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If Windows Came to PPC, Would You Switch? 906

An anonymous reader asks: "This question was posted on Ask Slashdot about a week ago: 'If Mac OS X Came to x86, Would You Switch?' This makes me ask why not have Windows run on PowerPC? Windows/PPC would not necessarily have to run on Apple hardware, or at least not exclusively on it. I'm sure their friends at IBM and Motorola would be happy to provide chips to anyone that wanted to make computers to run this new OS. Microsoft could dust off the code from NT4/PPC, add some code from Virtual PC to get Windows/x86 compatibility, and have it up and running in about the same amount of time it would take Apple to get Mac OS X running on common Intel hardware." An additional question comes to mind, however: If Microsoft made this move, how would Intel react?
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If Windows Came to PPC, Would You Switch?

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  • by Average_Joe_Sixpack ( 534373 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @09:36PM (#10531092)
    "You can't polish a turd"
    • by Anonymous Coward
      You didn't forget about the Polish, your president would be so very proud.
    • Wrong! (Score:5, Funny)

      by EtherAlchemist ( 789180 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @09:57PM (#10531316)

      You can't polish a turd

      Oh yes you can! [] See? []

      And I remember on the old Ripley's show (circa 80's) a farmer that made jewelry out of chicken droppings.
      • Re:Wrong! (Score:5, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 15, 2004 @12:44AM (#10532317)
        OK, but that's a fossil. Windows is a little too fresh and steamy for that treatment now.

        Come back in a couple million years and we'll be ready for it. 8^)
    • Ummm.. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by way2trivial ( 601132 )
      Sorry []
    • Re:Obligatory Quote (Score:5, Informative)

      by nocomment ( 239368 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @10:51PM (#10531709) Homepage Journal
      actually there was a PPC port of NT years ago. It was dropped beacause...the answer is no. No one will switch :-)
      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 15, 2004 @03:52AM (#10533086)
        Microsoft has a minimalist port of Windows [] right now for the G5 Mac as a development environment for the new X Box. This is because IBM and Microsoft are developing a processor for the new XBox based on the POWER architecture which will be similar to the G5 used in the 64-bit Macs.
      • Re:Obligatory Quote (Score:5, Informative)

        by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Friday October 15, 2004 @03:52AM (#10533088) Journal
        The reason it was dropped was that no one made CHRP boxes to run it on. IBM and Motorola had big plans for the PowerPC architecture when it was released. It was supposed to replace x86 as the commodity hardware of choice for OEMs. Anyone could build a CHRP box that would run NT4. Sadly, very few people did, and most of those that bought CHRP boxes used them for MacOS or UNIX of some kind, leaving no market for MS.
      • Re:Obligatory Quote (Score:5, Interesting)

        by sql*kitten ( 1359 ) * on Friday October 15, 2004 @06:11AM (#10533568)
        actually there was a PPC port of NT years ago. It was dropped beacause...

        NT was developed on the Intel i960, a RISC processor. Intel never went anywhere with it, tho' the i860 is still used (for example, for RIP in printers). One of the design goals was to be platform independent, hence the HAL. NT shipped on x86, Alpha, PPC and MIPS. There was also a SPARC port that never made it into commercial distribution.

        The problem was that MIPS and PPC, at the time, were in the middle as far as performance went. People who wanted to run NT for ordinary desktop workstations bought x86, because it was cheap. People who wanted to run NT for CPU-intensive apps (CAD, FEA, CFD, etc) bought Alphas. There was simply no demand for people who needed a little less power than Alpha at a price higher than x86, so Microsoft stopped selling those editions.

        Let me make this very clear: the market decided that it did not want a multiplatform OS.

        There's no technical reason that MS couldn't release a version of NT on PPC. You might say that there's a case to do that now that Alpha is history. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised at all if MS continues to do builds of NT on PPC just to maintain the ability to do so (a common practice in large scale projects is to build on another platform that you don't ship on, just to keep the codebase clean). But, the fact is, the price/performance of PPC versus x86 simply means that there'd be no advantage to running NT on PPC, and all the disadvantage of less ISV support.

