One of the first things that Steve Jobs did when he returned to Apple in the late nineties was to cancel all plans regarding making Apple Mac OS available to third-party PC makers. However, several years later he was considering to allow Sony to use the innovative OS X operating system on its Vaio PCs. But Sony decided to stick to Microsoft Corp.’s Windows.
Nobuyuki Hayashi, a Tokyo-based IT journalist and consultant, recently spoke to Kunitake Ando, the ex-president of Sony, and found out that back in 2001 Steve Jobs demonstrated Sony executives a working prototype of a Vaio PC running a Mac OS X. The demonstration took place after a golf competition during winter holidays.
“Steve Jobs and another Apple executive were waiting for us at the end of golf course holding Vaio running Mac OS,” said Mr. Ando.
Since Mac OS X operating system is largely based on NeXTstep OS (originally developed by NeXT, a company founded by Steve Jobs that Apple acquired in 1997) which was compatible with various microprocessor architectures (x86, PA RISC, SPARC, etc.), Apple could license its OS to third-party manufacturers. But Steve Jobs believed that Mac-compatible business would harm not only Apple’s business, but also the Mac brand, which is why the only exception considered was Sony.
Although Mr. Ando admired Apple and its products, they turned down the offer to use Mac OS on their PCs because the engineering team had finished optimizing both Vaio’s hardware and software specifically for Microsoft Windows operating system. Starting the work from scratch would mean delays of products, glitches and confusion of the customers.
Sony Vaio PCs have always been very innovative and stylish. The mix of style, art and technology were admired by Steve Jobs, so running Mac OS X on Sony Vaio could seem a logical thing for him. Perhaps, over time other PC makers with innovative and stylish PCs (Voodoo PC, Alienware, etc.) could also gain access to Mac OS X.
A collaboration between Apple and Sony could affect the PC market in general. With the help from Sony, Mac OS X could have been be much more widespread these days. Now that Apple Macs have gained traction and their market share is slowly increasing (in many cases because people do not like Windows 8), it is hard to imagine Apple licensing Mac OS to other companies.
The competition between Apple Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows could do a lot good for the PC world as a whole. Most probably, Windows would have never evolved into tiles of the Windows 8’s Metro GUI. Meanwhile, Mac OS could be much better as a gaming platform.
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