Technologizer posts about Apple OS X

AppleInsider says that OS X 10.7 Lion, Apple’s upcoming operating-system upgrade, may be delivered primarily as a Mac App Store download. (Makes since–among other things, those of us with MacBook Airs don’t have built-in optical drives to install the software from DVD…)

Posted by Harry at 1:40 pm

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Apple has announced that its Worldwide Developers’ Conference starts June 6th in San Francisco:

“At this year’s conference we are going to unveil the future of iOS and Mac OS,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing. “If you are an iOS or Mac OS X software developer, this is the event that you do not want to miss.”

WWDC is one of the most important weeks in the Applesphere–the iPhone 3G, 3GS, and 4 were all announced during previous editions of the show, as was Apple’s move to Intel processors–but it’s not a given that Apple will announce any new hardware at the event. In fact, The Loop’s Jim Dalrymple, who has one of the best track records of any Apple reporter, says there won’t be any new devices. Of course, that doesn’t rule out new Apple hardware being announced before June 6th. And if all WWDC does is spell out the next version of iOS in detail, it’ll be really interesting.

Posted by Harry at 10:38 am

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The Chances are 14 Percent That You’re Reading This on a Portable Device

By  |  Posted at 10:40 am on Tuesday, March 1, 2011

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Yesterday, TechCrunch’s MG Siegler reported on the operating systems  used by visitors to that site. It currently breaks down like this:

Windows: 53.84%

Mac: 27.64%

iPhone: 6.72%

iPad: 3.47%

Linux: 3.28%

Android: 3.06%

iPod: .62%

MG also included historical data, and his main point is that if the trend continues, the majority of TechCrunch visitors will visit the site using an Apple device–Mac, iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad–within a couple of years.

As usual when I read numbers of these sorts, I rushed off and looked at equivalent stats for Technologizer. Here’s February 2011…

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Apple has released (through the Mac App Store) a beta version of OS X 10.7 Lion to paid members of its Mac developer program–tangible evidence that the upgrade is on schedule for summer release. The OS upgrade focuses on features inspired by the iPad, such as a full-screen mode, more use of gestures, a Launchpad that looks like the iPad’s home screen, and Mission Control, which melds together the existing Exposé, Spaces, and Dashboard features. It also lets apps incorporate auto-save modes, has a new version of the Mail app, adds a no-configuration-required file-sharing feature called AirDrop, and more.

Posted by Harry at 7:51 am

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Apple’s Mac App Store has launched. (You’ll need to download OS X 10.6.6 to get it.) I wrote about it for Techland and will be back with more thoughts once I’ve had a chance to use it a bit. (First impression: “Wow, this really is virtually identical to the iOS App Store experience.”)

Posted by Harry at 7:56 am

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The Appliance Age of Computing

By  |  Posted at 8:38 am on Tuesday, October 26, 2010

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My weekly Technologizer column for TIME.com this up. I wrote about the overarching message of last week’s Apple event–which, between the almost entirely solid-state MacBook Airs, the iPad-like new version of OS X, and the Mac App Store, is that Apple is trying to reinvent the Mac into something that looks a little less like a personal computer and a little more like an appliance.

Is that good news or bad? As with most change, it combines both upside and downside, and it’s Apple’s responsibility to pull it off in a way that works for its customers. (I like the first tangible results, the surprisingly iPad-like new Air, and will be writing more about it.)



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Psystar Thought It Could Sell Twelve Million Mac Clones a Year

By  |  Posted at 10:28 am on Friday, November 27, 2009

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Fascinating coda to the story of Pystar, the unauthorized maker of OS X computers which Apple is trying to put out of business: Gregg Keizer of Computerworld has reported on the sales projections that Psystar made to to prospective investors.

Under its conservative projections, Psystar told investors it would sell 70,000 computers in 2009, 470,000 systems in 2010 and 1.45 million machines in 2011. The firm’s aggressive growth model, however, put those numbers at 130,000, 1.87 million and 12 million during 2009, 2010 and 2011, respectively.

By comparison, Apple sold 10.4 million Macs during its 2009 fiscal year, the 12-month span that ended Sept. 30, 2009.

Psystar wasn’t just telling investors it could succeed: It was telling them it could get roughly fifty percent of the market for OS X computers, despite having a business plan that guaranteed a bruising, pricey, possibly-fatal legal battle with the company that made the OS it used.

As Keizer notes, an economist working for Apple can identify only 768 computers that Psystar has sold. Um, that’s a shortfall from even its “conservative” projection of 70,000 systems in 2009, right?

Psystar’s online store remains open as I write, but with Apple seemingly on the verge of scoring a knockout punch that will end Psystar’s OS X sales, I’d love to know if anyone who knows what’s going on is plunking down money for its Open line of pseudoMacs right now.

As long as I’m talking Psystar: Here’s the best behind-the-scenes story I’ve seen about the brothers behind the company. It’s by Tim Elfrink of the Miami New Times.



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Windows Copies the Mac? Shhh, That’s Our Little Secret!

