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New art assets indicate that Valve is looking to bring its Steam game distribution network to Macs.  (Source: Steam User Forums)
Mac owners have a lot of new software to play with

One criticism that the OS X platform has received is its lack of software options.  Granted, it has all the essentials -- two major browsers (Safari and Firefox), two primary office suites (Microsoft Office for Mac and Apple's iWork), and a fair share of music programs. Still, the diversity of PC software is largely absent.

That looks like it's starting to change thanks to Apple's growing marketshare.  Norwegian browser maker Opera just unleashed a beta build of Opera 10.5 for Mac.  It can be downloaded from here.  OS X 10.4 (Tiger) users on Intel systems who were previously left unsupported by Opera now can use the beta as well.  The beta is packed with a new javascript engine, a refined version of Opera's TurboBoost compression technology (for metered or slow connections), and leading web standards support.

However, Opera is not the only new browser to land on the Mac.  Google Chrome beta for Mac aired in December and has since been steadily rising in use among OS X users.  A test build of Chrome 5 was also recently made available to Mac users, and can be found here.  It should be noted, though, that Chrome does NOT support OS X 10.4.

Yet another good piece of software news for Mac owners is that it looks like Valve's Steam game distribution network, which has been hailed as "the iTunes of gaming", will soon land on Macs.  Recent builds of Steam have shown assets labeled "OS X".  

Despite the fact that Apple's operating is much maligned as being "unable to play games", there are a handful of major titles available for it -- albeit much less than for the PC.  Among the major releases available on Macs are
Dragon Age, Bioshock, EVE Online, Star Trek DAC, Civilization IV, Sims 3, Star Wars Force Unleashed: Ultimate Sith Edition, SPORE, Star Wars: KOTOR, and Doom 3.  A full list is available here.

Apple's future computer sales growth may rest largely on whether it can sufficiently refresh its notebook hardware which is currently trailing PC models that retail at half the cost.  Expect a refresh in the short term.  If it can provide a compelling enough hardware package, the trend of software ports to OS X is likely to continue to grow.





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Marketshare still too small...
By Motoman on 2/26/2010 11:33:51 AM , Rating: 5
...4% marketshare still doesn't matter. There's not really any incentive for software companies to spend the time and resources to make a Mac version of some product for a maximum potential of a 4% bump in sales...




RE: Marketshare still too small...
By TMV192 on 2/26/2010 11:57:53 AM , Rating: 1
Well first of, macs tend to be more expensive so at the end of the day, mac users will likely be more willing to spend money than windows users. Secondly, considering there will be less competition on the mac platform, those who do spend the time to port will likely see better sales by percent, compared to on windows. So depending on the kind of software it is, it may or may not be worth it


RE: Marketshare still too small...
By MrWho on 2/27/2010 4:04:40 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
"Well first of, macs tend to be more expensive so at the end of the day, mac users will likely be more willing to spend money than windows users."


Sure - if it is an Apple product, that is.


By lagomorpha on 2/28/2010 7:25:24 AM , Rating: 2
All gaming companies have to do to make a profit is the same thing memory companies and video card companies have been doing for years. Get Apple to rebrand the part/software as "Apple" and then sell it for $700 instead of $50.


RE: Marketshare still too small...
By MADAOO7 on 2/26/2010 12:03:24 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
...4% marketshare still doesn't matter


That is a rather naive statement. When you are talking about the user base of several hundred million general computer users in North America alone, you are looking at tens of millions of potential customers. You also have to consider that macs have a strong following amongst college students, a prime demographic for gaming. Add that to the fact that you have less choices when you own a Mac, the likliness of you choosing one particular game is much higher.

Need I also add, that porting a game is much easier than doing it from scratch.


RE: Marketshare still too small...
By inighthawki on 2/26/2010 12:31:05 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
You also have to consider that macs have a strong following amongst college students, a prime demographic for gaming.


Yeah and all college kids that know jack about computers and gaming use PCs, so that statistic is utterly worthless.


By mellomonk on 3/1/2010 2:19:52 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Yeah and all college kids that know jack about computers and gaming use PCs, so that statistic is utterly worthless.


And statistically the vast majority of college students game on Xboxs, PS3s, and the like. They don't have the money or time to keep up with the Graphics card of the day crowd. Plus the vast majority of them are on laptops. Desktop PC gaming is becoming more and more us old farts who have been doing it since the days of yore.


RE: Marketshare still too small...
By Motoman on 2/26/2010 1:21:01 PM , Rating: 2
It's not a naive statement, it's the conclusion that basic economics forces you to come to. Period.


