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Old 02-09-09, 02:30 PM
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Macs and Clones.

It's starting to sound like 1995 again.

For those that don't know, Psystar Corporation has been avidly working on creating computers for the sole purpose of running Mac OS X. Right now, they are huge, loud behemoths that would probably appease the Hackintosh crowd that couldn't make it happen themselves. However, with the Court decision announced this week that allowed the company to continue making clones, there might be more pathways for the company to explore.

Now, I love OS X. I recently inherited an old iMac DV SE to play with, and with 512 MB of memory and a small disk drive (that will be upgraded soon, hopefully), it runs great. In fact, it's a good smack to the face of Windows Vista, considering that it shares the same feature-set but can run at nearly a quarter of Vista's required resources. Additionally, even with such an outdated processor (400 MHz PowerPC G3), it is extremely stable and has yet to crash or inexplicably slow down. I have had no reason to disable Spotlight because it hardly interferes with what I'm doing, whereas Vista would ALWAYS get in the way when it indexed (especially after first install). I can also easily trace the cause of slowdowns in OS X using the Activity Monitor (
Code:
kernel_task
is usually a big resource sucker, but it's a required kernel function), whereas things in Windows-land may not be so obvious (for instance, why there is no easy way to force kill
Code:
svchost.exe
without killing all network functionality).

However, the last time Apple tried to mass-market their operating system lead them into a near-death experience, and with good reason. Apple is a hardware company. Ever since their inception, they have been known for being pretty good at making computers that were different. They just happened to believe that their hardware is best with their own software, and try to provide the best experience possible with the (arguably) best operating system for their market. These ideals cannot be captured in the same way in a clone.

The proliferation of Mac clones will, in my opinion, force Apple to support a cornucopia of hardware configurations that OS X was not designed to handle. Many of the reasons why Windows has a tarnished reputation in stability stems from this pattern. In fact, Windows is extremely stable on hardware that is not only well supported in their Hardware Compatibility List (HCL), but is accompanied by well-written drivers to boot (which are a dime a dozen). There is a great possibility that clone manufacturers can tap into Apple's hardware segment, but I think that the bulk of the damage will be done on their software, since that, apart from their digital media segment, is a main source of their revenue.

I would rather see Apple create a spin-off division that sells "Macs" at lower price points, but also using lower-quality materials and designs. Another thing that would be awesome would be to see them buy a clone manufacturer to make business machines that optimize OS X for the Enterprise. It will carry a distinct culture that is better aligned to serve the corporate world; in fact, it could even be under another name so that there is even less negative brand perception.

The majority of the market Windows holds is in the corporate sector, so any penetration into this market poses a great threat to the hegemony Microsoft has here.
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Old 02-09-09, 02:36 PM
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Okay, here is my allotted totally ignorant I-should-already-know-this computer question of the year:

If MacOS runs on Intels and you can run Windows on a Mac, why can't you run MacOS on a "PC"?
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Old 02-09-09, 03:12 PM
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Originally Posted by SonataInFSharp View Post
Okay, here is my allotted totally ignorant I-should-already-know-this computer question of the year:

If MacOS runs on Intels and you can run Windows on a Mac, why can't you run MacOS on a "PC"?
Because of secret bits of hardware in the system that MacOS uses to make sure it's on a real-live Mac. There are ways of getting around this, though.
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Old 02-09-09, 03:17 PM
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Clones won't get big traction on the Mac end for a number of reasons.
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Old 02-09-09, 03:30 PM
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Why would Apple have to support non-authorized or licensed clones running OS X or any other OS they publish?

That responsibility will fall to the computer maker.

Apple: Hello, this is Mac Customer Service, can I help you?
Joe user: Yes, I'm having trouble with OS X.
Apple: OK, what model Mac do you have?
JU: Oh, I don't have a Mac, I have a Pystar.
Apple: OK, we'll, you'll have to give them a call to help you with your issue; we're not able to provide you support on their computers. Their customer service number is 800-123-4567. Is there anything else I can try to assist you with?
JU: uhhhhh.....
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Old 02-09-09, 03:35 PM
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I think they can make their business work as a niche, but I doubt they'll make significant inroads into Apple's computer sales. If anything they may help Apple sell more machines as cost conscious Windows users buy cheaper Pystar boxes and later get a real Mac when they realize they don't want to go back to Windows but prefer Apple quality and support. It might help Apple expand market share with a lower cost alternative....
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Old 02-09-09, 03:35 PM
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the only major problem with mac clones is to get hardware that will work with OSX since the drivers for OSX are pretty limited.
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Old 02-09-09, 04:28 PM
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Originally Posted by skiahh View Post
Why would Apple have to support non-authorized or licensed clones running OS X or any other OS they publish?
bingo.

