Grabbing the Apple
I was trying to remember today when I first, consciously, installed a new operating system on a computer. To be honest, I’m not sure I really understood the concept of a ‘new’ version of an operating system until Microsoft introduced Windows (which at first was really just an application that sat on top of MS-DOS, of blessed memory), and Apple introduced System 7 (before that I was never aware there was a System 6, or whatever) – both of which happened in the late 1980s. Then again, before that time operating systems were really odd things – you had them on a floppy disk (remember them?) which you inserted into the disk drive as you switched on your computer, and once it was loaded you removed the floppy and inserted another with your documents. Can you imagine that now, an entire operating system on a 1MB disk?
By the time Microsoft launched Windows 95 the thing was (if I recall) on 11 floppy disks which you had to insert one after another, each one taking ages to load. Not long after that operating systems appeared on CDs and eventually DVDs.
But today there’s another change. Apple is introducing its latest operating system – OS X Lion – online; you go to the Apple website and purchase it. You then download and instal it. That’s it. And it costs $29.99. It doesn’t seem that long ago when a new operating system was several times that price.
Apple’s Lion is being launched a day after the company announced record quarterly profits of $7.3 billion, on revenues of $28.6 billion. Not only are the revenues staggering, but profits amounting to nearly 25 per cent of revenues also show the extraordinary power of this company, which 20 or so years ago looked like a basket case. How times change.