Hell freezes over…
Monday, 6 June 2005
First Microsoft announced a move to PowerPC for their XBox 360. Today Apple announced a move to Intel. I’m a bit conflicted. As a long time Mac user I have become used to the underdog position. I’ve even came to love it. I never was as fanatical as some – I also use a Wintel machine – it is still feels as a sell out. It feels like giving in… a defeat.
On the other hand, something had to happen. Apparently there wasn’t a healthy roadmap for the future beyond the G5. In addition to this the G5 didn’t scale as much and as quickly as hoped. Apparently the PowerPc is a dead end. It has served Apple reasonably well for the last 10 years, but isn’t the way of the future. Fortunately there is a way out. During the WWDC keynote Steve revealed that MacOS X has been running on Intel for the last 5 years. For some this might come as a shock, but think about it. MacOS X is based on NeXTstep, which originally ran on 68k, but was also available for Intel, Sun SPARC and HP PA-RISC. MacOS X was designed with cross-platform support in mind.
No doubt all technology websites will start to speculate about running MacOS X on regular PCs. I doubt this will happen. It is much more likely that the Mac will remain a proprietary system. It may start using Intel CPUs, but that does not mean it will automatically become a regular PC. Windows will probably not run on Macs, Mac OS X will probably not run on regular PCs.
I always suspected this move was technologically possible. I assumed Apple had an Intel version for MacOS X hidden away in some inaccessible dark basement. Probably with an sign on the door that said “Beware of the Leopard”. What I never suspected that Apple actually is going to try to pull this off. I also believe that if there is one company that can do this, it is Apple. The move to PowerPC – little over 10 years ago – was pretty seamless, I expect the same this time. All in all I can’t help but think that the times must be pretty dire to attempt this move.