At the time, Mac OS X was called NextStep, and Steve was with NeXT. I was a developer for NeXT, and went through many of the emotions that I think some Mac faithful are feeling today. "But, our machines are so ELEGANT!" "Intel has been the enemy for so long; how can we love them now?" "You got chocolate in my peanut butter!"
My then-company ported all of our apps to run on Nextstep for Intel Processors in a couple days. I think OmniWeb took the longest; if I recall the others pretty much recompiled and ran.
I had an Nextstep/Intel box on my desk for a while. Since NeXT wasn't making machines themselves, it was kind of ugly, compared to what we were used to from Steve. On the other hand, it was kind of fast. Even a low-end Intel machine was a lot zippier than the Motorola 68K machines we were used to.
Well, as Barry Gibb might say, this is like Deja Vu all over again.
Today Steve announced that, starting in a year, Macs will have Intel chips inside. My first, gut response was, "Oh, dang, the PPC is such a pretty architecture."
Then they showed a graph about the projected power:energy consumption ratio of Pentiums vs. PPC chips in a year. Pentiums were 7x as powerful. Now, power:energy consumption may seem esoteric to some, but to a full-time laptop user like me, it's the first and last measure - this means my laptop will be 7x as powerful.
So, my second response was, "Ok, give me one now."
It turns out all Apple has ready now are prototype machines, which are in plentiful supply here at WWDC. So, we went into their lab, opened up our source code for Delicious Library, clicked on the "compile for 10.4 only" option, and compiled our program for Intel processors.
And it ran. It looked great to us.
So, to sum up: no source code changes. We clicked, it compiled, it ran. The program we built will now run on both PowerPC and Intel machines.
Honestly, as a developer, does this switch affect me? Nope. I'll continue to program clean code, and it'll continue to just work. There's going to be a bigger market for my stuff now, because more people will buy Macs now that they can run Windows games. (Honestly, 9 out of 10 people I've met who run Windows do it for this reason; it's the only reason I have a Windows machine at home.)
As a user, I'm looking forward to getting faster machines. I have no doubt they will be, internally and externally, works of art. If Apple were just going to take a standard Intel board and slap it into a G5 case, they'd have released what they are calling their development machine as a user machine, today. That they're still a year out says they're going to do Intel their way.
And that way is just fine with me.
I'm a software guy. My software just works. It's going to continue to just work, but faster, on Intels. Sign me up.
Followup, in the "why are you rating Apple when you so obviously don't use Mac software" category:
NYT: '"My belief is that Apple had to do it," said Eugene Munster, an analyst with Piper Jaffray. "Clearly, they needed better availability, better pricing and a better development community." Mr. Munster has an outperform rating for Apple stock.'
Better development community? Do you think we're going to magically get reams of Windows programmers because we have their chip? As if they all program in assembly, and don't ever make system calls? And do you REALLY think that would somehow be better? Exactly WHAT Windows software have you EVER seen that's "better"?
I have a "bite me" rating for Eugene Munster.
Labels: mac community