Apple's secret weapon against Windows 8 (and why OS X 10.8 will be Apple's most important OS release since iOS)

Apple's secret weapon against Windows 8 (and why OS X 10.8 will be Apple's most important OS release since iOS)

Summary: But that secret weapon isn't what you think it is.

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Last week Apple unexpectedly unveiled a developer preview of its next-generation OS X, 10.8 'Mountain Lion.' Apple promises that the final code will be available for Mac owners to install onto their Macs come summer, which is likely to be well ahead of Microsoft's release of Windows 8.

That alone could give Apple a small advantage over the Redmond behemoth, but with 'Mountain Lion' Apple has another ace up its sleeve, and it's one that could give it a significant advantage over Microsoft and make this release for OS X the most important OS to come out of Apple since iOS was unveiled.

But that secret weapon isn't what you think it is.

See alsoWhat problem does Windows 8 solve?Two approaches to developing the next-gen desktop OS |  Android tablets doomed without a single OSAndroid paying the price for iOS similarities

Many people seem to think that Apple's 'secret sauce' advantage over Microsoft is that it controls both the hardware and the software, allowing it to bring to customers a controlled experience that Microsoft working through OEMs can't match.

That's certainly an advantage, but most consumers aren't switched on enough to recognize the advantage that this offers. Others seem to think that it's the excellent customer service the company offers. Again, that certainly helps, but if good customer service were paramount, companies offering bad service would have hit a wall a long time ago.

And then there are those that think that Apple's power lies in the healthy profit margin it commands for its hardware that's allowed it to accumulate billions in the bank, giving it the opportunity to step outside of the mass market and offer something better (or at least different).

Again, I'm sure that this helps in that it's allowed Apple to be innovative and take chances when bringing a product to market, but there's a big difference between bringing a new product to market and selling said product.

So what is this secret weapon that Apple is bringing to the table with OS X 10.8 that gives it an advantage over Microsoft's Windows 8?

One word - integration.

I've been using Microsoft's developer preview of Windows 8 a lot, and I like it. But there's a big (but at the same time, subtle) difference between Windows 8 and OS X 10.8. Windows is still very much an operating system, in that it's a foundation that users can build upon.

While there are basic features built into the platform, it's very much up to the end user to decide what to do with the tool they've been given. And this means hours of painstaking downloading and setting up.

'Mountain Lion' offers a different approach. Rather than being just an operating system that people can build on, OS X 10.8 will very much be a platform (very much like iOS) that tightly integrates services such as iMessage, Reminders, iCloud and Game Center that millions of people are already using on iOS devices directly into the desktop or notebook.

There will be no need to download anything and configuration begins and ends with users putting entering in their Apple ID and password. There's massive pool of iOS users who are going to find it incredibly compelling to have the exact same features that they are already used to on their iDevice built directly into the OS X platform, and have them a click away.

The price to pay to have all these services work seamlessly between desktop and mobile? Mac and iDevice ownership.

Apple has sold more iOS devices in the past year than it has sold Macs in 28 years, and that's given the company an amazing opportunity. It is now in a position to leverage this enormous mobile platform user base and use it to boost Macs sales by tempting them with total integration.

No matter whether you're in front of an iPhone, an iPad, an iPod touch or a Mac, you have access to all your information, reminders and messages. What better marketing tool can you think of for new OS X features (and new Macs) than having millions of people already using those exact same services and features on their iOS devices? Apple isn't integrating new, experimental features into the OS, but stuff that people already know and love.

Microsoft has its own platforms in the form of Live services, and it has millions of users, but the diverse nature of Windows means that people are using a wide range of services from a myriad of providers. Apple, by putting tools such as iMesaage and iCloud right at user's fingertips, gave them an easy choice, and as a result has picked up a following of millions in a short period of time.

Apple's approach is also cleaner in that there's no seizure-inducing advertising plastered everywhere like here is all over the place with Live services. While Microsoft and OEMs are busy filling Windows with ugly revenue-generating ads and crapware, Apple's solutions are clean and focused, allowing users to focus on the tasks at hand rather than being distracted by some animated annoyance. This might seem more like a nitpick, but there's a lot to be said for a clean, distraction-free user interface.

