It’s been almost three years now since, with great fanfare 🙂 , I switched from a UNIX Workstation to a Mac as my primary desktop workstation. That change was many years in the making – I worked with Mac OS X along side my trusty UNIX workstations for several years before making the complete jump.
Apple baited me, and a lot of us Linux and UNIX developers, with the charm of a real UNIX OS underneath – more or less everything one gets with a typical modern Linux distribution simply by opening a Terminal window – while being wrapped in a nice modern GUI supporting tons of “mainstream” Apps, like MS Office and Adobe Photoshop. No more dual-booting. No more firing up a Linux VM to do development. It was glorious, while it lasted…
With Apple’s deprecation of Java, with no warning at all last week, we have to accept that the “switch” part of the bait and switch may now be on. As Paul Rubens says in Apple Tells Developers, ‘Mac OS X, Hold the Java’:
If you’re a developer that relies on having access to Java and you happen to like the Mac platform, then don’t expect your treatment at the hands of Apple to be any better. Apple is making it quite clear that it’s not the slightest bit interested in repaying your investment in it.
Around the net, this is being passed off as a minor issue, but as The Register notes:
…the further implication is that [Apple] will halt all development of Java for Mac. If this happens, it will be left for someone else to provide a viable version of the platform for Macs. And if Apple doesn’t open source its existing work, that’s no easy task.
…We stand by our claim that if Java suddenly disappeared from all desktops, relatively few people would actually notice. But those few include Java developers, which includes, well, Android developers.
That may be what Apple’s real motivation is here, to somehow attack Android (and further alienate Android developers in the process).
No matter what their motivation, the fact is, Apple appears to be giving some of their most persuasive evangelists the finger. It’s difficult to say how many former UNIX nerds like myself jumped to Apple over the past 10 years and how many countless “regular users” they brought with them, but regardless of the actual absolute number, there is no doubt that this segment was a critical factor to the turn around of Apple’s image from “toy” to “serious” machine. Apple has probably decided that they don’t need us anymore, and they could be right. You never know though – beware the power of the nerds and geeks, I always say.