Dec 02

Apple Demands No Pre-Installation

In a suprising turn of events, Apple has relented yet again on a long-standing tradition of absolute control over what they will allow their operating system to be installed on.

To understand this fully, it’s necessary to go back in time a bit to the era in which Apple and Microsoft were first bringing personal computers to the desktop. Although Apple had an early lead with the Apple II and Macinotosh, their lead was quickly reduced and finally ended when Microsoft and IBM formed a licensing agreement that Apple was unwilling to match.

Apple refused to allow it’s OS to be installed on hardware that it did not license, and it gaurded it’s license jealously, allowing only a few companies to produce hardware that matched the operating system specifications. This allowed high quality and performance of the system, but greatly reduced innovation and kept the price of Apple computers much higher than the so-called ‘Wintel’ brand, meaning Microsoft Windows running on Intel hardware, allowed by the use of the IBM specifications.

In practice this meant that you could go and buy any ‘PC spec’ part off the shelf and, provided that either Microsoft or the part manufacturer had drivers for it, install it and use it on your computer. Anybody could make parts, and as more and more companies entered the market, the choice and quality of the parts began to finally overtake Apple’s previous dominance. Chipspeed, graphic quality and price got better and better, and Apple’s market shrank until only a few applications were really worth the price of an Apple computer. Those specialty video and audio applications were still the best, of course, but that specialty market was not enough to allow Apple to compete with the Microsoft juggernaut, and Microsoft became the king of the desktop.

With the release of OS X, a completely new product from Apple, despite some legacy support for OS 9 and previous versions of it’s operating system product, Apple began to release it’s hold on the specification. It was not long before the PPC line of CPUs was retired and Apple computers began to rely on Intel chipsets, as they do today. Likewise, the ability of OS X to run on Intel chipsets means that a whole range of hardware has now become available for OS X users, however, license was still restricted to computers that Apple produced. Until now.

Apple’s move to allow Psystar to produce machines ready for OS X installation means that consumers now have a choice as to who they want to buy their computers from, this is a first. It may mean that other companies will be able to enter this new market, and Apple’s business model is about to change.

Apple, Psystar strike deal in copyright case

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