I spent hours today trying to create a simple yet relatively attractive icon for the Digest Handler in The GIMP today. It's nearly impossible. I've got to think Java's got a better way of doing this, but if I make an image that looks good when you alt-tab in Windows, it invariably looks horrible in the top left corner of your windows -- and vice versa. I've trashed the Clothify Script-Fu, and now I'm looking at trashing the text too and grabbing some shareware icon maker specifically for Windows. I'm pretty sure Windows XP allows you to use some pretty good looking icons that other versions of Windows don't, but this is a whole new can of worms. Icons in Mac OS X look great and are big enough it's a pretty easy task in that other OS. I finally told myself that I'm ready for the OS X-first launch (icon-wise, anyhow) and that I'll come back and do some Windows research later.

But what I did want to go on record about is the rumor that Apple is going to start charging for its iApps. Kudos. As I said a while back in my only blog that actually got titled, I want a good, fast, new Mac simply because of the user-friendliness of the iApps, specifically iDVD, iMovie, and iPhoto, but also iTunes and even, strangely enough, iChat. The apps are well made and easy to use without having ever touched a single user preferences panel; they just run a little too slowly on my 500 MHz iBook.

The iApps are good. Why should Microsoft get dough from people upgrading Office on their WinPCs (and Macs!) and Apple get nuttin' for its superior digital-hub supporting software suite? There's no reason for Apple to feel compelled to give the full versions to every Mac user. What do you get from the Office suite when you install Windows XP on a clean hard drive? That's right, folks, WordPad (aka, "Nothing"). Apple should be allowed to make money on their software, not just hardware, just like the only other commercial player in the desktop/home PC OS market.

And not only will Apple make more money from software, this is going to sell more hardware. When I got my iBook, part of the savings, so to speak, was that it came with OS X. My old iMac didn't, and it was going to cost me $100 to upgrade. eBay the iMac, buy the new iBook I wanted anyhow, and it's like I saved $100. Now, when I think about upgrading again, I can put the $50 I would have thought about paying for upgraded iApps towards the price of a new tower in my head. Not exactly the best economics going on in my head, perhaps, but it makes me feel better about buying and makes me (and others, I'd imagine) pull the trigger on new Apple hardware more quickly.

I was pretty upset about iTools going to the "buy or bye" .Mac business model. What's the difference here? With .Mac, just to keep your @mac.com email address was going to cost you $100. How much trouble is it to forward mac.com email to a user's "real" account? Next to nothing. Apple would rather hang its users out to dry than make good on their implicit promise that buying Mac meant having this online home [for email, web pages, and other files]. But with the iApps, anyone with OS X gets a quite capable version of iMovie, iTunes, and friends. Do you need to update the iApps to use your Mac as a digital hub? Absolutely not. Apple's not asking you to pay to continue at the level of functionality you're already experiencing the way they did in a straight up chump move with .Mac.

Anyhow, charging for iApps is a good move. As one invited speaker said about the construction workers near where I used to work (we were a pretty enviro-friendly crowd, so construction workers =='d evil, give or take), "They're just trying to make a buck, bless their hearts." And so is Apple. I wish them the best.