re: Windows 8.1 vs. OS X Mavericks: Free Upgrade Showdown
Yep, Windows 8.1 is something like a service pack. That said, given the features Win 8.1 features it offers, the new delivery model it represents and its status in the Microsoft's evolving product line, I think it's a bit different than traditional service packs. It's not like OS X is going to threaten Windows in the enterprise, but both companies want as many of their customers as possible on the newest versions of their respective OS. Both companies are evolving more and more toward integrated service ecosystems that make customers the intersection of as many products as possible, and both OS X Mavericks and Windows 8.1 represent steps toward advancing this goal. PCs reinforce tablets that reinforce cloud services that reinforce app delivery models and so on. Lots of permutations for success if you get it right-- but it involves persuading your customers to move along.
In that regard, Apple seems to be coming out ahead, at least right out of the gate. Its PC numbers have trailed off the last few quarters, and it will be interesting to see how its new machines will be received. I think a lot of media and design professionals will like the Mac Pro, but it's too expensive to expand beyond niches. The MacBook Pro could be less "Pro" than ever, given that the most affordable configuration drops the discrete graphics card. That said, the jury is still out on the Iris Pro GPU, and with the new, lower price tag for the Retina, a lot of people in Apple's prime market might be persuaded. Anyway, as that back and forth shows, there are uncertainties for Apple just as there are encouraging signs. But if early OS X Mavericks enthusiasm carries over in any way to all the new devices Apple recently announced, or to the alleged ultra-thin 12-inch notebook some supply chain analysts say is coming next year, things could be interesting in consumer and BYOD PC markets.