Apple moving over to Windows

Discussion in 'macOS' started by peharri, Mar 27, 2006.

  1. peharri macrumors 6502a

    Dec 22, 2003
    Apologies for starting a new thread, but I felt this was veering well off the "Leopard including Virtualization Software" topic I started writing under.

    Ok, I posted a joke something a few days ago which implied much the same thing, only with the timetable just a little quicker than that. Here's the thing, and it's important:

    - There are strong arguments for suggesting it may, eventually, be in Apple's best interests to switch to a Windows-based operating system.
    - That doesn't mean it's going to happen now, and it doesn't mean they've got a long term plan to do this.
    - It's Apple, Job's Apple: they do have a long term contingency plan to switch to Windows. That is, they're not ruling it out, but the circumstances would have to be right. They have all kinds of contingency plans. Most of these will never go into action.

    What would the circumstances be for Apple to switch to Windows?

    Well, the major possibilities are:

    1. They have to be in the same situation as they were at the beginning of the 1990s. Back then, Apple needed a next generation OS. It was clear that most rival operating systems were either technically superior, or on their way to being technically superior. Commodore had AmigaOS. IBM had OS/2. Microsoft was developing NT. The Steve had NeXTStep. Be had BeOS. In the midst of all of this, Apple's System 6 only had "multitasking" with an optional bolt-on, and would have to wait until System 7 for anything standard. They had A/UX, but A/UX didn't belong to them and would never be an option as a base OS. They didn't actually have an OS.


    1. Development of Mac OS X is costing too much money.

    2. Their development paths would be way behind or non-existant as far as the NG OS goes. This also happened to Apple in the early nineties, Pink/Taligent went no-where, and Copland was (a) not even a next generation OS (it was a stepping stone to one. It was to MacOS what, I don't know, DR's DOSPlus was to DOS. Old farts will know what I'm talking about), and (b) getting further and further behind.

    3. Microsoft must want to be flexible enough. This is probably what killed Apple's early looks at NT in the 1990s, I don't think Microsoft wanted to give up control over the API to anyone. Apple would have insisted on a front end that required a non-Win32 API to be practical, and MS would have balked at that.

    Ok, that's not forseeable in the near future, right?

    Well, unfortunately it is. Here's the thing: we do, actually, know that a next generation OS is necessary. We're talking about managed code, an entire system architecture that makes security much more fine-tunable, makes hardware architecture independence more possible, and adds a new layer of reliability (as opposed to an extra layer of complexity) to software development. And it's happening - the original spec for Vista had most of the front end rewritten in .NET; this went by the wayside because it can't be done yet (just as NT was never completely finished), but long term, that's the direction Microsoft's going to go in.

    Be very wary of coming up with "But customer's don't need..." or "Isn't that less efficient...?" type arguments, because exactly the same things came up in the eighties, when everything went OOPs, and in the early nineties, when hardware memory protection and pre-emptive multitasking took over from the cooperative environments that preceeded it. No, ordinary users don't understand obscure buzzwords, but security, especially in the age of networking, is important, and to date, nothing outside Java or .NET has it. Nothing. Not even Mac OS X. Yeah, I said it. Don't believe me? Apple releases a set of security updates how often? That's because there are holes in OS X as there are in all operating systems.

    (Aside: Yes, I know you've never experienced a virus. That's not the point. Mac OS X has the benefit of low usage at this point which means (a) it's not that attractive as a virus platform and (b) it's lack of usage helps - imagine a biological virus that can't only spread into people with a left green pupil and a right brown pupil, and can't even be carried by anything else. Wouldn't spread far, would it? Despite this I can think of at least one major hole in Mac OS X, and the funny thing is most people think it's a feature. Of all the times Mac OS X has asked for your administrator password, how many times did it first try to authenticate it against you? That is, did you know you were really giving your username and password to Software Update? Or did it just look like that? Could you reasonably prove the program that was asking was the actual, bona-fide, Apple-supplied, Software

    So anyway. Where is Apple with "managed code"?

