Snow Leopard gets richer, thinner, cheaper than Windows 7

Posted:
in macOS edited January 2014
After trying to beat back the Mac's increasing encroachment into the PC world with ads focused on price, Microsoft's club has been picked up by Apple to give Windows 7 an embarrassing pummeling in terms of price.



Explaining that the company wanted as many Mac OS X Leopard users as possible to upgrade to the new Snow Leopard, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing Phil Schiller announced a $29 upgrade price for Snow Leopard and a $49 family pack upgrade. Users who buy a new Mac between the June 8 announcement and the release of Snow Leopard can get a copy of the new software for even cheaper, just $9.95 to cover shipping and handling.



Apple hasn't explicitly stated it yet, but it appears that the retail box of Snow Leopard could still be priced at $129, although it's hard to imagine who would need to buy the new operating system at retail rather than as an upgrade, particularly since it requires a relatively modern Mac to run, mostly machines that either shipped with Leopard or have already upgraded to use it.



While Apple is slashing the cost of Snow Leopard dramatically even as demand and interest in the Mac platform is on an upswing, Microsoft did just the opposite with the release of Windows Vista, bumping up the cost of upgrades and retail copies and introducing new pricing tiers to artificially restrict features to pricier editions even as expansion of the PC market began to plateau and as the emergence of cheap new netbooks began to question the need for an expensive operating system.



Microsoft has since backtracked on Vista's pricing, and for the first time ever, the company has essentially given away a year's worth of Windows licensing by pumping out free copies of its Windows 7 "release candidate" software on the market to stem the tide of Windows defectors and entice disgruntled Vista users back with a real life, wide scale Mojave Experiment. Of course, it's only free until next summer, at which point users' Windows 7 PCs will stop working until payments are made. In any other industry, this strategy might be characterized as product dumping, but in the PC industry that Microsoft has ruled as a de-facto corporate government for the last twenty years, it's just business as usual.



Leopard vs Vista



Apple's decision to offer Snow Leopard to Mac users on the cheap contrasts with Microsoft's first-one-is-free tactic for Windows in that Apple is essentially rewarding its loyal customers, while Microsoft is working to win back the interest of jilted PC users after several bouts of abuse: security nightmares, price tag beatings, broken promises on features, and poor performance.



Unlike the very popular Leopard, many Windows PC users who ended up with Vista demanded to get a Windows XP downgrade. PC makers felt such a backlash in customer demand that they pressured Microsoft to at least bundle a Windows XP installer disc with new systems, allowing them to continue to sell PCs while Microsoft could continue to at least count the sales' bundled Vista licenses to claim some success for the company's most underwhelming Windows release in recent memory.



Vista was soundly rejected even by corporate users, who have historically acted as a strong barrier to any new competition against Windows in the PC operating system market by resisting alternative software in lockstep. Microsoft's monopoly essentially attacked itself as if an autoimmune disorder; the company has worked so hard to prevent new competitors from entering the market that it now can't offer anything really new itself either.



Bertrand Serlet, Apple's senior vice president of software engineering, was quick to grab at that loose string on Microsoft's sweater and tugged hard to unravel it at WWDC, noting that while Vista attempted to compare itself with Mac OS X, it carried forward the same old technologies that had hurt the Windows experience since the 90s, specifically noting problem-plagued DLLs, the configuration mess of the Windows registry, the archaic notion of expecting users to defragment their disks manually, and the annoyance of Vista's UAC popups.



"What a big hole Microsoft has dug," Serlet said. "They're trying to get out of it with Windows 7; it's the same old technology as Vista. Fundamentally, it's just another version of Vista."



From the beginning, Apple has characterized Snow Leopard as a refinement release, initially suggesting it would have no new features apart from support for Microsoft Exchange. While there are a lot of refinements and some new features, the company has stuck to making Snow Leopard primarily a unifying reference release rather than a splashy collection of new consumer features as Leopard was. "We love Leopard, so we decided to build upon Leopard," Serlet said. "We want to build a better Leopard."