        So in conclusion, people would switch if a) PPC had as big a performance gap over present day x86 as Alpha did over x86 back in the day and b) there was some ISV support for it.
    • by Trejkaz ( 615352 ) on Friday October 15, 2004 @12:25AM (#10532234) Homepage
      Putting Windows on a PowerPC wouldn't be so much like polishing a turd, as it would be like smearing shit on a diamond.
    • by DarkEdgeX ( 212110 ) on Friday October 15, 2004 @07:16AM (#10533740) Journal
      (shamelessly translated from =10505702 [])

      Look, you guys just can't get it through your heads that the reason why Windows XP works so well is because it runs on such a wide array of hardware-- this allows the engineers coding XP to make assumptions THAT CANNOT BE MADE in the PPC world, where a machine could be using one of dozens of motherboards, network cards, graphics cards, sound cards, etc. Mac OS developers have to code for the lowest common denominator. Windows developers code for specific hardware. Even the version of Windows that ran on PPC hardware ran on a tiny subset of the available PPC hardware. If your CD-ROM drive and motherboard weren't on the "supported hardware" list that came with Windows, you were SOL.

      That little fantasy you all have of buying "Windows for PPC", running it on some store-bought shitbox you purchased from the Apple store, and having it work as well as an x86 runs Windows XP today will NEVER come to pass. Apple has spent twenty years and untold millions trying to achieve that goal, and they still have quite a way to go.

      Do you think Gates could just snap his fingers one day and a few months later have a product on the shelves that would run perfectly on every PPC capable of running OS X today? It's impossible. And even if it were possible, you wouldn't buy it. Why? Because Microsoft uses their software to sell their hardware, so a copy of Windows XP for PPC would have to be priced to ease the pain of a lost hardware sale-- you'd either do without it and bitterly bitch about the price here on /., or you'd pirate it-- either way, Microsoft would lose money on it.

  • by daveschroeder ( 516195 ) * on Thursday October 14, 2004 @09:37PM (#10531097)
    No []
  • Cost? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Klar ( 522420 ) * <> on Thursday October 14, 2004 @09:37PM (#10531104) Homepage Journal
    Personally, if I was going to buy a mac, I would use the mac stuff with it.. I mean you are paying extra for the look and feel of being on a mac. If you are just gunna use windows, why not just buy a PC--if I'm not mistaken they are a fair bit cheaper.
    • Re:Cost? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by John Harrison ( 223649 ) <johnharrison@gma ... m minus language> on Thursday October 14, 2004 @09:47PM (#10531226) Homepage Journal
      You aren't answering the question. The question was about PowerPC hardware. This needn't be Mac hardware. IBM has provided open PowerPC hardware architecture specs that anyone is free to implement. There is probably a bad one-button mouse joke to be made here. I will resist.

      Of course the question mentions that this question was asked and answered in the past, when IBM produced PowerPC machines that ran WinNT. Notice that there are no such machines (or OS) being produced anymore. Not enough people found the hardware to be an advantage to make it fly.

    • Re:Cost? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Ibanez ( 37490 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @09:59PM (#10531334)
      Well of course, as mentioned in the question, it wouldn't mean buying a Mac. Don't forget, there are other systems that use the PPC. Actually, did you read anything other than the headline? Half the question was devoted to making sure no one had this *slightly* obvious question.

      And of course, having Windows on PPC would probably sell more chips, creating lower prices (of course, this is in theory...:D)

    • Re:Cost? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by denobug ( 753200 )
      if the volumee is up, the price of CPU will go down. Especially if we are talking about double, triple, or even exponential growth.

      Of Course, this won't happend overnight. Many don't see the reason as well. From the control industry's stand point, however, many PC's basic features is here to stay:

      There are only a few companies designing industrial strength softwares and many of them are building their foundation on MS's architecture. Reason? Simple, customer wants it. Why does customer want it? Sim

  • by lordkimbot ( 631248 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @09:38PM (#10531108) Homepage
    Oh, you're serious.

  • No (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ozzmosis ( 99513 ) * <> on Thursday October 14, 2004 @09:39PM (#10531125) Homepage Journal
    Mac OS X is 90% of the reason I have PPC.