I don't usually make predictions unless I'm pretty confident of them coming true, but I'm willing to make a prediction related to OS X 10.8. Here it is - OS X 10.8 will be the biggest, most important OS release that Apple has seen since the release of iOS (which was called iPhone OS back then), and it will push Mac sales to a whole new level.

Which approach do you think is best? Apple's clean, crisp, integrated approach to services, or Microsoft's build your own platform and services that are crammed with annoying ads?

Topics: Operating Systems, Apple, Apps, Software, Software Development

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  • It may push upgrade sales to a whole new level for Apple

    but why would anyone need to buy a new mac just to get OS X 10.8?

    Also, external factors could possibly hurt iPhone sales going forward, which would make their latest attempts at "intigration" a bit tougher.

    //articles.latimes.com/2012/feb/10/business/la-fi-iphone-blues-20120211
    William Farrel
    • RE: Apple's secret weapon against Windows 8 (and why OS X 10.8 will be Apple's most important OS release since iOS)

      @William Farrel Agreed that it won't. But if the timing is such that the person is thinking of getting their next computer, added compatibility with their iOS device (as well as their iOS neighbourhood) might matter.<br><br>I know it is already terribly useful to me that I can Facetime from the computer.

      Microsoft is doing the same thing with XBox Live etc. It seems to me they're both aware of what they've got to add value with.
      Mac_PC_FenceSitter
      • RE: Apple's secret weapon against Windows 8 (and why OS X 10.8 will be Apple's most important OS release since iOS)

        @Adrian: "Apple's secret weapon against Windows 8"

        Answer: shill bloggers full of FUD.
        markbn
      • RE: Apple's secret weapon against Windows 8 (and why OS X 10.8 will be Apple's most important OS release since iOS)

        @rbethell

        Flipside is that everything I actually use doesn't work as well. Facetime? I've already been using Skype for years. All my friends already have it. As far as I can tell, Skype is still technically superior. We just make the guy calling in on his iPad hang up and call again from his PC when the iPad is the only device on the line creating feedback.
        tkejlboom
      • RE: Apple's secret weapon against Windows 8 (and why OS X 10.8 will be Apple's most important OS release since iOS)

        @rbethell - I take some exception to your statement. If a PC costs $400 and a iWhateverthehellitis costs $2000.. Well, you get the picture.

        The fact that Apple is using pretty much the same components in their almighty MAC's as what is in my pc (excepting the mainboard), but charges boatloads of cash for it is more relevant.

        That said iAnything is definitely not for me and you could not give me any of their products.
        smashandgrab
      • RE: Apple's secret weapon against Windows 8 (and why OS X 10.8 will be Apple's most important OS release since iOS)

        @ smashandgrab
        How about you restrict yourself to posting about matters you have even a modicum of knowledge about?

        Or how about you back up your B.S. and name the specific $400 model you are claiming is equal in spec to a $2000 Mac. (Not MAC, which is an acronym for Media Access Control, and certainly not MAC's, since you don't form plurals with an apostrophe.)
        .DeusExMachina.
    • RE: Apple's secret weapon against Windows 8 (and why OS X 10.8 will be Apple's most important OS release since iOS)

      @William Farrel

      I understand the LA Times' article and I have experienced the same "oh, I won't call it exactly a hard sell approach" techniques used by my local Verizon sales rep to advocate Android phones over the iPhone - but it's close.

      Then again, it could be worse. I could be a consumer looking for a Win phone 7 product and having the Verizon sales rep completely ignoring that product's availability and capabilities while only mentioning Android and Apple phone products.
      kenosha77a
    • RE: Apple's secret weapon against Windows 8 (and why OS X 10.8 will be Apple's most important OS release since iOS)

      @William Farrel Think carefully about the stat that more iOS devices sold last year alone than macs have ever sold over 28 years. Its a vast vast market of people who would buy a mac to get OSX 10.8 because they have never had a mac before
      paulhknight
      • I disagree.

        @paulhknight
        In the years that iPhones have sold, the uptakes on Macs haven't come close in sales

        And given that carriers may be "forced" to sell iPhones at a higher rate (as the article shows that they're losing money on the iPhone) will uptake be close to what it is now for the iPhone?

        A $199 iPhone is one thing, a $399 is something different.