the people that would buy an unlicensed OS X box wouldn't buy an Apple Mac anyway; they're either too cheap or too poor. harsh, but true.

this won't hurt Apple at all directly.

where it may hurt them - and this is why they should keep after the unlicensed cloners - is indirect losses due to perception issues. if OS X has problems running on unsupported hardware, it could cause people to think the OS is the problem (rather than the hardware).

it's a very different case than the 90s, when cloners were legally producing better, faster and cheaper hardware than Apple.
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Old 02-09-09, 07:38 PM
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Originally Posted by patentcad View Post
Clones won't get big traction on the Mac end for a number of reasons.
Times may be different now, but Apple killed the last clone program because it was gaining too much traction.
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Old 02-09-09, 07:42 PM
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Originally Posted by x136 View Post
Times may be different now, but Apple killed the last clone program because it was gaining too much traction.
And they can kill it again without even breaking a sweat considering their THIRTY BILLION DOLLAR cash position. Then again, this isn't 1995. The computer market is considerably different for a slew of reasons. The gap between Apple hardware/support and cheesy third party hardware/support is exponentially larger today than 14 years ago, and it was a meaningful gap back in 1995. Those third party clones of that era really did kind of suck, I know plenty of people that had rather disturbing Windowesque experiences with clones who went back to Apple products later.

This is a blip on the Apple radar for many reasons, but I'm sure nobody is watching more closely than the boys in Cupertino. They haven't gone from the balls of their ass to rivaling Dell and Microsoft in size and power because they're idiots.
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Old 02-09-09, 07:59 PM
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Originally Posted by patentcad View Post
And they can kill it again without even breaking a sweat considering their THIRTY BILLION DOLLAR cash position.
Definitely. The only way a sizable clone market is going to pop up today is if Apple gives in and lets it happen. I can almost see that happening, but I don't think it will, at least for now.

Originally Posted by patentcad View Post
Those third party clones of that era really did kind of suck,
Some of them did, of course, but some of them mopped the floor with the official Apple models of the day. The Daystar Genesis MP machines, for example, were incredible pieces of hardware.
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Old 02-09-09, 08:02 PM
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Originally Posted by SonataInFSharp View Post
Okay, here is my allotted totally ignorant I-should-already-know-this computer question of the year:

If MacOS runs on Intels and you can run Windows on a Mac, why can't you run MacOS on a "PC"?
The main reasons are:

A) There are a lot of hardware checks OS X has in place (most of them in very clever, hard-to-find locations) that prevent regular PCs from loading it,

B) OS X lacks a lot of support for the various PC configurations out there, so even if it were to load, it would have trouble on many PCs (as exhibited by the very existence of Hackintosh forums), and

C) It is legally prohibited by the End-User License Agreement.
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Old 02-09-09, 08:04 PM
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Originally Posted by patentcad View Post
And they can kill it again without even breaking a sweat considering their THIRTY BILLION DOLLAR cash position. Then again, this isn't 1995. The computer market is considerably different for a slew of reasons. The gap between Apple hardware/support and cheesy third party hardware/support is exponentially larger today than 14 years ago, and it was a meaningful gap back in 1995. Those third party clones of that era really did kind of suck, I know plenty of people that had rather disturbing Windowesque experiences with clones who went back to Apple products later.

This is a blip on the Apple radar for many reasons, but I'm sure nobody is watching more closely than the boys in Cupertino. They haven't gone from the balls of their ass to rivaling Dell and Microsoft in size and power because they're idiots.
Actually, their expansion would probably threaten the very culture that they operate on.
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Old 02-09-09, 09:28 PM
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Originally Posted by MrCrassic View Post
Actually, their expansion would probably threaten the very culture that they operate on.
As long as you understand what this means, that's all that matters.
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Old 02-09-09, 09:30 PM
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Originally Posted by x136 View Post
[LIST]


Some of them did, of course, but some of them mopped the floor with the official Apple models of the day. The Daystar Genesis MP machines, for example, were incredible pieces of hardware.
I'm a graphics pro, and have been for 18 years. I only heard negative stories about third party machines from other graphics pros at the time.
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Old 02-09-09, 09:39 PM
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Originally Posted by SonataInFSharp View Post
Okay, here is my allotted totally ignorant I-should-already-know-this computer question of the year:

If MacOS runs on Intels and you can run Windows on a Mac, why can't you run MacOS on a "PC"?
You can't run OSX on a PC?!

