Back in the mid-1990s when the mountains were taller and it was still OK to call somebody a liberal, your humble correspondent met at the corner of State and Madison with Michael Dell, CEO of Dell Computers Inc.No bias here, just support for equal Mac OS 10 access - Sunday, April 16, 2006 -
"I've learned something about you mass market technology journalists," Dell said while I took notes with my reporter's tablet laid out on a newspaper vending box.
"You guys write almost exclusively about Windows and PCs because Apple has only a tiny market share, but then you all go home and use your Macs to write the story. You guys all love your Macs."
I lost that reporter's tablet but I'm pretty sure I remember the quote because it has stuck with me for all the years since.
Dell felt that a Macintosh bias led to unfairly negative reviews of his products.
At the same time, of course, Macintosh lovers were beating up people in my crowd. They viewed us as lackeys of Bill Gates and Andy Grove who wrote negative articles about Macintoshes to help destroy Microsoft's and Intel's only serious competitor.
You can get a flavor of it all by using this as a Google search term: Coates Tribune Kawasaki. You'll find a bunch of articles about efforts by self-described Apple evangelist Guy Kawasaki to send me back to the night-side police beat for my anti-Mac bias.
Dell's opposite comment came to mind big time over the past several days as we have covered Apple's unexpected decision to sell Macs capable of running Windows as well as Mac OS 10.
Earlier this year Apple started switching its elegant product line from PowerPC chips to the new dual-core processors from Intel that also go into high-end PCs. The OS 10 operating system now runs on the same chips as Windows XP.
When the switch was first made, Steve Jobs, CEO for life at Apple and Pixar and maybe Disney someday, said Apple had no interest in selling Macs that would run both Mac OS 10 and Windows XP on the same machine, even though it clearly was possible.
Last week, however, Apple flopped back from Jobs' earlier flip and released "Boot Camp." That program lets the owners of Intel-based Macs buy and install on the Macintosh's hard drive a copy of Windows XP ($99 for Home version and $299 for XP Professional).
With Boot Camp running, a Mac can start in dual boot mode, giving the user a choice of whether to run OS 10 or Windows XP. Or a user can set Windows XP or OS 10 as the most commonly used program to boot up automatically, leaving it to the user to reboot later into the other operating system.
Everybody agrees that Windows XP runs great on Macs with those dual-core Intel processors. It works far faster than Microsoft's own software called Virtual PC for Macs that emulates an Intel chip on a Mac based on PowerPC and lets one install Windows and run Windows software. This works, but it is so slow that nobody's going to use Virtual PC running in a window on the Mac more than is absolutely necessary. Boot Camp on a new Mac runs Windows as fast as any but the most supercharged PCs.
Perhaps confirming Dell's suspicions, writer after writer gushed about the move and went on at great lengths explaining how Apple's decision was brilliant because it puts Microsoft on the defensive.
"I am experiencing the computer equivalent of an out-of-body experience," gushed the Newsweek tech columnist.
At USA Today the personal technology guy pronounced: "Remarkable as it sounds, an Apple iMac, at least in most respects, has become the most appealing Windows computer in my house."
There was much speculation about how Microsoft would welcome the move because in order to experience the rapture those two tech writers must purchase a copy of Windows XP.
Stock analysts suggested that droves of Windows users would flock to buy expensive Macintoshes so they could enjoy the sublime design and uncanny ease of use from an iMac, MacBook Pro or Mac Mini, yet still do the work they did before on a dull beige box weighted down with Windows.
Microsoft said it was delighted to sell more Windows copies, and Apple executives happily forecast that waves of new customers would be created once Windows users got to experience the delightfully designed Macintosh way.
Then came Michael Dell with the other side of the story. Why not put OS 10 on a far cheaper Dell Windows PC instead of a costly Mac? You'd get the best of both worlds and shell out far less.
In an e-mail to Forbes magazine, Dell said: "If Apple decides to open the Mac OS to others, we would be happy to offer it to our customers."
Apple's response was quick and negative. Apple will not sell OS 10 for installation in non-Apple hardware. It will sell software to run Windows on Macs but not the other way around.
Will Jobs flip-flop on Dell's offer just as he did when it was Windows on a Mac rather than Mac on Windows?
I don't care what Dell thinks about my ilk, I'm on his side now.
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