By inighthawki on 2/26/2010 6:24:41 PM , Rating: 2
While I'm not necessarily supporting either side, your statement is not quite correct. While it may only be "4% market share", as others have stated, that 4% is a lot of people. If you can make more money on that 4% than you would spend making the product, then technically "basic economics" says you should do it.


RE: Marketshare still too small...
By Samus on 2/27/2010 3:55:21 AM , Rating: 2
The fundemental issue is the majority of Mac's don't have a descrete graphics chip...so whatever Valve plans on selling through Steam is limited to World of Goo and many other non-3D games.


RE: Marketshare still too small...
By rudy on 2/26/10, Rating: 0
By kaosprime on 2/26/2010 3:07:54 PM , Rating: 2
No, s/he said there is a general user base of several hundred million general computer users in North America. You've just shown that you can't read.


By lagomorpha on 2/28/2010 7:28:16 AM , Rating: 2
You also have to consider that anyone really interested in playing games on a Mac will be more likely to just dualboot Windows on it than to buy Mac versions of games. The 3d drivers for Macs will always be vastly behind what's available for Windows.


RE: Marketshare still too small...
By psonice on 2/26/2010 4:12:29 PM , Rating: 1
4% market share is plain wrong in this case. Let's add a few (not totally unrealistic) assumptions here:

1. 50% of computers are business PCs. None of them have games installed. That doubles the mac share for gaming, as very few macs are in business in comparison. We're up to 8%..

2. 50% of the worldwide PC count are too old to play games, or are in places where there's pretty much zero chance of the internet being good enough to download a game. In comparison, most macs are in rich companies, and most of the ones that are around have been sold in the last few years (before that mac sales were much lower). We're now up to 16% of the market...

Given that, I think it makes a lot more sense for valve to support the mac. Especially as most macs have at least a passable gpu (as in something other than intel's gma rubbish). On the other hand, most mac gamers probably have xp running under bootcamp already, so that probably halves their market again ;)


RE: Marketshare still too small...
By luseferous on 2/26/2010 6:17:24 PM , Rating: 2
Taking your figures at face value. Replace the word pc with the word mac in your two points and the statement is just as valid. So back to 4%.


RE: Marketshare still too small...
By luseferous on 2/26/2010 6:21:28 PM , Rating: 1
I disagree with the second part of your second statement about most mac's being new. Firstly from personal experience I know several people with very elderly mac's G3-G4 (era)
Secondly mac's are notoriusly underspecced for gaming in the graphics card department. So you could go lower than 4% on that basis.


RE: Marketshare still too small...
By luseferous on 2/26/2010 6:36:19 PM , Rating: 2
Finally exluding notebooks intel gma is almost always upgradeable to whatever you want as long as your pc is within four or five years of age. Which for most gamers is going to be the case. (apologies for splitting this over three posts)


RE: Marketshare still too small...
By psonice on 2/26/2010 7:30:15 PM , Rating: 2
All of that's true, yes, but it doesn't change the fact that most PCs sit in an office, and most macs sit in a home.

Video cards: all current macs come with an nvidia 9400 or higher - not exactly high end, but enough to play games, and way better than intel onboard which ships in the majority of pcs.

I know there's lots of old macs around (I have an old g3 ibook next to me.. horrible machine, but it was free and runs great as a backup server ;) but seriously, what was the mac market share 5 years back? Much lower than now even. Not long before that, they were on os9/early OSX, and I think in those days only the real die hard fan boys were still buying them. They've sold a lot more in the last couple of years than in the years before, meaning there's more newer macs than old ones. PCs on the other hand have sold pretty steady, so there's comparatively more older ones.

Upgrades: yeah, but seriously it's a small minority of computers that get a video card upgrade. Besides, isn't the percentage of laptops being sold over 50% now? The number of laptops that are even upgradable is near zero...

Anyway, my point with all of this is just that the market for something like steam on mac is probably WAY higher than the 4% market share might suggest. Just like the market for serious business software on mac is probably way lower than the 4%.


RE: Marketshare still too small...
By sxr7171 on 2/27/2010 3:13:01 PM , Rating: 1
You know what's sad is that it also means there's no incentive for MS to make a decent OS. I fell for the Win 7 hype and while it is MS's best OS it still falls short. I can't tell you how many times it does something to annoy me. Network issues, jumbo frames issues, "server execution failed" issues, a file system that runs like crap and all sorts of things that still aren't up to snuff. Sure it beats XP hands down, but it isn't really there yet either. I use it because most 3rd parties make software for it, but if they all made their wares for Linux or FreeBSD based Mac OS our lives would be better.


