Will Computers One Day Run on Single OS?
VHS vs. Beta, HD DVD vs. Blu-Ray... How Does OS X Fit In to Picture?


by Joe Leo, Columnist


COMMENTARY: 3.27.08-- A few weeks ago, a war was won by an electronics heavyweight, and the battle was deemed over for good. The high-definition DVD format wars were won by Sony with their Blu-Ray format the clear winner in the end, and Toshiba throwing in the towel, conceding defeat on their HD DVD. (War, conceding defeat? Sounds like a political debate!).

With the opinion piece yesterday on Leopard's seemingly clear victory over Windows Vista, it brings to mind an interesting thought... will we one day see a single computer OS format?

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The battle over the DVD format war was very short-lived. It seems just like yesterday we were introduced to high-definition content and had a plethora of choices. Well, only two really. "HD DVD" sounded more official--since it had the word "DVD" in it--and "Blu-Ray" disc seemed like something fancy and high tech and totally way out there, like from or meant for another planet.

Maybe because it had the word "ray" in it. Calls to mind sci-fi flicks: lasers, phasers, ray guns!

If you didn't know then (and if you still didn't know until now) you would eventually find out that the two similar-yet-different formats were backed by two companies. Toshiba and Sony. And based on the latter's reputation with their somewhat historic flop to no fault of their own--can you say Betamax?--one would have surely thought that Toshiba would have won in the end.

To everyone's surprise, Sony's Blu-Ray format is now in, and Toshiba's HD DVD is out. According to CNET.com, Microsoft and Intel backed the HD DVD format back in 2005, while Dell and HP backed Blu-Ray. Where was Apple in the mix? They were pretty mum about it and were waiting like everyone else. (Hard to back anything when two of your rivals are on each side).

Though the Mac Observer's John Martellaro says that Apple was supporting Blu-Ray the whole time, even though its partner-in-crime, Intel, was on the other side.

So what's the Apple vs. Microsoft, Mac vs. PC, OS X vs. Vista (or XP) relation here?

First let's go back, way back before this columnist was born--but still remembers growing up seeing those two formats at the video rental store--to the original format war. VHS vs. Betamax, or "Beta" for short. Then, it was JVC who had the VHS format, and, saints preserve us!, Sony who had the Betamax format. (Are you seeing any type of correlation yet?).

According to MediaCollege.com, that war lasted for over a decade. Sony was first with theirs in 1975, and JVC followed suit a year later. In the mid 80s, JVC won the battle due to? "Slick marketing." Never mind the fact that Sony's technology was the better of the two. (It's also interesting to point out here that one of the many companies backing Sony was... Toshiba!).

Now who do we know and love that has bushels of slick marketing up their sleeves?

We all know that since the birth of Apple, and then the advent of Microsoft, the two companies have been battling over whose operating system is superior. (And which came first, the chicken or the egg? Or who cloned what chicken). Although Apple was first and Microsoft copied them, in the end, Microsoft won because they licensed their OS while Apple didn't.

Today, Microsoft doesn't appear on the surface to be winning over any hearts with their Vista operating system, and Apple is receiving rave reviews over its current Leopard version of Mac OS X, and the ever-popular Tiger before that. While OS X is a seasoned and stable system from the ground up, in its fifth incarnation since its inception, Vista is only in, "beta" format.

If underdog Sony, who lost the first war back in the '80s, can make a comeback in the '08s, maybe Apple--founded before '77, was declared dead before '97, and made a huge comeback in '07--who has used their slick marketing over the years (especially in recent years), will be able to do the same, possibly putting an end to the PC vs. Mac OS war for good!

Boy, wouldn't that event be something to record on HD DVD, uh (oops!), Blu-Ray disc!