Microsoft, which generates billions in sales of new versions of Windows — even when they’re unpopular — had better look out.

Apple announced that the newest version of OS X, called Mavericks, is available now as a free download. The company, which still owns only a small minority of the PC market and has never charged that much for operating system upgrades, has other sources of revenue.

These primarily include mobile devices, from the iPhone to the newly announced iPad Air. Microsoft has only about 3.5 percent of the smartphone market and has lost billions trying to increase that number. Apple also profits from music and app sales.

(Actually, Microsoft is in the midst of reorganizing itself as a “devices and services” company, more or less mimicking Apple and Google at the same time. Its recent purchase of Nokia’s mobile phone division and the release of the Surface 2 tablets are both gambits in that direction.)

PC sales are down, and Apple, which is known to charge a premium for its products, also reduced the prices of some of its computers Tuesday.

All in all, it’s a series of shrewd moves for a company that has never been shy about kicking its old rival while it’s down. Now what to do about Google?

— Posted by Peter Z. Scheer

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