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  1. 1. BEYOND THE VISTA How the youthful dreams of two aging pirates may now lie just over the horizon by Peter Weisz • September 13, 2005 and clock speeds, before the Internet and be- fore the tidal wave of technology that would soon engulf the last quarter of the twentieth century. “You know, Bill,” Steve mused as he adopted that smirky visionary posture he so adored, “it’s pretty darn clear where this thing is heading.” Steve then spouted his well-worn rant about how personal comput- ing will soon empower and liberate Ameri- can business like never before and turn com- merce from a trade into an art form. Bill had heard this McLuhan-esque blather all before. But today, Steve was feeling munificent, and so he added a twist: “That’s what’s coming, Bill, with Ap- ple making the mind-fuckingest hardware in T the world and with Microsoft making the hat’s slick, Bill,” pronounced the mind-fuckingest software in the world. It’s bearded and shoeless young man, the perfect combination. No one will be able eyes glued to the amber on black to touch us. Who knows, perhaps someday monitor hooked to one of the Apple II boxes we’ll join forces and become the phone lying around the room. company.” “Yeah, it’s a jump ahead of VisiCalc,” Steve issued these pronouncements Bill responded. “My marketing guy wants to with only the slightest tinge of irony in his call it Microsoft Multiplan.” Bill shoved a voice. I know it’s hard to believe, but some- clump of unkempt hair away from his wind- how Bill Gates found the scent of world shield-sized glasses as he began to run down domination seductively appealing. He sat the new spreadsheet’s impressive specs. Af- back and produced a lop-sided smile that ter a moment of this, Bill could once again signaled his approval of his pirate mate’s discern that glazed and dreamy look settle grand vision. With Apple cranking out all of across Steve’s sharp features. the computers and Microsoft churning out The time was six months before IBM all of the programs to run on them, they was set to introduce their slapdash effort to could…dare I say it?...rule the world! cash in on the PC fad that Steve and Woz Someone astutely pointed out that vi- had somehow ignited. It was the last sum- sionary people are, in fact, visionary because mer of innocence when operating systems of the great many things they don’t manage had names like CP/M and mattered only to to see. We all know the rest of the story, the leather pocket protector bunch. It was a n’est-ce pas?. No? Well, here’s the 30-sec- time before Windows or even MS-DOS, be- ond version: fore mice and Xerox PARC, before clones
  2. 2. Page 2 of 4 Beyond the Vista by Peter Weisz September 13, 2005 the block. • IBM needs an OS for their PC. • Microsoft introduces another, better, • Gates says he has one and then buys more stable Mac OS knock-off, Quick & Dirty Operating System Windows XP. (QDOS) for $50K. • Despite producing the most stylish, • Gates renames it MS-DOS and li- user friendly, secure PCs on Earth, censes it to IBM. Gates collects roy- Apple is unable to dislodge even a alties. piece of the Microsoft market share hegemony. • IBM PC is a smash. Send in the • Apple introduces innocuous MP3 Clones. Gates collects royalties out music player. the wazoo. Royalties grow exponen- tially soon making him richest man • Apple opens first retail store. The in the world. stores are a success and will grow to over 100 units worldwide within 3 • Apple introduces Apple III. It flops. years. • Apple introduces Lisa (based on in- • Apple builds supportive infrastruc- terface design stolen from PARC). It ture around iPod calling it iTunes flops. and the iTunes Music Store. • Apple improves its marketing skills • Apples makes iPodization available and introduces Macintosh. It almost to Windows users. Now there’s a flops. good idea. • Sculley’s in. Steve is out. • Apple updates Mac OS X with a • Microsoft introduces thinly-veiled new jungle cat every year. Mac OS wannabe called Windows. • Apple revolutionizes music distribu- It’s actually mere Window dressing tion system overnight and finds it- for MS-DOS and goes nowhere. self the proud owner of an untouch- • Windows 3.0 is introduced and is able market share. adopted as the standard by the fast growing cloners like Compaq, Dell, • Microsoft announces next OS will Gateway, etc. be called Vista. First lookers report that it does a pretty darn good imita- • Apple watches PC market share slip tion of Mac OS X. from 85% to 12% during 1980s. • Over 23 million iPods and a half bil- • Apple switches from Motorola 68K lion iTune songs are sold during first series CPU chips to IBM-produced 4 years of existence. PowerPC chips. • Apple announces that it is switching • Windows 98 solidifies Microsoft’s from IBM-produced PowerPC CPU stranglehold on the desktop and lap- chips to the same Intel X86s that top. have been powering Windows boxes • Meanwhile Steve fails to come up for years. Oh, what can it mean? with the NeXT big thing, but a very It can only mean one thing. cool and stable OS (NeXTStep) is Convergence. No, I don’t mean jam- born. ming an iPod player into a cell • Just before Apple is due to tumble phone and calling it the wave of the into the abyss, the prodigal returns future. I mean real, unvarnished and kicks off a renaissance of style convergence like when they figured with the iMac. out you could put a floral shop in- • Steve brings along NeXTStep and it side of a supermarket. The fact is is melded with Mac OS to produce that the iPod phenomenon has re- Mac OS X. Hailed as the best OS on aroused a long-dormant dream in