        This also goes with Macs - getting a PC to do what you need for $400 is a big savings over a Mac for $1000
        William Farrel
      • RE: Apple's secret weapon against Windows 8 (and why OS X 10.8 will be Apple's most important OS release since iOS)

        @paulhknight <br><br>What you say is true but the halo effect of the iPhone / iPad in terms of selling Macs hasn't been that great. Currently, the Mac has around a 10 to 12 percent marketshare in North America and no greater than 5% marketshare worldwide.<br><br>Given the vast ecosystem of Windows on traditional pc's, Windows 8 will succeed not just from users who buy new pc's because they can't afford Macs but also from current Windows users who upgrade. After getting familiar with the Metro UI on Windows 8, I'm confident this will in turn help MS sell more Windows phones and / or tablets. <br><br>No disrespect to Apple, but I think MS will have an easier time selling Windows phones / tablets as result of the halo effect of using Windows 8 than Apple will have selling Macs due to the halo effect of using iPhones / iPads.

        With Windows 8, the integration between tablet, pc, phone, & tv will be much better than with Windows 7 & will provide MS with a legitimate competitor to Apple's ecosystem. In the end, we as users, all benefit.
        smulji
      • RE: Apple's secret weapon against Windows 8 (and why OS X 10.8 will be Apple's most important OS release since iOS)

        @paulhknight The problem is, an iPhone 4S on a 2 year contract for 50 Euros, compared to a Galaxy Nexus for 100 Euros, people will take the chance, because of the reputation and because it is cheaper.

        When they are buying a new computer and have the choice between a half-way decent laptop for 500 Euros or a MacBook for well over a thousand, that might not jive.

        Using Windows and OS X every day, I can't see that OS X offers any real advantage today and the much acclaimed longevity of the Mac platform is also a myth - Macs get slower with each new patch and OS release, just the same as Windows; my iMac is crawling along under Lion, no wonder Apple won't support it under ML.

        At the end of the day, the Mac isn't more than twice as good as an equivalently specced Windows machine, yet it costs twice as much (at least), here in Germany.

        When I upgraded my old Windows laptop (9 years old), I wanted a MacBook Pro 15", in the end, I went for a Sony Vaio 15,6", which had a better screen, twice as much memory, faster processor, Bluray and cost nearly 1500 Euros less than the MacBook.

        The iPhone and iPad might be a success, but the iPhone is mainly a success, because it is the same price or cheaper than the competition on contract. Likewise, Android hasn't managed to field many well specified tablets for significantly less than the iPad, so it hasn't had much competition. In the traditional PC / notebook arena, it is a very different story.
        wright_is
      • RE: Apple's secret weapon against Windows 8 (and why OS X 10.8 will be Apple's most important OS release since iOS)

        @paulhknight
        Never gonna happen Paul. There are millions of iOS users (iPhone/iPad) who use a Windows machine at work and consequently probably use one at home. Just because you use an iPhone has nothing to do with what computer platform you prefer. OSX 10.8 will not move any more Macs than the current version of the OS is...
        simul8guy
      • Proof is in the pudding as they say.

        @paulhknight <br><br>People have had years and years to choose Macs. They were not just invented last year you know.<br><br>Macs have benefited greatly, far more than any other PC platform from an avid, almost rabid fan base that have openly extolled the virtues of owning a Mac.<br><br>Apple ran a series of television commercials not so long ago that were practically the talk of the town, the I'm a Mac/I'm a PC commercials that delighted many but failed to boost Mac sales to any "whole new levels" that Adrian feels Macs will now reach.<br><br>In all seriousness, its going to take a lot more then what Apple has done with ANYTHING over the last 28 years to get a whole lot more people purchasing Macs.
        Cayble
      • RE: Apple's secret weapon against Windows 8 (and why OS X 10.8 will be Apple's most important OS release since iOS)

        [i]In all seriousness, its going to take a lot more then what Apple has done with ANYTHING over the last 28 years to get a whole lot more people purchasing Macs.[/i]

        That may be true but who knows what the next 28 years will bring.
        ScorpioBlack
      • Too much money for most consumers

        @paulhknight I totally disagree Paul. An iPhone costs about the same amount as any top end Android phone (200 bucks + contract).
        An iMac starts at 1200 for a 22" TN (read cheap) monitor 4GB of ram (2x2GB, which is not very much, esp when ram is dirt cheap) oh and that comes with a 2.5ghz i5 CPU. 2.7ghz raises the price to $1500. Add 200 if you want 8GB of ram (2x4gb) and 1TB HD vs 500GB.

