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Does New Development For Mac OS X Make Sense? 394

Posted by Cliff
from the despite-change-development-goes-on dept.
DLWormwood wonders: "As a long time Mac developer, originally as a hobbyist and then a professional, I'm feeling pessimistic about the future of the platform now that Apple is embracing Intel and abandoning the few remaining 'Mac' technologies (like the PowerPC and OpenTransport) left to the platform. With the high likelihood that these new Macs will offer a full speed version of Virtual PC and (what I think is) the almost assurance that some clever hacker will make 'X for x86' run on commodity hardware, I'm doubting the willingness of most IT and development houses to even give the Carbon and Cocoa APIs a first glance. (If it wasn't for the poor past performance of VPC, I would not have gotten my first Mac programming job.) Can anybody with a more optimistic view think of a scenario where a modern development house will do Mac development in an age where the help desk will just say either 'switch boot to Windows/Linux' or 'run Virtual PC?'"
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Does New Development For Mac OS X Make Sense?

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  • by jessecurry (820286) <jesse@jessecurry.net> on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @06:37PM (#12752555) Homepage Journal
    Apple is much more than just a processor. What really differentiates Apple from the Windows world is the OS. Not to get into the argument about stability, OS X is much more intuitive and overall an easier to use operating system.
    I don't think that you will come into a situation where a help desk would tell a user to switch into Windows or run VirtualPC because I doubt that Macs will ever come with those pieces of software installed. Working at a helpdesk is not about telling users what they should do, it's about helping them do what they want to do
    I think that now that Apple is switching to Intel they will have more flexibility in pricing and will probably continue to grow their market share. I'd say that the prospects for Mac developers will be better than ever in the future. If you need another opinion check out this article [paulgraham.com].
    • Besides, I had a Bob at Comcast tell me you can't have more than one OS on a computer after I told her I had OpenBSD and windows (I lied about windows jsut to get them to troubleshoot the line it really only had OpenBSD).

      So the helpdesk doesn't really help that much anyway. ;)
    • Check out most of the online poker sites tell mac users to use virtual PC now (when it is much slower). Mind you a customer to a gambling website is woth a lot of money and mac users won't generally use non mac software but they don't care.
    • There have been too many gorgeous OSs by OS-only companies that died lonely little deaths, to think that OSX has a "get out of irrelevance free" card stuffed up its ass somewhere.

      It's simply too bad that they couldn't have pulled some type of reversal here. Intel making PPCs, or some such. The PPC, especially the G5, was and always be a hell of a chip. But then good chips die too. I think Intel has a secret lab where they torture the soul of the Alpha and drain off its essence for yet another braindead x86
  • by aluminumcube (542280) * <greg AT elysion DOT com> on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @06:38PM (#12752558)
    I think your view, while logical and understandable, is unnecessarily pessimistic.

    The market has always viewed the Mac as another computer, one interchangeable with every other computer. While a Mac is (technology wise) a computer, the people who buy them view them very differently and the sheer dynamics of the Mac Economy (the customers, companies and products that hinge on the Mac platform) prove this out.

    Take your fear of people figuring out how to run X on beige boxes... Apple doesn't care about these folks. Simply by having not purchased a Mac, this portion of the market has already proven that they are unwilling to have ever paid the Apple premium so, in effect, Apple will virtually never loose a sale to this crowd.

    Or think of it this way; the kind of people who are drawn to the Mac platform are drawn to it PRECISELY because they don't want to fuck around with patches, workarounds and general hackery in order to make their computer run. Here is the test: could you imagine telling your mother to run out, buy a beige box, download some boot hack, install it, then install OS X on top of that? Probably not and that's exactly why Apple isn't going to be kept up at night worrying about the people who are going to hack OS X to run on commodity hardware.

    If anything, I think this will bolster Mac sales- the kind of people who are willing to jump through the hoops to make OS X run on beige boxes are computer enthusiasts and typically serve as the computer information maven within their circle of friends. I think that if these hardcore Windows guys get OS X (for free) and play with it on their beige (or Tie Fighter) boxes, they are going to be pretty impressed. When it comes to telling people what computer to buy though, they will probably just recommend to their friends that they buy a Mac.

    The same logic generally applies to your second point (will software developers still make Mac versions of their stuff). I think that the answer here is again, a big yes because there is a fairly substantial wall between people who will want to run native apps and people who want to run emulated apps. As someone with a Mac, I've proven (by voting with my dollars) that I am someone who will pay a premium to have an elegant computer that "Just Works." Any software developer with half a brain is going to realize that forcing the Mac customer to run clunky Windows emulation (even if it is at native speed) is inherently out of step with what that customer wants.

    I think this is the perfect time to start developing Mac software. Porting over PC code is going to be easier then ever. The overall buy rate of Macs is going to be increasing significantly. A major chunk of risk in regards to the stability of the Mac platform has now been removed. Apple will be rocking the computer world within the next 24 months...
    • by BitGeek (19506) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @06:43PM (#12752603) Homepage

      I don't think there really is a price premium on Macintoshes... but now we'll be able to see for sure.

      I bet Apple products will be about the same prices as Dell, yet deliver more features and a lot more innovation.

      Look at what happened when Aopen tried to make an x86 mac-mini competitor-- it was $100 more, without the OS, making it really $200 more expensive than the mini.

      But I agree-- developing on the Mac platform is the best its ever been... the OS X API is complete (Though I'd have liked EnterpriseObjects back) and frozen in panther (interesting that they did that, and made a big deal out of it, cause it means they planned to move to Intel 2 years ago.)

      Its a great time to write apps for the Mac as the Mac becomes less of an isolated fringe platform and more of a mainstream alternative to windows.
      • I'm not familiar with WebObjects/EnterpriseObjects, but there was a little surprise in XCode 2.1. Now it comes with full version of WebObjects 5.3. So, it appears that EnterpriseObjects is back in OS X, if that's what you would have liked.

        There was very little, or more like no, fanfare about this, but considering that WebObcjects cost so much till a few days ago, isn't it significant that now it is free (as in beer).

        • I think they integrated some or all of the development tools for WebObjects into XCode. But to deploy it, you still need Mac OS X Server.

