Dvorak: Steve Jobs eventually intends for Apple’s Mac OS X to run on any x86 PC

“I will admit that the possibility does exist that Apple doesn’t want its OS in the wild, since it could potentially hurt hardware sales. At least that’s the way the company might see it. This assertion does assume that the Apple marketing department is brain-dead,’ John C. Dvorak writes for PC Magazine.

“I see the OS getting out in the wild as having the opposite effect. For one thing, it would increase interest amongst developers, which should boost overall sales. Besides, I’m completely convinced that Apple could still get the same premium for its machines that it does today,” Dvorak writes. “People simply like the design of Apple gear. Just look at the sales of the overpriced iPod in a market glutted with MP3 players. Why does anyone buy one? How is this ga-ga mentality different with computers?”

MacDailyNews Take: This article is sort of a re-do of Dvorak’s PC Magazine article, “Mac-Intel Aftermath” from June 13, 2005. In this new one, Dvorak looks at the possibility of Apple using Intel’s “trusted computing” hardware DRM to lock down Mac OS X OS to ensure it ran only on Apple-branded hardware. As you can see above, John thinks this would be a “brain-dead” move by Apple. Somehow, Dvorak gives Apple’s Mac OS X lots of credit for being so good that it would boost overall sales while giving Apple’s “ga-ga” hardware designs little or no value. Dvorak discounts the value of Apple’s control of the whole widget (hardware+operating system] to guarantee as seamless an experience as possible for Mac users.

Dvorak goes on to repeat the theme of his mid-June article; that Apple is just making it seem like they wish Mac OS X to remain only on Apple-branded hardware, but really secretly plans to eventually let Mac OS X run on the Dells of the world.

Dvorak outlines his latest scenario:
1. Keep Microsoft from getting weird early [keep “freaky Microsoft from get freaky on them” and killing Office for the Mac].
2. Assure current Mac mavens that not much is going to change.
3. Allow for Apple to pretend to fight the OS getting out into the wild, so it can then say, “There was nothing we could do. This is the OS that people apparently want and need.”
4. Give Steve Jobs the path to a formal announcement at one of the Apple confabs where there isn’t much to announce.
5. Give Jobs the ability to tell Gates that Apple didn’t really want its OS on all computers everywhere. “Bill, you’ve got to believe me!”

At or around the 4th step above, Dvorak explains, “In the wings is waiting a shrink-wrapped [Mac OS X] upgrade that works perfectly on older machines. A public announcement comes. ‘It works on machines that Microsoft Vista won’t run on!’ says Jobs. The crowd goes wild. And it’s priced below Microsoft Vista. It turned out that the hacked OS-X86 that Steve was so angered by was actually the beta test for the rollout of the commercial product.”

Read the full article (and Dvorak’s older article – see related article below) here.

MacDailyNews Take: Dvorak seems to have dropped his sixth step: “Spyware and viruses emerge on the Mac” from his earlier piece. Perhaps he’s taken a closer look at Mac OS X and realized that might not happen. Or, who knows, maybe he just forgot about that one? As we said in our take to his first article, “The insistence by some that if Mac OS X had the market share of Windows that viruses and malware would be just as bad is just illogical. There are millions and millions of Mac OS X computers on the ‘Net and zero viruses. Do the math. Use common sense. Mac OS X is simply more secure than Windows by design.”

The rest of Dvorak’s theory – a “twisted scheme” in his words – is interesting and, after the last few years, we have to admit that just about anything is possible. We do think that Jobs intends to attempt to offer the world at large a better option than Microsoft can offer. At this point, it’s anybody’s guess what Jobs is planning. What do you think?