    - It's just deprecated the Cocoa interfaces for Java.
    - It's hired the LLVM, another MC environment, people, but LLVM is only the lowest level of a managed code environment. It will have to build high level APIs and then get programmers to program for them.
    - Microsoft has .NET, which has had a few false starts, but is slowly gaining acceptance. Programmers can write for .NET now, but are using Microsoft APIs.

    So Apple's quite a way behind. They're clearly knowledgable about the issue, and comments by Jobs about coming upgrades to Objective C, coupled with their LLVM activity, shows they're taking the job seriously, but as of now there's no signs they have such a system ready.

    Is Apple going to switch to Windows soon? No. The combination of Windows and .NET just isn't ready. At the same time, imagine this scenario:

    1. Apple begins by working with Microsoft on porting .NET to the Mac. The .NET APIs, just as the Java ones were, are made to make apps look as native as possible on the Macintosh. Apple also provides access to Cocoa and Carbon, and gives .NET full Xcode support.

    2. Apple completely deprecates everything that doesn't result in .NET CLR code. The iApps are ported to .NET, and, indeed, with the aid of a Carbon/Cocoa interface for Windows, are provided for both Mac OS X and Windows users as one binary.

    3. Work begins on an Apple version of "Windows .NET". The OS X look and feel is implemented, and Apple ports the Finder and Dock to .NET, changing the default shell of Windows. Microsoft finally creates WinFS, so that services like Spotlight can continue to function adequately, and Windows finally has decent file metadata support.

    4. Apple announces plans to bundle both operating systems will all future Macs. Mac OS X will usually run as a virtualized operating system rather than independently, possibly even with the same kind of integration that we saw between Mac OS 9 and OS X via "Classic" mode.

    5. Development on Mac OS X ceases. Apple continues to distinguish themselves from the competition, as their OS has an entirely different look and feel to Dell's, or HP's, or whatever's; but their OS also is cheaper (no need for an entire operating system development group), and developers can develop applications that will run on every platform without problems. Issues like DRM fall by the wayside as Microsoft's adoption of a particular content protection scheme no longer locks content out of the Mac world, or whatever.

    Likely? Well, it's likely that if it happens, it'll happen as the above. Probable? Not today. But don't rule it out. Apple did switch to Intel. Anything's possible. Note though that if it happens, it's going to be well sign-posted. Don't assume that (1) happening means that it's going to happen, but if Apple starts porting everything to .NET, then the likelihood is close to a 100%.

    (And one other thing: the above is the good scenario. I'm making the possibly unjustified assumption that Apple feels it needs to distinguish itself from the competition by having its OS have a particular look and feel. Sony, for one, doesn't feel that way. It believes the hardware alone can sell the machine. Sony though doesn't have a legacy associated with it, so, who knows?)
  2. wrldwzrd89 macrumors G5


    Jun 6, 2003
    Solon, OH
    I think you raise some valid points. I will definitely be watching this situation closely, since if it is implemented correctly both Apple and Microsoft will benefit.

    I'm not all that knowledgeable about managed code, but what I do know is that everything can't be managed. Managed code can only go down to the manager, which typically sits somewhere above the OS Kernel (as Microsoft's .NET does). Also, if the underlying APIs were managed too, wouldn't that slow the OS down since everything would have to be routed through the manager?
  3. Paragon macrumors member


    Mar 25, 2006
    Apple holds its operating system very closely to its heart, it would also make sense that they would try to find their own routes that Windows may or may not be taking, that you mentioned above?

    It's an interesting topic. I hope that this thread continues.
  4. Applespider macrumors G4


    Jan 20, 2004
    looking through rose-tinted spectacles...
    I can see one major flaw; I can't see Apple wanting to be reduced to another 'OEM' awaiting MS's code. MS's roadmaps are flawed and I can't see Apple wanting to depend on them.

    I see what you're saying that it would still be a different look-and-feel OS but I'm not wholly convinced by the idea that Apple could stay in business on their hardware and a GUI 'skin'

    We don't know what Apple have in mind in terms of 'managed code'

    Who knows... perhaps 10.5 will be the last version of OSX as we know it - they have said they're moving to longer development timeframes. 10.5 comes out in early 2007 while the Intel transition by users is still ongoing.

