updated 09:20 am EDT, Mon October 22, 2007
Jobs: Regular OS upgrades
Apple will likely continue its current upgrade strategy for the Mac OS, says Apple CEO Steve Jobs. Speaking with the New York Times, Jobs notes that the Friday release of Mac OS X Leopard will form the basis for another cycle of continuous operating system upgrades, possibly lasting as long as a decade. "I'm quite pleased with the pace of new operating systems every 12 to 18 months for the foreseeable future," Jobs comments. "We've put out major releases on the average of one a year, and it's given us the ability to polish and polish and improve and improve."
The strategy stands in contrast to Microsoft, which only releases major upgrades to Windows every few years, punctuated by one or more "service packs" to keep systems current. The company has also taken to an approach of releasing multiple versions of its current platform, Vista, a practice which Jobs jokes is misguided. "[With Leopard] everybody gets the 'Ultimate' edition and it sells for 129 bucks, and if you go on Amazon and look at the Ultimate edition of Vista, it sells for 250 bucks."
Microsoft also expects its next operating system, currently codenamed Windows 7, to remain in development until 2010, a timeframe which may give Apple the chance to release two more major upgrades.
Charles Wolf, author of the industry newsletter Wolf Bytes, comments on recent market share gains by noting that of the 100 million or so visitors now coming to Apple's retail stores each year, he estimates that 60 to 70 million are Windows users drawn in by the iPod or iPhone. Some of these people may potentially switch over to the Mac platform, says Wolf.