Related MacDailyNews articles:
Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ ultimate goal: ‘to take back the computer business from Microsoft’ – June 16, 2005
Michael Dell say’s he’d be happy to sell Apple’s Mac OS X if Steve Jobs decides to license – June 16, 2005
Dvorak predicts Mac OS X for generic x86, Apple ‘Office’ suite, dawn of Mac viruses and spyware – June 13, 2005


  1. You never know anything with Steve Jobs. . one minute he’s sayin’ no next minute he’s sayin’ yes, and sometimes he doesn’t say anything, while other times he says something doesn’t come through with it and fires everyone involved with the mistake. . .Gotta love ol’ Steve.

  2. hmm sounds alot like cringely.


    cringely said the latest announcement for intel macs was merely a decoy.. a way to release OS X to the hackers and let them play around with it for about a year.. so they could get the developer copy of OS X and have it ready to work on any Dell..

    this ‘transformation’ of OS X is happening as we speak

  3. SJ does not intend for Mac OS to be installed on some garage assembled bin parts PC from 3 years ago. Too many issues about quality. We will again see the day that the Mac OS is installed on x86 computers – just new ones that meet certain requirements.

  4. Steve clearly said in his keynote that they “want to build better hardware” and that’s why they are switching to Intel. Sure, the heart of a Mac is the OS (that could have a hidden message), but Apple wants and will continue to build the best computers in the world. They are different because they are different. Simple as that. The moment they become just another computer company is the moment they become unimportant. The world needs Apple for what they do and Apple is delivering.

  5. Why is the beta process for the Windows OS typically 18 months or more? Because of all the variations of hardware it tries (emphasis on ‘tries’) to support.

    I don’t believe Apple will ever want to get into those long development and test cycles. It is extremely expensive to do.

    Apple controls both the hardware and software to give the best experience. Expect Apple to do some type of tie in between the hardware and software so the Mac OS only runs on hardware sanctioned by Apple.

    It’s been that way since the original thin man. I don’t expect this to change.

  6. Apple will be just fine if it goes out in the “wild”. Try ringing Apple for support and the first thing they do is tell you to buy legitimate Apple hardware and software.

    As it is now, take a replica Rolex for service and they smash it with a hammer in front of you! That WOULD be good…in every Apple store a dedicated room for destroying old Windows PC’s (and happy new customers going home with an Apple under their arm)!

  7. http://www.bbspot.com/News/2005/08/apple_bsod.html

    Apple’s Tiger Will Include BSOD Widget
    By Russell Skingsley

    Cupertino, CA – Apple Senior Vice President Phil Schiller announced that the next update to its operating system “Tiger” would come with a blue screen of death widget. He said that this is being released in response to users that need to blend in with their corporate standard operating environments.

    “Many users prefer to use a Mac at work but fear the persecution from the IT support staff for not complying with the corporate standard,” said Schiller.

    Now Mac users can install the BSOD widget and when they see the IT manager approaching simply press “F12.” Their screen instantly becomes filled with an image of the blue screen of death. Not only does this fool the IT manager into believing the user is adhering to the corporate standard, it also sends him scurrying back to his office as quickly as possible to avoid fixing the problem.

    Schiller suggested that this continues the trend of making Mac OS X more “enterprise friendly.”

    “What started with Windows file-sharing compatibility that only partly works is further improved with the BSOD widget. We at Apple understand that we need to increase our perception of unreliability if we are to compete with Windows in the workplace. The BSOD widget is big step in that direction.” ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”LOL” style=”border:0;” />

  8. If apple ever allows anyone to build boxes to run OS X then they have to ensure quality control, they can’t just let any old company sell something regardless of how well it works. Irrespective of the quality of windows itself it is made worse by the inconsistency of the hardware it has to run on and all the different configurations it tries to accomodate. Apple would be nuts to just let it out in the wild so to speak, just from the point of view of “It just works”, which it wouldn’t do when you take into account all the dirt cheap shit boxes out there.

  9. Uh, no. While there are lots of plausible scenarios out there, Dvorak is woefully mistaken. Even where he to accidentally end up being “right” about the end-results, his reasons and logic have almost nothing to do with business. “So he’ll have an excuse for Bill Gates.” Whatever. Anybody want to take a reasonable look at this from an actual business-man’s point of view?