    OS11 might be a 'managed code' OS coming out in late 2009 which runs solely on the Intel platform.
  5. spencecb macrumors 6502a


    Nov 20, 2003
    I don't agree with this. Jobs has stated, publicly, that OS X is set up to support the Mac for the next 20 years. OS 11 is waaaaaaay off in the future. I'm sure the development teams at Apple are beginning to see where they want to go with their next OS, but it's a vague idea at best.
  6. Paragon macrumors member


    Mar 25, 2006
    MS and Apple seems to follow similar paths, but in slightly different ways. Managed Code, as mentioned a few times here, could well be developed by both companies, if this is the way that this is all going.

    Apple's hardware is a powerful selling point though, given that regardless of OS X ports to generic PCs, people continue to purchase Macs.

    Something that Apple has under its belt that MS can't compete with, is the 100% integration between hardware and software. No other computing company can do this, other than Apple.
  7. RacerX macrumors 65832

    Aug 2, 2004
    This really looks like you are starting with a conclusion and reworking the facts to fit it.

    For example...
    Are you really sure about that? I thought the following was pretty widely known...
    Apple Computer: Features added to Cocoa in Mac OS X versions later than 10.4 will not be added to the Cocoa-Java programming interface. Therefore, you should develop Cocoa applications using Objective-C to take advantage of existing and upcoming Cocoa features.
    Those who know that actual history behind Cocoa know that it predates Java and was actually the inspiration for Java (NeXT and Sun worked very closely together before Apple bought NeXT... how closely? Sun did much of the work in creating the OpenStep Specifications from the original NeXT APIs).

    And Copland was a massive departure from the original Mac OS. In fact, it was it being such a massive departure that cut it down before it's foundations were finished. Developers got wind of the fact that Copland was abandoning the Macintosh Toolbox APIs and they basically told Apple in no uncertain terms that they would not be willing to rewrite their applications from scratch for the new OS.

    So before the foundations were even ready, they were forced to start redeveloping the application environment so that it would use most of the original APIs while working the core OS.

    Well, thanks to this, the core OS development stalled. Apple started to realize that (like A/UX) they could build their next OS on some other (finished) core OS. So they started shopping. Sun had just bought their stake in System V out right, so Apple played with the idea of using the SunOS as a foundation. They were also looking at OS/2 and NT, and were very interested in the BeOS.

    When Jobs heard that Apple was looking around, he let Apple know that NeXT could be up for sale if Apple was the buyer (if NeXT had been openly available, Sun would have dropped twice as much as Apple did for NeXT).

    But with the return of Jobs (and the placement of high level NeXT people within Apple) Apple had to learn the same lesson over again.

    Rhapsody was a beautiful modern OS that not only adopted the Mac OS look and feel... but also surpassed OPENSTEP in almost every way. And developers (again) told Apple that they would not be willing to rewrite their applications from scratch for the new OS.

    Only this time, the foundations of the core OS were pretty much complete... and the port of the old APIs was already started (from the Copland project). In a matter of weeks (before WWDC 98) Apple had taken what was started for Copland and got it running (to a degree) in Rhapsody. Jobs named this new application environment Carbon. As it turned out, Carbon wasn't as far along in development as Jobs and others at Apple had originally thought. But it did give them a head start on getting it finished.

    But back to the subject at hand... Jobs knows better than anyone what not to do. Becoming a Windows PC maker... even the hint of becoming a Windows PC maker, can spell certain death for a company like Apple.

    Both Apple and Sun have learned from the terrible mistakes of SGI in the late 90's.

    Basically, your scenario would only happen if all of the major people at Apple either died or had strokes... all at the same time!

