Category: Apple

Mac’s Movie Preview Screensaver

When Macs are really cooler than PCs, they’re “Duh, that was so obvious”. My nine-year-old and I cruised through our local CompUSA this afternoon, and, as is customary, we bopped into the Mac section. She stopped at an iMac that was running the “Peter Pan” preview. When she reached to turn up the volume, the preview disappeared, leaving her with the Mac OS X desktop.

Stupid me, I started looking for QuickTime, figuring th preview had been playing in the open application. Smart daughter reasoned, “Maybe it was the screensaver, dad”. 

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Windows gives Macs the Boot

My daughter attends an elementary school in Montgomery County, Md., where Windows PCs are booting (pardon the bad computer jargon pun) Macs out the door. Her school is due for an upgrade next year.

Montgomery County is supposed to have one of the better school systems in the Washington, D.C. area, because of the tax base of cities like Bethesda, Chevy Chase, or Rockville. Wherever the school system spends its money, computers haven’t been a priority. My daughter’s school runs aged beige (that means pre-1998) Macs and first-generation (that means 1998) iMacs; a few 1999 version G3 towers are around, too. It’s my understanding that many of the computers were purchased through a Macs for schools program—one of those deals where folks turned in receipts to a local supermarket. So, much for the tax base. 

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United Against a Common Enemy

Mac users are singing a happy tune today, following news that HP would redistribute iTunes and the iPod music player. Or are they?

The deal makes plenty of sense for Apple. As one of the top two PC manufacturers, HP would help proliferate Apple’s Fairplay digital rights management (DRM)-wrapped Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) music files, further adoption of the iTunes music player and presumably lead to more sales of iPod. 

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What About the Windows Majority?

Apple released new digital media products and a smaller iPod portable music player during Macworld today. Entries over at my Jupiter Research analyst weblog give my early reaction [Editor: Links are no longer available].

Recently, I’ve been working exclusively in Windows, as I anchor Jupiter’s Microsoft Monitor service and using Microsoft software makes the job easier. I must admit that GarageBand looks like a slick product; it might even be the big announcement from Macworld. 

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One Bad Apple

Apple is expected to launch a new online music service on April 28, 2003, that will work with a new version of the company’s iTunes digital music software. Rumors are buzzing loader than a ruptured hornet’s nest about the service. Most people believe Apple will make the new service available for Macs only. But I can’t imagine Apple CEO Steve Jobs is that dumb. If he’s smart, he’ll release an iTunes version for Windows and make a bold move into the digital media market.

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The Great Mac-PC Debate

It’s funny how far the protagonists championing either PCs or Macs will go to push their cause. I moseyed into my local CompUSA on Jan. 19, 2003, where I found two ViewSonic representatives showing off Microsoft Windows Powered Smart Displays in the store’s Mac section. As I approached, one of the salesmen lithely snatched two shoppers eyeing an Apple iBook and pitched them on a Smart Display.

I returned later when the salesmen was alone and piped, “Say, you’re going to scare all the Mac customers away.” “That’s the idea,” he shot back. I must have made some kind of brilliant observation, because he gave my daughter a set of promo street style headphones for my troubles. So, now she can wear a Windows logo while plugged into an Apple iPod. 

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Jaguar: One Cool Cat

Mac enthusiasts say Apple is the mother of all invention. Maybe they’re right. Microsoft took six years to deliver the kind of operating system the company promised in 1995. Windows 95 didn’t live up to the hype until Windows XP. Apple managed the same feat in less than two years. Mac OS X 10.0, released in March 2001, lacked fundamental features such as CD burning and DVD playback. Successor 10.1, which debuted in September 2001, delivered better performance but couldn’t match some of XP’s best features. But Mac OS X 10.2, also known as Jaguar, beats Apple’s original promise of a robust, modern operating system and outclasses Windows XP’s handling of multiple programs running simultaneously. Still, many important changes are mere catch up to XP or even Apple’s older Mac OS 9.

Apple delivered my official Jaguar copy on Aug. 16, 2002, about a week before OS X 10.2’s official Aug. 24, 2002 release. Talk about efforts to woo the reviewer: Apple preloaded Jaguar on a PowerBook G4 800. But I already had been working with betas and final code obtained though “special sources”. Before Apple’s woo-the-reviewer package arrived, I had the “unofficial” official release running on three Macs: Dual 1GHz Power Mac G4, 700MHz flat-panel iMac and another PowerBook 800. 

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Apple’s Switch Hit

Apple has been itching to get PC users switching.

In fact the company has big plans, starting with bringing PCs into the 30-plus Apple retail stores for byte-to-byte showdowns with Macs. Hell, reliable sources tell me Apple is seriously considering bringing Dell Computer models into the stores. I got to chuckle. On the way to my local Apple Store on June 16, 2002, some guy with Maryland vanity plates spelling out “Dell” pulled in front of me on Connecticut Ave.

My shopping experience at the Apple Store ended with a bang fit for anyone considering dumping a PC for a Mac. I got flagged for an exit poll about store satisfaction that clearly had potential PC switchers in mind. I practically gave the sweet old lady conducting the survey heart failure when I refused the 10 bucks, because it was a check instead of cash. “But the checks are perfectly good”, she defended. Bless her heart for starting to chase me down the corridor outside the store waving the check in her hand. No thanks, dear. 

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Tougher Titanium

Many computer manufacturers are hawking thin-and-light notebooks as the next big thing. Dell Computer, Gateway, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Sony, and Toshiba are some of the big name companies delivering small portables, some weighing under 3 pounds. But none of these companies has achieved notebook nirvana, a slim-and-light model with a beefy display and enough power to replace a desktop computer. Consumers that want desktop power must buy heavy-set portables, many weighing as much as 8 pounds or more. Those people looking for true portability have had to accept less computing power and smaller displays.

Until now.

Apple’s 800MHz PowerBook G4 meets the demands of the consumer looking for a svelte design that’s light on weight but not light on features. You think one size can’t fit all? That’s because you haven’t seen the Titanium PowerBook in action. 

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Bundling Bungle

Later in June, lawyers rallying for and against Microsoft will present closing arguments in a proceeding that has the potential to radically change how the technology giant sells software. A federal judge would then deliberate about what sanctions she should impose against Microsoft in an attempt to prevent future anticompetitive business and technological practices that violate U.S. antitrust law.

No matter what she does, nothing will likely undo the stupidity that got Microsoft into trouble in the first place. The company insists it has the right to integrate whatever technology it wants into Windows. That practice led to two trials, one still ongoing after—count `em—four years. But the practice Microsoft fiercely defends—almost as a God granted, religious right—is stupid. Microsoft has been busy integrating technologies into Windows that make no sense being there from a business perspective—and they actually make new PCs harder to sell and use. The right Microsoft defends and the way it has been used is just plan dumb—unless of course the objective is to protect the monopoly and not benefit consumers. That latter point is one reason why this case never seems to end.