Charles Moore's Mailbag

The Macintel Letters, Pro and Con

Charles Moore - 2005.06.13 - Tip Jar

Intel Inside: Holding Off on a New Mac

From Christopher Laspa

Hello Charles,

I read your take on this event and immediately flashed back to yesterday's stun. Your article totally captures the 'limbo' I'm currently in.

I too, was considering new hardware/software next year, so - should I wait, or should I go for it - is the question.

BlackbirdI remember the Motorola/IBM switch and whole move to PowerPC well enough. It seemed that everything rapidly became some form of 'kludge'. Some software worked, others locked up the system (we were around System 7.5, I believe). And yet others barely ran. I remember I had proudly bought my first real new Mac - a PowerBook 520c! I paid near Cdn$5,000 for it in early 1995, and it had 20 MB of RAM. A week later at work my new company-bought 8100/80 arrived, and it just smoked my 520c royally. I had seriously bought at the wrong time.

This vignette may keep me from buying any new iBook or PowerBook until year two of 'Intel Inside', when most of the bugs are out (stabilized or reported!). 'Til then? I figure I'll 'hotrod' my G3 WallStreet like others (including yourself) and hope my 3400c survives. It will be 10 at that point.

I understand that Wegener Allegro 400 is only US$99. That may be a temporary answer. 'Nuff said.

Great stuff, as usual!

Regards,
Christopher M. Laspa

Hi Christopher,

I would say that folks who buy Apple laptops between now and the Intel intro are likely going to feel like you did with your 520c back in 1994 speed-wise. On the other hand, there will be some mitigating factors, such as Classic support, and legacy non-emulated support for large software collections.

However, even a low-end current iBook model would represent a substantial boost from your 3400 and WallStreet - or my Pismo.

Charles

Intel Inside: It's OS X That Counts

From: James Taylor

Hello,

I just thought I'd write a note to tell you that your piece about the Intel transition was very well written and insightful. I think most of the people clamoring for Jobs' head are missing the big picture. I am a recent switcher (from 2001, with my G4/733), and I did not switch because I was in love with the PowerPC. I switched because I was in love with OS X. Ever since I got to fiddle with an OS X machine at CompUSA, I was hooked.

I will be of the group that supports Apple because of their superb OS, not their choice in CPU supplier.

Thanks for the article. It will do quite a bit to calm the irrational fear some Apple fans are feeling now.

Regards,
James Taylor

Hi James,

Glad you agree. As I commented in a column last week, I think there is plenty to be happy about. We will still be able to run OS X, which is the quintessence of the Mac user experience. Apple will continue to lead the industry with cutting edge design innovation. Macs, especially laptops, will be better performers - and maybe cheaper to buy as well.

Charles

Intel Inside: It Doesn't Make Sense

From Peter da Silva

I don't think this was just in the back of Steve's mind. I think he's been planning on this for a long time and has just been looking for a good excuse at a time when Apple's cash and market share can take a hit.

Why?

His reasons don't make any sense.

Freescale's got faster G4s coming out with far better integration and a higher bus speed (which is the real bottleneck on the PowerBook, not the clock speed - the G4 is one of the faster processors clock-for-clock out there) than the Mobile Pentium. IBM hasn't hit 3 GHz, but nobody has kept up the same pace over the past couple of years - and IBM's had a better percentage improvement in clock speed than Intel. The P4 is not a "cool" chip either, it's got at least as high a power draw as the G5. And nobody with any idea of what's involved should have been expecting a G5 PowerBook. Ever.

Unless something's really wrong at IBM (which would be a huge scoop, since it'd likely lead to a schedule slip for the Xbox 360) or Freescale (which would still be big news), the Power roadmap's looking a lot better than Intel's.

And Apple only dropped direct support of booting Mac OS 9 in the past few months; they had a G4 for OS 9 users until pretty recently. I suspect that if Steve had been able to win over the ISVs with Rhapsody, with "Yellow Box" for new software and a "Blue Box" emulation package for legacy software, the Intel transition would already have been over.

He missed the brass ring with Rhapsody, but it looks like that just delayed things.

Hi Peter,

And then there's Robert Cringely's theory that Intel is going to buy Apple - Going for Broke: Apple's Decision to Use Intel Processors Is Nothing Less Than an Attempt to Dethrone Microsoft. Really.