    As conspiracy theories go, this one doesn't hold water will enough to even sound plausible. It would have been more interesting if the logic (and history, and characters) were more grounded in the facts.
  8. peharri thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Dec 22, 2003
    I'm exploring the possibilities. A lot of people want to rule out the idea entirely, based upon the notion that Mac OS X is today ahead of the game. I don't think it's that simple. Indeed, I don't think you can rely upon that logic alone to say OS X is safe today (you can rely upon other logic, like the pain of porting right now would be extraordinary, but simple operating superiority today - nah) as if it were the case, OS/2 would have ruled the roost from around 1994 to 1996, when NT4 was released.
    The comment you quote from Apple I read as deprecating the Java Cocoa APIs. I can't see a way of reading it other than that. It's very clear Apple doesn't see Java as a good way to access the Mac OS X APIs. I'm not suggesting they're phasing out Java completely, and they're certainly doing an excellent job on keeping Java itself up to date, with platform independent Java applications often looking native under OS X. But Java Cocoa support is frozen, it's a deprecated API. You can't access new Cocoa features from Java.
    Copland failed because it was the wrong project at the wrong time. Developers choked, yeah, but they choked because of what Apple was telling them to do.

    Copland was not the next generation OS it was initially portrayed as being. Any software that was written specifically for Copland would have had to be completely rewritten for Gershwin, because Copland's architecture meant it was impractical to design applications with any kind of future in mind. Copland insisted that all the user interaction code be run in a single thread (all applications in the same thread, not one thread per application); this meant to make your application take advantage of Copland, you had to seperate the application, put the GUI stuff in one part, and the work in another, and have the two communicate via IPC.

    This was, frankly, awful. It meant that badly written applications would still crash the computer, despite the supposed presence of pre-emptive multitasking and memory protection. What did you gain? The user didn't gain anything. The programmer gained complexity (or could just forget about it and write a traditional Mac OS app, as there was no incentive to do otherwise), and when, finally, Apple came out with a real next generation OS, would have to rewrite their applications again to actually work properly.

    Programmers revolted over it not because they were being told they'd have to rewrite their apps to get them to work on Copland, but because of what they were being told to write, and how such rewrites offered no hope for the future.

    Now compare this to the scenario we're talking about above. Apple and Microsoft puts .NET on Mac OS X. Tells Mac developers that they can future proof their apps by porting them to .NET. What's the downside? There's a lot of rewriting, but that can be mitigated with the use of unmanaged C++ and compatability libraries (as it was with the OS 9/Carbon/OS X environment); meanwhile those same programmers suddenly have the advantage of knowing that even if everything falls through, and Apple goes belly up tomorrow, their newly ported applications will suddenly run under Windows.

    It's a given that eventually Apple will want/need to get the Mac user base onto a managed code based operating system. Anything based upon managed code will require a certain amount of rewriting. The only other candidate aside from .NET is Java, and Apple are deprecating the Cocoa APIs for that.
    Apple will do it if it's in their best interests. SGI et al screwed up by adopting a platform that wasn't ready, and wasn't an adequate replacement for what they had before. Workstation people wanted Unix. NT wasn't that. At the time SGI was playing with it, something as simple as scripting was practically non-existant on the platform. NT was, at the time, a desktop operating system with a minicomputer's kernel. It wasn't even a good desktop operating system, it was Windows. It was a stupid choice to make when it was made.
    It's not a conspiracy theory (a little defensive?), and I don't see anything you've written contradicting my facts. The history lesson about NeXT et al was interesting, but I've snipped it because I fail to see the relevance, other than it proves Apple is willing, if it's the right thing to do, to pull in outside talent to build their future platforms.
  9. ahunter3 macrumors 6502

    Oct 15, 2003
    I think you have a timeline discprepancy or three.

    Macintosh System 7: Available as of May 13, 1991
    BeOS on BeBox: also 1991
    Windows NT 3.1 (first NT release): July 27, 1993
    NeXTSTEP 1.0: Sept 18, 1989
    Amiga Kickstart/Workbench 1.0: July 23, 1985
    OS/2: text-mode only version December 1987
    OS/2 w Presentation Manager: November 1988
    Windows 1.0 mid-1985
    Windows 3.0 May 22, 1990

    So at Apple, going back to a time before a completed, shippable & viable System 7 was on the immediate horizon (let's say January 1990), there was the AmigaOS, which by the same standards by which we condemn System 6 as ancient and creaky should have wiped out Apple, IBM, and Microsoft so early as to leave them all stillborn (it obviously didn't; imagine history if Commodore had been run by competent people?)...