By Reclaimer77 on 3/1/2010 10:59:41 AM , Rating: 2
Especially when every Mac user now also runs Windows. It's not like they are losing potential profits. Only a complete idiot at this point would still try to game on Mac OS.


System Requirements
By Goty on 2/26/2010 12:13:23 PM , Rating: 5
All the Mac enthusiasts are going to be really disappointed when they open steam thinking, "Wow, I get to play all those cool games my buddies have been talking about!" only to look and see:

System Requirements:

1) A PC

=P




RE: System Requirements
By lukasbradley on 2/26/2010 12:14:14 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed. I feel as if the bigger possible joke is those little OSX buttons are just a skin for the new Beta redesign on Windows.


RE: System Requirements
By djc208 on 2/26/2010 12:41:07 PM , Rating: 2
I'd be more worried about the graphics options. They're usually mid-rage solutions at best and their desktops have limited to no ability to upgrade.

Casual gaming is about all your going to get, but I wouldn't expect to have a wonderful gaming experience in something like Bioshock on all but the most expensive MACs, and even then you'd have been better off builiding a PC for the same price.


RE: System Requirements
By TennesseeTony on 2/26/2010 6:21:08 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
System Requirements: 1) A PC


LOL!


RE: System Requirements
By walk2k on 2/26/2010 7:43:46 PM , Rating: 2
"there's only like 6... and you know which ones are good because you played them on the PC like 5 or 6 years ago!"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FxPXFptzQRY


RE: System Requirements
By mellomonk on 3/1/2010 2:31:48 PM , Rating: 2
Sorry children, but their are more then a few options for running windows games on Macs. It is old hat for most Mac users. You can even run them in a window mode that hides all the ugly windows stuff. Personally I am betting the majority of them will do what the majority of PC users do; turn on their consoles and just play.

Please resume your circle-jerking.


Steam on OSX
By KeypoX on 2/26/2010 11:19:51 AM , Rating: 2
It would be wonderful but it would pretty much only allow you to buy games to be able to play under steam on windows.

Not many games sold through steam are compatible with osx. Hopefully this will push more games to be cross platform, including linux :)




RE: Steam on OSX
By Anoxanmore on 2/26/2010 11:26:46 AM , Rating: 2
To be fair to Apple, if it runs on Steam, and those games listed above do, they can be played on OSX(hence the apple ports). I'd say its a brilliant move for Valve, more exposure with games is always go.

Side note: I can't think of a quote, shoot. T.T


RE: Steam on OSX
By Scabies on 2/26/2010 11:31:38 AM , Rating: 2
I bet Peggle is OSXable. That should give an acceptable return on investment by itself.


RE: Steam on OSX
By mmntech on 2/26/2010 11:40:34 AM , Rating: 2
It's a lot easier to port software to Mac nowadays given they both use the same CPU architecture. Just has to be coded so that it can run on a Unix-like platform. Should be interesting. I wouldn't mind getting some casual games for OS X on my laptop. Better than having to boot into Windows all the time.


RE: Steam on OSX
By TMV192 on 2/26/2010 11:55:00 AM , Rating: 2
Well most Steam games run on DirectX so it will likely be too much work to port. The only people who I can see doing it is Valve obviously who would need to port their Source Engine to OpenGL. Other than that there are a number of OpenGL games available like pretty much everything from id, and a number of games (like Sims 3) which have a Mac version already available at retail. Also the indie games tend to be a lot simpler and many will likely be ported


RE: Steam on OSX
By jbizzler on 2/26/2010 1:31:03 PM , Rating: 2
Valve ported Source to the PS3, which may or may not be using OpenGL ES, but certainly not anything like Direct3D. They do have the resources to support alternate graphics libraries.

There have been rumors of Source being ported to Linux for some time now: http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=article&item...
Which of course would mean they've been working on an OpenGL port.


RE: Steam on OSX
By Noliving on 2/26/2010 5:15:49 PM , Rating: 2
EA ported it to the ps3 with valves approval.


