Why Does Mac OS X Keep Snubbing the Enterprise?

News Analysis: Does Mac OS X keep snubbing the enterprise? It's possible and there's no explanation for it. But it could be one of many reasons why Apple continues to lag behind Microsoft Windows in market share in the enterprise. It's also becoming clear that Snow Leopard, the next edition of the Mac OS, is unlikely to help Apple application software make significant new inroads into the enterprise.

"Windows is for the enterprise, Mac OS X is for the consumer."

It's an argument made by some in the tech business to help define the industry. But that's a tough argument to make. Both Apple and Microsoft are doing all they can to appeal to both sectors. And although Microsoft holds a considerable lead when it comes to market share in the enterprise, it's also the leader in the consumer space. Apple has a fraction of Microsoft's market share in the enterprise and the consumer market isn't much better.

But is that statement true? Is Mac OS X really not ready for the enterprise?

Market share aside, the only way to determine how appropriate Mac OS X really is for enterprise users is to judge it by its features. And if we take an honest look at Snow Leopard, Apple's soon-to-be-released operating system, it becomes abundantly clear that it doesn't quite offer what's expected in the enterprise.
Snow Leopard is, admittedly, an iterative update. The design is the same as Apple's current OS, Leopard. Most of the same graphics are still present. And for the most part, the user will have the same basic experience as before.
But that doesn't mean Apple didn't change anything. Snow Leopard will (finally) boast Exchange support. Although Windows has had it for years, Apple has been loath to support Exchange. It reasoned that it wasn't necessary to include it in its operating system. But after finally seeing the light, Apple has brought Exchange support to its Macs. The company said that Exchange support will be included in Mail, iCal and Address Book. Users will also be able to search through Exchange using the software's Spotlight search.
Another (possibly) important feature Apple added to Mac OS X Snow Leopard is 64-bit support. When Snow Leopard is made available, all the native apps, including Finder, Spotlight and Mail, will load quicker. More importantly, third-party apps will be able to utilize Mac 64-bit architecture to enhance the functionality of their operation. Conceivably, that will leave the door open for more developers to fully maximize the appeal of their apps.
Of course, that has been the promise of 64-bit architecture since its inception. It has been available on Windows for years. And yet, even with that promise of better functionality, few developers have found a good enough reason to exploit the technology. For the most part, 64-bit architecture, while promising, has fallen out of favor. It hasn't been exploited in any way. In essence, it's a technology that Apple will be promoting and using for its own gain, but in practice, few developers will ever follow suit.
Other than that, Snow Leopard hasn't really provided Mac users with the kind of features that would make the enterprise jump at the chance to ditch Windows and opt instead for Mac OS X. And the worst part is, Apple could have appealed to the enterprise community quickly with one simple move: playing nice with developers.

Don Reisinger

Don Reisinger

Don Reisinger is a longtime freelance contributor to several technology and business publications. Over his career, Don has written about everything from geek-friendly gadgetry to issues of privacy...