By  |  Posted at 5:53 pm on Wednesday, November 11, 2009

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PC dressed as Mac[UPDATE: Microsoft's Windows blogger Brandon LeBlanc has disowned Aldous's comments.]

This is amusing: Simon Aldous, a “Microsoft partner group manager” in the UK, gave an interview to British tech site PCR in which he says that Microsoft wanted to give Windows 7 a “Mac look and feel”:

One of the things that people say an awful lot about the Apple Mac is that the OS is fantastic, that it’s very graphical and easy to use. What we’ve tried to do with Windows 7 – whether it’s traditional format or in a touch format – is create a Mac look and feel in terms of graphics. We’ve significantly improved the graphical user interface, but it’s built on that very stable core Vista technology, which is far more stable than the current Mac platform, for instance.

I’m guessing that Aldous is far enough removed from Redmond that he forgot you aren’t supposed to say things like that. (I mean, nobody involved with New Coke cheerfully told us that the goal with it was to make Coke taste more like Pepsi.) But the funny thing is, the only part of Windows 7 that strikes me as newly Mac-like is the Taskbar, whose bigger, unlabeled icons do indeed look more like OS X’s Dock.

On a meta-level, every version of Windows has cribbed from the Mac, and the versions released in this decade (Windows XP, Vista, and 7) all draw overall inspiration from the polished look of Apple OS X. But Windows 7 has its own perfectly pleasant aesthetic.  I ultimately prefer Snow Leopard’s–it’s more subdued and consistent–but if you told me you liked Windows 7′s flashier feel, I wouldn’t argue the point.

Oh, and a side topic: As a heavy user of both Vista and OS X, I’d love to get the details on how “the core Vista technology” is far more stable than OS X…not that both operating systems aren’t capable of crashing spectacularly in the right circumstances.



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Hackintosh Trouble?

By  |  Posted at 8:21 am on Monday, November 2, 2009

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FrankensteinApple may be suing Mac clone merchant Psystar, but its policy towards individuals who install OS X on non-Apple hardware to create “Hackintoshes” seems to have been to ignore them rather than to frustrate them. That may be about to change.

According to OS X Daily, Apple’s upcoming OS X 10.6.2 update prevents Snow Leopard from running on computers that use Intel’s Atom CPU. If true, that would make it incompatible with the vast majority of netbooks in one fell swoop.

I don’t want to assume that the OS X Daily story is the real deal until it’s received independent confirmation, and even if it is true, it’s possible that there’s an explanation that has nothing to do with Apple’s attitude towards Hackintoshes. But if Apple does want to foil Hackintoshes, this would be a good way to go about it. (Of course, it’s entirely possible that Hackintosh makers will simply hack OS X 10.6.2 further to reintroduce Atom support.)

OS X Daily wonders whether Apple might move against Hackintosh netbooks because it’s getting ready to introduce a tablet. Maybe so, but the number of folks in the world who are willing to go through the effort of putting OS X on a PC must be one-tenth of one-percent of the market that Apple would like to capture with a tablet. It would be nice to think that the two platforms–if you can call Hackintoshes a platform–could quietly, unofficially coexist.

Anyhow, here’s a T-Poll:



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Will Windows 7 Hurt Mac Sales?

By  |  Posted at 9:25 am on Friday, October 16, 2009

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Apple AnvilAmong the many questions that Windows 7′s imminent release is prompting is this: Will it result in fewer Windows users deciding to switch to Macs, thereby halting the slow erosion in Windows’ market share that we’ve seen during the Vista era? So far, there’s no consensus on wht’s likely to happen:a

I’m not going to predict how Windows 7′ release will impact Mac sales–hey, making no predictions is the best way to avoid making boneheaded ones–but a few thoughts on the dynamics of the competition:

  • Unless Windows 7′s driver situation is worse than it seems and/or PC manufacturers manage to screw the OS up with unwantedware, it’s going to make for better PCs than Windows Vista ever did;
  • I’d still rate Snow Leopard as the better OS, but the gap between the two platforms is smaller than it’s been in a long time;
  • Windows 7 doesn’t do much to reduce the need of Windows users to worry about security in a way that Mac owners don’t;
  • It also doesn’t eliminate such Mac virtues as the bundling of iLife;
  • As John Gruber says, the competition between Windows and Macs only happens at the high end of the market–most people who buy Windows buy it on cheaper, lower-end computers for which there is no Mac counterpart.

Ultimately, I keep coming back to the notion that most people really don’t have any particular desire to switch operating systems. If Windows 7 lives up to its promise and expectations, it’ll leave fewer Windows users tempted to dump the OS. But I suspect that most folks who have made the jump to the Mac aren’t coming back.

Your take?



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VMware Fusion 3 Takes Windows-on-Mac Up a Notch

By  |  Posted at 6:16 am on Tuesday, October 6, 2009

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VMware Fusion BoxWas it really only a little over three years ago that the formerly fanciful notion of being able to run Windows apps within OS X without major limitations became reality? Today, archrivals Parallels Desktop and VMware Fusion continue to undergo aggressive upgrades aimed at making the virtualization of Windows on Macs even more powerful, seamless, and simple. And today, VMware is announcing that it’s taking preorders for VMware Fusion 3, which will ship on October 27th.

