June 6, 2005 1:17 PM PDT

Apple developers cautiously upbeat on Intel

SAN FRANCISCO--Apple developers aren't exactly looking forward to rewriting their applications to run on Intel chips, but the switch will have its benefits.

Apple Computer's adoption of processors from Intel will let the company come out with faster notebooks, said attendees at the Apple Worldwide Developer Conference here. Macs will also likely get cheaper because Intel chips often cost less than IBM's.

"It will cushion a lot of the barriers about switching to the Mac," said James Richardson, the tech team lead for desktops at NASA.

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At the same time, the transition won't be an absolute breeze. Intel chips and the PowerPC chips produced by IBM found inside today's Macs are based around completely different architectures, so getting the existing software to run on the new computers will require releasing whole new versions of applications.

Mac applications written in Cocoa, Apple's latest development environment, and released relatively recently should be somewhat easy to convert, according to Apple and attendees. "It won't be that tough," said Rod Schmidt from InfiniteNIL Software. Theo Gray, co-founder of Wolfram Research, said converting Wolfram's Mathematica 5 application, a complex scientific program, took a few hours.

"We're talking about 20 lines of code out of millions," he said. (Gray was invited to speak at the event by Apple.)

Older applications written in Carbon, which preceded Cocoa, will take some work. Applications written on the newer version of Carbon based around XCode tools will require tweaking and recompiling. Older Carbon applications dependent on Metrowerks tools will have to be fully ported.

And for those applications that never get converted at all, Apple is releasing Rosetta, an emulator that will let PowerPC-based applications run on the Pentium families.

Various problems will likely crop up as well. "Tackling the (user interface) is the hard part; getting the crispness will be difficult," said Samuel Watters at Near-Time, which makes a collaboration application. Still, "I would love to see the competition heat up. Apple will be directly priced to compete with Microsoft," he said before the keynote speech.

"It is going to be a difficult transition," said Kevin Krewell, editor in chief of the Microprocessor Report. Two weeks ago, Krewell, among the vast majority of analysts, downplayed the notion that Apple would convert to Intel because of the difficulties involved.

To ease the transition, Apple has been working steadily in the background. The company has been working with Intel for the last five years, and internally it already has copies of Mac OS X that run on Intel hardware.

"Every release of Mac OS X has been compiled for PowerPC and Intel," Apple CEO Steve Jobs said in a speech.

The company will also soon ship a $999 developers' kit that includes a Mac running a 3.6GHz Pentium processor, the Intel-based version of Mac OS X, XCode 2.1 and Rosetta.

Developers will start to get some of the Intel-based software at the conference, but tools and other software will roll out steadily. Consumers won't be able to buy Intel-based Macs until June 2006. The transition will be complete at the end of 2007.

Technical questions aside, perhaps one of the more difficult issues will be getting the Apple community to embrace Intel-based hardware. For years, Apple has released ads (based more than once on subsequently redacted benchmarks) touting the supposed superiority of the PowerPC. The IBM chips have their loyalists. One Apple fan said days before the speech that he expected Jobs to get booed off the stage.

"It's kind of sad. I thought they would go with the PowerPC," said Kirill Alexandrov, at Logo Computer Systems.

Others, however, hoped that the Intel ingredients will be something that can be played down, even though virtually all Intel-based computers come with a big shiny Intel badge on them.

"No one is going to know that Intel is inside. It doesn't make a difference," said Jayson Adams, of Circus Ponies Software.

13 comments

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Great move for Apple!
I don't understand what all the fuss is about. I think that this is one of the best decisions Apple has made in a long time. Here's why:
1. They will now be able to sale OS X to other Intel vendors (DELL, HP, you name it) which means a lot of money for Apple (it looks like Microsoft is making a nice living out of that and OS X is far superior to Windows).
2. This will allow Mac's to be more attractive to gamers. Games is what drives the industry forward and Macs are not really a player in the field because of porting issues and limited Graphics cards.
3. No more total reliance on the Big Blue to deliver chips. If Intel misbehaves there is always AMD.
4. Isnt time we have a *G5* PowerBook? Who cares what CPU is in the box as long as you get a better performance? Trust Apple to make all the right optimizations so it outperforms any competitor configuration.
5. Apple is NOT a chip maker! Apple is a company who knows how to write great software and leads the market in innovation and design. When they enter the Intel world it will force everyone to adjust and ultimately move the PC industry forward (like they did when they entered the Music market).
6. Can you imagine running iLife on a DELL computer? The options are limitless.
7. Their hardware design will always be superior to any other vendor in the market which will ensure sale of the Mac for years to come.
8. BMW makes great cars  but they still run on gasoline engines. Why shouldnt Apple take the same approach?

Two thumbs up to Jobs for finally getting over the stupid we-hate-everything-related-to-Intel excuse and actually thinking different&
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Ah Yes, Let the Revisionist History begin...
I can just see it now, Jobs telling everyone that "It was always our intention to run on Intel hardware. Yes, uh, this was all part of my grand glorious plan from very early on!"

Never mind all the marketing hooey that Apple constantly heaped on the industry and their customers touting that PowerPC was better. Never mind all the studies that they commissioned (and PAID FOR, for those of you bashing MS for this practice) showing how PowerPC handily beat Intel chips for certain carefully-selected and pre-screened tasks.

