Daddy, who’s that other man Apple is kissing?

6 June 2005

I felt something, a disturbance in the network, as if a million mac zealots cried out in horror and were suddenly silenced. -Slashdot poster

I guess I owe John Gruber $1. They reported it, (as did they), but I didn’t believe them. Today Steve Jobs verified that within a year’s time, Apple Mac OS X will be running on Intel’s x86 processors.

For those of you who don’t know what this means, imagine that for the past ten years, you had been doing some pretty impressive sculpting with LEGOs. Your castles were in LEGOs, your towns, your space shipsyour entire business was based on the model of LEGOs. Suddenly, LEGO group decides that they will slowly begin switching from the LEGO system to the Lincoln Log architecture. What are you going to do? Of course, LEGO says that all of their LEGOs will work with the new Lincoln Log system. What will happen to all the hardware you’ve invested on? What if you need new hardware now? Can your business wait for the Lincoln Log-compatible version?

Is this a Bad Thing™?

Although Apple’s VP Phil Schiller said Windows will not be supported on Apple computers, We won’t do anything to preclude that. This means that my vow to never supply Microsoft with further revenue won’t preclude me from playing hot new games, so long as I use my legitimate license and Windows XP is still in Microsoft’s lifecycle, games will still be made for it. Testing web sites might be a lot easier, especially since OS X has one of the easiest methods for dual-booting I’ve seen. CEO also promised to ease transitions with a new binary translation product called Rosetta, which will allow PowerPC (old) OS X applications to run on the new Intel chips although probably much slower.

I’m crossing my fingers that, with the new architecture, Apple might have a facet of Rosetta also translate Windows executables to run in X11. Nothing irks me more with my Mac than when companies release companion software for their products (like Games Workshop’s Interactive Army List), and refuse to support OS X (although this is probably legitimate. The amount of Apple-owning Warhammer players who would buy the software would probably not be worth the cost to port the product). If Apple doesn’t go that road, the good people at the WINE or Darwine projects probably will, and this change will (hopefully) make things easier for them.

But…

I had been entertaining ideas of purchasing a PowerBook after this conferenceI wanted to wait just in case they deployed some kind of technology bump for the line; I didn’t expect an architecture change. So now it is nothing but a terrible question: To buy or not to buy, whether it is nobler to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageously-priced hardware now, or to wait, perchance to dream… Ok, enough of that.

The real sad news is what is not coming. Schiller also said that they will not allow running Mac OS X on anything but Apple Computers, which means running OS X on my former PC instead of Fedora Linux is nothing but a pipe dream, as is wiping my dad’s hard drive and installing OS X while he’s asleep. It also means I can’t hedge my bets and get a Dell with Red Hat Linux or HP with SUSE to bide my time until OS X is available for it.

It’s a frightening world out there in tech land. Adobe’s acquisition of Macromedia means that GoLive might walk the plank, IE7 looms on the edge of beta, and now this. I think I’m getting an ulcer.

So I guess now that Apple and IBM have split and Intel is rearranging the bedroom, the only thing I, and the rest of the newly-converted-and-looking-to-Switch, are going to have to learn to stop worrying and love Intel, realize that just because IBM is moving out doesn’t mean Apple loves us any less, take a deep breath, and have a beer.

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