North Korea, now in its third generation of murderous leadership, may be a bellwether for personal computing -- or perhaps a confirmation of what is happening elsewhere, given its rulers' fascination with Western status symbols, from alcohol to basketball. A year ago, a photo of Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un showed an iMac on his desk, despite export bans of such technology to North Korea. Now, we've learned that the official Linux-based Red Star OS has been upgraded from being a Windows lookalike (via a customized version of KDE) to an OS X lookalike in the 3.0 version.
Yes, the Hermit Kingdom has dumped Windows for OS X, a sign of the passing of the torch in the PC market. Don't laugh -- last year, North Korea also created an Android lookalike, reflecting that platform's dominance in mobile.
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It's clear that the Windows PC market is in crisis. Users loathe Windows 8, and enterprises are shunning it. Asian PC makers publicly and loudly criticized it. Every major PC maker is now offering Android PCs and/or Chrome OS PCs, ending the slavish Microsoft relationship they've endured for decades. Hewlett-Packard once again began marketing Windows 7 PCs, as buyers continued to avoid Windows 8 models. Even longtime Windows fans like Paul Thurrott have turned on it.
Android and iOS are ascendant. OS X had been on a big upward trajectory -- though mainly in the United States -- ever since Windows Vista's unwelcome debut in 2007, but that seemed to reverse course last summer. (Holiday sales were strong, so it's not clear yet if its momentum has shifted.)
Could the Mac become the primary PC in a world where the PC is secondary to tablets and other mobile devices? Apple CEO Tim Cook believes so, as he said in a recent Wall Street Journal interview claiming that his company was making big investments in future Macs. Then again, you'd expect Apple's CEO to believe that.
I've seen most people in my extended family switch to the Mac over the last few years, mainly because their technical support networks had done so and, thus, were less and less able to support Windows. None has regretted the change. For some like me, Vista was the negative reason to switch, but even after the good Windows 7 came on the scene, the defections continued. The iPad and iPhone started becoming the positive reason to change, and Windows 8's debut added a negative reason on top of that.
A very recent example is Phil Redman, a former Gartner analyst now working at Citrix Systems. He recently tweeted that he had switched to OS X six months ago. "So it's been about 6 months since I've been using a MacBook full-time for work. It's great."