    Then we would have had OS/2, an OS with a solid architecture that should have been of some worry to Apple, although it kind of lurched awkwardly out of the blocks and wasn't setting the world on fire, commercially speaking. And there was Windows, which was pretty pathetic but seemed to be coming right along and would at some point be a threat to Apple. Finally, there was NeXTSTEP, which, like OS/2, looked solid but commercially weak. The rest of those contenders would not have been much of a factor. Of the four, I suspect the weakest offering of the pack, architecturally speaking — Windows — probably worried Apple the most. But Windows wasn't any better than System 6 with MultiFinder: in most respects, it simply threatened to close the gap between a Mac (with a GUI) and a PC (with DOS).

    And even in January of 1990, it wasn't like Apple was clueless and without plan. System 7 development was underway even if the due dates on the dev roadmap were slipping pretty bad. It wasn't like Copland (or Vista) where the product was starting to look like a bad vaporware fiasco, something that would never ship. I think Apple was as bullish about System 7 as Microsoft was about Windows95 a few years later (in both cases, slipping ship dates didn't dilute the sense that when they did come out with it, the world was going to take notice and stare in awe and wonder).

    I say no way in hell would Apple have been feeling "on the ropes" about their own OS development efforts. A far better example would have been circa 1997-1998. And probably the only time Apple has truly been in that position.
  10. peharri thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Dec 22, 2003
    That all looks within the time frame I described. Beginning of the 1990s you had BeOS, System 6 (and 7 from the looks of things), NeXTStep, OS/2, and AmigaOS; and NT was under development.

    I'm not really sure what your point is. In the early nineties, it was clear where the wind was blowing. Looking back at what I wrote, the only misplaced operating system is AmigaOS, as it didn't have VM or memory protection. It was significantly on the road to being next generation, but by itself, it wasn't quite there.

    By comparison, System 6, and 7 (which appears in this timeline) are way behind. System 7 is approximately an equal to Windows 3.x. They're both reliant on cooperative multitasking; they're single user; they have no memory protection to speak of; they have limited networking (proprietary networking systems only without third party bolt-ons); System 7 is superior than 3.x in that it has a nice GUI, but that's about it.

    At around that time, that's when most computer companies, proprietary and others, started to panic about not having a next generation OS. Microsoft had NT well on the way. Commodore played around a little with AmigaUX, but generally was going to the wall at that point (eventually I believe around 1994 they'd started to make noises about NT.) Apple started the Pink, and then the Copland, projects, and finally, belatedly, bought NeXT.
    I think you're looking at it the wrong way. You're looking at Apple as reactive to the market conditions of the early nineties, that is, it was waiting for everyone to catch up and surpass it before actually waking and doing something.

    That's not really the case, even with Apple not being the most clued up company at the time, and that's why Apple was launching various NG OS projects at that time. It was very clear in the early nineties the way the wind was blowing. Within a few years, consumers would expect operating systems that had pre-emptive multitasking, some semblance of multiuser functionality, memory protection between different applications, and, to some extent, next generation networking. Consumers wouldn't put it that way, they'd put it as "I don't want Word crashing to mean Excel does too", "I want to be able to send and receive email", "I want John to not touch Mary's documents, and vice-versa", tc.

    Just as today it's obvious that in five to ten years time, consumers will expect computer systems that have managed code (for one thing), because they want to be able to receive a file from some source and view the contents, and not worry about computer viruses, or trojans, or malware.

    System 7 wasn't the next generation OS. I didn't say Apple was clueless. I said they didn't have a (next-generation) OS.

