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Tim O'Reilly, Mac OS X and the switch

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In his personal weblog O'Reilly writes that he had the opportunity to discuss with Tim McDonough, the Marketing Director for the Mac Business Unit at Microsoft about the famous problem raised by MS herself on the poor sales of OS X, which could force the closure of the development Office.X.

In the conversation, McDonough confirmed Microsoft's concern about the slowness with which MacOS 9 users are migrating to X, but also recalled that Microsoft's Mac Unit is the largest Mac software development group in the world, which owns the larger test lab after that of Apple, and that MS was the first major manufacturer to release software for X and to focus only on X. Microsoft actually invested heavily on MacOS X, releasing important products such as Office.X, MSN Messenger, a Palm conduit and a Palm desktop client, Internet Explorer, Windows Media Player and Remote Desktop Client.

At the same time McDonough was surprised to know how many copies the O'Reilly of "Mac OS X: The Missing Manual" sold, a punctual and extensive guide to Apple's new OS: the "missing manual" was the title sold faster than O'Reilly since 1992 has been the best seller of the computer section for most of 2002 at Amazon, Borders, and Barnes & Noble. The Marketing Director of Microsoft's MBU was equally astonished to know that O'Reilly's typical customers ( Unix power users, Java developers, perl hackers, and various geeks) are adopting OS X en masse.

And here is the point: according to O'Reilly there would be a large market made up of people of this type, who need Office as tools for programmers, a vast market as much as the one currently installed by Apple at the moment and everything to conquer, a market completely forgotten by Microsoft and Apple, who think only in terms of "switchers", from OS9 according to MS, and from Windows according to Jobs.

O'Reilly conducted an informal and hasty survey: he sent a message to the Dave Farber's IP mailing list (this is a list frequented by opinion leaders of the high tech sector, people who generally precede the trends and in any case members of that sector of " alpha geeks ”which O'Reilly talks about) asking who of the readers was switching to OSX.

The answers were 15: – Upgrade from OS 9 (5) – Switching from another system (10) – Switching from Windows only (1) – Switching from Windows to OS X for personal use, but still with Windows in the workplace (2) – Switching from dual-boot Windows / Linux, or from two machines with the two systems (2) – Switching from Linux (5)

In addition, two of the five users from OS 9 were also Linux users, therefore, in other words, "switches" already appear to occur at a higher rate in users who use Linux or other Unixes.

O'Reilly also revealed that out of 1300 people who bought the "Missing manual", only 29% also bought a basic guide on Unix, showing that few people needed an introduction to this type of system, the 10 % also bought a book on Windows, so they are users of both systems, 5% also bought a title on OS 9, 6% also bought a programming book for Mac, another 6% about a Java or Perl programming book.

Everything suggests an important commercial opportunity for Apple: to the hi-end professional markets, where Unix and Linux are traditionally strong, and therefore the need for Apple to address the "switch" campaign especially to the Unix / Linux world rather than to that Windows. (Edited by Marco Centofanti)