According to AppleInsider on their forums [Apple to release Mac OS X Lion through Mac App Store – sources – AppleInsider], Apple plans to move to a digital distribution model for the upcoming Mac OS X 10.7 codenamed Lion.
Apple’s App Store for iPhone, iPad, and iPod and now the App Store for Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard are the culmination of something Larry Ellison advocated way back in the 1990s. He said in effect why are bits boxed? He argued that bits should be carried through the network to computers rather than carried on media like CDs or DVDs. Apple seems to be further shifting to this model with this rumored distribution model for the next operating system.
I am not so sure how much I like this idea for the operating system. For distributing applications, I think that digital distribution is great. Unfortunately, more ISPs are wrongly implementing download caps. Additionally, it will increase the time for reinstallation for those of us who like to reinstall the OS every so often to maintain a clean computer workspace.
CmdrTaco on Slashdot commented on this change by writing, “A lot of questions surrounding this related to the ability to make bootable disks. And also, why don’t they just use apt-get? I gotta admit: it makes me nervous getting my OS from an App Store — which is strange considering how many kernels I’ve downloaded, built and booted over the years” [from here]. I have to agree with him that there is much that we do already to get software online–including OS kernels for Linux (Ubuntu in my case). I suppose the big difference is that with open source software, the bits aren’t controlled by a corporate overload. In Apple’s case, they will control access to those bits. If they follow their current model for third party software in their App Store, they will allow you to re-download software as many times as you want while you are logged into your account. Unfortunately, they will ultimately hold the keys to the kingdom and those policies could change.
I will write about cloud computing and cloud storage in a future post, but I will say now that I believe these issues of digital distribution and personal file storage in the cloud are interrelated. Both depend on access to the network and access to files stored “out there” in the cloud. I am a proponent of personal, local control of my files and the software that I license.
I installed the official Twitter application on MacOS X tonight with the Mac App Store. I have stayed away from the Mac App Store for the most part, but I decided to install some free applications tonight: Twitter, MPlayerX, and TextWrangler.
The official Twitter application looks very slick and takes up a minimal amount of screen real estate. You can check it out here if you have a Mac, too.
The Mac App Store is equally slick in the way that you can find applications, buy applications (get free ones too), and install them with a simple click. The application that you select hops up and lands safely in your dock following a downward facing parabolic curve. It is a neat effect. However, Apple’s gatekeeper status underlies the ease-of-use and eye candy of the Mac App Store. Like the App Store for iPhone, iPod, and iPad, Apple passes judgement on what can and cannot go into their app store. The same will be true for the Mac App Store. The slight advantage for the customer by having software vetted in some way by Apple, hopefully for security and protection of users from malware, is overshadowed by Apple enforcing its own brand of morality.
Chris Foresman on Ars Technica opined today that Apple may be using the Apple Design Awards as a way to strengthen their grip over what software gets support on MacOS X. This year, unlike years past, only programs available through the iOS App Store and the Mac App Store will be eligible for Apple Design Awards. Apple hasn’t yet tried to cut out the installation of software ‘blessed’ by the App Store, but this could be something in the cards for the future. I hope that this is not the case, but it does seem like MacOS X 10.7 Lion’s iOS-like features may point toward a more top-down controlled computing platform for Apple. And here I was hoping that Apple may open MacOS for homebuilt hardware . . .
I took over 1,900 pictures while Y and I were in Brunswick, Georgia and Taiwan over the holidays. I am beginning to go through them now using Apple’s Aperture software, which I purchased and downloaded through Apple’s new App Store for MacOS X, and I hope to post the best of the lot to Flickr soon.
The App Store (pictured above) for the desktop computing environment was the next logical step for Apple’s consolidation of digital delivery of programs and consumable media. The App Store delivers free and paid applications to a user’s desktop through its iTunes Store-like interface. Additionally, it automatically updates your purchased and installed programs. You can also install purchased apps on other computers that you own in your household by logging into the App Store app and re-downloading them for no additional charge.
As cool as I think the App Store is, it is distinguished by the absence of many apps by Microsoft and other big name publishers. I realize that they have only now launched the service, but I don’t know how many developers will want to sign on.
Furthermore, I don’t want to see the Apple desktop computing environment get locked into the App Store as their mobile computing environments on the iPhone and iPad have. Apple has used their muscle and capital-infused-morals to relegate who sells and what gets sold in their mobile App Store.
The App Store may hurt existing updating apps such as MacUpdate’s MacUpdate Desktop program.
If you don’t have the App Store, you can get automatically after you upgrade to MacOS X 10.6.6. You can see the App Store icon in the Dock on the lower left corner of this image of my Desktop: