Apple’s new free OS X for Mac hurts Microsoft and the Windows PC industry in myriad ways

“For the last several years, we’ve been on a mission,’ Apple SVP Craig Federighi said on stage [today in San Francisco], ‘[and] today we’re going to revolutionize pricing,'” Austin Carr reports for Fast Company. “When Federighi flew on stage to highlight Mac OS X Mavericks, he made a surprising announcement: Apple’s new operating system would be free — a move that could have significant connotations not only for Apple but for the PC industry as a whole. Federighi himself called it ‘a new era for Macs.'”

“Traditionally, PC and software makers have made significant revenue from either licensing OS software or using it to attract new customers to purchase hardware upgrades,” Carr reports. “Today, Apple blew up that antiquated model, bringing its desktop operating system pricing in line with its mobile OS. Now, even if you’re on an OS as old as Snow Leopard or on a device purchased in 2007, you can still “in a single step update…to Mavericks” for no charge, Federighi said, adding, ‘Free is good.'”

“When more and more users upgrade to Mavericks, because it’s free, Apple users will more and more operate on the same standard, enhancing the platform’s security while boosting app compatibility,” Carr reports. “The largest benefit to Apple, however, could come through the disruption it might bring to Microsoft’s business model. Last year, Redmond brought in $19.23 billion from the Windows division, with 65% of that coming from licensing its operating system to OEMs. With Apple offering its sleeker, better-reviewed operating system now for free, Microsoft’s pricing for Windows–both to average consumers and enterprise customers, as well as possibly OEMs–will seem outlandishly high by comparison.”

“Imagine a corporate IT buyer choosing between purchasing Macs and Windows-based PCs for employees,” Carr reports. “Apple also decided to make its iLife and iWork productivity suite free, another headache for Microsoft, which continues to generate significant revenues from its Office suite of products.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Why pay for bloated garbage from beleaguered Microsoft when the world’s most advanced operating system and the most integrated and connected – thanks, iCloud! – productivity and creativity apps can be yours for free on your Mac, iPhone, and iPad?

Related articles:
Apple exploits Microsoft’s confused hesitation on Office for iPad – October 22, 2013
Apple’s OS X Mavericks available today free from the Mac App Store – October 22, 2013
Apple releases next-gen 64-bit iWork and iLife apps for OS X and iOS; free with new Macs and iOS devices – October 22, 2013


  1. This was a masterstroke. Many of us have previously wished Apple would one day make OS X free (back when they first started slashing prices), but honestly, I didn’t think they ever would – I figured $19.99 would be about as low as it would go.

    Now with iWork free as well, more people will try it BEFORE they purchase MS Office, and most will realize that they don’t NEED MS Office to get their tasks done.

    It must be a rough night in Redmond.

      1. I too thought Tim Cook was finally in his relaxed element and in charge. Things are looking brighter and brighter for Apple. Pity the foolish Apple Haters, they’ll have to come up with even bigger lying whoppers to try and slow momentum. But the Dark Side is losing…

    1. Actually this is brilliant. I was very impressed with the keynote today and Tim looked comfortable, poised, and confident-this bodes very well for Apple. I think things are beginning to fire on all cylinders. Vrrrrroooommmm!!!

    2. I’m already downloading Mavericks for my 2012 i7 Mac Mini but it seems to be taking longer than I expected even over cable. I’ll go to bed and see what there in the morning. I can’t wait to play around with it.

    3. Apple’s systems and software have always been so cheap anyway—whole new OS was $19.99 I think? Such a drop in the bucket of profit for Apple they might as well give it away and reap the positive PR and the increase of the number of immediate updates that a freebie generates.

      1. Yes, it was great watching the OS X prices drop over the years. I still remember happily paying $130 for OS X Tiger. 😉

        Interestingly, it seems that all the mainstream news I have seen so far is only mentioning the iPad air – I’m surprised that no one has mentioned that Apple has made OS X and iWork free. I guess I shouldn’t really be surprised.

  2. I agree with the move ….. You see more and more car manufactures offering x miles worth of maintenance with their vehicles …..

    You pay good money, up front for the best, why not get 5-8 years worth of upgrades to the OS …. Then rinse and repeat process ….

