It was announced today that Microsoft is investing another $150 million in Apple, and has reaffirmed its role in providing Apple users with Microsoft software. This new infusion of cash is good news for everyone at Apple, and is good for lots of smaller companies, in fact. However, one company it is not good for is Netscape. With this investment, Apple has agreed to ship Microsoft Internet Explorer as each system's default browser. And of course, all the poor bastards who use Apple computers in the first place have to find a new Great Satan to hate. What will this mean for poor ol' Netscape, everyone's favorite underdog? We'll have to wait to find out. May you live in interesting times, huh?
In related news, do you guys remember when it seemed that the Be OS was going to be the choice of Apple to succeed OS7? Never happened. However, at the Be OS Developer's Conference on the 4th, Be revealed that through the help of Intel Corporation, they had ported the OS to the x86 platform. They astonished visitors when they compiled the same code sample on a PowerPC and an Intel machine and ran them under the Be OS. Be has long said that a port to the Intel platform was a goal. This move has helped Intel to rely less on Microsoft and has allowed Be to rely less on Apple.
In other news, The Chip Merchant has dropped the AMD K6-233 to $314. It has held steady there for nearly a week now, leading me to believe that they're not going to drop the price any lower (considering AMD sells them for $289 each in lots of 1000). So I'll be buying soon. Can anyone recommend a good motherboard? I was looking at the Tyan Titan Turbo S1570, because I like all those expansion slots (I have enough room for all 8). Of course, this board doesn't support the K6-233, so I was going to wait for the S1571S. But I want it now. Anyone help me out here? I won't be overclocking....
Over the past few days, I've had the opportunity to talk to several people about the current state of Apple Computer Corporation. Ah, poor ailing Apple. Anyway, I ran across a news article a few minutes ago that resulted in this update.
Many many years ago, IBM seemed poised to rule the PC world. Most of us know more-or-less how the story goes. IBM fell from grace, and the companies that cloned Big Blue's machines flourished. Could have been worse; IBM's making a healthy living by selling their big mainframes & servers, and until recently, a few 6x86 and 6x86MX processors. Apple, meanwhile, continued to maintain a tight hold on their system architecture, billing their systems as, "the computer for the rest of us." The rest of us indeed; the remaining 8% of the market.
Apple Computer makes a number of things, but there's no question that the Apple Macintosh was meant to be their cash cow. Anyway, the clone vendors have been promised Apple's new OS, Mac OS 8. But it seems that Apple has been shuffling its feet over the last two months on that front. The thing is, Mac OS 8 is more important than it would otherwise be because it's part of Apple's CHRP, or Common Hardware Reference Platform. This reference platform would allow the Apple-cloners to enhance system performance and introduce innovative products more rapidly -- and thereby compete with Apple more effectively. At this point, its relatively easy to see that Apple's in a difficult position. If it goes ahead with the release of Mac OS 8 to cloners, it hands itself its own hat. If it holds back, Apple's broken a contract, which could...no, will...leave Apple open to some heavy lawsuits by the companies it promised the new OS to.
"If Apple Computer is entertaining reversing its policy on licensing the Mac OS, it would be disastrous. Every constituency--Wall Street, the financial press, the trade press, software developers, and most importantly, customers--have all said one thing: 'We value choice above all else.' A return to the old school of the closed Mac platform could spell the death of Apple," says Mike Rosenfelt, director of marketing for Power Computing.
This is the last thing that Apple needs, having lost US$884 million in fiscal year 1997. Its too bad that Apple doesn't make servers or mainframes. Of course, IBM would probably trounce them. Having said all this, I'd like to add that I would lament the passing of Apple. I'm not really fond of the idiot-proof boxes that Apple makes (which I've seen many an idiot screw up). And I'm not ignorant of the advances that Apple has brought to the computing industry at large. Rather, I'm afraid of what the computer industry landscape will look like when Apple's gone. With no Apple, Microsoft could become even more complacent than it is already, and the Wintel monopoly could become a firm reality. Whether this means that Apple should concetrate on hardware (make the option-packed graphics boxes that Apple was once famous for), software (concentrate on some killer extensions and a great OS), or sell to a stronger company (Sun Microsystems or Oracle), I'm not qualified to say (I'm hardly qualified to say any of this anyway). But Apple's got to do something, and I hope they make a good choice.
On a lighter note, I had a dream last night about a cataclysmic asteroidal impact. I really don't remember details about where it struck or the severity of the strike, but it did spawn some interesting thoughts about what you might need to survive, and what impact (hehe) it might have on society. I'll post those here later in the week, because I have to get to bed so I'm not tardy for work tomorrow.
Also, I bought new shoes today!