For my extended thoughts on the matter after several days of consideration, see my latest Moore's Views & Reviews column on Applelinks: MacIntel - The Mother of All Paradigm Shifts or Just the Logical Next Step?

Charles

Intel Inside: It's Not the Chip, It's the Software

From David Weiss

The move is from proprietary to everything, everywhere: the Net, the browser, and Java-like programming makes it all trivial.

Sony made VHS machines. Beta didn't win; Sony won by adapting.

Jobs isn't looking up the road; he's looking at the mountains in the distance. Mac/Windows. Chocolate/vanilla. Who cares?

Apple is different in that at r&d when someone comes up with something cool, the staff is not encouraged to say, "So what, stupid!" - referenced to Jobs saying Windows would have been better if Gates had dropped acid.... [see http://appserv.gcn.com/16_2/news/32006-1.html - ed]

It's not the chip, it's the software. It's not the toaster, it's the toast!

best,
D

PS don't fear the "sweeper"

I'm inclined to agree,

Charles

Intel Inside: What About 64-bit Processors?

From Scott Selby

As of the last time that I checked, Intel still has not released a 64-bit [x86] processor. What justification is there for going with a 32-bit Intel when the [64-bit] Athlon exists?

Scott Selby

Hi Scott,

My question in reply would be: How important is 64-bit computing to the average user? My inference: not very. Maybe I don't know what I'm missing, but I don't perceive that I'm missing anything truly compelling in terms of what I need my computers to do by not having 64-bit support.

However, what I perceive to be the biggest reason for Apple's move to Intel is the availability of a variety of processors suitable for use in laptops. Apple couldn't remain stalled at 1.67 GHz forever. Laptops represent more than half of Apple's system sales (and, indeed, more than half of personal computer sales overall in the US during the last quarter).

The likelihood of a laptop-compatible G5 chip from IBM anytime soon was getting more remote. If it hadn't been for the laptop issue, I doubt that Jobs would have made the switch.

Charles

Intel Inside: OS X and Windows to Coexist

From William Doty

Hi Charles

I enjoy your columns on Low End Mac.

I've been with Macs since my first one, an LC II. My first Power Mac was a 6100/66, then a beige G3, now a Quicksilver G4.

I made the list to highlight the integration of PC parts into Apple computers. The only part in my G4 that isn't from a Windows PC is the G4 processor. I'm not surprised about the Intel processor.

The OS X Panther operating system is a Unix relative. Its analogous to the old Windows 3.1 running on top of DOS in the beginning Windows computers. My G4 Mac runs OS X on top of Unix. You can start X11 and run Windows emulators or Linux. The fact is a G4 will run almost any operating system and a truckload of open source software.

Several years ago there was talk of a Common Hardware Reference Platform(CHRP). The story was the consumer would buy the box and run whatever operating system he (or she) wanted.

I would suggest to you that day will arrive in 2006 with the first Macintel boxes. People will simply partition the huge hard drive and run Windows and Mac OS X side by side. Apple Computer will sell OS X "kits" to Windows PC users.

Send in the clones.

Windows clone builders: Almost anybody who can get a kit and a screwdriver can build a Windows computer. Will people build Macintelapplle (a real bastard word for a bastard computer) clones? If its the same parts, sure! There will be no way to stop them. Apple will have no way of knowing what machine the OS X is going to be installed on once they sell a copy to a consumer.

The bottom line: OS X was designed from the git go as a Unix operating system that would run on common PC hardware. This is a good move for Apple and will finally increase market share (for software). Which do you suppose is more profitable (and has less warranty claims), OS X CDs or fancy flat panel iMacs at $1,200 a pop? Duh!

The real question: Why should Apple continue to build computers for the home market?

Bye,
Bill Doty

Hi Bill,

Thanks for reading.

Phil Schiller pretty much confirmed that the MacIntels will be able to run Windows, but also said that Apple will not allow OS X to run on non-Apple hardware. No doubt determined hackers will find a way, but that's not really a problem for Apple. Those folks wouldn't likely buy Macs anyway.

Charles

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Charles Moore has been a freelance journalist since 1987 and began writing for Mac websites in May 1998. His The Road Warrior column was a regular feature on MacOpinion, he is news editor at Applelinks.com and a columnist at MacPrices.net. If you find his articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.

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