. A week after Vista a friend of his walks in and see’s a MAc and virtually the same conversation happens and she says I want a Mac.. My other friend just Moved to a MAc from a PC and 2 weeks later his mate says I want to upgrade my l;aptop as I am sick of this crappy thing.. so guess what a MAc is suggested he looks ask a very similar question and buys one… so 1 before and 2 after Vista. Wow.. they all had had enough of problems on their PC’s
      So make what you will out of it but I am see a huge swing and people take no convincing. They are just sick of having a painful existance. And this is all before Leopard.

    2. Andrew says:

      As for your original topic about Vista upgrades not working, well, honestly, I’ve never had ANY upgrade of ANY OS work well. Those who know what they are doing will always perform a clean install, always. It doesn’t matter if you are talking about Windows or Mac, when a completely new OS is installed (as opposed to a patch or fix), its time to back up your data, wipe the drive and run the installer fresh.

      I’ve never had a clean install fail on either platform.

    3. Tom says:

      I retired two years ago at the age of 43 from a career in IT to spend more time with my family and pursue other goals. However, because I have 9 Windows XP PCs in my home, I’m not as retired as I hoped to be.

      After reading a series of articles about Vista, I decided I was sick enough of hassling with Windows to give Apple a real try. Consequently we bought our first ever Macs: a 17″ Macbook Pro and a 15″ Macbook Pro, and it has been a nice honeymoon except for three things.

      My first concern with our Apple MacBook Pros is the quality of their construction. For example, our 17″ Macbook Pro has a very loose hinge that is constantly falling closed on my thumbs. Apple’s solution? Send it away for 5 to 10 days and they’ll fix it. Call me “high maintenance” but this is a brand new, just out of the box laptop …replace it with another (and non-defective) laptop, then fix your mistake on your own time — not mine. My money was good; your product should be as well.

      My second complaint is the keyboard layout. Apple is supposed to be a user-aware company, so how can they put laptops out with keyboards that don’t have keys for Home, End, and Delete (not backspace). And why not put Option and Ctrl keys on both sides of the spacebar? PC laptops these days have a key for turning on and off the wireless radio as well. At any rate, these are weird shortcuts, considering the keyboard is our primary way of interfacing with a computer.

      My third concern is really more my fault than Apple’s. I should have waited to buy. I bought these as gifts for my wife and I for Christmas, which is bad timing. Now we’ll have to pay and hassle with upgrades to OS X and iLife right away.

      ANYWAY, my main point is this:

      There is more to luring PC users to Macs than the OS.

      In the PC world we have choices. If we don’t like the keyboard of an HP, we can buy the Dell. If Dell’s quality of construction lets us down, we can buy HP next time. But if we have a bad experience with Apple, where do we go? The web to whine I guess! 🙂

    4. Joe S says:

      I have had good success upgrading Mac OS X. This has includded most of the point releases. I do admit to waiting several months before installing a new major release so I let otheres blaze that trail. Software Update has worked for me.

    5. SteveP says:

      Interesting note about the lack of Vista promotion by MS.
      Do you think they might be waiting for a blitz about the time Leopard is released?
      Something to distract people from the Leopard hype in the media?

      Sort of makes sense to me. If they make a big push now – especially with the somewhat negative feedback in the media – then all will have been shown publically by the time of 10.5’s release and Apple will have the focus to itself.
      Releasing Vista ads then might at least distract the public and dilute the ad landscape.

    6. Andrew says:

      Point upgrades like 10.4.5 to 10.4.6 are not OS upgrades, they are patches. I install patches all the time, on both my Macs and my PCs. Its the major releases, like Windows XP to Vista or Tiger to Leopard where an upgrade is just a bad idea.

      Archive and Install on the Mac side is not an upgrade and not a clean install, falling somewhere in between. Many have had good luck with it, but I prefer to clone my harddrive to an external (CarbonCopyCloner rules), a freshly formatted drive, and then use Apple’s migration tool to restore my settings, documents and applications from the backup to the fresh install of the new OS. It is what I did from Panther to Tiger, and is what I will do from Tiger to Leopard.

      In Windows its less fool-proof. Back up the stuff I want from the old system, including mail and the like which can be complicated, then copy the old data into the new OS and reinstall my applications. Much more work, but still far better than an upgrade, which will ALWAYS be trouble, if not immediately, then certainly down the road.

    7. In the PC world we have choices. If we don’t like the keyboard of an HP, we can buy the Dell. If Dell’s quality of construction lets us down, we can buy HP next time. But if we have a bad experience with Apple, where do we go? The web to whine I guess!

      First off, Apple’s notebooks rate at or near the top in terms of quality. Both HP and Dell assemble their notebooks in Asia, as does Apple, and often in the same plants. These companies all share lots and lots of parts, so differences aren’t as significant as they used to be, and that includes Apple.

      As to the keyboard: You have lots and lots of third party products that work on both Macs and PCs, so this is a non-issue. I wouldn’t choose a computer by virtue of its keyboard.

      Peace,
      Gene

    8. Tom says:

      First off, Apple’s notebooks rate at or near the top in terms of quality. Both HP and Dell assemble their notebooks in Asia, as does Apple, and often in the same plants. These companies all share lots and lots of parts, so differences aren’t as significant as they used to be, and that includes Apple.

      Thanks for the feedback Gene. I completely agree with you that Apple is at or near the top of the industry in terms of quality, but that doesn’t change the fact that MY Apple is defective — and Apple agrees it is and wants 5 to 10 days to fix it. If this were a PC laptop right out of the box, other companies would have swapped it out, and because Apple didn’t, I am more concerned with their build quality than I otherwise would have been.

      As to the keyboard: You have lots and lots of third party products that work on both Macs and PCs, so this is a non-issue. I wouldn’t choose a computer by virtue of its keyboard.

      [Laughing] I guess it’s cool that spending additional money to buy an external keyboard and packing it around in your laptop case (and from room to room in your home or office) is a non-issue for you, but it would be a mistake to believe that it would be a non-issue for the rest of us.

      Which leads me back to my point again.

      It takes more than a great OS to lure Windows guys away from PCs.

      Don’t get me wrong, a great OS is a great start! Trust me, as a guy who just “switched” to Mac, the OS X is a HUGE reason why I’d leave Windows PCs forever, but the OS isn’t a big enough reason for most PC users. PC people are used to choices — more than just choosing between a black or white case.

      I’m sure Apple knows that though … they’re a seriously smart company.

    9. David says:

      I typically do clean installs of major releases. In the old days (System 7, OS 8, OS 9) I never went more than 8 months without clean installing a new OS, even if it was simply the same version over again. I clean installed Jaguar and upgraded to Panther using archive and install. I’ve installed Tiger twice. The first time I used archive and install. The second time I bought a new hard drive and did a clean install and then let the installer copy my data from the old drive. I’ll likely go that route for Leopard.

      As an aside, I’ve heard great things about Carbon Copy Cloner, but every time I’ve tried it I’ve gotten error messages saying that some files wouldn’t copy because of a permissions problem. Letting CCC run as root doesn’t fix the problem nor does repairing permissions. Although I’m guessing that the problems are system files that are in use and possibly unimportant, it has left me less than confident that the clones are complete.

    10. Robert says:

      David,
      I used CCC for years until they stopped updating it. Try SuperDuper. It works great!

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