          Used to be you could buy WO seperately and deploy it under OS X, but if you had OS X Server then deployment was free there as well (Eg if you bought WO you could deploy it to two machines.)

          They have changed the business model--- VERY interesting. I was thinking WO was dying, but it seems rather than being killed off its been integrated.

          I'd be totally estatic if update
    • by edgar_is_good (684481) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @06:49PM (#12752662)
      Don't forget the new buyers: I've already heard people say "Hey, if I could install Windows on it, then I would be willing to buy a Mac, because then if I didn't like it, I could always switch back."
    • I agree with nearly all of the above except for this statement:

      "Porting over PC code is going to be easier then ever."

      First of all, when you say 'PC code' I assume you mean code written to run on MS Windows. That is a fairly nonsensical statement. Most software never accesses the processor directly, so porting code will not be any easier or harder than it was before.

      Still a great post though. Now is a great time to start writing software for the Mac!
    • by Cecil (37810) on Wednesday June 08, 2005 @01:11AM (#12755049) Homepage
      Take your fear of people figuring out how to run X on beige boxes... Apple doesn't care about these folks. Simply by having not purchased a Mac, this portion of the market has already proven that they are unwilling to have ever paid the Apple premium so, in effect, Apple will virtually never loose a sale to this crowd.

      You're wrong. I'm a UNIX geek turned OS X geek. I own a Mac (several, in fact). I own them because I adore OS X and because Apple makes laptops that sleep beautifully and instantly. I suspect the latter is more a function of OS X than it is of the hardware, but we'll have to see.

      In any case, if a beige box (or PC laptop) ran OS X for $1500 less than my Mac cost... would I do that? You better believe I would. I'm not in it for the hardware. I'm in it for a UNIX with an awesome UI and great UI development tools, and that's what OS X is to me.

      I sincerely doubt I'm alone.
      • >In any case, if a beige box (or PC laptop) ran OS X
        >for $1500 less than my Mac cost...

        What kind of Apple hardware are you using? You can get quite alot of Mac for $1500. Say a dual 2GHZ G5 Powermac costing $2000. If you really need that type of workstation, I'd be really suprised if you could come up with any comparable beige box costing only $500. Actually, I don't see any Mac that has a $1500 premium on it.
        -tim

    • To add to your point. Apple have an advantage when it comes to keeping their OS on their hardware, which is that their motherboard designs are still in house, meaning that while the Intel chip is the same as Dell machines, the underlying structure of the computer is still sufficiently different that it's less about hacking around a software block, and more about having to emulate the remainder of the apple hardware.

      Additionally Mac OS X would be designed to work with a number of specific video cards (and

    • by william_w_bush (817571) on Wednesday June 08, 2005 @02:50AM (#12755404)
      Got a mac SE in 89 at the age of 11, gave it up in 94 for a pc, just for the game and tinker-factor.

      I am one of the biggest closet mac lovers in the world. Till my mini this year i hadn't touched one in a decade, and now im happy.

      Smalltalk, Obj-C, HONEST TO GOD FUCKING DESIGN!

      Windows programming is a combination between brute force and kludged hack, with just almost no technique or architectural finesse. Get it done, and hope it works. When is the last time you saw a windows app that people used for 5 years without an update and said "yeah it works great". It's like disposable software, not disposable like a funcam, disposable like an adult diaper, you just can't put up with the same one for more than a day.

      Linux. Love the theory, but 500 people each with their own pita view of how an OS should work... sucks. Love everything that goes on below the gui, and it makes a great server, though they redefine library hell.

      OSX. This is what happens to software when people keep consistent design principles. Compatibility is secondary to consistency, and programming doesn't mean learning a new way to malloc memory for EVERY G-D interface you try to use. It's like all those MIT guys I knew made an os with all their theory, and kept with it, even when the marketing pricks masturbated on them with their quick-to-copy new features and API's, that were so badly designed that 5 months later they became "legacy" (do not fuck with me on this, look through the windows com+ and ATL specs, or anything involving OLE), and had absolutely nothing in common with any other api in the system.

      Just cracked open XCode, and for the first time in years I'm looking forward to coding again. Everything is intuitive, 1 theory of operation to rule them all.

      Maybe it's an american thing, but why the hell do people buy from companies with such a horrible history of design? Jesus, the only time Ford had a semi-reliable engine was when it was designed so simply that every 10k miles you could rebuild half the engine yourself and get it working well again that way, consumer-products shouldn't be brute forced.

      Seriously, I've been a windows, then linux junkie for the last decade, but can any of you tell me there is any consistent design going on anywhere in there? Till dec 2003 you had to hardcode all the driver init hooks into the linux kernel with ifdefs, explain to me how that makes any sense. Well, another decade from now maybe Mach 1.0 will be out and another ridiculously long software milestone will have been reached.
      • quick postscript (Score:3, Interesting)

        Just FYI, there are 8 different api's for handling a length prefixed string in windows, each defined separately with WHOLLY different semantics and parameters for performing the same tasks. Ironically while they are not interchangable, each of them has a different, subsection of text-proccessing or storage-management none of the others has, and a completely separate method of conversion to a LPSTR (std string pointer). I have talked to dozens of people about this, and most people who've done work in windows
  • by BitGeek (19506) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @06:39PM (#12752569) Homepage

    What makes the Mac OS what it is is the platform, and all the technologies involved with it. These are not going away.

    Macs are %90 PCs anyway, they use products from Intel, AMD and other chip venders and they use the industry standard architecture of PCI. They just use a different CPU.

    I think this move is being made to make the Mac platform more viable and vibrant, not less.

    Though I don't quite see the path yet either... the platform is still wonderful, and Cocoa is still the best development environment ever.

    PS Am I really first post? Weird.
  • Well, because... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by shepmaster (319234) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @06:41PM (#12752586) Homepage Journal
    Well, I'm fairly sure OpenTransport has been gone for a while now, but to answer the question...

    One, Mac users will still want Mac-native applications. Witness the lack of interest in X11 ports of Linux programs. These all work just fine, but look comparatively ugly. Same goes for Java apps.

    Two, Cocoa and friends is a wonderful language / API set. The programs I have made under OS X have been actually fun to create and build. I, for one, will still program for OS X, regardless of what everyone else does, because I use OS X.

