Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

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Boot Camp

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All right, when you start getting e-mails and instant messages on exactly the same topic from vastly different people while that very same topic is mentioned on pretty much every single web site that exists – including mainstream ‘news’ media – there must be something big going on. Or something that’s perceived as being big at least. In this case it is Apple releasing Boot Camp and thereby acknowledging – but not supporting – the fact that the hardware of Intel based Apple computers can run non-Apple operating systems as well.

While all the cutting edge Mac-niks have frothy mouths now and have probably run to nick a copy of Windows somewhere just to try out the new goods, I have time to lean back and heat my lap with my PowerPC iBook. And even if I didn’t, I couldn’t care less. I am neither into restarting my computer nor into accounting nor into games and thus the appeal of Windows to me is pretty much zero.

While Apple’s web site suggests that they did make an effort to create a pretty and reasonably user-friendly tool for those who think they can benefit from running Windows on their Apple hardware, it’s probably a rather small effort. The hardware is there and should run Windows in principle anyway and they just had to tweak things a little bit to get rid of the teething problems. Even the geeks managed to do that a weeks ago, so we could expect Apple to do the same – just prettier – using the help of their hardware vendors in even less time. The big question was whether they wanted to rather than whether they could.

And they decided that they did want to. Taking the ‘because we can’ spirit to the extreme, if you wish. And while there might be wild discussions on whether this is good for Apple’s sales as all the people who ‘need’ computers running Windows because of some job requirements can now point to their oddly named MacBooks. Or whether this is in turn bad because it means that a computer called ‘Macintosh’ no longer necessarily presents that experience when you use it (and that us Mac-people can no longer point fingers at stupid advertising people who show us iBooks with Windows screenshots pasted into them) and thus not every iMac will be pretty and shiny and trouble free and the whole magic of the machines will fade away into a world of blue screens of death and dysfunctional iSights.

Time will tell how this works out. As I have interest in neither the feature in question nor Apple’s financial performance, I could hardly care less.

However, I do think that just doing this finally gives Apple back some credibility. While they may have been shining to their shareholders and the whole hysterical ‘analyst’ industry for the past years, I started finding the new things they offered in general and the performance of their boss in particular not especially remarkable. Mr Jobs in particular fails to impress. It’s not that his presentations aren’t well rehearsed and executed (with the exemption of his last deck of ugly slides quite the opposite!) – but it’s all a bit dull really. We’ve seen it all before. With other bling, for sure. But it has all been there… and ‘one more thing’ is just a common phrase by now.

In particular, I find Mr Jobs to be not very trustworthy or even close to a liar. He’ll be there all smiley and happy presenting pretty things along with questionable ‘facts’. He’ll sincerely look at you (or a camera at least) while flatly contradicting things he said not too long ago. He and his company may (or may not) have good reasons to do what they do but we will never know them. We get to see the shiniest factoids and any context, any references to prior statements are avoided. References to the past are avoided and possibly forbidden. At least if the past inconveniently doesn’t happen to be in-line with the shiny present.

And by that – ironically one might say – Mr Jobs has achieved a certain 1984 status. Changing the past by conveniently ‘adapting’ it to the present developments – and all that to do even better and more so in the future for sure. OK – an apologist may say – it’s all just marketing gibberish at those keynotes anyway, so we don’t need to worry. True. But we shouldn’t trust the guy either. He and his company just seem to be hiding behind some shield which doesn’t let anything come through. No simple fun, no off-the-cuff remarks. Just all-shiny, all-happy PR talk. And if we’re lucky we’ll even have Madonna – and on less lucky days, Bono – dance for us.

And while I may be completely off the tracks here, I find the Boot Camp release to be outside the hyper-sterile Apple we usually get to see these days. It’s low-key, apparently it has been done because the customers want it (when was the last time Apple did that?), it’s a bit unclear whether it’s good or bad although everybody is quite excited and it’s actually funny from the perfectly chosen name to those little remarks they put around it.

This just seems to be very relaxed to me. Just because something can be done without much trouble usually doesn’t mean that Apple will do it. In particular in those touchy areas that leave the cosy Apple-only world of software – usually Apple seem to be quite protective there and seem to make efforts to ensure that their things don’t interoperate with others in areas where their own strengths might be blurred by that. I like that relaxed attitude. These things can be done, have been done, will be done… so Apple can just do them themselves properly and probably make quite a few people happy in the process.

Now excuse me while I’m overly-optimistic for a moment and hope that we’ll see a similar attitude in more relevant areas…

April 6, 2006, 2:05

Comments

Comment by gummi: User icon

This is a very good post, Sven. And on one point about dual booting I have a couple of things to say because I’m a little enthused, too.

There are some applications that I have to use for work that are only available in the Windows world. It’s just the way it is right now, and I can’t change the methodology of 1000 people where I work, or persuade a vendor like General Electric to release a Mac OS X version of their software, for example. I had to buy a Dell laptop to do this stuff and it cost me around €900 for that, and it works quite well. In this new dual-boot age, I have to admit that buying a MacBookPro and using both XP and OS X between restarts is a really nice proposition. I won’t have to lug around two laptops, or work in a ridiculous way between two laptops. I had to capitulate and buy a PC laptop, but I guess this development really helps the lone PC refuseniks who exist in work situations everywhere.

Now excuse me while I’m overly-optimistic for a moment and hope that we’ll see a similar attitude in more relevant areas…

Don’t hold your breath :)

April 6, 2006, 11:08

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