    If Mac OS X was on x86 I'd have a x86.
  • Intel's reaction (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kbs ( 70631 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @09:39PM (#10531131)
    Intel would have to sit there and bear it, since Microsoft has more command of its market than Intel would. If you recall back around '98 Intel had been developing graphics software to encourage people to use more processor power, and Microsoft basically told them to stop since it wasn't Intel's place to write software... Microsoft basically threatened to stop developing for Intel, and since at that time AMD was starting to gain market share, this scared the shit out of them. Suffice it to say, Microsoft is the dominant player in the WinTel relationship.
  • In a word... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by example42 ( 760044 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @09:40PM (#10531137)
    No. OS X is a great OS and I choose to run it in my PPC hardware (Powerbook). It fits my needs perfectly. I choose to run Windows on my gaming system (AMD CPU) and Linux on my servers. I don't see any advantage to running Windows on PPC hardware. I think the performance gain would be minimal to nonexistant over x86 with Windows, and the initial invest in hardware would be much more costly. I choose my OS based on my needs for that particular system. The platform it runs on is incidental.
  • by pdaoust007 ( 258232 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @09:40PM (#10531140)
    MacOS is already superior ro Windows IMHO. And powerful x86 hardware is already much cheaper if you insist on running Windows. I don't see any incentive here... Didn't Microsft use to have an old version of NT that ran on the Alpha before?
  • muuuh. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FrenZon ( 65408 ) * on Thursday October 14, 2004 @09:40PM (#10531141) Homepage

    I think most Windows users (myself included) don't care what hardware they use, as long as it's fast+cheap and all their apps/games run on it. I doubt that a PPC platform would be much faster/cheaper than x86 (even if you did magically manage to port Windows to it at full efficiency), and if it was, Intel/AMD would change so that it wasn't.

    To sum up: I'd switch if there was a point. However there doesn't seem to be too many points.

    The reason the OSX on x86 discussion came up is because people want the OS they think they want on the hardware they know they like. Asking a bunch of Linux nerds if they want to run the OS they don't like on the hardware they aren't entirely familiar with isn't going to provoke a huge discussion.

  • by lseltzer ( 311306 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @09:40PM (#10531145)
    There was NT for the MIPS, Alpha and PPC, and they all failed miserably in the market. Windows users see no value in running on anything other than the volume-leading processor architecture. There's no value in it.
    • by Speare ( 84249 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @09:58PM (#10531324) Homepage Journal
      The official explanation (take what you will) for the poor showing in the MIPS, Alpha, PPC race was that Microsoft was not doing those projects. MIPS, Dec, and IBM were given the opportunity to write their own ports of the architecture-specific elements of the Windows NT kernel. They did that. Then MIPS, Dec and IBM were responsible for making a viable product of those ports. They did not do anything with it. Microsoft wasn't obligated or even offering to market MIPS, Alpha, PPC varieties of Windows NT.
    • by Kenja ( 541830 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @10:03PM (#10531368)
      Go look at an NT4 CD. It has MIPS, Alpha and PPC installers on it. In fact, NT4 was first written on MIPS and then ported to x86. There was a big marketing blitz from NEC for their MIPS workstations where they urged people to buy the computer NT4 was developed on.

      However, at the end of the day these platforms couldn't run the software people wanted without jumping through hoops like Digitals binary translator. No apps, no interest.

    • Why would anyone think this would happen?

      Because Slashdot isn't a part of the real world. It's a collection of tech fanatics who don't understand business at all. Here's what Intel would do if Windows (like MS is really going to spend R&D dollars on this... I've got some ocean front property in Idaho for sale exclusievly for Slashdotters) came out for PPC (IBM) procs: yawn and roll over before going back to sleep.

      • Because Slashdot isn't a part of the real world. It's a collection of tech fanatics who don't understand business at all.

        Right, that's why just about every post in this discussion is wondering what the hell kind of crack the story submitter was smoking. The truth is there's a small, insane, vocal minority that the majority likes to hear from so we can all rip them to shreds every so often.

        The only thing that the majority seems particularly weak on is science stories. Slashdot knows computers, but sla
    • by cbreaker ( 561297 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @10:34PM (#10531596) Journal
      Well, NT on Alpha didn't fail miserably. There were a lot of these boxes out there, and I'm willing to bet there still are. Microsoft developed for Alpha longer then the other ports; they had Exchange for Alpha and some of their other server software packages.

      Alpha was quite a bit quicker then x86 in it's day; it was a full 64-bit system from the start and the processors were clocked pretty aggressively. NT's x86 compatibility layer for the Alpha actually worked pretty damned good too- it ran 95% of the software on x86 and once you ran the apps enough, they ran pretty quickly. Alphas also weren't outrageously priced.