    I think the problem facing people programming for OS X will be the same as it always has been, which is just getting enough user base to make the application financially viable for companies. That is up to the markets.
    • Two, Cocoa and friends is a wonderful language / API set. The programs I have made under OS X have been actually fun to create and build. I, for one, will still program for OS X, regardless of what everyone else does, because I use OS X.

      You mean Objective C is a wonderful language and Cocoa is a wonderful API set. However, you can program with both on Linux (or even Windows too , I suppose if you were so inclined). Check out GNUStep.


      • Infortunately, GnuStep will never have the support on Linux or Windows that Cocoa does on the Mac.

        There is an offshoot called, I think, mgstep, that shows promise.

        But an operating system foundation framework needs good OS support and so GnuStep is going to be hurt by that-- not enough developers or time.

        On the other hand, if you are a Mac fan, then writing for Cocoa and porting to GnuStep may well be a wonderful way to go.

        I think Apple should work on GnuStep and ship it with iTunes so that Mac Develope
    • For me the big problem is that with X11 programmes on OS X, I haven't been able to get Japanese input working on X11. I installed wnn and others and never got them to work in X11 in OS X.

      I was hoping so badly that at least by now Apple would have X11 made work flawlessly with whatever OS X input method was selected, but alas this isn't the case. :-(
  • Excuse me? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Quarters (18322) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @06:44PM (#12752616)
    Do you really think that PPC and OpenTransport are what make a Mac a Mac?

    There are a lot of things that made a Mac a Mac long before those two technologies were introduced.
    NuBus
    Motorola 680xx CPUs
    SCSI
    1.44 MB Floppies
    ADB
    HyperCard
    (and many others)

    Did the Mac stop being a Mac when those technologies were replaced with other, better technologies or dropped altogether?

    I'm completely confused by your assertation that if someone makes OS X run on beige boxes that development houses won't look at Carbon/Cocoa. In a word, "HUH???" How do those two statements have any correlation to each other whatsoever?

    Apple needed to switch to a different chip supplier because IBM/Motorola will be spreading themselves thin filling supply contracts for all three next-generation consoles. Since those contracts are going to be bigger and more lucrative than Apple's purchasing commitments IBM/Motorola probably told them they'd be last in line.

    Apple saw the writing on the wall and moved to a CPU supplier that can fulfill their needs. That they get a higher speeds, dual cores, and lower prices also is just icing on the cake to them.

    How this change affects corporate adoption of the Macintosh platform is probably a great big, "not much". Those industries that have shown a predilection to Macs will continue to use them. Those that haven't, won't. Unlike geeks, most people don't care what chip runs their PC. They care about what tools are at their disposal.

    If it quacks it's a duck. If it has minimalistic (not minimal) design esthetics, ease of use, runs OSX, and is sold by Steve Jobs it's a Macintosh. It's a Mac regardless of what collection of silicon and transistors makes it run.

    • A Mac didn't even make a Mac. No one was interested in Apple's hardware for the past 10 years. I'll tell you what brought the interest back to the majority... not SCSI or iMac fancy cases.

      It's the iPod! Whether Macs use Intels or not, it doesn't even matter. What matters is that iPod stays impressive, making Apple a preferred brand.

    • Re:Excuse me? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by DLWormwood (154934)
      Do you really think that PPC and OpenTransport are what make a Mac a Mac?

      There are a lot of things that made a Mac a Mac long before those two technologies were introduced.

      I think my biggest concern is that there is no longer any practical differention in the hardware between Macs and PCs. As such, there's going to be common perception (correct or not) that most of these new Macs will "Just Be Able To Run Windows."

      I wasn't kidding about my first Mac job. The vast majority of software developed an

      • Re:Excuse me? (Score:4, Informative)

        by SteeldrivingJon (842919) on Wednesday June 08, 2005 @01:12AM (#12755056) Homepage Journal
        It seems like every chapter is written to explain that the x86 architecure contains pitfall after pitfall that will make an app crash where I wouldn't on a PPC box.

        I used to work on trading systems at a big Chicago bank. On OPENSTEP, on Intel. This was the late 90s after the Apple/NeXT merger, so this was as close as you could get to Cocoa development at the time.

        No special extra-cautious error-handling code was required. Crashes weren't a problem. Debugging was no more onerous than when I worked on NeXTSTEP on a 86k. Or, for that matter, on OS X. In all my time using NeXTSTEP or OpenStep on Intel, crashes were never any more frequent than they've been on OS X. And they were no more likely to bring the machine down than is the case on OS X.

        If the document sounds scary, it's probably to notify programmers who might be playing fast & loose with their code, or being messy, relying on the PowerPC's characteristics in non-portable ways.

        Most programmers aren't going to be relying on such tricks in their code. Apple's just being thorough, and telling the tricksy programmers to knock it off, or they'll be sorry.
  • If I have to reboot to a different environment I lose access to all of my prior programs. We're talking about computers here, not gaming consoles. Being able to run multiple programs on the same desktop (plural for those with virtual desktops) is a huge benefit.

    As to the idea of Virtual PC running at native speeds, I am unwilling to call this as a negative. (It sounds too much like the complaints of the buggy-whip makers.) If something becoming faster, better, etc. endangers an occupation based on comp
    • by Yaztromo (655250) <yaztromoNO@SPAMmac.com> on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @07:34PM (#12753066) Homepage Journal
      As to the idea of Virtual PC running at native speeds, I am unwilling to call this as a negative. (It sounds too much like the complaints of the buggy-whip makers.)

      They who do not learn from history are destined to repeat it.

      If anything, full speed VPC will help Mac adoption as the few programs which require Windows can then be used inside of OS X.

      Yeah. After all, it did OS/2 a whole lot of good that it could run Windows 3.1 applications in protected memory space, and pre-emptively multitask them back in 1992.

      The key factor here is which of the desktops provide the better user experience. That desktop will become the dominant one, assuming that apps from either OS can be used. When that happens, it will make more sense for software houses to program for that dominant desktop.

      Sorry, but you're failing to learn from history.

