Monday, June 6, 2005 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Mac OS X on Intel

Optimism

Pessimism

The ADC site is still down for maintenance, so I don’t know what the Developer Transition Kit contains.

11 Comments

I don't quite follow your last point. Apple isn't changing its business model one bit. It's merely changing suppliers for its microprocessor. Business-wise, it's no different from when Apple went from Motorola's G4 to IBM's G5. To the developer, it's a slightly bigger deal; any application that makes assumptions about byte order or that includes PowerPC assembly code will need to be changed at the source-code level. There will be other small changes, like if you used old-style Altivec calls rather than Accelerate. But other than that, it's just not that big a deal.

OS/2 actually ran Windows applications. Mac OS X will continue to not do that. I don't see what the problem is.

To be clear, Apple doesn't intend to make PC clones, nor to license Mac OS X for other PC makers. These are going to be Macs with intel inside. Or so I gather.

Jeff: Phil Schiller says that OS X will only run on Apple Intel machines, but I find it hard to believe that they'll be able to enforce this. If people start buying non-Apple machines to run OS X, Apple will have to change its business model away from hardware unless its sales grow enough to offset the loss.

Voodoo: Do you really think that no one will come out with a product that lets people run Windows applications in a Classic-like layer? Microsoft owns Virtual PC, and it'd probably be in their interest to make such a product. But even if they don't, someone else will.

Danny Novo:

The surfacing of the rumor last week must have been an intentional leak. If the level of secrecy that was evinced had been kept until this morning, when he talked about it in front of a huge crowd at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference, there would have been pitchforks and flaming torches, you can be sure.

Jerry Kindall:

This is the end of the Macintosh and the end of Apple. Why? WINE. Microsoft Virtual PC. Within a year, probably by the time the first Intel-based Mac ships, it will be possible to run Windows apps at near-hardware speeds under Mac OS X, possibly as first-class citizens with Aqua UI widgets. The UI won’t be as nice as a real Mac version of the application, but it’ll be “good enough.” Within two or three years, Adobe, Microsoft, and the rest of the biggies will stop making Macintosh versions of their apps.

Michael: I think that the way they enforce this is with proprietary or custom motherboards, BIOSes, etc... I'm not saying this won't be hacked, but that's different than opening the floodgates to people being able to run PCs on Dell hardware. It won't happen in the foreseeable future.

It would be no more possible to run Mac OS X on a Dell than it is to run it on an IBM Intellistation. It's not a matter of "custom motherboards." Imagine a Power Mac G5 with the G5 PMUs removed and IA-32 PMUs put in their place. Everything, from the I/O interfaces to the memory controller, is entirely specific to the Macintosh design.

I guess this idea surprises some folks who didn't live through SGI's MIPS-to-IA64 transition in the late 1990s. The same questions arose then, and were answered. "So we can just run IRIX on our laptops?" Well, no. "So we can run Windows on our SN-IA servers?" Well, no.

Phil Schiller's protestations notwithstanding, I have a hard time understanding why it'll be significantly harder to get Mac OS X running on a new Dell machine than it is to get Linux running on a new Dell machine -- all the magic's going to have to happen above the Darwin layer, and it'll be a hugely appetizing target.

I think the floodgates will open, and I don't think that's survivable for an Apple Computer that wants to remain more than a shell of itself. I was deeply unnerved that this wasn't addressed in the keynote.

"Do you really think that no one will come out with a product that lets people run Windows applications in a Classic-like layer? Microsoft owns Virtual PC, and it'd probably be in their interest to make such a product. But even if they don't, someone else will."

They might. But that will just act as a huge, resource-sucking expensive dongle. If you require your customers to spend a few hundred dollars on VirtualPC and Windows XP, and require them to run a whole second operating system, just to run your app, you're just begging for a competitor to come in and replace you with a native app that lacks those drawbacks.

You WILL be able to run Linux, Windows XP, DOS etc on the new Apple Intel machines, although it has only been confirmed on the Developer Transition Kit hardware, which is leased for a 18 month period at the cost of $999.00 (confirmed on Apple's website) + the cost of either a ADC Select ($500 per year) or Premier Member ($3,500 per year) membership means at the moment it is out of reach of most people.

I'm sure Apple will take their cue from Microsoft and use a Trusted Computing Platform or something very similar, unless the memory map is significantly different.

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