I haven’t had any hands-on time with the new version yet, but the list of features that VMware has revealed leaves me anxious to get my mitts on it:

  • Snow Leopard support, including a 64-bit engine and support for OS X’s 64-bit kernel.
  • Full support for Windows 7, including the Aero interface and Flip 3D task switching and better support for DirectX and OpenGL graphics.
  • A migration utility that lets you import a real PC’s Windows installation over the network. (Parallels introduced something similar in August, but did so in a separate version of the product that does the job over a bundled USB cable.)
  • A menu for your Windows apps that appears on the right-hand side of OS X’s Menu Bar, reducing or eliminating the need to use Windows’ Start menu and Taskbar.
  • A more efficient engine that’s less taxing on a Mac’s CPU, can run Windows well in 1GB of RAM, and reduces battery drain, according to VMware. I’m especially happy about that last point–my biggest beef with both Fusion and Parallels is the dramatically reduced battery life I get when they’re running. (Still to be determined: How this version’s speed compares to Parallels–the Parallels folks understandably like to tout this MacTech story that shows their product outperforming Fusion 2 in most tests.)

In all, VMware says that Fusion 3 has more than fifty new features. It’ll cost $79.99 for new users; an upgrade version will be $39.99. A few screens supplied by VMware after the jump.

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Apple Scrubs Snow Leopard’s Spots

By  |  Posted at 4:13 pm on Friday, September 11, 2009

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OS X Snow LeopardApple has delivered a service pack for its Snow Leopard operating system just a matter of two weeks after it shipped. The company says that the update will “enhance the stability, compatibility, and security of your Mac.”

The update targets specific issues such as device driver compatibility and performance, stuck DVD drives, and SMTP routing. More importantly, it fixes three major security vulnerabilities, including one that Apple introduced by bundling an outdated version of Adobe’s Flash run time that had a well-publicized security hole.

Apple already patched existing versions of OS X for the vulnerability in July. That should have been a showstopper for Snow Leopard’s distribution.

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Snow Leopard: The First 72 Hours

By  |  Posted at 1:45 pm on Monday, August 31, 2009

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OS X Snow LeopardThis isn’t a review of Apple’s OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard–here are a bunch of those–but rather just some notes on my first three days with it. (I showed up at my local Apple Store at 10am on Friday to buy it, and was on the way back to my car at 10:01–sure beats waking up at 3am to buy an iPhone.)

Herewith, random musings:

Installation on my MacBook Pro went well. It took 38 minutes (less than Apple’s 45-minute estimate) and required virtually no input from me.  Snow Leopard reported almost 11GB more free disk space than Leopard did, which got me all giddy. I’ve since learned that Snow Leopard, like hard-disk manufacturers, defines 1KB as 1,000 bytes rather than 1024, and some of the reclaimed space is therefore imaginary.

I’m still getting a sense of its speed. It’s always dangerous to read vendor claims about performance increases–unless you’re a really skeptical sort, being told that an OS is zippier may have a placebo effect. Overall, this MacBook was pleasingly speedy under Leopard, and is pleasingly speedy under Snow Leopard. The one place where I know I see a performance increase is one that’s important to me, but one which Apple makes no claims about in its discussion of speed improvement: Spotlight searches, which were sometimes quite slow in Leopard, are reliably quick now.

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Mac Security Improves with Snow Leopard

By  |  Posted at 5:54 pm on Friday, August 28, 2009

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While Apple still has significant security work ahead of it, its Snow Leopard operating system makes prudent progress toward securing Mac OS X. But a security expert says that Apple is still playing catch up to Windows.

That is the opinion of Charlie Miller, a leading Mac security researcher. Miller is co-author of The Mac Hacker’s Handbook, and is also known for discovering critical vulnerabilities in the OS. He told CNET today that Snow Leopard “made some improvements,” but has not implemented some of the security features that Microsoft built into Windows Vista in 2007.

After being slammed with a series of major security incidents at the start of the decade, Microsoft made security a part of its development lifecycle. Products cannot ship from Microsoft unless they have gone through a review process, and consequently, the number of security vulnerabilities in its products has dropped markedly. It was tough, expensive work, and required a strong commitment from management.

Microsoft is now making its Security Development Lifecycle (SDL), as well as some of its internal security tools, available to developers in an effort to secure Windows applications as well as the OS itself. Apple has not taken similar steps.

To the best of my knowledge, Apple is still lacking an SDL-like approach to software development. That might be why I’ve had to download several massive security roll ups to patch my Mac over the past two months. As much as I love my iMac, the experience reminds me of Microsoft just a few years back.

However, Snow Leopard demonstrates that Apple, like Microsoft, has made security a higher priority. To thwart attacks, Snow Leopard introduces limited malware protection, and other protections including improved Address Space Layout Randomization (ASLR), and Data Execution Prevention (DEP). It also sandboxes applications, which is made possible through mandatory access control that was introduced in Leopard.

I have made no bones about my opinion that Apple has done a lackluster job at security, but it deserves credit for moving in the right direction.



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