As Apple Computer ponders its future and looks for a CEO to replace Gil Amelio, an outpouring of support has come from an unexpected quarter - the hacker scene.
The warez community - whose chief passion is beating all barriers to pirate software - is promoting what one longtimer calls an "unprecedented" campaign to encourage users to buy the new MacOS 8 rather than pirate it.
MacOS 8 had been widely available from warez sources throughout its beta cycle, and the Gold Master version also appeared - but suddenly disappeared. A week ago, the warez IRC channel macfilez spawned a topic urging users not to pirate the GM under any circumstances, but to buy it instead.
Comments posted to Mac Websites and newsgroups suggest that some senior warez groups decreed that Apple deserved the money from sales - and needed it to survive.
"I've never seen the hacker community show such acommitment to supporting ANY company. Certainly not Apple," said one anonymous poster to a Mac site. "This is partly about helping Apple, but it is also about people trying to save the platform they love," explained another.
Another factor may be that the "hackintosh" crowd has been won over by the beta versions of MacOS 8. One poster testified that Apple's "newest and greatest system is one that has the potential to help drag Apple fromit present difficulties, and the overwhelming consensus is that in at least this one venture, piracy is not the best alternative.
"I have been using OS 8 since it's a2c5 stage. I've downloaded at least 10 versions between that time and now, and I fully believe that it is a magnificent system and worthy of purchase.
"I am elated that others have the same view that I hold towards this venture, and it cheers me to see the warez community bond together and show that we recognise the value of good products. Go out and buy OS 8. You will feel better about buying it than any other piece of software you have bought before."
"Users are really frightened now," said another poster. "The press has been so brutal this week that those who weren't as nervous about Apple's situation before are starting to take the situation VERY seriously. Perhaps, the user community is going (starting) to form some sort of virtual movement to make damn sure that Apple makes it."
The horror vision of a Windows-only world and what is shaping up as the best piece of Apple software engineering in years have both played their parts in this unsual movement. It would be naive to think that a bunch of hackers making an unaccustomed trip to the local reseller will save Apple - but it does indicate that the famously loyal Mac user community is considering its response to the unthinkable.