All of that old stuff goes straight down the Orwellian Memory Hole as Apple tries to convince everyone that this is somehow NOT caving in and reversing a bad decision.

The sad thing is that given the amount of Jobs Kool Aid that the typical Apple cult member drinks in a year, I expect them to fully pull this off and have all their fanboys running around talking about what a great development this is (witness the first post on this thread as evidence).
Posted by (127 comments )
Reply Link Flag
An opinion from a more informed, objective source
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://comment.zdnet.co.uk/other/0,39020682,39202002,00.htm" target="_newWindow">http://comment.zdnet.co.uk/other/0,39020682,39202002,00.htm</a>

Don't you think WinTel and Dell sponsor "independent" research
studies with flattering outcomes?? Come on, that behavior wasn;t
invented by Apple. It's called Marketing and FUD.
Posted by technewsjunkie (1265 comments )
Link Flag
Times change....
The best CPU one year is not necessarily the best CPU a decade later. The smart companies look forward and keep their options open so they can more easily adapt.

Apple has been planning for this option five years. The Intel CPU road map looks best for the next decade, so now is the time to switch. Seems pretty logical to me, and Apple's migration plan seems sound. Should be a gentle migration that most customers will not even notice.

As a Mac user/developer, I don't care who makes the CPU in the box, as long as the box runs OS X.
Posted by open-mind (1027 comments )
Link Flag
Joe BLOWS
Talk about rewriting history, Joe.

If you cared to hear what Jobs said, you would know that,
although they have always maintained an x86 version of OS X
(thanks to it's UNIX and NeXT cross-platform heritage), Jobs
spoke of THE FUTURE and how both PPC suppliers and the chip
itself "can't get them to where they want to go". Hmm... WHERE
does Apple 'want to go"? Content -- movies and TV shows --
delivered to computer on demand. That's where Intel and it's
wares come into play: DRM. Although IBM and Motorola have
frustrated Apple and its users with slow improvements, the
future calls for Apple being a part of a much greater whole with
intel; and that's something no PPC chip supplier could offer.

As for the past, they actually played the Pentium "snail" and
"toasted" ads at the WWDC keynote -- in the presence of the
Intel CEO. Putting perspective on the past by doing this, i don't
think ANYBODY was trying to rewrite history.
Posted by MacDuff (62 comments )
Link Flag
What does this mean exactly?
Will I be able to run Apple Software on my conventional Gateway Laptop? Or will it be possible to run Windows XP on Apple PCs?

If neither is possible, then I don't see any advantages in switching over to Intel, since this has been the company's forte.
Posted by (8 comments )
Reply Link Flag
No and Yes
&lt;Will I be able to run Apple Software on my conventional Gateway Laptop?&gt;

No.

&lt;Or will it be possible to run Windows XP on Apple PCs?&gt;

Yes.
Posted by open-mind (1027 comments )
Link Flag
bad move apple, great for intel
Apple really messed up on this one, unless they simply don't care if there is lots of clones for their os, which we all know will shortly follow any x86 release.

If they wanted to keep people from cloning they should have went with only supporting amd and only 64 bit chips.

Not only would they avoid the cloning issue, but they'd also avoid the huge technical support problems when people running older x86 hardware have trouble with software.

So instead of clean, neat and smart. Apple has thrown themselves to the wolves on this one, in a big and rather obvious way.

They simply must not care to make any further money off of their os and indeed do not seem worried about alienating their devote user base.

Granted they still have the ipod to draw revenue from, but still this move makes me wonder if Steve Jobs has fallen asleep at the helm.

Though don't get me wrong, I use to hate apple's products as they used to suck and rarely ever work, of course that was back before the g5. Since then I've had hope for apple that they would someday surpass microsofts marketshare of the desktop and thus have the desktop market mostly divided between apple and linux os's.

Anyways it's a great day for intel, they have greatly strengthened their hold on desktop's. Though this is a major bummer for desktop users worldwide, as we should be dropping intel whenever and wherever we can, in favor of much more advanced amd based systems.

Recently intel has demonstrated yet again it's lack of ability to really compete with amd, in it's hackjob attempt at multicore design. So with amd obliterating intel in the server market and intel desperately holding on to the mobile's, fighting to remain competitive with the desktop's, well before this move by apple it was inevitable that intel was going to lose major ground there as well.

Ah well intel may just end up dragging apple down with it, both of them kicking and screaming all the way, unleashing one insane marketing campaign after another, hemorrhaging truckloads of currency until they get bought out by other companies, or come up with something that saves themselves and each other from complete bankruptcy.

Ok that is a rather extreme way of looking at it. Granted I really don't expect apple to let it get that far out of hand, however considering the huge insane boneheaded mistake they are making, well let's just say it's not unreasonable to wonder how much they are going to be hosed by this.
Posted by adamized (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Intel OS X will require Apple hardware.
Initially at least. Later they may license it to select hardware manufacturers ... who knows. This hardware will have the advantage of booting into Linux, OS X, or Windows.
Posted by open-mind (1027 comments )
Link Flag
Eric Schmidt is the biggest Mafia puppet in the US. He is bad news for apple users. http://endmafia.com
Posted by geo11101 (76 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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