PC World blogger thinks MacBook Air shows it’s time for Apple to license Mac OS X

“Who else but Apple could launch a product like the MacBook Air? With its focus on form over function, it is destined for the niche of early Apple adopters, sure to get burned on price and features when Apple upgrades to at least include a bigger hard drive than 80GB, ethernet, Firewire and a user-replaceable battery,” Mike Barton blogs for PC World.

MacDailyNews Take: Why would Apple do that? Did they discontinue their MacBook and MacBook Pro lines that already include larger hard drives, Firewire, and user-replaceable batteries for those that want them? No, they did not. Different products for different users and uses. It sounds like the imagination-bereft Barton wants a MacBook, at least; or maybe a MacBook Pro.

Barton continues, “I say let early adopters get burned. This product begs a bigger question of Apple: When will you stop holding back the Mac OS and start licensing the OS?”

MacDailyNews Take: Oh, for fsck’s sake. Because Barton can’t wrap his unmalleable mind around a certain Apple product that just might be a bridge to the future, now Apple must license Mac OS X to every Tom, Dick and Harry, so that these licensees can sell the cheapest possible hardware they can find. cram the junk into their fugly cases, festoon them with garish stickers, install at least 50 gigs of crapware (gotta get paid, you know), fail to support their customers properly, introduce all kinds of driver issues, and drag Apple Mac’s reputation into the sewer. Great idea, Mike!

Barton continues, “Apple’s monopoly power over the Mac OS is holding back better software. If you want Mac OS, Apple says, love it or leave it. Apple fanboys and girls are always ready to point this out, saying you don’t have to buy it if you don’t like it. But defending this monopoly is holding back personal computing. I like the Mac OS (which is more advanced than Windows), and I love the idea of being able to have a dual boot Windows machine. I am not in the market for an ultraportable, but Apple doesn’t offer one laptop I would buy. While the price parity issue has waned, the fact remains: Apple doesn’t make a laptop under $1000.”

MacDailyNews Take: Not only does Barton lack imagination, he’s cheap, too! Don’t kill yourselves lining up to meet him, girls.

We can’t ship junk. There are thresholds we can’t cross because of who we are. The difference is, we don’t offer stripped-down, lousy products.Apple CEO Steve Jobs, August 7, 2007

Barton continues, “A 13.3-inch screen but no optical drive? Thin but not that light at three pounds? Maybe a boardroom or flashy sales-force machine, but no user-replaceable battery? And Intel custom-designed the CPU to fit, but Apple is not even using a energy-miserly 45nm Penryn chip (with its deep power-down technology to squeeze more battery life out).”

MacDailyNews Take: We half expected Barton to be screaming for his floppy drive. The MacBook Air is meant to appeal to a certain type of user. Whether this market is large enough to support such a computer is anybody’s guess; obviously, Apple thinks there is a large enough market for it to have been developed and produced. MacBook Air challenges a lot of assumptions. Mac users are much better at tackling those challenges than the types that can’t even get past the lack of a parallel port, much less dealing with the concept of no built-in optical drive.

Barton continues, “Apple is missing so much opportunity to grow market share with the Mac OS… Why doesn’t Apple at least offer the Mac OS to business-focused companies, especially if it is going to continue to develop niche products like the MacBook Air when there are big holes in its lineup?”

Full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Dennis” for the heads up.]

We do not believe that the MacBook Air battery is an issue. As for the form factor, MacBook Air offers a large-ish screen and a very thin profile. Apple does not offer, say, a 12-inch MacBook Pro. Would Apple have more success with a 12-inch MacBook Pro? Maybe, maybe not. Maybe it would impact Apple’s other Mac lines in negative ways. Every new Mac line has the capability to affect existing Mac product lines (see below about how the MacBook Air debut has us now considering Mac Pro). Also, Apple’s not big on giving the market what they want today, they’re looking to give the market what they’ll want in the future. If that adds risk to new products’ viability, so be it. It’s far better than the alternative.

We are MacBook Pro users. 17-inch MacBook Pro users, no less. So, if you want to know how we’d use the MacBook Air, please keep in mind that our perspective is coming from large-screened, full-featured, very fast notebook users.

What are the drawbacks to using a 17-inch MacBook Pro when out and about using it as a portable (as opposed to being on our desks connected to second monitors, external drives, speakers, etc.)?
• Weight
• Size: Too big for economy class tray table (we know, fly business class)
• Storage space limited to MBP’s drive or external drive that we’d have to carry

So, how would we be able to affect these issues by taking along MacBook Air units and still using them similarly to how we use our 17-inch MacBook Pros?
• Weight would go from 6.8 pounds to 3 pounds
• Size: Would fit on the tray nicely
• Storage space: still limited, would still have to carry external drive, would still have to be judicious about what to keep on our internal hard drive
• EVDO: We’d have to get a USB EVDO card for the Air as our ExpressCard/34 EVDO cards would be useless. (Cost = negligible)
• Optical drive: We do not use our MBP’s optical drives (music and video come from the ‘Net, live on hard drive). We last used the drives to install Leopard. Software installs for the Air would be done either by using Apple’s $99 external SuperDrive or via the Air’s Remote Disc (allows wireless use of Mac or PC optical drive).
• We would take along our little USB travel hubs that we currently leave behind
• We would buy and carry Apple’s $29 USB 10/100BASE-T Ethernet Adapter, just in case we ran into a situation where both Wi-Fi and EVDO didn’t work, but Ethernet did (extremely rare situation in our experience).