Someone should tell my HP before OSX shuts down!

Originally Posted by AEO View Post
the only major problem with mac clones is to get hardware that will work with OSX since the drivers for OSX are pretty limited.
Not as difficult ad you'd think... Many network cards are the exact same chipset as the Airport and many of the video cards are found in today's Mac Pros.

Originally Posted by jhota View Post
bingo.

the people that would buy an unlicensed OS X box wouldn't buy an Apple Mac anyway; they're either too cheap or too poor. harsh, but true.

this won't hurt Apple at all directly.

where it may hurt them - and this is why they should keep after the unlicensed cloners - is indirect losses due to perception issues. if OS X has problems running on unsupported hardware, it could cause people to think the OS is the problem (rather than the hardware).

it's a very different case than the 90s, when cloners were legally producing better, faster and cheaper hardware than Apple.
Re: unlicensed OSX box users being too cheap or too poor... Well, when my iBook died from an unsupported, yet well documented, logic board failure, I was left with quite a bit of money invested in Mac compatible software. Sadly, a new Mac with any decent specs would have been vastly out of my price range. Enter OSX86. My HP (<$500) is an amazing computer that runs OSX perfectly. A couple simple upgrades and this thing is specced about as well as last year's Mac Pro.

I understand Apple's hesitation of two separate products, hardware and software. I really can argue for and against their position. It's all a double edged sword.
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Old 02-09-09, 09:45 PM
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Originally Posted by SingingSabre View Post
Well, when my iBook died from an unsupported, yet well documented, logic board failure,...
When that happened to me, Apple replaced it with a brand-spanking-new model. Easiest upgrade from G3 to G4 that I could've had.
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Old 02-09-09, 10:09 PM
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Apple is discontinuing support for many older G3/G4 models. Those machines are like 7-9 years old now however.
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Old 02-09-09, 10:52 PM
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They're discontinuing support for them, as in they HAVEN'T ALREADY?

Most companies throw in the towel after three years, tops!
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Old 02-09-09, 11:19 PM
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New Mac coming out soon using Intel's new 8-core CPU. Last time I tried to build a MacPro clone using Intel dual quad-core Xeon MB with FB-DIMMs and RAID drives, it ended up costing me $500 more than the real item. And I didn't even get the tool-free case with handy cable-free drive-bays. Hopefully, a clone-maker can create one for less.

BTW - my PowerComputing PowerTowerPro is still humming along nicely.
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Old 02-10-09, 12:43 AM
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Cheap Mac clones?

Oh Lordy...the interwebs will be even dumber.
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Old 02-10-09, 12:57 AM
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Originally Posted by BarracksSi View Post
When that happened to me, Apple replaced it with a brand-spanking-new model. Easiest upgrade from G3 to G4 that I could've had.
They told me I could pay $400 to replace the logic board...
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Originally Posted by Bklyn
Obviously, the guy's like a 12th level white wizard or something. His mere presence is a danger to mortals.
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Old 02-10-09, 06:12 AM
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Originally Posted by MrCrassic View Post
They're discontinuing support for them, as in they HAVEN'T ALREADY?

Most companies throw in the towel after three years, tops!
Apple charges more, their support is generally far superior, that's just one example. Have you ever seen their customer satisfaction scores? They're like 30% higher than the next closest PC maker.
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Old 02-10-09, 07:04 AM
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Originally Posted by patentcad View Post
Apple charges more, their support is generally far superior, that's just one example. Have you ever seen their customer satisfaction scores? They're like 30% higher than the next closest PC maker.
Those numbers may say as much about the people being served as they do about the service itself. When I used to do desktop support, my experience was that Mac users gravitated towards two extreme customer types -- the totally clueless and hacker techno nerds.

The people in the latter category have infinite patience for messing with things that don't work and are actually just looking for advice rather than a solution when they call. The people in the former category (the vast majority) were exceptionally clueless and getting flubbed up on simple stuff. Combine that with a culture of learned helplessness that encourages perceiving a need for assistance on basic matters, and you have an easy to please audience.

Not that there aren't plenty of clueless PC users, but there are a lot more people with moderate technical skills and higher service expectations.
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Old 02-10-09, 10:37 AM
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Less experienced computer users are generally less patient when problems arise. I think that's a big reason for the "converts" that went to OS X from Windows (e.g. "I'm tired of the pop-ups," "Nothing worked," etc et al). Unfortunately, that impatience doesn't change, which can make a Mac Specialist's job a bit more difficult.

I'm actually trying to break into tha tmarket because it's much more profitable than being a PC specialist.
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