8 Feb 97


"MacTel" Boxes"


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8 Feb 97:In one of the worst kept secrets in the Tech Sector of late, reports and rumors have been flying about that "Rhapsody" is going to be ported to Intel Boxes in what is called the "Red Box"; which would also enable PPC boxes run Windows applications. And, some of the resultant reports seem to have "blown it" by failing to look at the telegraphed punches as well as some of the nuances in the reports and rumors. And some have been mislead by factions who don't want to see MacOS on X86 boxes because of the mere thought of "Sleeping With The Enemy" is abhorrent to them. However, they're wrong in that belief.

Some have run stories on the "Red Box", that while accurate in the context in which they were written, were also inadvertantly misleading. How do we know this? Well, RFI mentioned the "MacTel" boxes a long time ago and "consensus" snickered at the assertion. And our Mar 96 Special Report: "The Not Intel Standard & Strategy" was considered "Pure Heresy", but with the developments since that time, we're not so "crazy" anymore....

So, we're going to lay out the MacTel box rumors and reports as we have known them.

First. Yes Virginia, Rhapsody will be ported to the X86 platform. That's the latest line we have received. We've been calling them "MacTel" boxes for a while. However, the MacTel Rhapsody port won't be able to run MacOS applications, but will run Windows applications as well as applications for the MacTel ("Yellow Box") Rhapsody port. "MacTel" will have the "Yellow" and "Red" Boxes but not the "Blue" (MacOS 7). The "Three Boxer" is going to be kept for PPC/PPCP boxes. Why give Intel an "equal footing" with the PowerPC Partners? It would be stupid to do so. Also, the limitations of the X86 platform, versus PPC, wouldn't suit having the "Blue Box" in MacTel.

Second. While Apple has no intention of becoming a MacTel/WinTel cloner, they have to work with Intel to make sure the port works well on the X86 platform. Something RFI mentioned on 24 Jan 97 with its Apple,WinNT & Intel item. Furthermore, there is no love lost between Intel (INTC.O) and Microsoft (MSFT.O) and Intel won't refuse to have another option to Windows on the boxes running "Intel Inside"; especially if MacTel will give WinTel a run for its money. All of the recon regarding the WinTel channel is even more true to than it was in February and March 1996.

However, the current crop of WinTel cloners might have problems with Microsoft because of their Windows licensing agreements. Dual installs of MacTel and WinTel might not be so easy for the cloners. But more on that later.

Third. Apple has been talking with Microsoft so they can complete the MacTel/Red Box port as well as enabling Windows applications to be run on PPC boxes; even though WinNT 4.0 is already ported to PPC. The reports of MacTel/Red Boxes caused Microsoft to reissue "old news" and the media obligingly picked it up as "fresh news". Yes, it was months ago that Microsoft announced its intention to abandon the PPC and Alpha platforms in favor of focusing on the X86 platform. And, RFI had mentioned, as far back as July 95, why WinNT on PPCP would prove to be an "embarrassment" in its current incarnations (WinNT 4.0/5.0, etc.).

Fourth. The reports that Apple is also talking with IBM (IBM.N) to license the OS/2 Warp PPC kernal is another way for it to easily integrate Windows applications into the "Red Box"/MacTel. It's also a form of insurance lest Microsoft decides to balk at having competition for "Windows" Operating Systems and applications. Expect Microsoft to chafe at the bit being placed in its mouth once MacTel boxes start being produced. And that some WinTel cloners will migrate to making MacTel boxes after some of the Mac Cloners start selling them and encroaching on their market share is a "No Brainer".

Fifth. Back to PPCP Rhapsody boxes. RFI has repeatedly stressed that Apple's PPCP/CHRP goal was: "To make the OS one of preference rather than default". We can't stress that enough. Given that Microsoft has "balked" at competing with MacOS on PPCP, Apple is having to provide current users of WinTel clones the ability to migrate to PPCP boxes with their Win95/NT applications. Ergo, the MacTel port to the X86 platform and the "Red Box" in Rhapsody PPCP boxes. If WinTel users become accustomed to running their applications on MacTel boxes, it isn't that far of a leap for them to migrate to PPCP Rhapsody boxes and bring their applications along with them.

Sixth. That all of this isn't "news" in the real sense shouldn't be a surprise. Not only has this been in the works for quite some time, as a "strategy" if not "operationally", but Dr. Amelio, et al, have been giving "Telegraphed Punches" regarding all of this for quite some time. Something which accelerated after Copland was sent to the "Trash".

RFI has been discussing this in depth for quite some time, and the reputable Mac-The-Knife and MacWeek staff have been unearthing the news in an expedient manner, which supports rather than disproves RFI's "Recon" on this topic. Just read the MacWeek item "Apple Execs Fill In OS Details"

Seventh. The recent stories and articles in some publications, and other media outlets, that state that "Rhapsody on Intel" was not going to happen were mostly due to misunderstanding some of the finer details and nuances of what was being said or inferred. As well as the aforementioned factions.

"No Blue Box" in MacTel Rhapsody was interpreted as no "Rhapsody" port to the Intel/X86 platform. Apple stating that they did not intend to make Intel boxes was interpreted as no "MacTel" boxes. And, it was easy to misunderstand the various strategies and plans that are being formulated and executed. In fact, a lot of the misunderstanding was fomented by factions that don't want to see Rhapsody on X86 boxes as they see it as a form of sacrilege.

Eighth: MacTel Cloners. When Rhapsody/MacTel boxes hit the markets, even before then, don't expect Microsoft to lay back and allow their current Windows licensees to dual install Windows and Rhapsody on the same box. According to their licenses, the cloners are supposed to make sure that the first thing the user sees is Microsoft on their screens, and installing MacTel on the same box would violate their licensing agreements. Apparently, Microsoft was more than willing to allow "Free Market Competition" on PPCP boxes, but when it comes to their home turf they are extremely proprietary.

But, not all is lost as the first MacTel cloners probably won't be any of the current crop of WinTel Cloners. In fact, the first MacTel boxes will more than likely be made by the current Mac Cloners as they are not restricted by the Microsoft licensing agreements. Ergo, the first advertisements for Windows compatible MacTel boxes that will appear in the PC publications will probably bear the nameplates of Umax, PowerComputing, Motorola, APS, IBM, etc., rather than Compaq, DELL, etc.

Sound "crazy"? Not as farfetched as you might think. IBM and Motorola have sublicensing rights to the MacOS and that includes any port of MacTel. Ergo, the cloners with licenses for MacOS will also have the opportunity to make MacTel clones without the contraints placed on the current crop of WinTel cloners.

However, if the MacTel clones are sucessful, the current crop of WinTel cloners will be sorely tempted to figure out a way to make them as well. They are only shackled by Microsoft and Windows to the extent that there is no other real alternative to Win95/NT. Even if that means making MacTel clones without Windows installed.

Bottom Line? RFI has been repeatedly warning people to look for and listen to those "Telegraphed Punches" as well as paying attention to the nuances and minor details because it is within them that one can discern a lot more than what is being revealed in the press releases and news items. Liken it to the "Kremlinologists" during the Cold War. And, there will probably be an explosion of "Macologists" amongst The Street once it becomes apparent that MacTel boxes will offer a credible challenge in the PC marketplace.

And to get a taste of what the future might hold, read Meltdown Time for the PC, which is the "Front door" to the article "Has The PC Had Its Day?" It's worth reading.

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