        The 27" starts at 1700 (same ram, IPS monitor 1TB HD). If you want 16GB of ram (overkill, but so what) you'llhave to add $800. Newegg sells 2 8GB dimms for laptops for around 150-180.

        If you've got lots of disposable cash, then you may be tempted, but most will not, because the premium for macs is very high, and the benefits for most don't justify that hefty premium.

        That said, if you're looking for a device to do photo or video editing, the 17" iMac is a little more interesting (though not as much as it did when the 27" iMac was $1500). But in that case, you're already looking for an expensive device.

        27" version starts at $1700 (when 27" version came out it was $1500, which was an awesome deal). It's got an IPS screen (i.e. it's a great monitor).
        notsofast
      • RE: Apple's secret weapon against Windows 8 (and why OS X 10.8 will be Apple's most important OS release since iOS)

        @wright_is
        You need to get better informed.

        "When they are buying a new computer and have the choice between a half-way decent laptop for 500 Euros or a MacBook for well over a thousand, that might not jive."

        First, the MacBook sold for $899, not over a thousand. Second, they have not had ANY MacBooks in their product line for some time now. IF you knew anything about the Mac line, you'd know at least that. Third, your 500 euro machine is NOT equivalent to the MacBook.

        "Using Windows and OS X every day, I can't see that OS X offers any real advantage today and the much acclaimed longevity of the Mac platform is also a myth - Macs get slower with each new patch and OS release, just the same as Windows; my iMac is crawling along under Lion, no wonder Apple won't support it under ML."

        What a load of rubbish. Leopard resulted in a significant speed increase over Tiger, and SL gave an additional bump over Leopard. Please post citations to the contrary. And being that there are no official specs released yet for ML, your comment is very disingenuous.

        "At the end of the day, the Mac isn't more than twice as good as an equivalently specced Windows machine, yet it costs twice as much (at least), here in Germany."

        Bull. HOw about you post specific machine configs?

        When I upgraded my old Windows laptop (9 years old), I wanted a MacBook Pro 15", in the end, I went for a Sony Vaio 15,6", which had a better screen, twice as much memory, faster processor, Bluray and cost nearly 1500 Euros less than the MacBook.

        Again, bull. The screens on the Vaios are most certainly NOT better quality panels, first of all. And as there was no Macbook that cost $1500, and no Vaio that cost ~$0, your numbers are pure figments of your imagination.

        "The iPhone and iPad might be a success, but the iPhone is mainly a success, because it is the same price or cheaper than the competition on contract."

        Might want to recheck your history. The first two revs of the iPhone were not subsidized, and sold for well over $500.
        .DeusExMachina.
      • RE: Apple's secret weapon against Windows 8 (and why OS X 10.8 will be Apple's most important OS release since iOS)

        @William Farrel

        "This also goes with Macs - getting a PC to do what you need for $400 is a big savings over a Mac for $1000"

        And again, how about you post SPECIFIC machines
        .DeusExMachina.
      • RE: Apple's secret weapon against Windows 8 (and why OS X 10.8 will be Apple's most important OS release since iOS)

        @ smulji

        "What you say is true but the halo effect of the iPhone / iPad in terms of selling Macs hasn't been that great. Currently, the Mac has around a 10 to 12 percent marketshare in North America and no greater than 5% marketshare worldwide."

        Might want to recheck your facts (and your math). When the iPhone came out, US Mac marketshare was around 3%. Is is now around 13%. That is an increase of over 400%. THe idea that this "isn't that great" is simply absurd.
        .DeusExMachina.
      • RE: Apple's secret weapon against Windows 8 (and why OS X 10.8 will be Apple's most important OS release since iOS)

        @cayble

        Your typical ill-informed blather. How is an over 300% increase in market share not "a whole lot more people purchasing Macs."
        .DeusExMachina.
    • RE: Apple's secret weapon against Windows 8 (and why OS X 10.8 will be Apple's most important OS release since iOS)

      @William Farrel a water pistol? i cannot think of ant better weapon apple can throw at window 8
      augustus_rome