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Apple to Use Intel Microprocessors Beginning in 2006 []

I'm in the 'not such a huge deal' camp on this. I will say that it would have made much more of a difference to me years ago, when Apple was so chuffed with the potential of their spiffy RISC architecture; it was going to be so much easier for it to move up the performance curve than the CISC Pentium that it wasn't even going to be a fair fight.

I thought they made a good argument, the PowerPC future looked really bright and Pentiums were headed for a brick wall dead end, comparative-performance-wise. So the announcement of a switch would have been cause for great alarm in the face of that.

But now?

In the present, IBM can't or won't produce G5s as fast as they said they could, or as cool as they need to be for laptops. Intel's clearly been busier than IBM, plus they have much nicer economies of scale on their side.

Given the bet-hedging Apple's been doing secretly all along (keeping every version of OS X also running on Intel in the back room), the costs and difficulties of transition seem to be a fairly known quantity for them, and it's reached the point that the cost/benefit of staying with the PowerPC is not worth avoiding the costs of switching.

That's fine with me.

Some comments that caught my eye:

  • Phil Schiller -

    After Jobs' presentation, Apple Senior Vice President Phil Schiller addressed the issue of running Windows on Macs, saying there are no plans to sell or support Windows on an Intel-based Mac. "That doesn't preclude someone from running it on a Mac. They probably will," he said. "We won't do anything to preclude that."

    However, Schiller said the company does not plan to let people run Mac OS X on other computer makers' hardware. "We will not allow running Mac OS X on anything other than an Apple Mac," he said.

  • Matt Haughey -

    I figure it's just a matter of hours after the first intel-mac rolls off the line before we realize exactly what keeps us from running OS X on any cheap PC. I suspect whatever hardware or software dongle limits this will be thwarted the same day.

  • Dori Smith (in comments) -

    I'm guessing that this is one of those few times that Jobs was okay with having the news leak out, as otherwise there would have been a very large mess to clean up in the hall.

    I think this point is one of the most important.. the leak was key to the relative calm with which most people have taken the news.

  • John Siracusa -

    Apple was never a CPU maker. Now Apple's also out of the business of trying to motivate, all on its own, the creation of CPUs that are capable of competing with those designed for and by "the other 95%" of the PC market. That was always a tough business to be in, so the sentiment expressed by Adobe CEO Bruce Chizen is understandable: "What took you so long?"

  • Macintouch -

    We can see Jobs's argument that the PowerPC architecture may be starting to "box in" the Macintosh, particularly in the critical and growing laptop market... If IBM and Freescale will no longer produce state-of-the-art, PowerPC-based laptop CPUs, Apple simply has no choice but to switch, and it's lucky to have an operating system and code-translation technology that can facilitate that.

    ...Bottom line? .. Apple's doing a U-turn out of a dead-end road, and we expect a bumpy, but interesting, ride ahead.

They've been planning and preparing for this for years, and already have the tools ready to do it. No worries.


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