Feedback on: The unexpected effects of Apple’s Intel move

Received this today and it was so well done that I wanted to be sure it was shared with each of you right away.

Gavin writes the following in regards to the article entitled; “The unexpected effects of Apple’s Intel move“:

What John Dvorak and other commentators are missing is that a mac is not a PC. Even if it has an Intel processor. OK so I am an old school hardware techie. I also have spent a lot of time in the hardware game, I use Linux, Mac and Windows, and fix/upgrade and repair even more than that. I know the hardware, and thats whats missing from Steve Jobs announcement.

But before I wax about the shortsightedness that I see in this debate, Let me look at what Steve Jobs actually announced.

1. The Processor will change from PPC to Intel (which Intel is yet unknown) But apple will still make the whole machine in house.

2. Mac OS X will not be available for PC’s.

3. Apple will not stop people putting Win/Linux/… whatever on the mac, but wont do anything to help them either.

Now think about a PC, it has its own hardware system, the architecture is still based in large part on the IBM XT model of the 80’s (updated yes, but stuck with conventions to follow). Then a BIOS (Basic input output system) actually runs the motherboard (don’t believe me, try swapping them out). And then there is the Bootloader and the OS. Macs don’t have any of this restriction. The Mac engineer can change the hardware as he/she like … and they do. The G5 is nothing like the G3’s were, there is no BIOS to talk to or set up, the ROM is locked… and the bootloader is in the hardware ROMs Will apple engineers abandon this freedom and follow the IBM standards of the 80’s ……. NOT LIKELY !!!!!

The Mac OS in essence talks direct to hardware. Which is why it works so damn well. Also since Apple limit the hardware in the Machine, its less they have to build for. I guess this is why Apple don’t want the headache of trying to support all the 3rd party hardware the Wintel folks are used to. Win ME/2k/XP/Longhorn…. can talk to a standard PC motherboard, but will it be able to find the hardware in a Mac. I doubt it, with tweaking it may be possible to build a layer to allow it to work … after all thats what Linux PPC did … but off the shelf … no. Maybe Mac users will see a faster Virtual PC, but I suspect they will still be using it in some form or other.

Linux/BSD will still be the only choice to windows for those with standard PC hardware. In the short term Linux PPC will suffer, but Linux as a whole will not feel much difference. Of course if we made our own aqua type interface and hid all that Unix naming convention …. then maybe we would be better off in Linux land. But Apple’s changes will not alter the playing field very much.

In the Short term, I think Steve made a major error in judgment here, Mac sales in the next year will not be great. The idea that Intel will mean more bang for the buck will have people holding off mac purchases. Move that Stock fast Steve. Thank goodness you have the iPod to keep the cash rolling in.

I also think the non-delivery of Mac OS for Intel users is an apple mistake. That would have taken a lot of Linux users, but its good news for Linux. Can you imagine if mac OS X for PC had been released… But Steve didn’t say NO, His VP did… Will Steve “Listen to the users” and Announce this at the next WDC? History tells us it’s quite possible, and easier then the “experts” think. Open Darwin is already there, its just missing aqua on top.

The real lesson to learn for Linux users is that if we want a bigger share of the market, we need to make a real simple interface for the real simple user. Apple showed us how to do it with a BSD system. Now will KDE/Gnome/XFCE ….. rise to the challenge and hide those directories, Mac did and it worked (even if I still change my workgroup with terminal and vi to edit /etc/smb.conf ). Hiding does not mean loosing, it just makes day to day stuff easier.

We have a Year or Two do do some real development… The Question is, will we?