Microsoft licenses out its Windows operating system to consumers and computer manufacturers, but Apple’s macOS is pretty exclusive to the company’s own computers. However, apparently at one point, Apple wanted to license out its Mac OS platform and Dell was one of the companies that they wanted to work with.
This news is according to a report from CNET that cites a book being released this week called “Play Nice But Win”, which is a memoir by Michael Dell, the founder and CEO of Dell. According to the book, Dell talks about how Apple’s co-founder Steve Jobs had at one time approached him and with a proposal, offering to license its Mac OS to Dell. That could have been huge for both companies.
Jobs thought this would give customers the option of having Apple’s software or Microsoft’s software installed on their new computers. This was at about the time that Jobs had rejoined Apple and they had managed to port over Mac’s software onto Intel’s x86 chips.
Dell says he was open to the idea and was willing to license Mac OS and pay Apple for every PC that was sold with Mac OS, but it did not work out. Jobs suggested that Dell should just preload every PC with Mac OS and just pay Apple a fee for every PC sold, regardless of whether that user chose to use Mac or Windows.
So if this deal went through, it would have benefitted Apple, but been too costly for Dell. That’s why the deal never happened.