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What’s the big deal with Psystar?
Last week PsyStar, a company out of Florida, offered a machine in where you can have any Operating system installed. That included Mac OSX Leopard. The company has only been doing this for 5 days and already they have seen a flux of press. Why is this so controversial and is the company offering a service they cannot fulfill?
If you live in a Windows world, you don’t think much about what PC Windows is installed on. You may have a Dell, HP, Gateway, Lenovo or even built your system out of spare parts from the Six Million Dollar Man. However, Apple users had no choice when it comes to the hardware. If you bought Apple, you bought Apple. Hardware and software was created by the same company.
The idea is simple – if you don’t introduce a foreign motherboard design into the mix, you don’t have to compensate for it. Apple controls their hardware so they should know their products well. Now keep in mind there are other companies that make products for Apple – but nobody ever made a consumer personal computer that could run the Apple Operating system when it was using the PowerPC chip.
However, about 2 years ago Apple made a major change by moving from the PowerPC chip to a processor made by Intel. The reasons why were simple: power and heat. The PowerPC chips ran hotter and took more juice to run.
Because of the switch, Apple had to adjust the software to accommodate. Since the Intel chip for a Mac was no different than the one for a PC, Apple was able to tout the option you could install Windows XP or Vista on a Mac. So that meant that people could install Mac on a PC?
Not exactly. There is still one difference between the two machines. While PC’s use a Basic Input Output System (aka BIOS), Mac’s uses the Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI). Basically, this is what tells the computer what a Hard drive, keyboard, mouse, CD ROM and other components are and how to access them.
EFI has been touted to be superior over BIOS – simply because BIOS is an older technology and still runs on old ideals. BIOS runs on 16 bit technology whereas EFI was an adjustable system that supports 64 bit systems. Therefore, machines are able to support PC environments because it could emulate a BIOS environment.
The reverse can also be done – but you have to remember, old technology emulating new technology usually is not going to work as well as the opposite. Still, it can be done, and it has.
When Apple updated their Operating System to Leopard, it included a lot more instructions to work better in an Intel environment. Instructions that others can use to build the OS on a PC. Hackintosh has been a term for those who take the challenge to install Leopard on a standard Intel PC.
Up until now, if you wanted a Hackintosh, you had to build it yourself. Psystar is the first to publicly claim they can build you a Hackintosh. And because of this, they have been under a lot of direct fire. Can they really sell Leopard on their machines?
There is one thing people have been mentioning left and right. That is Apple’s End User License Agreement (EULA) says that the Apple Operating System can only be installed on Apple hardware. Psystar is not Apple Hardware, therefore it’s violating the EULA.
Since it’s convergence on the scene, Psystar has been under some great scrutiny. However, what is funny is that the company is not getting stopped by Apple. They have gotten stopped by their Payment Processing company – basically they can’t process credit cards.
So the real question is “Does it violate Apple’s Licensing”. Well that’s something a judge needs to decide. But the machine is still viable for a Windows or Linux PC.
I really think Apple should allow Psystar to continue making a Mac clone. They don’t need to accept all Mac clones, but one or two might be what makes Mac a more predominate machine in this environment. Mac has less than 8 percent of Market Share. Maybe a clone or two could boost that in the next 2-3 years? If Mac gets 25-30 percent market share, it will definitely take a big chunk out of the PC market for a great computing alternative.
IN the meantime, Psystar has a huge battle just so they can get their computers out the door. Eventually they will – with or without Leopard. At any rate, Psystar has gotten a lot of talk lately and that means it’s pretty much become mainstream overnight. Gotta love marketing strategy.