The process threatened to become irrevocable, and Apple was considered dead or nearly dead by many analysts and users, but the corporation managed to stop right on the brink of an abyss. They changed the Mac, abandoning many of its exclusive or distinctive features like SCSI devices (including hard disk drives), proprietary AppleTalk standards, and exclusive buses. Instead, they brought in such industry standards as EIDE, PCI, AGP. The company went for this being in dire financial straits, and this worked.
In other words, half of the peripherals are basically the same in both Mac and PC. By doing this, Apple ameliorated the most important consumer factor – the price of the Mac. As for the image of an “exclusive, different solution”, it is possible to shape it with other means, as Apple has proven later.
Another key feature of the Mac is its operation system. I am inclined to think it was one of the factors that drew the crowd of fans and consumers under the banner of the Mac. Well, Apple was the first company to use an OS with a graphical interface (the Xerox research center was the inventor of the interface and influenced the following attempts, but the results of its work never went into the masses). And Apple has a long record of such key innovations. Of course, it is hard to evaluate an operation system, so I skip over any efficiency/performance/user-friendliness marks and other characteristics that are hard to estimate – they highly depend on the user’s particular needs and habits. Let’s just state that there is an operation system and it is one of the main distinctions between the Mac and the PC.
So, we are left with our favorite courses: microprocessor, system bus, memory. The stuff comes under the capacious name “Platform”. We will talk about platforms today.
Part 2: 64 Bits of Your Desktop
First of all, let me remind you that the new microprocessor for the Mac was touted by Apple as something revolutionary: 64 bits for the desktop computing! Apple was a little sly here (although meant no harm). It was the first only because the Athlon 64 from AMD had been postponed. Or, to be more exact, AMD released it first into the server market. That’s how Apple took the title of the pioneer of “64 bits for the desktop”. Of course, the way of a pioneer has never been easy. As it turned out, glitches and compatibility problems were not the prerogative of Microsoft alone. Moreover, the famed “bug- and problem-free” platform from Apple was more like a myth originating from the fact that Apple had profited from a much narrower and better-ordered hardware platform. Of course, it is easier to develop and debug an operation system for a given small set of equipment rather than an OS that must run on any set of hardware parts. While the Mac platform was more or less uniform, it had no evident problems, but as soon as there appeared a platform quite different from the previous versions of the Mac (due to the same 64 bit, for example), then typical transition problems arose. There is a minute, but characteristic fact to confirm the point: the Mac OS X release that was going to become a triumph, quickly and smoothly transformed into OS 10.1 and 10.2. The current edition is version 10.3. There is no triumph at all: many popular programs have not yet been ported for the new OS. Old applications running in the appropriate compatibility mode don’t show much stability, too. The performance of the platform is not as high as Apple had promised. In other words, they couldn’t make the transition process as smooth and painless as they had hoped. Of course, this is just a temporary situation, as the applications will be ported and the OS will be debugged and the errors corrected.