    This is actually where we stand now too. Microsoft has the next generation under development, for better or worse. It's called .NET. We're seeing early glimpses of it, and there are problems (as you'd expect); Microsoft are releasing more of it than they were with NT at the same point in .NET's life, there are, of course, differences in circumstances that are causing that, but we shouldn't expect a proper, .NET-based, OS for a few more years (it was supposed to be Vista, heheh.); Apple, on the other hand, has nothing, just a stalled Java strategy, and some dabbling with LLVM. Well, I say that, it may be they're further along with LLVM than they're letting on, but I'd have made it part of the Intel switch if it had any maturity myself.
  11. solvs macrumors 603


    Jun 25, 2002
    LaLaLand, CA
    Why would they need to bother running Windows underneath if they had virtualization at even nearly full speed? Even running Vista via WINE on the Intel Macs in a window like with VPC will be fine for most people. If anything, I see MS using more of a UNIX like core.
  12. tip macrumors 6502


    Mar 9, 2006
  13. yellow Moderator emeritus


    Oct 21, 2003
    Portland, OR
    I'm sorry, I just don't buy Apple becoming the next Dell.

    There's already enough PC manufacturers out there. With PC hardware so common that you can buy parts in Walmart, what would be the attraction to buy an Apple? For more money? The look and feel?

    There's far more to Apple than "look & feel".

    I just don't see them abandoning OS X for Windows. They're pretty happy in their position as the 'blacksheep', I don't forsee this changing.
  14. zap2 macrumors 604


    Mar 8, 2005
    Washington D.C
    What Makes Apple is the Software and hardware, together!

    Face they ain't going Windows:rolleyes:
  15. swindmill macrumors 6502a


    Mar 17, 2005
    I thought phase 3 was profit

    . . . sorry, I couldn't resist
  16. jefhatfield Retired


    Jul 9, 2000
    i used to be vehemently anti-windows, but mainly because i was solely a mac user

    then i became a certified technician, in windows, so then at least i learned by default, how to use this less than perfect operating system but i was still glad that apple inc had their os 9 to microsoft's windows 98 and windows ME

    then i just recently discovered the ipod, and found what many mac users and non mac users have found...that this little ipod is so great that it actually overshadows anything else that apple inc does...the profit margin of the ipod which some industry analysts put higher than any hardware product out there and market share also agree with basically, i hate to say it, but i really don't care that much which os apple inc uses

    i would hope to see apple inc stay unique by having their own os, but their ipod will continue to rule the roost and render many, many billions of dollars for the company through ipod sales, peripheral sales and licensing rights, and itunes sales on the internet
  17. solvs macrumors 603


    Jun 25, 2002
    LaLaLand, CA
    Good one. :D
  18. iBunny macrumors 65816

    Apr 15, 2004
    I think that if Microsoft let apple do what it wanted to with the OS to customize it and whatnot, Apple could adpot windows for sure. Honestly tho, It wont happen in the next 5 or so years. Maybe with the successor to Vista... but deffinatly not now.
  19. Paragon macrumors member


    Mar 25, 2006
    Apple think different. Whatever happens, we can be sure that they will be doing exactly that ;)
  20. pink-pony115 macrumors regular


    Jun 16, 2006
  21. nihilisticmonk macrumors 6502


    May 4, 2005
    Hyped up Dvorak predicted rubbish :rolleyes:

    Go over to windows, kiss goodbye the following marketing carrots

    1) No virus
    2) Unix geeks dream OS
    3) Anti MS alternative
    4) If it's windows with a skin, I'll just bite the bullet and run windows
  22. AvSRoCkCO1067 macrumors 65816


    Sep 6, 2005
    This is from March...:confused:
  23. nihilisticmonk macrumors 6502


    May 4, 2005
    monkey see updated thread....monkey comments on updated thread... :D
  24. Sun Baked macrumors G5

    Sun Baked

    May 19, 2002
    You forgot to include a dancing monkey in your comment. ;)

  25. dpaanlka macrumors 601


    Nov 16, 2004
    I feel sorry for you... you've wasted far too much time thinking about, and typing this. Oh crap! I've wasted time replying to it :eek:

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