  3. 3. Page 3 of 4 Beyond the Vista by Peter Weisz September 13, 2005 the breast of Apple (and Pixar’s) “But, Bill,” Steve implores, peripatetic CEO. “simply putting Intel processors into Macs won’t get the PC crowd to “Look what we can do when dump their Dells.” there’s no Microsoft glass ceiling impeding our progress,” crowed “They’ll do it if I tell them to,” Jobs after the introduction of the purrs Bill all-knowingly. “If we tell new iPod nano — a mind-boggling our enterprise and government cus- amalgam of ingenuity, engineering tomers that the next version of Win- and style that is destined to supplant dows will run best on a Mac, they’ll the Mini at the top of the iPod heap. believe us. Of course, we wouldn’t Steve has recently discovered what say it unless it were true.” Bill has known for years: “It’s good “Well, it won’t be true,” Steve to be the King!” Steve’s thinking replies, “because why would some- must go something like this these one run, Vista...which is days: still a poor imitation of Mac OS X, “We made the iPod the best on a Mac when they can run the real and that’s why we have been re- thing?” warded with a killer market share.” “I’m talking beyond Vista,” “We made the Mac the best, Bill explains patiently, having de- and if things had not gotten so veloped a visionary posture of his screwed up along the way, it would own over the years. “I’m talking today also enjoy a killer market about the operating system we put share.” out after Vista.” It’s clear that Steve’s hunger “What’s that?” asks Steve for market share has not been sated. somewhat naively. In fact, it has undoubtedly been “It’s called Mac OS X,” rekindled and the old pirate dreams quoteth the Emperor. of yore are once again being revisit- ed. Steve now, more than ever, So as the Great Mandala comes wants to “halo” the iPod’s market full circle, we begin to glimpse how share numbers right over to Apple’s these somewhat aging pirates view Mac business. But how to pull it off, their own intimations of immortali- that’s the toughie. ty. Their legacy to the world will be a Grand Unified Platform supported In a search for answers, Steve by the three-legged stool of Apple, may even have turned to his old Microsoft and Intel. The world of swashbuckling partner and had this tomorrow will see an end to the ven- hypothetical exchange: erated Mac vs. PC debate. No more “Say, Bill, do you think that software compatibility issues. Apple could ever produce a Mac Servers, laptops, tablets, PDAs all that will enjoy as much widespread manufactured by Apple and all pow- popularity as the iPod?” ered by Intel X86 processors and all factory equipped with the stunning To which Bill no doubt turned Microsoft OS X operating system. and replied — looking every bit like Chancellor Palpatine respond- And just why, you might ask, ing to Anakin Skywalker in Episode would Steve give away what has al- III — “Not with a PowerPC proces- ways been dubbed the “crown jew- sor, you won’t!” els” of the company — its cher-
  4. 4. Page 4 of 4 Beyond the Vista by Peter Weisz September 13, 2005 ished, nearly holy, operating system the steps that unfold next from Red- code? Simply because, in exchange, mond and Cupertino. Watch for he will receive Michael Dell’s Vista running smoothly on a Macin- shorts upon which he may merrily tel. Think about the implications of nibble on during lunch. dual binary code compilation. With each passing day you’ll see signs The scenario I depict will not that Steve fully understands the come into full focus tomorrow or Lessons of iPod: If you want market even the day after tomorrow, but the share you’ve got to plug into the forces in play will eventually con- Windows market. verge. They will converge because with age comes hard-won wisdom. And when the new dawn of Bill understands that Apple will not Computer Convergence is at long be swept under the rug or ever be- last upon us, try to recall that you come marginalized by Microsoft’s read it here first. And then get ready massive market share. Steve realizes to live in a world imagined long ago that Microsoft has secured an un- by two young silicon valley pirates breakable umbilical cord to 95% of who dreamed that someday they all the PCs in the world. Both under- would…dare I say it?...rule the stand that future opportunities can world. only be exploited by meeting the needs of the market — a market that demands the standardized infras- The writer is an author and publisher and was deeply affected by the 1984 Introducto- tructure of the Windows world plus ry Macintosh Super Bowl commercial. He the elegance, stability, security and occasionally publishes prognostications stylishness of Mondo Macintosh. about the computer industry that have proven completely accurate every time. Meanwhile, pay attention to