More Ado about Apple and Virtualization

iCloud is Apple's first step toward virtualization. Get ready for iDesktop.
Written by Ken Hess, Contributor

It seems that I stirred up a hornet's nest with my "Without Virtualization, Apple's OS Will Die" post on May 25th. First, it netted me a filleting by the Angry Mac Bastards (AMBs) on Episode 113, where they ripped me from blow hole to tail fin. And, then the commenting public took me to task on the article itself (80+ sizzling comments thus far).

Finally, my ZDNet bud, Jason Perlow, returned from his stupid trip to Mexico where he enjoyed searing his flesh, getting drunk and generally leaving me here as so much tasty sharkbait--came back and at least patted me on the head with his awesome, "Apple's OS X and virtualization: A missed opportunity." Somehow, I survived it all with a wink and a nod. I think.

I'm scheduled to be on the Angry Mac Bastards show sometime in the near future to at least plead my case and probably get cussed at a bit more.

All said, I'm still right.

Apple needs virtualization.

As you can read in the commentary and listen on the AMB episode, many people believe, falsely, that Apple is a hardware company. Exclusively. It is not. Apple sells software. They have always sold an operating system. They have always sold software--a lot of software. And, if you don't believe they're a software company, then what the hell are: OS X, iOS, iTunes, QuickTime and lots of other software that it develops and supports?

How do you think you operate that hardware without software? And, while Apple allows other companies to build applications for its OS, it would never allow anyone else to create the base system itself.

Just so we're on the same page here.

Apple makes hardware. Apple makes software. They do both. Like IBM, HP and Sun, they have hardware and an operating system that installs on that hardware. Not so hard to understand. Apple is also strongly involved in open source software. So, there's lots of software at Apple. In fact, one might say that Apple is a software company that sells their own hardware.

But, as Apple will tell you, there's no money to be made in hardware. But, for Apple, selling hardware is less about money and more about control, which is a whole other post that is really not part of my beat. So, as Jason points out in his article, Apple is missing a huge amount of money by not going virtual with their OS.

Software is where the money is. Licensing is worth far more than hardware. That's why it won't matter if the OS goes to the cloud. Virtual machines are consistent collections of base hardware and drivers. Apple can create its own controlled VM hardware specs. It will be like having Apple hardware except virtual.

If you've ever created a virtual machine, you understand what I'm talking about. You don't get to pick from four or five different video card emulators, or a dozen different motherboards or six different disk controllers. It's a very short list, if you get a choice at all.

So, in the sense that VM hardware has such tight controls and limited choices, it's perfect for the Apple model. It's odd that Apple didn't think of it first, really.

For those of you Apple folks who don't think that your beloved OS will soon be known as something clever like, iDesktop, then you're fooling yourself. First Apple introduces iCloud. Next, it will introduce an optional cloud-based desktop. Finally, all Apple hardware will ship with iOS and a built-in iDesktop app that provides that full-blown Apple desktop interface that you've grown to love.

But, that's a couple of years away, so don't jump into your Prius and head to the Apple store to complain just yet. You still have time to get used to the idea and to pay extra for the iDesktop experience.

Editorial standards