      They just didn't keep up with the x86 boxes in the end, Digital was on the way out, and the Alpha just faded away.
    • by lamber45 ( 658956 ) <> on Thursday October 14, 2004 @11:08PM (#10531819) Homepage Journal
      The PowerPC chip was designed with features to make it easy to port or emulate x86 code, like a memory-access system that could be either big- [] or little-endian. Even so, NT workstations based on it were never a consumer-market item, and probably were never widely used. (Actual experience, anyone?)

      Windows at present is mostly based on the 32-bit Intel architecture. Microsoft did its worst dirty tricks in the last dying days of the segmented 16-bit architecture, using DOS dominance to get market share for its 32-bit attempt. It's going to have to chose between AMD-64 [] and Intel-64 [] anyway, or support both, and binary application developers will need to make the same choice, so I guess the submitter would argue that PPC-64 [] (which has been around longer) is a viable option. However, there's a big movement away from software that's tied down to one platform or another, which is good for Linux [], Java [], and all the other OS, hardware and software vendors, programmers, and users.

      The limited adoption and big troubles implementing Wine [] suggests to me that there would be little interest in a Microsoft port of Windows to yet another architecture. Windows 95 was probably the most-memorable MS-Windows version ever, and yet Microsoft has had to fragment even that identity to keep up its sales, starting with that crazy desktop in XP. The claim that Windows has excellent backward compatibility is bogus, too; for instance, the copy of TeraTerm that I carry around on a floppy has never worked on any NT2k or later system I've touched, and the default installation of Microsoft Word can't read files created by any version of Microsoft Works. I could contiue this rant...

  • by Mad Martigan ( 166976 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @09:40PM (#10531149) Homepage
    When I was in college (I'm a second-year grad student now) was right about when Apple starting producing the G4s and I thought, Wow, those machines rock. They look nice and they are super powerful. It's too bad I don't like the MacOS. When I got to grad school, I bought a Powerbook laptop and it was the best computer-buying decision I ever made. Once I actually sat down and spent some time with OS X, I realized that I liked it much better than any flavor of Windows. So, no, I wouldn't switch, and I'm glad I spend the time to learn OS X instead.
  • Oh yeah (Score:5, Funny)

    by cubicledrone ( 681598 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @09:43PM (#10531181)
    People are going to switch to Windows from OS X. Oh sure. They'll probably line up around the Best Buy at midnight. Yeah. Uh huh.

    Dell makes an iPod. Sony makes an iPod. Windows is trying to be OS X. Microsoft has a music store. HP licenses the iPod. Hmmm.

    Yep. Everybody wants to be Apple.
  • by PollGuy ( 707987 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @09:43PM (#10531186)
    would you root for them?

  • by k98sven ( 324383 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @09:44PM (#10531191) Journal
    You probably don't.

    The biggest thing Windows has going for it is the massive number of existing applications. But a different processor architecture would require porting. But unless the platform catches on, noone is going to port.

    So why would anyone switch? This is pretty much the fate of the old Windows-Alpha port. Very few apps got ported (PuTTY is one of the few I know). Besides, most people were using Alphas as server machines, for which the software they needed was already available on the competing Unixes.

    So.. no.. I don't think Windows could ever haul itself off the x86 platform. Too many legacy apps which are x86-specific.
    • by Senjutsu ( 614542 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @09:56PM (#10531302)
      There was a port of Windows NT to the PPC platform, as well of the Alpha. It was such a miserable failure that WinNT Alpha looked like a roaring success by comparisson.

      So, no, no one did care when Windows came to the PPC last time, so I doubt they'd give a flying fuck now, either.
    • by IntlHarvester ( 11985 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @10:03PM (#10531372) Journal
      The app situation on NT/Alpha is often misrepresented like this -- on the SERVER, there was hardly anything you couldn't get. SQL Server, Exchange, Oracle, Domino, all ran on Alpha.

      The big problem with Alpha is that price/performance wasn't *that* overwhelming after the Pentium Pro shipped. Also, there was the inherent risks in running a "Tier 2" platform, even when some uses (like Exchange) really needed the CPU power.