      Back before Windows 95, OS/2 had a significantly better desktop environment than Microsoft Windows did. It ran Win16 applications, typically better than Windows itself did. I knew of a lot of Windows developers who did their development on OS/2 because of its better memory management, pre-emptive multitasking, and crash protection.

      And what good did any of this do for OS/2? I remember personally contacting ISVs to talk to them about porting their popular software to OS/2, and the answer I always got was "why, when it runs our Windows software so well?". They didn't care one whit about the desktop environment, or the fact that their Win13 and Win32s applications looked bad on OS/2, and ran worse than native applications, didn't integrate into the desktop environment, couldn't use long filenames, etc. They cared only about one thing: how do we target the largest possible market at the lowest cost?

      I don't see that much has changed within the industry. There are a lot of Windows-only ISVs out there who have no intention of putting any effort into making OS X applications, but who wouldn't mind increasing their userbase. And there are a lot of other ISVs out there who put minimal effort into OS X native applications, but who would love to do away with the additional staff and costs associated with that.

      Fortunately for Apple, unline IBM they already have a significant development community using their APIs. Cocoa is an absolute joy to develop with. If anything, I would think that instead of having good Windows emulation, what Apple really needs to do is to port Xcode and Cocoa to Windows and Linux, and get developers on those platforms to write applications to their APIs, and allow existing Xcode developers create apps which will run on Windows and Linux. That is where the real battle is -- for the hearts and minds of developers. If you permit Windows to run on OS X as well as on native Windows, you concede the most important battle by telling developers that using the Windows APIs is just as good as using your own APIs.

      That is the lesson IBM learned the hard way. They continued to make that mistake with their Open32 APIs, which mirrored the most common Win32 APIs in order to permit Win32 applications to be recompiled to run on OS/2. That didn't work out too well either.

      That was introduced about 10 years ago. Do you want OS X in 10 years to be where OS/2 is today?

      Yaz.

      • by jbolden (176878)
        OS/2 2.0 and 2.1 included a fully copy of the windows. I'm not sure OSX for Windows isn't a good idea. Since IBM screwed up OS/2 marketing in so many different ways its hard to know which ones killed the product. Heck maybe it was it the default to color blind schemes on the desktop?
      • If you permit Windows to run on OS X as well as on native Windows, you concede the most important battle by telling developers that using the Windows APIs is just as good as using your own APIs.

        I never saw OS/2, but it happens all the time that some useful app comes to the Mac as an ugly port from windows/linux and gets picked up. Its popularity always lasts precisely as long as it takes for a Mac-native competitor to appear.

        The fact is, any developer who decides that using the Windows APIs is just as go
      • by turpie (8040)
        Maintaining the OSX/OpenStep APIs for Windows would be a great idea as it would allow Mac developers to sell their software to windows users. In fact this was in Apple's original plans when they announced Rhapsody which OSX.
        Somewhere along the line they decided that making the market for mac developers software smaller instead of bigger was a better idea.
      • Back before Windows 95, OS/2 had a significantly better desktop environment than Microsoft Windows did. It ran Win16 applications, typically better than Windows itself did. I knew of a lot of Windows developers who did their development on OS/2 because of its better memory management, pre-emptive multitasking, and crash protection. And what good did any of this do for OS/2?

        Since OS/2 ran Windows apps "out of the box", it's easy to see how a lot of people saw OS/2 as a nice(r) way to run Windows apps rat
      • OS/2 also had pre-emptive multitasking. And it supported FAT filesystems too. Let's hope OS X doesn't have either!

        OS/2 Warp (3) did actually take off, at least in Europe. According to Judge Jackson's Findings of Fact, IBM was forced by Microsoft to drop all marketing and bundling of the OS and Lotus Smartsuite in exchange for the support it needed to sell PCs with Windows 95.

      • OS/2's problem was no free development tools, little native software all the while everyone was developing for Windows. Further it was very mismarketed. Apple certainly can screw this one up. But anyone who has used OSX knows there is no shortage of software. And some of the best is from Apple. (FCP, iLife, iWork, DVDStudioPro, etc.) Likewise Adobe/Macromedia is porting their stuff. Microsoft is porting their stuff. Then there are the native developers like Omni with excellent software. The OS/2 co
  • So we've heard alot of rumors about this change in the last few weeks, Apple made their big announcement yesterday.

    And now we're swamped with all these Apple people throwing out fearful statements like "Apple's switching to Intel, therefor Apple going to get replaced by Windows!".

    You guys DO realize that an Apple computer is more then just a Processor, right? There's still a whole proprietary computer built around the CPU, and this OS X thing which runs on the Hardware, and some applications which run on the OS.

    I seem to remember similar hysteria during the old MacOS to OSX change. "My programs will never run! The WORLD IS OVER!" but Apple's been doing pretty well since then, as has development for the Mac.
    • I think the major problem is that now VPC will have virtually no performance hit. And if you don't want an actual virtual computer and the bugginess of Windows, I'm betting WINE will be out of OS X within 6 months of the first x86 macs ship date.
      • You still have to have software translating from the APIs of one operating system to the older one, but using the same processor.

        This would indicate that the performance level you might get on VPC would be comparable to Classic on MacOS X.

        Do you know anyone running MacOS X who still uses Classic with any frequency? I don't, because the ancient applications are just plain sluggish.

        The main advantage of the Mac platform is MacOS X, not the hardware it runs on. And we still have a distinct lack of virii a
  • The issue for developers isn't that bad - after all, apple appears to be making it fairly easy to produce cross platform code. If you were going to develop before, why not now? It will be many years before there is a significant number of apple intel systems to run PC stuff quickly. If you were going to write for the apple PPC last week, your situation hasn't changed much and won't for the next couple of years. You will write with standard PPC tools, or use the latest version of Xcode (or similar) which produces fat binaries, and runs on both platforms without a performance hit.

    Interestingly, the major improvements in Tiger, such as core video and so on, move all the graphically intensive stuff into the GPU. The cleverness of this is that the lack of the altivec units aren't such a big issue if you use the OS X core API's - everything is done in the graphics card, altivec is much less important, and this means that emulation of the PPC code will work fairly fast on their software emulator (rosetta). So your legacy code isn't going to suffer too much, and newer code even less so using the core API's even if you don't use fat binaries, which you will.

