It's official - Apple is moving to Windows! (actually, it's not official, yet)
OK, it's not official, it's just a rumor. But this is far from being a spoof - Apple could indeed be planning to ditch its OS X operating system in favor of Windows. And the changeover might not be all that far away.
Let's look at a few very good and convincing reasons why you should expect this to happen...
Firstly, Apple has junked the G5 processor in favor of Intel. Apple's line was that Motorola and IBM were not sufficiently interested in pushing the G5 forward in terms of power and speed for general computing, but instead preferred to concentrate on the games console market.
That might well be so, or it might not be - these kinds of official explanations often have a deeper layer that isn't revealed to the public.
The upshot is however that the Macintosh is now no different from a PC in hardware terms. Buy a shiny and expensive new Mac, and what's inside doesn't look too different to a bargain-basement gray box from Taiwan.
So Apple are left with the 'Macintosh experience' to promote and differentiate their products from everyone else's. Do they need to maintain an operating system of their own to do that? But first...
iPod and iTunes.
I never would have guessed how successful this would become. When the iPod first appeared I was shocked at how little functionality it provided compared to MP3 players that were already in existence at the time.
Anyway, I was wrong. iPod became a massively successful product, and oddly other manufacturers are struggling to keep up.
And iTunes. Personally I wouldn't dream of paying for a download that I couldn't freely copy to as many other media devices as I own, or may have difficulty transferring to another computer at some time in the future. (My CD collection established over twenty years ago is still performing perfectly!).
But once again, the public has shown an intense appetite for iTunes downloads, and other download services struggle to keep up.
Apple could indeed cut its computer division adrift and live fat and contented on its iPod/iTunes division. So why maintain an operating system of their own - couldn't they be putting their collective brainpower to better use on the music side?
The more I think about it, the less it makes sense for Apple to struggle on with OS X. And they are still struggling - it's not the smooth, sleek experience yet that an Apple product should be.
So they could just change over to Windows. Microsoft owns a significant slice of Apple so they will certainly do more than cut them a deal, they'll bend over backwards to help.
Apple could easily re-skin Windows so it looks like OS X, or any other way Apple might like it to look in the future.
And the user interface and operability could easily be adapted to the Apple way.
You would never have to know you were running Windows, just as you don't have to know you're running Unix underneath OS X now.
And since Windows is effectively the only game in town, Apple couldn't lose in any way. If there's a Windows-related problem, then everyone will suffer from it equally and Apple computers will be no worse.
How this will all work out for recording and music remains to be seen. Macintosh users are currently in an unsettled state at the moment with the transition to Intel. The transition to Windows can only prolong that.
So what do you think?
Will Apple change to Windows? What effect will it have? Could it encourage further development of Linux for audio?
I'd love to hear your views...
February 21, 2006: Read more on this topic...