      (We had DEC out to demo NT/Alpha for us, and on two seperate occassions their show-n-tell systems failed to boot. So, there probably was a big vendor factor there too.)
  • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Thursday October 14, 2004 @09:44PM (#10531195) Homepage Journal
    Otherwise the processors are going to cost more than x86 chips and there'll be no point. We don't run windows because we have the superior architecture you know.
  • analogy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by flacco ( 324089 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @09:45PM (#10531200)
    this is like asking if you would like dogshit any better if it were spread on a ritz cracker instead of a graham cracker.
  • by MP3Chuck ( 652277 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @09:45PM (#10531203) Homepage Journal
    But it would be cool to dual-boot OSX and a WinOS, perhaps for gaming or whatever...
  • by THotze ( 5028 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @09:46PM (#10531207) Homepage
    Ok, so in 1996, NT4 came out on x86, which was the first step that Microsoft really took into making Windows a real OS.

    It ran on PPC, Intel, Alpha and MIPS. That's a lot of architectures. Now, think about it: One of the things about Microsoft is, generally speaking, they have no soul. If they make money selling a product, they'll sell it. Now, that's not to say they won't STOP selling any product that's not making money (*cough*XBOX*cough*) just to drag their competition to the ground, but they also won't turn down cash for ideological reasons.

    The fact that when Windows 2000 came out reflects that no one really used NT 4 on anything other than Intel hardware. Now, this might be because the hardware developers never really were 100% behind MS, or it might be because someone that was shelling out cash for an Alpha or a MIPS workstation (but I do remember there being a drop-in MIPS chip that would work in a socket.... 5? Pentium board?) wanted a better OS, or any other reason.

    The fact is, you can say that PPC might be a faster processor platform today, with a higher bus speed and better performance per clock, but its close. Very close. I don't think MS would be able to polish a PPC version of Windows as much as they have the Intel version, meaning you might take a relative performance penalty... and there isn't a price advantage in PPC over x86.

    So yeah, the previous failure, combined with the pitfalls of a new version listed above make a pretty strong case for "no."
  • Dual Boot? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by rattler14 ( 459782 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @09:47PM (#10531221)
    The only advantage that I see is the possibility of dual booting. This would solve the age old problem of "not having enough games on the mac". That being said, you can see why microsoft would NOT want to port it to the PPC, as it would only give them a paltry increase in sales, while making the mac platform that much more enticing. And let's face it, microsoft has ZERO control over the devlopment over apple's hardware.

    I know there are other PPC vendors than apple, but it's the one we all think about when discussing these "port this OS to that architecture" questions.
    • Re:Dual Boot? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Megane ( 129182 )
      The only advantage that I see is the possibility of dual booting. This would solve the age old problem of "not having enough games on the mac".

      I think you're missing something. The games still won't run. They're compiled for x86 CPUs.

      The problem isn't the operating system, it's the CPU.

  • by Radical Rad ( 138892 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @09:48PM (#10531233) Homepage
    Microsoft could dust off the code from NT4/PPC

    You are obviously aware that they tried to make a go of NT on several other hardware platforms already. In addition to PowerPC there was also MIPS and Alpha. If I remember correctly, MS was dropped by one vendor and the other two were dropped by MS. There just wasn't enough of a demand for NT on workstations to pay for the development even with the cash cow of Windows on x86 PC's. So I guess my question to you is if they failed before what makes you think they could do well now?

  • New Poll (Score:5, Funny)

    by Nova Express ( 100383 ) <lawrenceperson @ g m a i l .com> on Thursday October 14, 2004 @09:49PM (#10531241) Homepage Journal
    What do you think of running Windows on the PowerPC Platform?

    1. Finally! The stability and ease of use of Windows combined with the Mac's huge library of games!
    2. I think you should put down the crack pipe.
    3. Hmm, there's something just not right about this ice cream. I know! I'll improve it by adding this dead rat!
    4. Don't make me hurt you.
    5. You'll install Windows on my PPC over my dead body.
    6. The goggles! They do nothing!
    7. Seriously, I really, really have to hurt you now.
    8. I'm still trying to install Windows 3.0 on my PDP-11. Just 12,500 more dip switch flips and I'm done!
    9. With my 5000 node XServe cluster, I can now achieve a Blue Screen of Death in picoseconds!
    10. I'll use Windows when it runs on CowboyNeal.

  • by AJWM ( 19027 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @09:50PM (#10531246) Homepage
    The NT4 disks came with Windows for x86, MIPS, Alpha, and PPC.

    It didn't succeed then, it sure wouldn't now.

