Thursday, Oct 07, 2021, 15:30 Mac: Software

A Deal That Would Have Changed PC History: Jobs Wanted to Put Mac OS on all Dell PCs

Anyone who has been following Apple for many years will remember the disputes with Dell. These culminated in the statement made by Dell's CEO in 1996, which has been quoted countless times, that Apple should be dissolved and investors should be given their money back. While Michael Dell was not far off the general market sentiment at the time – given Apple's desolate state – it was still a historically incorrect assessment. On the occasion of the tenth anniversary of Steve Jobs' death, Michael Dell recalls the time in a interview. According to the interview, Jobs approached him in 1997 with a surprising proposal - namely to equip Dell PCs with Mac OS.

1997: Jobs proposes Dell PCs with Mac OS
Jobs wanted to convince Dell to provide every PC with Mac OS - the customer should then decide individually whether Windows or Apple's operating system should be used. However, the idea also envisaged paying hundreds of millions of dollars a year in license fees because of this, even if the users' decision went in favor of Microsoft Windows. Michael Dell therefore rejected the proposal, but retroactively sees it as a historic moment. The episode showed what could have been - certainly PC history would have been very different.

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2005: Dell proposes Dell PCs running Mac OS X
Ironically, eight years later, the discussions went exactly the other way around. In 2005, Michael Dell suddenly warmed up to Mac OS X on Dell PCs. However, the situation had changed fundamentally, because in 2005 Apple was no longer the staggering crash candidate from the 90s. Therefore, there were no serious talks, because the iPod success had put Apple in such a solid position that experiments of the caliber "system licensing" no longer seemed sensible.

1993: Jobs wants to bring NeXT to Dell PCs
If you look even further back, there was even a third meeting between Jobs and Dell, in which it was about cooperation regarding hardware and operating systems - but not in relation to Apple. In 1993 Jobs asked Dell's CEO if he wanted to deliver the NeXT system instead of Windows. However, Dell declined with thanks on the grounds that there was no interesting software or customer interest.

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