MAC TALK with Magnus Nystedt

No more
“Mac” in

Published: Sat 25 Feb 2012, 11:35 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 12:01 PM

Don’t worry, the name “Mac,” as in the name of Apple’s line of portable and desktop computers is not going anywhere, but these computers will not be running a “Mac” operating system anymore. Apple is bringing its mobile OS, iOS, over to its computers, starting this coming summer.

Did you notice that when Apple quietly let the preview of its operating system, OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, out of the bag, that “Mac” was missing from the name? Some say that this isn’t new, that it actually goes back to last summer, but I think it’s significant that in the vast majority of people’s minds, this is brand new.

And that includes me. If the change happened already last summer I sure didn’t notice. Only when I was browsing around the pages on introducing the new cat to me, did I notice that “Mac” was dropped from the name of the operating system.

Let me be so bold as to put this out there right now: this is the most significant change of the name of an Apple product ever, period.

It may also be the only change of an existing product’s name that Apple has ever made. At least I can’t think of another example of something like that happening, nor can I find anything browsing the web. But I doubt any other name change, if one has taken place, has come with as far-reaching consequences.

Overall, what it means is that Apple is giving up on its operating system for computers, what’s been called Mac OS X so far, at least when it comes to its interface. We should remember that Mac OS X is actually the basis for iOS. Basically, Apple took Mac OS X, stripped out a lot of functionality that wasn’t needed, and streamlined a lot of other aspects of the OS, created a new touch-based interface, and that was the start of iOS.

Now, Apple is taking the interface as well as much of the functionality of iOS, including the notifications, and adding it to Mac OS X, and stripping the “Mac” from the name.

Already last year Apple took the app store idea and applied it to the Mac, and with Mountain Lion it’s taking that a few steps further. You will still be able to install whatever software you want in the upcoming OS, but Apple is tightening the control over what you will be able to run or not, that much is clear.

Of course there are still some major differences between the operating systems. For example, you can still install and run full applications like Adobe Photoshop and Microsoft Word on your Mac, and will continue to do so. Even if you compare an application that exists for both platforms, say Apple’s Pages, there is a stark difference between the versions.

It’s easy to see that a few years down the road, Apple will merge the two operating systems. Perhaps when iOS 7 or 8 comes around, iOS and OS X will be one and the same.

Magnus Nystedt, @mnystedt

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