    Of course, you could just write for windows, but then you are going to miss a large number of apple users and watch other developers make money in that market whilst you compete in the win32 sphere. Your choice as a developer I guess.

    Eventually, the powerbook I am writing this on will be a legacy piece of hardware because the number of people using PPC will be too small to be worth developing for.

    However, a similar situation exists for old windows boxes, not because the processor has changed, but because the hardware requirements are too high for big new apps to work on it.

    This process will take many years to occur, and won't be a problem for developers unless all new purchases stop for apple.

    If this happens, you will get alot of warning over the next 6-12 months that its time to bail from apple.

    As a user of apple computers, after the initial concern, I am much less worried about making new purchases because the obsolescence of the current models will take years to occur. It really isn't so different from the transition of OS 9 to OS X. You can still run stuff in classic mode. And my current power book is still a magical 12" laptop that does what I need, and will be good for a few years no matter what, and for which I'll still buy new software for (if its good enough to buy). So the market will still be there.

    I don't think that many apple fans will jump ship, even if they are not happy - after all, what is the alternative? Go back to windows? Get your apps working under linux (like iLife, Keynote, etc?). Even if you feel abandoned by apple, the alternatives are still either a malware ridden platform or alot of hard work and a significant drop in the eye candy factor.

    In the longer run, its going to be more a case of alot more dissatisfied windows users jumping ship and the apple user base growing, in my opinion.

    My 2c worth

    Michael
    • by Have Blue (616) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @11:19PM (#12754528) Homepage
      Interestingly, the major improvements in Tiger, such as core video and so on, move all the graphically intensive stuff into the GPU. The cleverness of this is that the lack of the altivec units aren't such a big issue if you use the OS X core API's - everything is done in the graphics card, altivec is much less important, and this means that emulation of the PPC code will work fairly fast on their software emulator (rosetta). So your legacy code isn't going to suffer too much, and newer code even less so using the core API's even if you don't use fat binaries, which you will.

      Apple's thinking bigger than that. It's not just about the graphics card or altivec, it's about providing abstracted system libraries for just about anything. If you write a program that uses the system libraries, Apple will ship an implementation that runs fast on a sufficiently advanced GPU, one that runs fast on AltiVec, one that runs fast on SSE3, one that runs fast on whatever the next step is. If you use this library, you get the benefits on all platforms.
  • Missing the point (Score:4, Insightful)

    by samael (12612) <Andrew@Ducker.org.uk> on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @06:58PM (#12752748) Homepage
    Nobody buys a Mac because it's got a cool processor - they but it because it's got a great interface that makes life easier for them.

    Who cares if it's x86 or PowerPC - it's the OS and the Apps that make Macs great.
    • Nobody buys a Mac because it's got a cool processor - they but it because it's got a great interface that makes life easier for them.

      Just for the record, I do.

      I like the fact that both of my macs running together at full noise are quieter than my PC with one fan. This is because of the CPU. PowerPCs are cooler in both senses of the word.

      My MacMini stays dead cold regardless of what it's doing. My PC heats up like a little oven when I play games or watch movies.

      Who cares if it's x86 or PowerPC - it's t
  • Just because OS X will run on Apple-branded x86 machines doesn't mean that those users will also have Windows on them as well, even though they CAN. Same thing for Virtual PC. Those things are optional, and I'd say most machines will probably NOT have them. So, that's really not any different from the current situation, is it?

    What's more likely is that the PowerPC versions of Linux will see development slow to a crawl (over time).

    The new x86 Apple platform will be THE platform to have for multiple OS supp
  • by itwerx (165526)
    Either the question is very poorly worded or the submitter (and the editors) have no clue what they're asking.
    From an application programming perspective the APIs have virtually nothing to do with the hardware platform.

    (Though I must say it's amusing reading all these threads about it...! :)
  • YES (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ignorant_coward (883188) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @07:14PM (#12752906)

    Because the CPU is irrelevant in the big picture. People buy the engineered package, called an iMac or a PowerMac or a PowerBook, and the PowerPC is really a sidebar in the whole deal.

    Sure, some apps perform better on PowerPC, but some others perform better on x86. And no one said exactly what model of Intel CPU future Macs will have. Given that Mr. Jobs mentioned a concern about power consumption, I'd bet that the current Pentium 4 or Xeon CPUs will not get a Mac logo. The Pentium M or an even better CPU in the pipeline (Jobs specifically said he had access to Intel's roadmap) are much more likely to be in future Macs.

    Watching the keynote reminded me why people love Apple. It really has nothing to do with PowerPC. The WWDC presentation was full of energy and hype and buzz, and the audience applauded and cheered like no other tech company presentation I've seen.
  • by toby (759) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @07:31PM (#12753037) Homepage Journal
    Let's take a reality check here. People should buy a Mac, buy OS X, for their unique features. Ease of use. Slick GUI. iLife apps. Reliability. Rich development environment. Quality hardware. Etc. Windows offers none of those things, and Linux is still catching up in some of those areas.

    Why does it seem so strange that people might actually choose products based on their attributes?

  • This is the same reason why Linux people are still pushing Linux apps like Open Office, and other tools for linux. You can install VMWare in Linux and run your Windows very fast almost native speed like VirtualPC. Why would you want Linux apps if you can run all your windows apps in Linux using VMWare? Well first you have the hassle of running windows on top of an other platform needing each window to reach a normal screen resolution. Secondly there is cross communication between the two OS while some th
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I've noticed a lot of strange talk lately. That somehow the x86 Mac is a BAD thing. That somehow, Mac software will cease to exist. I just don't get it.

    I'm feeling pessimistic about the future of the platform now that Apple is embracing Intel and abandoning the few remaining 'Mac' technologies (like the PowerPC and OpenTransport)

    Those are not "Mac" technologies! Those are implementation details! Who cares what kind of chip is under the hood?

    What kind of "long time mac developer" are you anyway, don'

  • As a Mac user, even if I have a choice I will always choose something that runs in OS X to something that runs in Windows. Because otherwise, what the hell is the point of having a Mac???

