Right on the edge of useful

MacTel Means What, Exactly?

Posted Thursday, June 09, 2005 12:28:27 AM by Tom Pletcher

Tom Pletcher
I've needed a few days to try and assimilate Apple's Monday announcement of a switch from PowerPC to Intel processors.

Waiting a few days hasn't helped much.

My initial, gut-reaction assessment was very negative. Why would Apple switch from PowerPC, which has been generally acknowledged to be a superior processor? Why would it inflict the pain of transitioning upon its loyal users?

For kicks, maybe?

It's not the first time Apple has made a major architectural shift. But this seems to be the most random, "for the hell of it" example yet.

I don't know— nor does anyone, really—what Intel will do two years out, vs. IBM. It had better be damned good, to justify all the pain-in-the-ass stuff Mac users are going to have to endure, in order to transition to "MacTel".

Regular readers on this site will know I am a major advocate of OS X, and perhaps an even greater advocate of Linux and open source (Mac and open source are rather closely related, after all).

I hope Steve Jobs has more business acumen than I'm giving him credit for. I also hope that Apple has enough cash on hand to sustain it through two years of slumping sales, as people wait for "Intel Macs".

I myself was in the market for an Apple notebook—I think I may now wait, or, more likely, buy a PC notebook instead.

IF Apple makes it through this transition—and again, I must question the need for this transition in the first place—then good things may yet accrue.

If Joe Six Pack can buy a Mac and also run Windows on that very same Mac, then Apple stands to gain significant market share. However, we don't yet know all the details, or whether this will actually be possible.

Apple has said they won't do anything to prevent people from running Windows on their "MacTel" machines, but it is way too early to tell exactly what the real scenario will be. Apple has also said that OS X will run only on their own (undoubtedly higher-priced) computers; whether or not they will be able to enforce this is very much open to debate. While I love the idea of being able to triple-boot OS X, Windows and Linux on one machine, I think the jury is still out.

Meanwhile, I offer this solace to PPC Mac owners: Debian will continue to work just fine.

Category tags: Mac