Apple is honestly the most incredible company in existence. The only thing that has really gone wrong for them in the last few years is Ping – everything else has been a success. And they’ve just done something to change it all again: the new Macs. The first major release was one that we already knew about: Mac OS X Lion. This is nothing new and I’ve certainly blogged loads about it. But we had some more surprises instead: a new Mac Mini, new MacBook Airs and a new ThunderBolt display (basically a slightly updated version of the old, but still stunning – if not expensive, Cinema Displays).
The new Mac Mini looks pretty similar to the old one, but this one is clearly going to be a big upgrade, and I wouldn’t blame anyone for buying one – they’re expensive but they are incredibly good, and fast. According to the Apple website the graphics and CPU are about twice as fast (but there is some complicated reasoning behind this, so for the majority of people this probably isn’t true). It appears to be smaller, but it looks great.
Then there is the new MacBook Air, again this looks very similar to the last, though there is not as great a speed improvement, it is more just Apple making sure all the Macs support ThunderBolt technology properly. Having said that, it is a MacBook Air with Lion, which is cool. But there is a very, very big change. This MacBook Air hasn’t just killed the old model; it appears to have killed the legendary MacBook. Those beautiful white (and black, I hear you cry) creations that were there to replace the ancient iBooks. Sadly, this is the end for the classic MacBook.
I like the way the Apple names it’s Operating System. Microsoft has gone through random words, letters and numbers for the last twenty years, however Apple has always stuck to something far more simple: big cats. In the last ten years we’ve had Cheetah, Puma, Jaguar, Panther, Tiger, Leopard, Snow Leopard and most recently Lion. According to Wikipedia, the only two big cats left are Clouded Leopard and Cougar. But would Apple really name its Operating System like this after Lion? Lion is the last of the big cats because it is the biggest, greatest and most powerful in nature. Surely it would transpire that OS X Lion is therefore the last version of OS X. But what would we have after that?
It is clear that both Microsoft and Apple are both in agreement that within five, maybe ten, years there will be one Operating System that runs on smartphones, tablets and the desktop. Lion is meant to be the result of iOS and OS X. Windows 8 will be the result of Windows 7 and Phone 7. I think we can be fairly certain that the paths of each companies products will unite within that company to produce one product. Perhaps we will say goodbye to Mac OS – classic Mac OS – and Windows – classic Windows – forever with future versions.
Windows 8 certainly looks completely different. The Start menu looks nothing like a standard Windows menu. Microsoft has defined what a menu is for the last twenty years, and in the last four years they have started to kill something that worked. It started with Office 2007 and the Ribbon, moving towards Office 2010′s and Windows 7′s Ribbons and now we are seeing a Start menu that is made up from colored blocks. The Windows aren’t Windows, their apps.
I doubt that Apple and Microsoft are just going to go and kill everything they have done for the last twenty years, but I wouldn’t be surprised that, if minimum, the consumer versions will be under the merged-OS model. Perhaps the developer or professional versions will be old-school, but one thing is clear: the desktop will change, and it will change fast.
I’ve since done an updated post about the future of Apple and its Operating System with more up-to-date views.