Snow Leopard vs Seven



Some pundits were confused by Serlet's comments, thinking that there was some hypocrisy in his nailing Windows 7 for being another Vista when Snow Leopard is itself clearly another Leopard. But the point Serlet made wasn't that Microsoft was failing to make great enough leaps in its marketing. It's that Microsoft was really only focusing on making great leaps with its marketing. While Snow Leopard jettisons a variety of legacy technologies and ushers in significant new ones, including Grand Central Dispatch, OpenCL, and QuickTime X, it still increments itself following the usual sequence of new Mac OS X reference releases to 10.6.



The name Windows 7 suggests a major new release, when in reality the company's new operating system is internally numbered as Windows 6.1. Microsoft's executives have never denied that Windows 7 was actually a tuneup of Vista. In the words of Microsoft's CEO Steve Ballmer, "it's Windows Vista, a lot better."



Microsoft is notorious for picking its software version numbers out of marketing meetings rather than scheduling releases around engineering efforts as Apple has. Mac OS X has been progressively and predictably notching up a single increment with every reference release over the past decade, and the internal numbering system for its Darwin core OS numbers back to NeXTSTEP releases of the late 80s (Snow Leopard's Darwin OS release will be 10.0). Mac OS X itself gets its "ten" from the releases of the classic Mac OS. No number games there.



In contrast, the Windows NT code base that both Vista and Windows 7 are based on started its numbering with version 3.1. Exchange Server similarly started out without a 1.0 or 2.0 release for marketing reasons. And really, who would have gotten excited about Windows 2000 and Windows XP if they'd been pushed to market as simply Windows 5.0 and 5.1? Vista and "Windows 7" similarly have far more flamboyant panache than Windows 6.0 and 6.1.



Too Rich



There's no rules that define how developers must number their software, and Microsoft can use all the distraction it wants in creating number games that seek to distance Windows 7 from the disaster that was Vista. Apple certainly employs as much hyperbolic marketing as it can to sell its engineering work to consumers. However, what consumers will see when they unbox a new Windows PC will be a tamed down version of Vista with fewer problems, with a more Mac-like user interface. In contrast, what Mac users will experience with Snow Leopard is a noticeably faster, animately richer, 6GB thinner, and much cheaper operating system experience.



Steve Jobs didn't even need to show up at WWDC to disprove the notion that you can never be too rich or too thin. Now his company is set to show that it's not afraid to be cheap, either. And while Microsoft can continue to harp on the idea that there are lower-end PCs from Dell and HP that forgo sexiness and performance and usability to deliver cheap hardware, it won't be able to say the same thing about the product it actually sells, because a full Windows 7 copy has to be priced at around $300 retail to prop up Microsoft's software-only Windows business, something that's already in flames with the collapse of global PC growth and the tumorous expansion of cheap netbooks that don't reap Microsoft any software revenues.



With Snow Leopard costing a fraction of the cost of Windows 7, it will make Microsoft's cheapskate ads ring hollow and force the company to face dramatically competitive software pricing pressures that the PC industry has never demanded of Microsoft before. In twenty years, the price of Windows has only ratcheted upwards as PC prices have dropped. Apple is now cutting off the PC operating system's oxygen supply just as it helped dry up any demand for Windows Mobile licensing with the iPhone.



Even if Windows 7 gains traction in ways Vista never did, the downward pricing pressure Apple is exerting will prevent Microsoft from inhaling the inflated revenues the company has grown addicted to, which will benefit both Mac users and PC users. Additionally, it promises to potentially open up more opportunities for alternative operating systems such as Linux by cutting the dominating control Microsoft exercises over PC hardware vendors.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 190
    italiankiditaliankid Posts: 279member
    the Mac maker is worried.



    Microsoft owns 89% of the market.



    Microsoft will come out with a price for Vista upgrade users - Guaranteed.



    They said it before... They will follow through. I am sure.
  • Reply 2 of 190
    cycomikocycomiko Posts: 716member
    If vista never gained traction, does that means OSX has never gained traction ?
  • Reply 3 of 190
    freenyfreeny Posts: 128member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by cycomiko View Post


    If vista never gained traction, does that means OSX has never gained traction ?