    I don't want to have to use Windows versions of programs. I don't like the way Windows lays things out. I don't like the UI. I just don't like Windows. That's why I have a Mac. I don't personally care much about the pretty outer shell, though it's a nice bonus - and there's no way in hell I'd buy the shell if I were g

  • Windows On A Mac (Score:2, Interesting)

    by falcon203e (589344)
    No matter what Windows-on-a-Mac solution you've got in mind, I can assure you that it won't come out of Apple's hands. That'll make it essentially nonexistent for the vast majority of average users. Apps will still have to be developed for OS X for those users. And if dual-booting becomes an issue, Apple most likely make it impossible through a quiet update, a la the Rhapsody issue.
    • Seriously enough. This might be a great plan.

      If something like Xen can switch OSes between OSX and Windows, the new mac might be a great package for people who need to run win32 as well. OSX could even do API translation like in WINEX to run win32 apps at near native speeds.

      In that case, I'm buying a mac!
  • by javaxman (705658) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @07:58PM (#12753243) Journal
    You should leave the OS X development arena. It'll leave more room for me...
  • I recently ordered a Mac Mini (up to day 11 of the wait - already overdue) - will future releases of OS X run on my Mini?

    It is reasonable to assume that 10.5 and probably 10.6 will be released as PPC versions, but what about there-after?

    For internet usage, audio/video/DVD playback, such a computer should last at least 6 years (just like my PIII has). Did I make a poor 'investment' or will Apple release PPC OS X for several years to come?

    Mike
    • why would you still be using your mac mini when after 10.6? You could buy a new mac mini that is 10 times faster for $400. Apple already said they are slowing the pace of major OS releases after Tiger
    • by ultramk (470198)
      Yes, I'm sure you have at least several years before new OSX releases don't run anymore...

      For the uses you mention (internet usage, audio/video/DVD playback), it will continue to run for many, many years after that. Eventually the HD may develop errors, or you may need a new DVD drive, but those are easily replaced.

      What I'm trying to say is, a machine doesn't have to run the latest and greatest to be useful. Would you expect today's $500 PC to run Longhorn? Then why would you expect it from a Mac?

      It's no
    • Yes (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gabe (6734) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @09:50PM (#12753938) Homepage Journal
      Apple has been developing builds of Mac OS X for Intel since day once. They obviously have the resources to handle both architectures at the same time. So they will be able to maintain builds for PowerPC as well as Intel for years to come but yes, they will eventually phase out PowerPC, yes.

      If you've read about the keynote, or watched the video, you'll know that Apple will introduce the Intel line in 2006, and complete the transition of all Apple products to Intel in 2007. My guess is you'll have two years of OS X updates for PowerPC after that (about how long OS 9 was still maintained after OS X was introduced). Simple math says your PowerPC will probably be running Mac OS X 10.8 (Garfield?) in 2009 by the time PowerPC is EOL'd.

      Of course, I don't know for sure. It's just speculation based on Apple's historical transitions. They're not going to leave you out in the cold.
    • Does it matter?

      Why do people feel that they need to constantly upgrade their OS? If it weren't for security problems, most of the people I know wouldn't have a need for anything beyond windows 95 -- which was released almost a decade ago.

      I have a bunch of old machines -- I ran a Centris 650 for well over 6 years, and I never went past OS 7.5 on it, because it ran what I needed just fine. (I think I was also running an outdated version of Photoshop, but well, most of the value of the machine was tied up
  • by biglig2 (89374) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @08:01PM (#12753272) Homepage Journal
    If a Mac could run the handful of Windows only programs I need (in addition to generic apps) to do my job, exactly what arguments could my boss use to stop me buying one?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      "It costs more."

      "The company has standardized on Manufacturer X, and you need to buy what we they say."

      "Our current hardware manufacturer provides better support."

      "Running Windows and Windows applications is unsupported by Apple."

      "It doesn't have drivers for Hardware X that we need/want to use."

      "Our IT department won't support integrating Mac OS X applications into our network and workflow, so what's the point?"

      (Note: I'm not endorsing these arguments, merely proposing them as typical of some busines
  • Steve Jobs would recommend (by deed, if not by word) that you avoid tying youself to a single platform. Go ahead and develop for Mac, but make sure that your product also runs (to the extent possible) on other platforms.

    You may save yourself a lot of grief if something goes wrong with your favorite platform. (Apple might bundle equivalent function with the OS, as happened to Konfabulator). At the very least, you will learn a lot about platform differences.
  • If the windowing system and graphical environment (Aqua/Cocoa/etc) were open sourced and could run on top of Linux/FreeBSD/etc., I'd never touch X again.
  • Yes, Program Away! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by shatfield (199969) * on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @09:03PM (#12753649)
    As a long time Mac developer, originally as a hobbyist and then a professional, I'm feeling pessimistic about the future of the platform now that Apple is embracing Intel and abandoning the few remaining 'Mac' technologies

    You are extremely lucky to be developing Mac applications for a living. I envy you.

    Apple is still going to be making incredibly well designed computers. They'll still be named "Macintosh". The Macintosh will still have a great looking case. The OS will still be called "Mac OS X" and will have code names based off of large cats. What will change is that the CPU inside the Macintosh will be named something else. That's it. You will still have to buy it from Apple, and you will not be able to put your Mac OS X installation DVD into a Dell or Gateway PC and expect it to install. Hackers may come up with a way, but it will be unsupported, since anyone who installs the OS onto a non-Apple certified machine will be breaking their license agreement. No company in their right mind will run PCs with a hacked OS X installed -- they'll just buy Macintosh computers and be done with it... and they'll be better off for it as well.

    So program away, and feel good about yourself, you are doing what others only wish that they could do.
  • Back in the OS 9 days, a company called connectix (bought by MS) created a product for the mac called "vitural playstation". It allowed your mac to play playstation games. It was cool and worked well on the hardware of the day (around 400 mhz?) . Life was good.

    Then someone pointed out, OMG, if this software get s better than noone will write Mac games (mac games were few and far between), because you could just buy a virtual playstation and playstation games.

    It never happened. People still created mac
  • by csoto (220540) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @09:09PM (#12753676)
    I'm feeling pessimistic about the future of the platform now that Apple is embracing Intel and abandoning the few remaining 'Mac' technologies (like the PowerPC and OpenTransport) left to the platform.


