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Motorola licenses Mac OS

Motorola today became the first big-name licensee for Apple Computer's vaunted Macintosh operating system.

Motorola today became the first big-name licensee for Apple Computer's vaunted Mac operating software with the announcement that Motorola will build machines based on the Mac OS.

Motorola also signed as a sublicensee for the Mac OS, meaning other computer manufacturers who buy motherboards or computers from Motorola will not have to talk directly with Apple to make Mac clones. However, Apple will continue to certify all systems sold with the Mac OS to ensure compatibility.

Motorola will incorporate the Macintosh software's current version and Copland, the software's long-awaited major upgrade for its PowerPC workstations. The Motorola machines will target high-end corporate customers, an area in which the Macintosh--strong in the home, education, and desktop publishing--has made few inroads.

"We believe that Motorola has the resources and technical strengths to help enrich the Mac platform and to expand its benefits to new markets and new customers," said Gil Amelio, the newly installed Apple chairman and CEO. "This agreement is a major milestone in our licensing program and is a clear demonstration of our commitment to open licensing."

Some in the industry believe one reason Apple replaced former CEO Michael Spindler with Amelio earlier this month was Spindler's inability or reluctance to expand the licensing strategy to include big companies like Motorola. The first two companies that Apple signed as licensees, Power Computing and Radius, were relatively small in comparison.

One of the heavyweight companies long rumored to have been interested in the Mac OS is IBM. But despite reports of frequent talks between the two, nothing has come of those negotiations as yet.