    MW: research, as in someone didn’t do theirs.

  10. First off, I’m a true-blue converted Mac lover.

    That said, Dvorak is right… perhaps not on every minute detail, but the end result of Mac OS X running on non-Apple boxes IS right. It’s NOT dangerous, it IS a good idea, and it WON’T be the death of Apple. Here’s why.

    The “whole widget” concept is over and done, and it’s irrelevant anyway. As MDN is so fond of saying, “it’s the OS, stupid”… and it is. So long as Apple maintains an ‘officially sanctioned’ list of particular models and/or configurations, they still effectively control the “whole widget”… except, by the way, they don’t even now. Right now, Apple controls only the box they sell you and could easily control the box someone else sells you, or at least refuse support if it doesn’t conform. What you do with it is your business, and done at your own risk. Let’s face it, the second you plug **ANY** non-Apple peripheral into your Mac, it’s no longer the machine that left the factory, and problems can (and do) arise already — even sometimes with… GASP! Apple-branded hardware. If you don’t believe that, point your browser over to Macintouch, Macfixit, Apple’s own forums, or any number of other Apple user forums. It’s no crime, it’s no shame, it’s just life. Computers aren’t perfect, although OS X machines are admittedly far closer than other alternatives. Furthermore, the stability that comes by nature with a UNIX-based operating system means the computer is reliable enough to be predictably stable with almost anything you throw at it.

    Would clones mean a fundamental shift away from hardware sales? No, certainly not. Would Apple sell fewer boxes? Perhaps, but they could sell them at more profit, and in any case it wouldn’t matter. They would be making money on licenses, and many people would still purchase Apple products because they are just nice… as Dvorak mentions. I’d still purchase a Powerbook, because after two years beating around in my backpack, my Rev 1 Aluminum G4 still looks as good as the day it was new and runs great. It was (and remains) a great design, well-built out of quality parts. What more could I ask? Would I buy another one? In a heartbeat… and without considering other machines, because as a tech geek, I know only Sony could come close with great design, and they STILL aren’t as good. If you want even further proof that Apple CAN, and SHOULD move in this direction, just look at the Mac mini. Where do they make more money: a) on a $499 Mac mini, or b) on a $129 license of OS X, which remember has nearly zero marginal cost once it’s already developed and for sale? Try and price out — piecemeal — the hardware in a Mac mini, and you further underline the point. They may not be selling these things at a loss, but it’s damn close. QED.

    …Which, conveniently, brings us back to the age-old Chevrolet-Mercedes/Windows-Apple parallel. I’ll not rehash it, because it explains itself. This parallel, by the way, has never held true completely because both the hardware and software were different. But under such a scenario, it easily could. Look at it like this: if you HONESTLY think OS X is the best operating system out there, would you rather your best friend/mother/spouse be running OS X on a non-Apple box, or running Windows? Of course, the question answers itself.

    The point, therefore is this… someone who has never driven a car at all (or only a really horrible one) can only mildly appreciate the subtle, sometimes intangible differences between a brand new Chevy and a brand new Benz. But sit the owner of a (name your perfectly respectable, yet decidedly average car) behind the wheel of a truly fine automobile, and they WILL notice the difference in almost no time.

    Wow… news flash folks: decent stuff costs something; great stuff costs more. The consumer product market is rife with examples of this very phenomenon… Chevrolet and Mercedes; Kenwood and Carver; GE and Maytag; Hoover and Dyson.

    Someone with a few weeks of appreciation of the great design of OS X will quickly begin to appreciate the great design of Apple’s hardware too, on an even deeper level… and will likely eventually buy an Apple-branded box anyway, at Apple’s standard premium-market (read: “prosumer”) product market.

    … in which case, Apple wins… except this time, they win TWICE.

    Open your eyes, my friends. It’s the truth, and it’s a Good Thing.


    MDN Magic Word is “didn’t,” as in “Wow, I didn’t see the forest for the trees.”

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