    OTOH, I wouldn't mind if I could get a commodity PPC platform to run, say, Yellow Dog Linux on. The x86 architecture um, how to put this delicately, leaves something to be desired.
  • by wazzzup ( 172351 ) <astromac@fas[ ] ['tma' in gap]> on Thursday October 14, 2004 @09:50PM (#10531248)

    Really, why was this story even posted? The barrier for entry to Windows is already lower on Intel than PPC. 99% of people buy PPC to get MacOS and have made a decision to stay away from Windows. Maybe for some obscure server configuration or something - I don't know. Ewww. I think I just felt my PowerBook shudder.

    It's like going to church and asking the congregation if, next week, they would like to hold a Satanic mass and worship the devil rather than the usual Sunday drill.
  • by TheCrazyFinn ( 539383 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @09:50PM (#10531258) Homepage
    NT4 ran on PPC, up until SP3 (the last install discs with PPC support were SP3 based).

    Nobody switched, and that was in the days of the gratuitously unstable System 7.5 and Mac OS 7.6, which tended to crash if you looked at them wrong.

    I suspect that BeOS has more users than NT for PPC, at least for Macs. And neither OS ran on G3's or later CPU's.

    Now, with OS X and VPC, why the hell would I want to run Windows of all things on a Mac? other way 'round I can see, especially with WINE support or something similar (like Mac-on-Linux) to get Windows software compatibility. But even then, I'd probably stick to PPC, as the hardware is generally better quality and definitely better designed.
  • Intel... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DarkDust ( 239124 ) * <> on Thursday October 14, 2004 @09:54PM (#10531286) Homepage

    If Microsoft made this move, how would Intel react?

    They would panic, of course ! The whole x86 architecture is ugly as hell, and the IBM PC architecture even more so, so low level programmers would propably open a bottle or two and party if we could ditch our x86's for PPC's :-)

    The 8086/8088 (to which even the Pentium 4 tries to be backwards compatible with to some degree) was a hack at Intel to get a 16 bit processor to market fast and was meant to have a very short lifespan. Intel was developing a way better processor then (can't remember its number, could anyone fill it in ?). So they took the Z80 processor and extended it. You see the relation even today in the register namings.

    I wasn't aware how much the x86 really sucks until I began programming the Motorolla M68000 in the Sega MegaDrive/Genesis as a hobby a few weeks ago. That processor is about as old as the 8086/8088 but has so many cool and useful features that the x86's doesn't have even today (like the eight address registers and the postincrement/predecrement features which make it trivial to set up eight stacks at once, just to name two features).

    And then IBM came along. They wanted to get a "cheap" computer to market fast, and used Intels 8086/8088. And like the processor, the whole IBM PC was meant to have a short lifespan.

    Unfortunately the PC became a success, and so its lifespan had to be expanded artificially and backward compability had to be put in. This is true for the Intel processors as well as the whole PC architecture. As time passed by more and more things were added without really fixing the underlying problems.

    I think computers could be cheaper and more powerful if we'd had a better mainstream processor and computer architecture, one that was meant to live long and thus was better designed. But this is just a dream, I'm afraid...

  • by MouseR ( 3264 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @09:58PM (#10531320) Homepage
    and have it up and running in about the same amount of time it would take Apple to get Mac OS X running on common Intel hardware

    Apple has regular builds of it's code OS, Darwin, on both Intel and PPC hardware. This is available to anyone here [].

    It's been said that Apple still build all of their apps on Intel-based Darwin, therefore keeping an eye on portability, while giving them a chance to see where optimisation could break other platforms.

    Apple had to change processor in the past and wants to keep it's options open, this time around. Besides, don't forget Mac OS X is basically a souped-up OpenStep, wich ran on both 68K, PPC and Intel hardware. (Oh yeah... Sun hardware too for a while).
  • by Smitty825 ( 114634 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @10:00PM (#10531348) Homepage Journal
    Microsoft could dust off the code from NT4/PPC, add some code from Virtual PC to get Windows/x86 compatibility, and have it up and running in about the same amount of time it would take Apple to get Mac OS X running on common Intel hardware."

