It wasn’t what IBM corp wanted, but just about the most eagerly reported piece of news at the Power Personal Systems launch was the announcement that IBM would offer Apple Computer Inc’s Mac OS operating system on its next generation machines due out next year. Next year’s batch of Power Series machines will be built […]
It wasn’t what IBM corp wanted, but just about the most eagerly reported piece of news at the Power Personal Systems launch was the announcement that IBM would offer Apple Computer Inc’s Mac OS operating system on its next generation machines due out next year. Next year’s batch of Power Series machines will be built to the new Common Hardware Reference Platform that unites the Macintosh and PowerPC Reference Platform-compliant systems. The news came out in a presentation by Tony Santelli, general manager of the Power Personal Systems Division, to the assembled press. It wasn’t so much an announcement as an aside slipped into the larger presentation. Mac OS will be loaded on IBM machines in the second half of 1996, was as much detail as he was given. Hitherto, IBM has always argued (rather unconvincingly) that there was no evidence that people actually wanted Mac OS on its boxes. This, from the company that had already committed to pre-load Solaris on its machines. IBM seems to have overcome that particular psychological hurdle, but the details of exactly how it intends to offer Mac OS remain vague, understandable since the company itself is still involved in negotiations with Apple. Still, the announcement, combined with the unveiling of Apple’s new machines, made Apple’s share price jump more than $3 to over $47 in active trade the day after. The main complication in offering Mac OS in Common Hardware Reference Platform machines is the requirement to fit a Mac OS-specific ROM. This will make it more difficult for companies such as IBM to pre-load the operating system. To date Apple hasn’t said how it will make its operating system available to Common Hardware Reference Platform users. Perhaps the simplest solution would be for the company to make the ROMs available to those building these systems, at low, or cost price, leaving users to pay the full price for the software component of the package. This would enable Common Hardware Reference Platform-compliant manufacturers to label their machines as Mac OS-ready and then let consumers buy the operating system shrink-wrapped. Is Apple intending to go this way? It’s less than a year until the first machines are due to be ready and shipping, yet Apple has yet to make any public pronouncements on how Mac OS-on-Common Hardware Reference Platform licensing will work. European sources say the company intends to be price-competitive with the other operating systems available on machines that meet the standard, and also point out that you can buy a shrink-wrapped upgrade to Mac OS today in the shops for ú50. The implication is that users will be able to buy the software component of the operating system for the machines for around that price. But the ROMs? How much will it cost manufacturers to make their boxes Mac OS-re ady? That remains unanswered – apart from the continued suggestion that the operating system must be price-competitive with competing systems, and that the company believes that most manufacturers will ship their machines with the Apple Mac ROMs already in place.