  3. This is big in terms of attacking MS business model. I am surprised (pleasantly) that a journalist caught this. Who knows maybe even IT Journalism will improve (besides uncle Walt)

  4. Unfortunately many of the (tech clueless) senior management types in corporations don’t really understand upgrade pricing, maintenance costs, costs for IT staff, software etc (Macs for years already had better ROIs than PCs). They only seem to get initial pricing and because they are so helpless they trust their Windows PC trained IT staff implicitly. when I was (much) younger I could go for breaks in the afternoon by telling the big boss the ‘PCs need to rest’. I even got cigarette smoking banned in my work space (that was in the time before the no smoking rules now seen everywhere) because I said “smoke clogs up the PCs air intakes”. the boss swallowed that ….

      1. My very first programming job, at a manufacturing plant, involved a HP controller with digital cassettes (!) that kept going bad. We had a team of HP field engineers out to look at the problem. It turned out that dust from the nearby mfg process were sanding the tapes down and causing check-sum errors. The “engineers” also advised us to restrict smoking around the units. Naturally the system analysts objected, as they were cigarette fiends. This was kind of back in the day. 🙂

          1. I am, I am! (Near enough, anyway 😉 ) It was at a casework plant with ancient equipment. I was there to transition them to embedded systems. You might be surprised how much legacy code, running on obsolete machines, is still out there. I left off the consulting business to follow in Florence Nightingale’s sainted footsteps.

    1. Inertia is a powerful thing in IT, and as much as I like Pages, I don’t see people or organizations letting go of what they know (MSWord) in order to learn something new (Pages) even if Pages comes with the cost of the computer.

  5. Ah, but since this is the version 10.9 – what about next year?

    Will Apple do the next update as a full number version upgrade? Mac OS XI?

    And will they still provide that upgrade for free and really blow the traditional business model away?

      1. Uh, yes, the symbol XI is the roman numeral for 11. The X used for Mac OS X is the Roman Numeral for the number ten. So, IF Apple decided to number the next version of the Mac OS version number 11, they COULD decide to continue to use the Roman Numeral symbology. Or they could scrap that and go with a completely different scheme.

        Which was kinda my point. That would be a marketing decision, and we’ve got perhaps a year to talk about, speculate and argue which we each might like, hate or whatever.

        And, besides, if Apple DID come out with a full version upgrade, it would need to be something more different, more feature rich and with better underlying technology to justify that full version number, according to current industry practice.

        Or, again, Apple could change things…

        1. I used to think they’d go to XI after 10.9, but after reading several articles to the contrary I think they’ll use the developers’ convention and go 10.10 and beyond, rather than strictly decimal style.

        2. I don’t really have an opinion. I’ve seen articles with opinions either way, and frankly, from Apple’s past actions, that’s all any of it is, opinions.

          The real question is, now that Apple has established an annual refresh cycle for their OS, now known as “OS X”, will they be ready for a “version” update next year, or are they still working on it, so they’ll push out another point release, numbered, as you think, 10.10?

          Or will it be a pure marketing decision, now that they’ve run out of cats and may decide to get away from the “X” brand?

          Or is that brand too valuable?

          In the final analysis, any designation is purely a marketing decision, regardless of what the engineers think.

        3. The very first version of OS X released IIRC, was 10.0. But the Romans didn’t have a symbol for zero, so it’s safe to say that Apple doesn’t feel too constrained by that numbering system.

      1. Apple already covered this. 10.whatever is gone. In the WDC and Oct 22nd presentation no one (that I can recall) said OS X 10.9 Its now OS X Mavricks, next will be OS X laguna beach or whatever. Apple is promoting California locations. numbering convention is gone.

        I guess it will never disappear completely, there are still truckloads of people who think iTouch is a real Apple product, as opposed to iPod Touch

  6. A corporate buyer still has to factor the cost of the Mac computer which is higher than a PC.

    It’s not entirely free.

    It’s brought Mac/OS X in line or maybe still higher than PC/Windows.

        1. This has been the muddy disinformation that has sabotaged many a business plan for untold years. It is reinforced by a stubborn adherence to twice-told tales and back-slapping arrangements that dodge around the strict corporate procurement guidelines that hold up in non-computing areas but fail in the atmosphere of fear conjured by the self-serving cult of IT, whose deity is the Microsoft Monolith. There are a few breakaway sects these days that allow BYOD but the shamans retain firm mind control.

    1. Fred Fred Fred.
      El wrongo bongo. Forget not all the extras right out of the gate required for the WinCrap platform. Anti virus, anti malware, anti anti anti. What’s the cost off MS Orifice? Fortunately there are 61 version to chose from. Hint: if you’ll need it in a corp office, Orifice Ultimate Pro Supreme w/SP 3 is the only true choice and it comes in at about half the price of a Mac mini.
      It’d be damn funny if it weren’t so sad.
      Price is what you pay. Value is what you get. Look it up.