    Isn't this what .NET has been created to solve? Same OS & Apps running on different platforms?
    • except that .NET is only available for x86. Granted, it makes it easier - in theory - if MS every decides x86 is crappy and wants to switch hardware, or to port to new architectures. But as it is now, with the exception of efforts like mono, .NET will only run on x86.
  • by chrysrobyn ( 106763 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @10:01PM (#10531360)

    NT 3.00+ (at least) came for i386[+], MIPS, PPC and Alpha. MIPS and PPC didn't have enough interested buyers to maintain the platform. Alpha held out a bit longer and actually had some followers. Microsoft wasn't stupid, they lost money on the platforms, saw no way to recover it and cancelled non x86 NT. Consider that Microsoft's Xbox2 developer systems are Macintosh G5s with customized NT kernels. It's not like that was hard.

    According to rumor, the AIM alliance was formed because Motorola wanted to learn from IBM how to better serve Apple. Apple wanted to have a hand in their next architecture and wanted to get some of the performance from IBM. IBM, everybody understood, was going to take over the world with OS/2 beige boxen running PPC -- this plan changed to NT beige boxen running PPC. But in the 1992/1993 timeframe, when x86 was weakest (just before Pentium), even IBM couldn't muster the market to ditch backwards compatibility. The PowerPC 615 was behind schedule, power hungry and had some legal problems (fundamentally, I don't think it was strategic -- Apple learned how hard it was to get programmers to program native PPC code when they could stick with 68k and have it emulated well enough).

    To answer your question: Nobody would buy PPC Windows, because they didn't. There's no backwards compatibility, no program base, and these days nobody actually knows what system they're running on anyway. If you want compute cycles, you either need an Athlon (faster than hell memory access), Itanic (faster than hell double precision float) or Power (8-32 CPUs in one system). If you want a Windows interface, you don't care what you have because the processor wastes too much time waiting for you.

  • Here's What I See (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MBCook ( 132727 ) <> on Thursday October 14, 2004 @10:08PM (#10531403) Homepage
    OK, I haven't read any other comments yet, and I'd like to moderate this (I just got points) but I just HAVE to weigh in.

    The main question is, switching to Windows from what?

    If I have a PPC and I have to run Linux, I might switch. I REALLY like Linux, but the fact is that Windows "just works" a little bit more, and while I do most of my gaming on consoles, if the games appeared, I would seriously look at buying a copy. For all our complaining, Windows does have a lot going for it. I could always dual boot anyways. A true copy of Office could come in handy.

    If I have a PPC and it's a Mac with OS X... I don't see why ANYONE would. It's got the great design of the Mac and stability and CLI goodness of Unix. And OS X already HAS Office, so that point is moot. The only thing that I could think of would be the games, and Apple could push more on that (better hardware (GFX cards not 6-12 months behind x86) would help). Dual boot, MAYBE.

    From Linux, decent chance. From OS X, nope.

    That's how I see it.

  • by Cheesewhiz ( 61745 ) <ianp.mac@com> on Thursday October 14, 2004 @10:23PM (#10531517) Homepage
    Look, from a pragmatic perspective this is like arguing over an invasion of Canada... after Nader wins the elections... and the French officially declare that they were wrong about Iraq, and that they suck.

    "Sure, sure... BUT WHAT IF?!"

  • From a PPC fan... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by metalligoth ( 672285 ) <> on Thursday October 14, 2004 @10:39PM (#10531624)

    I run PPC, and let me tell you... If M$ started allowing fat binaries out of .NET for PPC and a significant number of programs started appearing for PPC, and they made a version of Windows that could be used inside OS X much like OS 9 or X11 are, I'd actually give money to the beast for the first time in a long while.

    Now for why it won't happen... Companies would stop programming for the Mac. They'd only program for Windows, saying, "well, it runs on Windows for PPC, so get that!", and then the entire Apple platform would die out. Then Microsoft would be a near-total monopoly again (except for Linux being there, of course...) and then they might actually lose in an anti-trust case. Microsoft would then be broken up and slowly die against Linux. Well, slowly, but less slowly than they already are. This situation alone will prevent NT for PPC from ever coming back.

  • by Yaztromo ( 655250 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @10:51PM (#10531711) Homepage Journal

    You know, this question really doesn't have anything to do with Apple. It's a hypothetical question based on a processor architecture, and not necessarily Macintosh-based computers. Both IBM and Freescale sell Power PC microprocessors, and technically any motherboard manufacturer can design a board for a PowerPC, and buy the CPUs from either manufacturer, much as how they currently design boards for either Intel or AMD processors.