    This is just stupid. "PowerPC" doesn't make the Mac. Otherwise, IBM would be a big seller of Macintoshes. Open Transport is just a poor attempt at reinventing the wheel. It made sense before TCP/IP was the only game in town, but it belongs in the bit bucket, in favor of modern network stacks built around IP.


    With the high likelihood that these new Macs will offer a full speed version of Virtual PC and (what I think is) the almost assurance that some clever hacker will make 'X for x86' run on commodity hardware, I'm doubting the willingness of most IT and development houses to even give the Carbon and Cocoa APIs a first glance.


    Sorry, but this is just as stupid. Once again, what is OS X, if not Carbon and (especially) Cocoa? Lots of developers code for X, not because it runs on PowerPC, but because, well, it's cool. Powerful apps are quite easy when you're provided a good set of frameworks.


    Can anybody with a more optimistic view think of a scenario where a modern development house will do Mac development in an age where the help desk will just say either 'switch boot to Windows/Linux' or 'run Virtual PC?'


    You definitely don't get it. Mac is the frameworks. Intel changes none of this.

  • Life could be better!
    ..and..
    ..change is bad!

    (I liked it so much, I bought the sig)

  • by Colonel Panic (15235) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @09:28PM (#12753799)
    I tend to agree with your pessimism, but perhaps for somewhat different reasons.

    The shift from PPC to Intel signals a shift in culture at Apple. It means that Apple has gone from being an innovative 'cool', 'hip' company (of course we know that a lot of that is just marketing hype) to being much more staid and conservative.

    If Steve Jobbs felt he really needed to make a move to a different CPU he could have made a very bold move (something he _has_ done in the past) and chosen to move towards the Cell processor. Why would that make so much sense? Well, for one each Cell processor contains several PowerPC processors, so chances are there would have been a fairly easy transistion from PPC to Cell - almost seamless. And two, the Cell architecture promises a quantum leap in performance over what is available now.

    But instead, Steve looked out over the CPU landscape and chose Intel. Intel: boring, staid, not terrifically innovative anymore, married to an old CPU architecture. Their only real gamble in recent years was the Itanium and it failed miserably.

    So this time the switch from PPC to X86 is nothing like the switch from 68K to PPC for Apple. Going to the PPC really did give Apple a quantum leap in performance. This switch is being done more for bottom-line business reasons. Jobbs feels he can get better pricing out of Intel. He also feels that the relationship with IBM was somewhat rocky. I think one of the big problems was that he couldn't get a G5 in a laptop. However, he may have lost his patience at just the wrong time. IBM was apparently about to be able to fulfill that wish.

    This was a huge opportunity lost for Apple. Had they gone with the Cell processor it's possible that they would have been able to create machines that were so much faster than Intel/AMD PCs that it would have drawn a lot of attention and market share. But instead Apple took the safe route. Too bad. These are strange days when Microsoft is going towards PPC (XBox 360) and Apple is moving towards Intel. Perhaps the bold move in the computing world will come from an IBM/Sony partnership creating Cell-based boxes that run Linux.

    But look on the bright side: in a few years you'll be able to pick up dual 2.5GHz G5 machines at garage sales for about $25.
    • by BitGeek (19506) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @10:06PM (#12754036) Homepage

      I see what you're saying, but I think you're missing an important point: A Cell Processor does not have a PowerPC.

      Or, put another way, all the features that are important to the Desktop marketplace, are not important to the games space. A cell processor may have 3 "PowerPC" cores, running at 3.2GHz, but that doesn't mean that its the same as having 3 PowerPC G5s in it. More like it has 3 PowerPC 601s in it (G1). There's a lot of features that are needed in a desktop processor that just aren't there in the cell processor, and it remains to be seen whether the cell processor is going to be viable or not.

      I think part of Apple's deal with intel is going to be rights to the intel instruction set. If, in the future, Apple is not able to derive sufficient innovative features then they can go to an external fab..... what apple moved to was not so much the intel CPUs, but the intel instruction set.

      And basically, that instruction set is dominant-- it gets apple a LOT of credibility and brings it out of the cold of being the fringe.

      The marketplace has spoken and unfortunately, innovation is not their priority (otherwise Apple would be dominant and Microsoft would be long gone.)

      Apple will continue to innovate, but on this issue, where they have to bet the company, they have to bet it on the safest thing.

      Remember, also, that Apple does not control the CPU--its core competancy is not there. So, either this gives them more control over their CPUs, or it removes their vulnerability at not having control over that critical piece... or both.

      They were hurt by the PowerPC, and they are eliminating that threat to their business.

      I see it as a good move, though I think tis going to be confusing to the marketplace for awhile.

      • what apple moved to was not so much the intel CPUs, but the intel instruction set. And basically, that instruction set is dominant-

        Yes, it's dominant, and it blows. That's what makes the move so hard for many Mac-heads to accept. The Mac has always been about doing what's technically right, not what's most popular.

        For instance, I vastly prefer the clean simplicity of the 6502 to the ugliness of the Z80, having written code for both. The 680x0 was a joy to write for compared to the 8086 thru 80486.

        M

    • Your post is filled with a lot of assumptions based on stuff you obviously either read on AppleInsider or made up out of whole cloth.

      The shift from PPC to Intel signals a shift in culture at Apple. It means that Apple has gone from being an innovative 'cool', 'hip' company (of course we know that a lot of that is just marketing hype) to being much more staid and conservative.

      Clue: Apple used to be at the mercy of "cool, hip" middle management that couldn't focus more than two months into the future. The
  • by mnmn (145599) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @09:48PM (#12753928) Homepage
    Like Be and RedHat, Apple is the new OS vendor out there. Be ran on 2 platforms and is dead now. RedHat runs on 3 (or more) platforms and has big community backing. Apple does too. They both have good application base, although Apple has more on one platform, the PPC.

    Some say Apple has a good OS, so they'll have success. Others say their Intel hardware will be superior and people will buy more of it, since it will be cheaper and efficient, so Apple will be successful.

    And yet for some reason, I'm also pessimistic here.

