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OS X Unlimited Client Edition

Apple have a chance to move closer to the market tipping point - will they take it?

Many universities and institutions of higher learning are feeling the crunch: people are more and more unwilling to continue using Microsoft products. But the nature of Microsoft licensing makes it difficult to switch. Can Apple match the licensing policies of Microsoft and close in on the market tipping point?

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Many universities have site wide Microsoft licences for Microsoft products - Office, SQL Server, Windows all or most versions - the works. The licences also cover future upgrades. Essentially all a CIO needs to worry about is deciding when to upgrade and for whom to upgrade for the pilot programme prior to upgrading everyone.

But when someone is given an OS X box the CIO essentially takes something that's already paid for and covered and in addition shoulders the new cost of licensing OS X versions of the software library.

It's extremely costly to upgrade all OS X clients when a new version comes out. Normally there's an OS X Server edition with unlimited clients - which in fact is a boon: Microsoft levy 'client taxes' but Apple do not. But there's no 'OS X Unlimited Client Edition' for the first Apple computers that eliminates the paperwork for further purchases of further licences further down the road.

But this is what universities and institutions of higher learning already get from Microsoft: a single licence covers all users.

Bean Counter Math

There's growing discontent with the Redmond based status quo and Apple are looking at a chance to reclaim a market that traditionally is theirs. Do they see what's happening? Do they see the chance they have? Will they take it?

Computer services at universities and institutions of higher learning are slamming the brakes on users who mindlessly whine for Microsoft's latest failure in operating systems. They're also sending signals up and down the chains of command that such alternatives are simply no longer to be considered.

So what more and more people along these chains of command are therefore wondering is 'where do we go instead?'

Some are willing to take a tentative step outside of the world of Microsoft to see what others are offering. But as things stand now it's a choice between something that's free (or seems to be as someone else's bean counters are already taking care of it) and something that means digging into one's own coffers and getting slammed by the cost of only a handful of client licences.

But if there's an 'unlimited client' for OS X as there is for Microsoft products that barrier to entry gets swept away and the bean counters suddenly find it easier to justify the expense.

To: Our University Community
From: Your Selfless Computer Services Staff
Subject: Microsoft Upgrades Not Exactly Recommended At This Time

On 30 January Microsoft will officially release their new 'operating system'. If you're wondering whether you should upgrade, we're recommending you don't.

Over the past year we've been evaluating the new Windows and have found that the system is not currently compatible with many applications used throughout our university. Some vendors have indicated that it may take several months before patches are available for their applications.

We'll continue to monitor the status of these software products and when we've determined they've been successfully patched we'll begin rolling out the new Windows and encouraging its use. Please be advised: if you install the upgrade on your own we can't help you or provide support when things predictably go south.

To stay informed about the status of our testing please visit our website. You can also try out the various new products in our software development lab - demonstration copies are available on several workstations so you can explore new program features.

To stay informed about the future of support for Apple's OS X please write to Steve Jobs (steve@mac.com) and ask him when he'll start offering unlimited client edition licences.

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