Apple Takes New Direction by Offering Free Operating System

In addition to the new iPads unveiled yesterday, Apple made several announcements regarding its hardware and software products. The new MacBook Pro and MacBook Air laptops will go on sale immediately, while the $2,999 Mac Pro desktop will ship before the end of the year. Apple’s iWork and iLife suites of office and creative software are now free with every hardware purchase. Another surprise is the company’s decision to offer its Mac operating system, OS X Mavericks, as a free download.

“We want all Mac users to experience the latest features, the most advanced technologies, and the strongest security. And now they can. Because the newest version of OS X is free,” explains Apple on the Mavericks site.

“The Mac operating system is designed to be easy to use and engineered to take full advantage of the technologies built into every computer we make. So everything works just the way you expect it to. OS X also comes with powerful apps for browsing the Web, sending messages, setting reminders, and so much more. And the apps work great with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, too.”

“Selling Mac software has never been a huge money-maker for Apple, and the price of OS X upgrades had been dropping in the past few years,” according to CNN. “The move can be seen as a shot at Microsoft, which relies more heavily on revenue from sales of Windows.”

In addition to OS X Mavericks, Apple has completed updates to 20 more of its apps, available for existing customers to download free. With the new approach, “we are turning the industry on its ear,” suggests CEO Tim Cook.

Some have expressed surprise to the company’s new strategy of offering its flagship operating system and related software for free, while others see the decision as a smart business move.

“The move comes in the face of more intense competition for Apple on the software front,” notes CNET. “Google’s suite of productivity apps, which includes Drive for storage and file syncing, and Docs for word processing and collaborative working, has increasingly established itself with users. And as Apple’s biggest mobile hardware competitor, Samsung, gains market share, Android users are that much more tempted to use Google’s productivity suite.”

It could also cause new Mac users to think twice about purchasing Microsoft Office, if they find the Apple services satisfactory. Microsoft is readying the release of Office on the iPad.

In addition to the software announcements, the new MacBook Pro and MacBook Air laptops, available this week, have been updated with improved graphics, longer battery life, faster flash storage and next-gen Wi-Fi. The latest MacBook Pro with Retina display will start at $1,299, about $200 less than previous models. The 15-inch model starts at $1,999.

The 11-inch MacBook Air starts at $999, while the 13-inch model starts at $1,099.

“The new Mac Pro was built with 4K video-editing in mind,” reports Wired. “The twin GPUs, Thunderbolt 2 output, and a new 4K-ready version of Final Cut Pro were emphasized onstage by Apple’s Phil Schiller, with much of the attention going to how fast the new system can render effects in four-times-greater-than-1080p video.”

Studio Daily adds that filmmaker Dean Devlin has been a beta user of the “new generation” version of FCP. “The Mac Pro makes real-time 4K video editing a reality,” says Devlin. “It’s more powerful than I ever imagined, and it will change the way I make movies.”

Related News:
Apple Just Ended the Era of Paid Operating Systems, Wired, 10/22/13