    We had the evil wintel. And then we had the Apple, motorolla, IBM alliance. IBM is very busy pushing Linux-on-PowerPC, which means that hardware platform will have a future, and might just pull ahead of x86.

    However, the AMD64 platform showed that the x86/x64 platform is the best thing out there and Apple is too moving to it. Less diversity. Just a bunch of OSes on the same chip on roughly the same motherboard (since the mem handler is built into the chip, theres less else on the AMD64 mobo). Thats now the entire desktop market of the world.

    There was once a time when we had IRIX on MIPS, OpenVMS and Tru64 on Alpha and VMS, Solaris on Ultrasparc, HPUX on PARISC, Unixware on Intel, OS2, and all the BSDs plus Linux out there. It was a rich world. Lots to learn. Each one had a strength you could count on. All thats collapsed, Be was bought out, SCO was too, Alpha, Tru64, OpenVMS were too, Ultrasparc and Itanium and PARISC are dying, MIPS is dead, OS2 is dead, the diverse mainframes are dead, and we're seeing even more industry consolidation, and later the demise of some of the companies who couldnt differentiate enough.

    I suppose I'll feel different when I'll see a cheaper macmini with an Athlon64 FX55 (or equiv) running OSX.

    OSX had better be able to make me buy the whole deal now.
  • It's unfortunate, but endianness is the most important part of an API. You're going to have to reverse to order of the bytes for the string literal in "Hello, World!" to make it work. It's just not worth the effort.
  • um (Score:2, Interesting)

    by BigBir3d (454486)
    i bought a mac because of os x, not because my ibook has a g3 inside...
  • My caveats (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Slur (61510) on Tuesday June 07, 2005 @10:29PM (#12754157) Homepage Journal
    I completely understand Steve Jobs' point about moving to Intel. IBM has had little success exploiting the massive "room for growth" they vociferously touted with the announcement of the G5. I have a G5 Dual 2.5GHz machine, and it never ceases to bug me that a machine with such a "low" clock speed requires liquid cooling and a half-dozen fans to spin up every time I start compiling code.

    As a programmer since the Z80 and 6502 days I'm a little perturbed by this move, but really just for aesthetic reasons. The reason I could never abide the x86 architecture is that in its original incarnation it seemed so brain-dead and backwards. With its backwards endianness, funky limited-use registers, paged memory, and bolted on extensions it always seemed like a kludge on top of another kludge.

    When I discovered the 680x0 architecture (through the Amiga) I was very pleased. The bits were in the right order, the registers were all general-use, and there were plenty of them, and they seemed to be more interested in energy efficiency.

    While Intel was building processors that required giant heat-sinks and fans to dissipate all the waste heat I was glad that Apple was seeking out processors that pushed efficiency and low energy consumption.

    Maybe this is a misconception, but I thought that at some point the ancient x86 instruction set and registers were "set aside" in favor of a more modern RISC-style processor core, and the old x86 stuff is supported as a kind of pass-through layer on top of that. I understand that's the case with AMD's Athlon, anyhow.

    So what I'm hoping is that any new computers based on the Intel architecture will eschew the legacy cruft and compile only the core instruction set. Then perhaps they can drop the pass-through x86 layer and get even more power for the price.

    How much have I got wrong in my thinking on this matter?
    • Re:My caveats (Score:5, Interesting)

      by lostchicken (226656) on Wednesday June 08, 2005 @01:16AM (#12755073)
      Maybe this is a misconception, but I thought that at some point the ancient x86 instruction set and registers were "set aside" in favor of a more modern RISC-style processor core, and the old x86 stuff is supported as a kind of pass-through layer on top of that. I understand that's the case with AMD's Athlon, anyhow.

      This has been correct for everything since the Pentium Pro. CISC is a bad way to do a CPU, and everyone knows it. You can think of the x86 layer as a sort of machine code compression that actually increases how much code you can keep in cache at one point. A byte of x86 goes a lot farther than a byte of PPC.
  • Do you suppose it really matters what CPU is in there? Apple's change is mostly a change in the proverbial black-box. Users are shielded from the CPU by many, many layers. Basically, the only reason users care about CPU's is because big chip companies (and certain computer vendors) spend a lot of money convicing them they should. I'm not saying that they don't have differing relative advantadges, I'm just saying that those relative differences really don't add up to much for the majority of users. Certainly
  • Apple on Intel is like the original Porsche 924. [itgarage.com] Either it's a very bad marketing decision or a precursor to a play for a much larger chunk of the mainstream market...
  • by tgibbs (83782) on Wednesday June 08, 2005 @12:29AM (#12754873)
    I'm sure that somebody will figure out how to hack OS X to run on a generic Wintel box. It won't affect anything. Nobody will use it except for a handful of hackers, and not for any serious purposes, because it will be too much of a pain to maintain, with the patches breaking every time Apple releases a system update.
  • by crazyphilman (609923) on Wednesday June 08, 2005 @12:33AM (#12754897) Journal
    Mac O/S has excellent Java support. Write your code in Java, and it should be able to run on whatever hardware macs currently have under the hood.
    • Absolutely. My currently application requireds audio input and output, and does a lot of complex real-time signal analysis and transformation, using a multithreaded dataprocessing library I built in pure Java. It even has a slick little gui.

      It builds and runs - including the microphone input - on Mac, Windows, and Linux without a single byte of code change.

      Somehow I doubt Apple's processor switch is going to affect my development workflow in the slightest.
  • by Ilan Volow (539597) on Wednesday June 08, 2005 @02:06AM (#12755282) Homepage
    Tonight I wrote a large portion of an experimental RSS program in 45 minutes using only my mouse and XCode's CoreData modeling tool.

    What was the question again?

  • huh? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tom7 (102298) on Wednesday June 08, 2005 @08:59AM (#12756487) Homepage Journal
    I don't understand why you're concerned. Do you think that the reason that developers wrote software for OS X in the past was that they really liked PowerPC? I mean, the architecture is slightly nicer than the x86 (what isn't?) but most programs are written in a form that will compile trivially for any architecture. From a developer's perspective, what's the big deal?

    One positive aspect of this is that any code tuned for the x86 (ie, DOOM 5 or whatever) will be able to run on Mac immediately, so I expect that the Mac will get applications like that much sooner.

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