A cloud is rising over Mac OS X and its future unless Apple makes its boldest move ever: turning OS X into an open-source project.
That would make the battle between OS X and Linux the most interesting one on the computer scene.
With all attention turned in that direction, there would be nothing Microsoft could do to stem a reversal of its fortunes.
Lets start at the beginning. Theres been a lot of fuss over Apples rollout of the unsupported Boot Camp product, which lets Mac users run Microsoft Windows easily on an Intel-based Macintosh.
I got into various levels of trouble when I suggested that Apple was going to gravitate toward Windows since it would be easy to do and there was some evidence that the company might want to do it.
Some people saw this prediction as somewhat contradictory, because Ive also been advocating that Mac OS X be ported to all PCs and become an alternative OS for the rest of us on our standard systems.
Getting OS X onto PCs might be even more doable today, since researchers are reporting that as many as half of the business-owned PCs in operation now may not be capable of running Microsoft Vista. It seems like an ideal time to roll OS X over to the PC.
So whats actually happening? Well, heres what I think is going on, and also what I think should be going on. Lets start with whats going on.
The Boot Camp product is pure test marketing. Its so obviously test marketing that its hard to believe that people are foolish enough to get worked up about it. You watch a test-marketing scheme to see the results. You use the results to make predictions. We do not have enough results yet to determine whats going to happen next. The test-marketing scheme is likely to be carefully orchestrated and segmented as follows:
Step 1: Testing for level of interest. Will this initiative of running Windows on a Mac increase or reduce computer hardware sales in any noticeable way among the hacker nerds who bother to go through the process? Will this translate to a broader acceptance?
Step 2: Determining functionality without risk. Does Windows works well on Mac hardware, or not? The idea here is to put it into the wild and see what happens in a support-free environment where Apple has no responsibility to help make it work.