  7. Next thing you know DOJ will be after Apple for “tying” – or price fixing – free or illegal competition – free. Balmer is bailing while he can -sort of like the Captain of the Costa Concordia when it ran aground and was sinking off Italy.

  8. The article talks about fragmenting. XP is over 10 years old and probably 20-30% of installs. Win 8 upgrades on old PCs probably less than 5%. I bet that, barring any bugs, Mavericks is on 50% of Mac installed base in 6 months.

    1. Next April Microsoft will quit supporting XP. With no more service packs supplied by Redmond, businesses large and small must face the tsunami of malware alone, or upgrade — and nobody likes Window 8. Since the murder of XP by smothering is Microsoft’s only chance at selling new Windows licences, it faces a desperate choice: support Windows 7 or leave Windows 8 in a ditch by the side of the road and move rapidly to Windows 9, which will closely resemble Windows 7. This is an awkward position to occupy, sort of like sitting on the stool facing the corner wearing the dunce cap.

      1. Microsoft will officially stop supporting Windows XP for Enterprise customers next April, except for a small group of large companies that have already paid Microsoft for some sort of premium support (i.e., through the nose) to continue using XP. They already stopped support for home/personal use. Some of the reasons people, and companies, are reluctant to switch from Windows XP to Windows 7 are:

        ‘the psychology of previous investment’: people don’t like change. After spending years getting used to the way XP works, people would rather leave well enough alone than go through the bother of upgrading, and having to learn a new operating system.

        Microsoft has no direct upgrade path from WinXP to Win7. Either you upgrade to Vista first, then 7; or you perform a ‘clean’ install of Win7 and use their migration assistant. Granted, it does work, for the most part; but there are many things that could go wrong during the upgrade process, and most people are not technically savvy, thus there is a fear or uncertainty in upgrading. Also, People have become accustomed to the notion that it’s a hassle to upgrade a lot of programs in Windows, let alone a whole operating system. Most people find Windows to be a Black Box.

        Businesses, especially large ones, have a lot of legacy software and systems that Will Break when upgrading to Windows 7. Some of the upgrading will involve replacing a lot of costly hardware, servers, networking systems, software licenses. Why change if nothing is broken?

        There’s more, but that’s what occurred to me off the top of my head.

    2. Mavericks will be on 50% of Macs a lot sooner than 6 months; six days wouldn’t surprise me. As for M$, many Dozer users would much prefer XP, if they had a choice. For Mac users there really is an advantage to upgrade, can’t say the same for Dozers. 🙂

  9. Regarding the X:

    My guess is, they will drop it, and call it plain Mac OS. Next version could be Mac OS Yosemite. Dropping the X.

    I’m just guessing. I have no information, trend analysis or gossip data to support this. Just a wild guess.

  10. Fred Fred Fred.
    El wrongo bongo. Forget not all the extras right out of the gate required for the WinCrap platform. Anti virus, anti malware, anti anti anti. What’s the cost off MS Orifice? Fortunately there are 61 version to chose from. Hint: if you’ll need it in a corp office, Orifice Ultimate Pro Supreme w/SP 3 is the only true choice and it comes in at about half the price of a Mac mini.
    It’d be damn funny if it weren’t so sad.
    Price is what you pay. Value is what you get. Look it up.

  11. Enterprise businesses aren’t going to buy Mac because they’re all using Windows server software and everything else Windows that doesn’t just sit at a user’s desk. There’d be too much of a cost to switch over everything to OSX. Besides, don’t most of the developers out there make their bread and butter for writing Windows applications. There’d be too much of a culture shock to change over for what may be minimal benefits. The old saying goes, “Nobody ever kept their jobs for choosing Apple.”

    1. Pretty much. MS is entrenched in more than just the desktop. They built an ecosystem for enterprise computing and the desktop is one component.

      Enterprise licensing covers the OS and no one in corp America buys a computer for the OS installed on it. We bring them in by the pallet and image them them all with a copy of whatever OS version and apps we need in one shot.

      I was ready to drop money on Mavericks and am stoked that its a free upgrade but it changes nothing at my job.

      This is a shot at sucking more costomers from MS on the consumer side. Might be a few small businesses that go too but major pieces are still missing for a run at the enterprise.

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