Apple seems to be looking forward to the launch of Windows 7 almost as much as Microsoft, but for very different reasons.
While Microsoft may see Windows 7 as a way out of the failure of Vista, Apple plans to take advantage of the launch by catering to the customers who are fed up with the Windows user experience and want to make a change.
"Users are really growing tired of Windows and the headaches it brings," said Brian Croll, Apple's vice president of Mac OS X worldwide product marketing. "We've seen this with Vista, XP, and the other Windows operating systems going all the way back."
While Apple clearly believes Mac OS X Snow Leopard is a superior operating system, the company doesn't believe it comes down to a comparison of the latest releases that will make the difference. Apple believes that for a lot of users it is an accumulation of issues.
The latest issue will be the amount of work that Windows XP users have to go through to upgrade to Windows 7. The need to erase the hard drive, install Windows 7, re-install applications, and update everything may be too much for some users to handle.
"We think a lot of folks will look at that as the straw that broke the camels back," Croll said. "People are tired of the headaches with Windows and this is another great excuse for people to check out the Mac."
Apple is also betting that many XP users who will have to upgrade their computers in order to run Windows 7 will instead choose to check out a Mac. But the cost of the new computer isn't the only thing users have to look forward to; there's also the software price tag.
For many consumers, Apple feels it has that covered too, especially with iLife, its suite of applications that includes iPhoto, iMovie, GarageBand, iWeb, and iDVD. iLife is included for free with every Mac.
"That's huge. It's a key part," Croll said. "You have the entire software environment, and you have iLife built-in. Everything you need is right there. With Windows 7 there is a lot of assembly required and even after that, it doesn't compare with what you get in iLife."
Apple declined to say if it was planning any price cuts, TV commercials, or special events at the its retail stores to welcome potential Windows 7 users.
"There's not going to be a lot of change in the Windows world," Croll said. "At the end of the day it's still Windows."