We watched Apple move from 68k to PowerPC. They survived, and were better off for it. We watched as Be moved from the Hobbit processor to PowerPC, and then to x86. The x86 transition worked so well for Be that we heard Jean-Louis saying things like “Our only regret is that we waited so long to do it.” Now it seems that Apple is not getting the speed bumps they need from IBM, and are going to start shipping Macs with Intel processors. With all of the recompiling (and porting of advanced instruction sets) that a move like that entails. With the inevitable impact on current sales. With the shock and awe of “professional pundits and analysts,” who need to take a deep breath and loosen their jaw muscles a bit, methinks.
The story could be a red herring or false leak, but news.com is pretty credible and doesn’t do rumors. The armchair critics at MacSlash and SlashDot are having a field day with this. Of course it almost certainly doesn’t mean OS X running on any old beige box — chances are great that the system will depend on custom ROMs only available on Apple hardware (remember that most of Apple’s profit is in hardware — the OS is luxury bait to sell the hardware, a mystical glue that welds consumers to the real cash cow). But the door does get opened, and it’s not inconceivable that we could see OS X on generic boxes in the future. With Darwin already x86-compatible, a huge amount of underlying work is already done. I have no love for CPU architectures – I’m here for the OS (just installed Tiger today, having a gas). The cheaper and more ubiquitous the box, the better.
I’ll be at WWDC most of next week – will be interesting to see the announcement and watch the fallout.