That’s about it, except that we would be giving up some video and processor performance with the Air vs. the MBP. So, our conclusion is that, for us specifically, we would consider buying MacBook Air as a second, traveling laptop along with seriously considering Mac Pro desktops instead of MacBook Pros for the next round of upgrades. If we did the later, we would go from using 17-inch MacBook Pros as our primary computers (both for desktop and portable use) and move to Mac Pros on the desktop and MacBook Air units for the road. We would gain much greater power on the desktop and greatly lessen our travel loads if we did so. Before the Air was introduced, the Mac Pro was not even in our equation. Now, along with MacBook Air, it is being seriously considered as part of a two unit home/road solution. The MacBook Pro’s advantage is cost: a maxed-out MacBook Pro used at home and on the road is more cost-effective than a Mac Pro+MacBook Air combo (but, you have to lug it around while living with less power on the desktop). As with everything, there are pros and cons to both choices.

What do you think about the MacBook Air and how would you use it in your Mac arsenal, if at all?

MacDailyNews Note: Today is Martin Luther King Day, a U.S. federal holiday. The markets are closed today in the U.S. Many people in the U.S. have the day off. Consequently we expect news to be light, although we do hope to bring you Apple-related news throughout the day.


  1. NOT!!! OSX is what is leading Apple and making it the best choice for computer buyers. Plus there’s no need to license it anymore because they can run Windows if they want too. If Apple were to let all PC’s run OSX they would lose the number one advantage they have. I don’t think Steve has any desire to do so especially right now. OSX is what sells Apple’s hardware, licensing it out would kill there hardware business because people are cheap and would go for that cheap clone which is exactly why Windows is where it is today.

  2. I’m disappointed in the macbook air. I think it’s rather lame that you can’t replace the battery. I was hoping to get an ultraportable to compliment my macbook, but this is not it.

    ease up on other people’s opinions, MDN.

  3. Absolutely agree about the MGA, though not quite so GOG (Grumpy Ol’ Geek) about it!

    At present I use an MBP and iMac G5 — would consider swapping to a 24″ iMac and an MBA next turn of the purchase wheel.

    Would probably swing for an external optical, if only to play the odd DVD when on the road.

  4. Let me complete the article’s title;
    “PC World blogger thinks MacBook Air shows it’s time for Apple to license Mac OS X”, because Apple is capturing the market through incredible quality and superior design, and the only hope for us Windows-based crap assemblers, is to ride for free on Apple’s coattails and bask in Apple’s reflected glory.

  5. I can’t even begin to fathom the logic that takes you from the idea that a new product might not be successful (fair enough it might not) to then conclude that as a result the company should change their entire (ever increasingly successful) business model and give access to their flagshipt software to any crackpot company that might want to bundle it with their crappy hardware.

    Sure Dell made a lot of money, sure they have market share, but how far ahead of Apple has it got them? I work in insurance and you have risks that have high premiums with policies with loads of extras that you earn more on but do fewer of. There are also risks that you do all day long for small premiums and small commissions. I’d rather do all high end stuff but sadly I’m not an apple and often have to take what I can get in terms of customers. Other companies would kill for Apple’s demographics.

  6. I’d use the MBA as a short term travel machine. Each January I take a trip to Disney World to run the Walt Disney World Marathon. MBA would be ideal in terms of size/weight.

    But, all things considered, I don’t travel enough to make the purchase worth while for me. I fly maybe twice per year and am a dedicated MBP user at home. Don’t get me wrong. MBA sounds like a great idea, will offer a lot for many people who need light weight and spacious solutions, and has the potential to pave the way for many future Apple products. It just won’t suit me well.

    I’m waiting for a future generation portable computer. My MBP will suit me well for a few years to come.

    On that note: “Apple, please allow any USB HDD connected to an Airport Extreme base station to be a wireless Time Machine HDD. I already have the newest available Airport Extreme Base station. It works flawlessly. And I have a new external HDD. Please make this feature work. I have neither the need nor desire to buy Time Capsule (although if I didn’t have wireless, this would be the absolute must have product).”

  7. @ art_vandalay
    “I think it’s rather lame that you can’t replace the battery”

    Um, where have you been? Takes 3 mins with a phillips screwdriver. This story has been all over the internet since about wednesday.

  8. My wife and I have owned four different Apple laptops over the years (starting back with an original orange iBook) and aside from battery recalls neither one of us have ever used a second battery or bought a new one to replace a worn out one. We could have had internal batteries the whole time, and it would not have made a difference. An internal battery is not a black mark on the Air’s report card.

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