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Give us MacOS X or give us death, Intel users demand

Rise, you huddled masses, you have nothing to lose but your keychains...

Owners of Intel-based PCs want Apple's MacOS X - and they want it now.

At least that's the claim made by Web site OS X on Intel, set up to petition Apple for an x86 version of its upcoming next-generation OS.

The site's creators argue that Apple has to make the major strategic shift and release MacOS X - "a beautiful OS, with all the power of a BSD environment" - for platforms other than its own Mac line, and they point to the success of Linux as a sign of the sense in such a move.

"The Intel platform has dominated the PC industry. Ignoring this platform will be a mistake on Apple's part," says the site. "With the rising popularity of alternative operating systems for Intel such as Linux, the time may be ripe for Apple to introduce it's first Intel operating system."

Since Linux is effectively free, that's not the most cogent argument to try to persuade Apple with, especially since the site's authors concede that MacOS X is "Apple's property to do with as they wish" and "Apple wants to sell G4s, plain and simple".

The authors also admit that MacOS X - or at least the core kernel and system technology at its heart - is available for Intel users. "Darwin is the base of Mac OS X, and Apple has released this to the open source community. [But] Darwin is not the issue here... although it is the 'heart' of the Mac OS X operating system, it's not the whole package. We want the whole package."

And want it they do. The site's statistics page claims to have registered over 13,200 signatures from Intel-based PC owners who want to run MacOS X instead of Windows. That's over $395,000 in revenue, if Apple were to ship each and every one of them a copy of the MacOS X public beta, at $29.95 a pop.

But, let's face it, it's not likely to. Apple's two-pronged strategy is to use MacOS X to tempt users over to the Mac platform and raise revenue by selling new software to old Mac owners. Offering an Intel compatible release of the OS - at least, a feature-complete version - runs the risk of reducing Apple's hardware sales, and since that's where the company makes it's money, the risk is too high.

And that goes double since it issued its profit warning last week. Even if Apple wanted to ship MacOS X for Intel, it's doubtful whether it can afford to do so.

Still, OS X on Intel does show there's demand for the product, and if that reaches a sufficient level, it could yet be tempted, particularly since a full x86 version of the OS is really just a compile away.

And don't forget, NeXT's OpenStep OS, to which MacOS X is genetically far closer that it is to the good ole classic MacOS, was a 680x0 and Intel-based system. Steve Jobs' NeXT began life as a hardware company and ended up selling just software. Given the way the Cube has been selling - or, rather, not selling - maybe Steve Jobs' Apple might be tempted down the same path... ®

Related Link

Sign OS X on Intel's petition here

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