Well...this is old news?
By orgy08 on 2/26/2010 1:18:28 PM , Rating: 3
Well...this is old news? According to an Apple.com specialist, I was bored one night in November last year and I was building the most expensive mac pro. Some how, with extras and accessories, I reached $31,000. When I am in the cart before check out, a window pops up for chat, so I decide to go for it. I asked the person if this computer will run all the latest games, ESPECIALLY Counter-Strike because I played it all day long. The rep said it will run any game because the mac pro is a powerful machine, especially made for gaming. I then asked how come on the box, it doesn't state if is apple compatible. They told me to wait and they came back 10 minutes later. The rep assured me again that the game will work fine, even if the box doesn't stay its compatible.

So apparently, a mac can do this since last year :-P




RE: Well...this is old news?
By jbizzler on 2/26/2010 1:42:13 PM , Rating: 2
If you install Windows on it of course. And at $31,000, why the heck not buy Windows?


RE: Well...this is old news?
By sxr7171 on 2/27/2010 3:19:28 PM , Rating: 2
I'm all for competition so I'm not anti-Mac by any means. But the most annoying thing is finding a Mac user who refuses to dual boot into Windows even when they know they need a program that is Windows only.

But I do think MS needs a little kick in the derriere. In that sense I suppose I support those waiting for software to be ported to Mac OS. But Apple is also too closed in that they cannot offer anything close to the Windows Media Center experience. Instead they give you Apple TV where you pay for overcompressed 720p videos. You must buy from us and us alone. They just don't play well with 3rd parties trying to make a living. That will be the reason it remains a niche player.


RE: Well...this is old news?
By ajfink on 3/1/2010 3:24:22 AM , Rating: 2
I think that "kick in the derriere" resulted in Windows 7.


Micks on form again
By sebmel on 2/26/2010 11:41:25 AM , Rating: 2
Just what we've come to expect from a genuine Micks article.

Just to help Jason Micks fans search the article for details of Mac browsers here's a list of what to look for:

BumperCar
Camino
Chrome
Classilla
ELinks
Firefox
Flock
iCab
Internet Explorer
Lynx
Lynxlet
Mozilla
Netscape
OmniWeb
Opera
Safari
SeaMonkey
Shiira
Sunrise
WaMCom
WannaBe

Or you could go here:

http://www.pure-mac.com/webb.html




RE: Micks on form again
By ClownPuncher on 2/26/2010 11:50:44 AM , Rating: 4
Micks sounds racist, adding possesive 's might help. The Irish are usually drunk enough to want to fight, careful.


Misleading...
By Fox5 on 2/26/2010 12:21:20 PM , Rating: 2
The OSX icons included with steam may just have come with the Webkit browser Valve included with Steam.




RE: Misleading...
By jbizzler on 2/26/2010 1:35:49 PM , Rating: 1
Oh, haha! That could totally be all it is.

I thought Steam used Internet Explorer as its web-browsing backend (I think I had to install Flash Player for IE to get Flash in Steam). Maybe that's just bad memory. Someone who knows please share.


RE: Misleading...
By Abrahmm on 2/26/2010 1:45:24 PM , Rating: 2
Steam used to use IE, but the new beta version of Steam uses the Webkit browser instead. Mick said "Recent builds" so this is likely the case.


If I were a Mac user...
By troysavary on 2/26/2010 11:57:58 AM , Rating: 2
the only thing even remotely exciting from that list is Steam, and if you are really a gamer with a Mac, your probably have Windows in Bootcamp anyway. Tried Chrome, found it to be crap and I wouldn't touch Opera after their whining to the EU to save them from the evil MS.




RE: If I were a Mac user...
By ksherman on 2/26/2010 12:08:23 PM , Rating: 2
I really like Chrome for Windows, the Mac version is pretty good too.

But, force of habit (and master passwords) has me opening up FireFox 98% of the time.


What exactly is the screen capture showing us?
By TMV192 on 2/26/2010 12:00:13 PM , Rating: 2
These are the OS X title bar buttons, aren't they supposed to be handled by the operating system?




By jbizzler on 2/26/2010 1:38:33 PM , Rating: 1
Since when has Steam's UI ever let the OS handle titlebars? It's an annoying trend. Microsoft's latest programs don't even use Window's native look-and-feel.

Google Chrome is a pleasure to use on Windows Vista/7, though, so it is doable.


By Belard on 2/26/2010 12:58:50 PM , Rating: 2
I wonder if Opera 10.5 for Mac or PC will be just as screwed up when it comes to PRINTING out a page... it DOESN't... usually nothing but blank pages. And its handling of large text fields and its spell checker.

But Opera 10.10 and below are suck when it comes to printing, very sad because otherwise Opera 10 is an excellent browser.




"We don't know how to make a $500 computer that's not a piece of junk." -- Apple CEO Steve Jobs










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