Some things are easy to predict. For instance, graphics apps are going to be faster. There are a number of reasons for this; they tend to benefit more from x86's fast integer math, and they get a huge win from the write-combining on x86 that actually works.
Another prediction: we're going to triple our marketshare in the next two years. This is an easy one. We're already seeing an increase of marketshare from quarter-to-quarter, just based on how cool Mac OS X is and how many people are impressed with the iPod. When we can tell them, "Hey, you can install Windows on a partition and run your Windows apps as well," then, THEN, we're going to see a stampede. Everyone - EVERYONE - I've spoken to wants to run Mac OS X, but wants some particular Windows-only app that's holding them back. No more! Go forward, younglings, and frolic on a computer that doesn't hate you!
But what do I think the most interesting thing is going to be? WINE. Wine is a cool hack; some guys got together years ago and said, "Hey, wouldn't it be neat if we just rewrote all the Windows DLLs to the Windows specifications, so any program compiled against Windows could also run on Linux using our free DLLs?"
Yes, yes it would be cool. Of course, I don't want to run Linux, and Linux uses X-Windows, and I know X-Windows too well to want to ever go back. I want to run Wine on Mac OS X, so I can just launch any Windows game off the shelf and run it inside the Finder.
So, here's the call to arms, then, gentlemen and ladies. I am throwing down the glove, I am firing the starting pistol, I am painting the target, and I am pulling the flag from the cup.
You want to succeed as a programmer? Work on Wine. Get into it and kick butt. Maybe work on Darwine, which is the version being ported to Darwin already, but I honestly have reservations about that one, because their first emphasis is getting Wine to work with X11 on top of Darwin, eg, NOT the Mac OS X windowing system.
We can see the pieces here, folks. There's a ton of code in Wine that enables Windows applications to run, at full speed, without recompilation, on our new Macs. All that we need is the glue. We need for the graphics calls to call Quartz and the sound calls to call CoreAudio and the keyboard and mouse....
This is, essentially, like porting a game, something I've done several times. It's tedious and it requires a lot of knowledge about the depths of the system. But, here's the kicker.
This will be the last time we ever have to do it.
After this, we're done. We don't have to port games any more. Honestly, people, what's the difference between the Windows version of World of Warcraft and the Mac version? They both look the same to me, because THEY ARE FULL-SCREEN APPS. MOST GAMES ARE.
I DO NOT CARE what library my games are written using. I just want to play them. So does everyone else. And I don't want to wait from 9 months to two years to get slow ports of games that PC gamers are playing today.
When Wine for OS X comes out, it is going to be the end for Microsoft. The actual end.
Because nobody is going to want to pay for Microsoft's increasingly draconian licensing for Windows even as Window gets crappier and crappier. What's the average time from plugging in a Windows machine to it getting its first virus? 7 minutes? Windows has kinds of viruses Mac users have never even dreamed of.
THAT IS ALL GOING AWAY. When you can run Windows apps on Mac OS X, you'll still be protected by Mac OS X. Viruses are going to be dead. D-E-D. Ok, yes, there are certain kinds of pseudo-viruses (the kind where they trick dumb people into running them) that will still exist, but even those will NOT be able to infect the whole system, because even you don't have access to the whole system. The worst that'll happen is your personal account will get messed up, and you'll have to nuke it and create a new user. And then learn not to open mail messages that say, "Free PRON, just launch the executable!"
Now, some people say, "Well, if developers can just write to Windows and sell their software on the Macintosh, isn't that going to be the end of what makes the Macintosh so wonderful?"
No, no it won't. We're gonna get some really ugly Windows apps that some people need (like certain architecture programs, and Half-Life 2), but that doesn't mean our indigenous software is going away. If anything, it'll be enhanced. Windows users are going to see what good Mac software looks like, and they're going to start demanding Mac-specific alternatives to their favorite Windows apps. What's the most popular music player for Windows? iTunes. A Mac app.
Me, I relish the day when Visio comes to the Mac, inside Wine. Because then the whole Visio community will see how thoroughly OmniGraffle kicks Visio's copy-catting ass, up and down the block.
And, with the increase in market share, it's going to make more economic sense than ever to write Mac native apps, for all the reasons I gave before... Mac is on its way up, Windows is on its way down. If you're coming out with a new product, you want to be riding the crest, not circling the drain. Only extremely conservative users are going to be left running Windows, and that's going to be an incredibly hard market to sell into. Everyone who is interested in buying the latest thing is going to be running Mac OS X (and Wine for games).
So, that's the future. How does this affect you, you young, hungry programmer or documentation person or graphics guy, just looking to get noticed?
It needs to be finished. They've been working on it for 10 years, they've done most of the hard stuff. Now, you guys need to swoop in, make it run beautifully on Mac OS X, and grab your share of the glory.
I absolutely, 100% guarantee that Wine is going to be the shit-hot project over the next year and a half, and that the Wine engineers are going to be able to pick their jobs at Apple. Ask the KHTML team if you don't believe me. Or the iTunes team.
Wine is going to be getting press every single day after the Intel Macs ship. "Wine announces that DOOM 3 works..." "Wine announces that OpenGL works on nVidia cards..." "Wine announces that everything is 10% faster..." Every day, another press release, more fame, more excitement. Those guys are going to be rock stars.
Get on this project now. Get it headed in the right direction (dump X11, run under Finder / CoreGraphics). Get the glory. Get the job. Get the girl.
Labels: mac community