Mad as Hell VII: MacTel vs WinTel -- 2007

Within the next two years, organizations and consumers will have a choice of three different viable, interoperable OSes.

Disgusted by security issues and poor performance, Winn Schwartau makes the switch from Windows to the Mac and details the bumps in the road along the way in his "Mad as Hell" series.

IMHO, 2007 will be a hugely significant year for the evolution, or perhaps devolution, of the PC industry.

Three dramatic events will occur.

  • Longhorn, or some version thereof, is sorta scheduled to be out. It has all sorts of promises with it, but over its development, many of the promised features have been removed. Understandable! Complexity breeds complexity and this is the last thing the enterprise desktop or Ma&Pa needs. I really think Microsoft has it all wrong here.
    • They are adding more features. Color me skeptical. Longhorn is a major rewrite. Adding features to a new underpinning only complicates a trouble free roll out. I don't think it will be trouble free at all.
    • They are changing the look/feel in many ways; users and Ma&Pa will be learning from close to scratch.
    • They say they are improving security. Beware of complexity and management issues. In the government, the old 'B' ratings were applied to 'secure' machines, appropriately tested by the NSA. This level was called MAC, or Mandatory Access Control. Each object is 'labeled' [Secret, Top Secret, Public, Sales or HR] to create isolation between objects and subjects [users]. Very cool. Works well. Multi-level security though is very hard to manage. You think it's tough now? Hah! Try managing hundreds of people in a few dozen departments in a half dozen locations, with a bunch of servers, custom applications and hundreds of thousands of files. It's a bitch! A real bitch! Not for the faint of heart. SNAFUs wait at every turn.
    • While MS is making radical changes to their OS, they could be making existing OSes more robust without SP2 disasters.
    • Better yet, how about an MS KISS SOS? (Microsoft Keep it Simple Stupid Simple Operation System.) Small kernel. Interoperable office suite applications, an integrated reader that can handle every file format we all use. Sounds like OS X to me, but I think MS could do the same thing -- and should.
  • According to Apple, MacTels will be gushing forth in vast numbers by 2007. I figure it will be an integrated HW/SW approach with more spectacular industrial engineering.
    • WinTel watch out: Your price advantage just evaporated. If it were me, I would charge
      More Mad as Hell

      MacIntosh vs. Windows: Choosing to take a bite of the Apple
      Disgusted by security issues and poor performance, Winn Schwartau makes the switch from Windows to the Mac and details the bumps in the road along the way in this exclusive intro to his "Mad as Hell" series.

      Mad as Hell archive

      somewhat more for the MacTels because Apple could afford to provide the kind of support and service we want. Security and reliability with Apple history? MS has a rep to overcome.
    • No horrendous security implications for Apple or MacTel users.
    • I also expect that Apple will release an open architecture version of OS X [et al] in 2007 and tell the Intel PC community, "Go for it" and issue a serious challenge to Longhorn as an OEM OS.
    • Security ramifications of low-cost MacTel clones? The underlying OS is well tuned and security is built in. Will HW vendors mess it up? How much they mess it up will depend upon the amount of review and technical control [read certification] Apple will require. [Read profit center]. It could well want to have substantial quality control over its partners and the products they produce. Tread carefully.
  • 2007 Event Three: LinTel and some Office Suite become ready for prime time. I know, I know: Linux is God. OO.o is perfect. IMHO, it isn't quite there. LinTel needs to have more experience and a few more major deployments at the desktop.
    • Given that LinTel is making major inroads to the appliance server market, a strong technical foothold is being built. But that's the geeks. To make it out of the NOC into Ma&Pa's kitchen, though, LinTel still needs maturity, another couple of generations of tweaking and true home user simplification.
    • The adaptation of LinTel is going to happen. Someone with $ is going to open this market opportunity with a BANG!

Stay with me here. My prognostication says, "In 2007, enterprise and Ma&Pa will have three different viable, interoperable environments from which to choose." Now, if you'd like, you can argue with me here, but [with no sound basis by which to defend this position] I predict the following desktop market shares for 31 December 2007:

    WinTel 72%
    MacTel 16%
    LinTel 12%

What do you think?

Bottom line:
What really matters today [and in 2007] is two and only two things!

  • Security of the platform, its application, its OS, including availability, reliability and cost of ownership. Don't just think of crypto and hacking as security. There's plenty more to worry about.
  • Seamless data transfer between WinTel, MacTel and LinTel. If the data is usable in all of these environments, managers can look beyond the alleged monopolistics and design their environment from a simpler, more appliance oriented and operational viewpoint.

Next in the Mad as Hell Series: The new security triad

About the author
Winn Schwartau is one of the country's leading experts on information security, infrastructure protection and electronic privacy. Schwartau is president and founder of Interpact Inc., The Security Awareness Company, which develops information security awareness programs for private, public and government organizations.

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