    Relatively speaking
  • Reply 4 of 190
    vineavinea Posts: 5,585member
    Downward pricing pressure? What downward pricing pressure? Windows is effectively free for most folks because they buy a whole new box every few years.



    Very few folks pay $300 for Vista.
  • Reply 5 of 190
    For the record, this post reads like a very dry parody of a rabid fanboy. I would be impressed if that was the intention, and I'll give you the benefit of the doubt, so bravo!
  • Reply 6 of 190
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,273member
    Apple's comments on Snow Leopard retail upgrades.



    Quote:

    Upgrading from Mac OS X v10.4 Tiger.



    If your Intel-based Mac is running Mac OS X v10.4 Tiger, purchase the Mac Box Set (when available), which is a single, affordable package that includes Mac OS X v10.6 Snow Leopard; iLife ?09, with the latest versions of iPhoto, iMovie, GarageBand, iWeb, and iDVD; and iWork ?09, Apple?s productivity suite for home and office including Pages, Numbers, and Keynote.




    So it appears that Apple may just create a Mac Box Set containing Snow Leopard and likely toss in Snow Leopard versions of iWork and iLife.



    That's what i'm buying even though I've got two computers on Leopard I still need the family pack of iLife and iWork.
  • Reply 7 of 190
    minderbinderminderbinder Posts: 1,703member
    "Steve Jobs didn't even need to show up at WWDC to disprove the notion that you can never be too rich or too thin"



    Ouch. Isn't that in pretty poor taste considering SJ has a life threatening medical condition that literally proves you CAN be too thin? Or did that go over the head of whoever wrote this?
  • Reply 8 of 190
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 31,334member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JayEssTee View Post


    For the record, this post reads like a very dry parody of a rabid fanboy. I would be impressed if that was the intention, and I'll give you the benefit of the doubt, so bravo!



    I was about to say the same thing. Apple advocacy is one thing, this article is just over the top.
  • Reply 9 of 190
    gtl215gtl215 Posts: 242member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JayEssTee View Post


    For the record, this post reads like a very dry parody of a rabid fanboy. I would be impressed if that was the intention, and I'll give you the benefit of the doubt, so bravo!



    lol, i assume it was intentional....literary dramatics aside, the article is good and points out the most basic of points: If Win7 and OSX SL are both "upgrades" and not full-fledged new OSes, then Apple has MSFT in one hell of a corner by only charging $29.
  • Reply 10 of 190
    gtl215gtl215 Posts: 242member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post


    I was about to say the same thing. Apple advocacy is one thing, this article is just over the top.



    lol. I enjoy reading the over the top articles, but only because I'm rational enough to see through it. Apple haters will take the same article and tear it apart, not having been able to see the actual points illustrated in the piece.
  • Reply 11 of 190
    xwiredtvaxwiredtva Posts: 389member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by vinea View Post


    Downward pricing pressure? What downward pricing pressure? Windows is effectively free for most folks because they buy a whole new box every few years.



    Very few folks pay $300 for Vista.



    Yea, they just steal it.



    There's a marketing technique that works really well. If you have nothing to sell, sell the fear and humility. So MS is selling the fear that you will go broke or be embarrassed by your Apple purchase. That you spent too much and could have spent less and got the same experience.



    It's worked so far hasn't it. Apple is simply squashing those techniques and giving away (so to speak) leopard 2 is going to open them up to a whoop-azz commercial set to inform the public... "Hey we like our customers and we gave them the OS for nothing to pennies but MS keeps asking you to pay and pay? What kind of friend does that...." Type. The "too bad your not an Apple customer, we take care of you... Upgrade prices, Genius's, One-One training, online training...



    One place, one call, all the answers.
  • Reply 12 of 190
    treestmantreestman Posts: 20member
    I think you left off the biggest contrast of all.



    Apple is proud enough -- and the product was successful enough -- for them to want to continue using the Leopard name. Hence Snow Leopard.