    Why? Well, because the Power PC architecture doesn't have all of the nasty cruft that Intel-based systems have. Like IRQ nastiness that people keep designing around. Or the fact that they boot up in real mode, and need to be switched into protected mode as part of the boot process. Or all of the various BIOS limitations, like the fact you can't address beyond the first 1023 cylinders of a hard drive during IPL. Of the . Or the x86 instruction set and registers. []

    The cost of this cruft is both cost and power. As cheap as Intel-based hardware is (due to the economies of scale), it could be cheaper if it didn't have to contain hardware and code to work around the many limitations of the architecture. It would also be quite a bit faster than it currently is.

    Windows on Power PC would be a boon for users, if either (or both) IBM and Freescale could ramp up production sufficiently, and if every Intel Windows user were willing to give up their current software investments (or if such a Windows system run Intel binaries).

    Of course, Windows itself would still suck :).

    The things keeping people from making such a move aren't technical -- they're economic and social.

    Myself, I'm composing this on a PowerBook G4 running Mac OS X. I have little or no desire to run Windows on any architecture. I doubt if you'd find too many existing Power PC users who wish they could run Windows as their core OS -- it's Windows users who should want to run to run their OS of choice on an affordable Power PC architecture.


  • by hellfire ( 86129 ) <> on Friday October 15, 2004 @12:01AM (#10532128) Homepage
    Okay, get off the OS idealogy wagon for a second, and entirely off which hardware is better. Now start thinking about barrier to entry and business models.

    Name the OSes that run on x86. Now name the OSes that run on PPC.

    Any low level geek can name three, and lots of computer users these days can name three as well, and even more can name two, even if they have contempt for it, be it for reasons they don't understand.

    1) Windows
    2) Mac OS
    3) Linux

    Now linux is intimidating for the average user. Most people won't bother to install it. It runs on both, but the cost to entry is too high for the average user. It costs no money, but way too much time.

    Now look at the remaining two. One only runs x86, one only runs PPC. For 90% of the populace, the only choice is windows on x86. Most people don't think they have a choice. I'm dealing with more and more people that have problems with computers and bring them to me to fix. I have a way of making windows a little more secure, but that's only because I know and use features and free software which most people don't even know exist. Most require a complete wipe and reinstall.

    Now think about a hardware switch to PPC. Intel dies but Dell and the others adapt over 5-10 years. Windows chugs along.

    Then there are people like me continuing to reinstall windows in that time.

    "Hey, yanno this is the third time you sent this to me. Maybe you should think about another OS. I got a copy of Mac OS X here if you'd like to try it. In my professional opinion its more secure and will save you money and time." No need to buy any new hardware"

    And maybe this action won't kill microsoft over night, but it will erode markets share, and microsoft cannot abide eroding market share of any amount.
  • by ewe2 ( 47163 ) <> on Friday October 15, 2004 @12:21AM (#10532218) Homepage Journal
    They haven't got the x86 port right yet.
  • In reality... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Svartalf ( 2997 ) on Friday October 15, 2004 @12:29AM (#10532252) Homepage
    MacOS X's core is already [] available as an x86 version. All they'd need to really do, since a very sizeable portion of the Aqua interface system is written in Objective C, would be to account for endianness and call it done. It'd take all of a 6-12 month project, I'd suspect, to put it into an alpha class release stage.

    Microsoft, on the other hand, would probably have a nightmare on their hands as I suspect they've not taken any consideration for endianness, 64 bits (No, they still don't have it out in the hands of the public- it's been months now and they knew about amd64, etc. for some time now...)- it's probably all nasty, crufty x86-32 code and using some aborted NT 3.51 code wouldn't help out much...
  • linux is available in serveral flavors for both ppc and x86. so, the answer is simple, who prefers to run linux on mac hardware over generic x86 boxes? i think the answer is that most people prefer cheap hardware.
  • by shplorb ( 24647 ) on Friday October 15, 2004 @11:52AM (#10535909) Homepage Journal
    ...for the exact same reason that I'd buy a Ferrari and run it on sump oil.
  • by Antaeus Feldspar ( 118374 ) on Friday October 15, 2004 @12:30PM (#10536384) Homepage
    "If Richard Nixon were to come back from the grave, would you vote for him?"


    Well, come to think of it, if it came down to Lich Nixon or Dubya Bush....

"If it's not loud, it doesn't work!" -- Blank Reg, from "Max Headroom"