    By contrast, Vista is such a poison that Microsoft won't even use the name in its own ads, let alone in the "fix it" release that is Windows 7.
  • Reply 13 of 190
    alfiejralfiejr Posts: 1,524member
    The essential points made by Prince ring true: Win 7 is one part marketing puff, and the upgrade pricing scheme is a blatant attempt at market manipulation.



    But nonetheless the PC users of the world will very likely embrace Win 7 as the "good version of Vista." aging XP's general obsolescence is becoming apparent and all those older PC's are near the end of their life cycle anyway. so rather than upgrade, XP PC users will finally buy new computers - as soon as their budgets allow - and be quite happy with the UI improvements of Win 7, which MS advocates will claim make it just as user friendly as Mac OS. Whereas Vista was more or less a flop, Win 7 will be deemed a success.



    Apple's Snow Leopard needs to offer some real substantive advantage over Win 7 for Apple to continue to grow its market share gradually as it has. scorn for MS' BS isn't going to work.



    The one real difference between the two may be their real world speed for everyday use. people really do notice the speed of things they do all the time. Apple made a big deal about SL's speed at WWDC yesterday. and all the test reports note Vista/Win 7 are notably slow/inferior with multitasking, which is a very meaningful issue.



    With the release dates for both new OS just a month apart, Apple has set up a head-to-head SL vs. Win 7 showdown - which is certainly how the media will play the story. Apple must think this is to its advantage.



    if that showdown features speed test vs. speed test with Snow Leopard a clear winner - something even the simpleminded media can understand, like a car race - that would be a big win for Apple and support its continued market growth. we'll see ...
  • Reply 14 of 190
    columbuscolumbus Posts: 281member
    I disagree that Apple will place pressure on Micrsoft's pricing, as the only computers they will allow Snow Leopard to run on are their own.



    All other machines have to run Windows 7.



    For Mac users Snow Leopard is a steal.
  • Reply 15 of 190
    irnchrizirnchriz Posts: 1,590member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hmurchison View Post


    Apple's comments on Snow Leopard retail upgrades.







    So it appears that Apple may just create a Mac Box Set containing Snow Leopard and likely toss in Snow Leopard versions of iWork and iLife.



    That's what i'm buying even though I've got two computers on Leopard I still need the family pack of iLife and iWork.



    Yeah, looks like they are upgrading the current box set to include 10.6 instead of 10.5.



    Here is the link to the current one: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Apple-Leopar...4584256&sr=8-8
  • Reply 16 of 190
    gtl215gtl215 Posts: 242member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by columbus View Post


    I disagree that Apple will place pressure on Micrsoft's pricing, as the only computers they will allow Snow Leopard to run on are their own.



    the downward pressure comes from MSFT no longer able to claim price as a differenting feature. (or at least, the argument isn't nearly as good as it used to be).
  • Reply 17 of 190
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by minderbinder View Post


    "Steve Jobs didn't even need to show up at WWDC to disprove the notion that you can never be too rich or too thin"



    Ouch. Isn't that in pretty poor taste considering SJ has a life threatening medical condition that literally proves you CAN be too thin? Or did that go over the head of whoever wrote this?



    I was about to say the same thing.
  • Reply 18 of 190
    halfyearsunhalfyearsun Posts: 304member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by GTL215 View Post


    lol. I enjoy reading the over the top articles, but only because I'm rational enough to see through it.



    Apparantley, everyone likes reading these forums because it makes everyone feel better about themselves. Every single one of us is more rational and clairvoyant than the next guy.
  • Reply 19 of 190
    ivladivlad Posts: 740member
    I can't wait till Windows 7 release. Apple is gonna make great ads to show that it is really just fixed Vista.

    LOL
  • Reply 20 of 190
    taurontauron Posts: 911member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by minderbinder View Post


    "Steve Jobs didn't even need to show up at WWDC to disprove the notion that you can never be too rich or too thin"



    Ouch. Isn't that in pretty poor taste considering SJ has a life threatening medical condition that literally proves you CAN be too thin? Or did that go over the head of whoever wrote this?



    Who said SJ has a life threatening medical condition?!?!
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