Steve’s Q&A on Apple’s switch to Intel

Q: Why is Apple dumping the PPC? A: Many reasons, but most likely because IBM promised Steve (Jobs) 3ghz G5s by last summer and failed to deliver. Yet IBM is making similar 3.2ghz PPC chips for the XBOX 360. Apple says it believes Intel has the roadmap for the next 10 years. We’ll see. This does afford some competition between motherboard chip manufacturers (VIA, etc) and processor manufacturers (Intel, AMD)

Q: Will OS X Leopard (10.5) run on a generic PC? A: Short answer: No. Long answer: Not with a lot of hacking. OS X is Open Firmware based and Apple’s Macs with Intel Inside will be also. Apple could also put custom chips (ASICs) on the motherboard to make running OS X on a generic PC much harder. Time will tell if somone is able to hack OS X onto a generic PC, but if they do, look for the lawyers. Apple makes nice money from selling boxes and stands to only increase their profit margin with this switch.

Q: Will I need to get all new software? A: Hard to tell at this point. There was mention of a emulation layer. Until we know how fast it is, etc, I can’t speculate. For most applications, emulation will probably be “ok.” For some applications, like Photoshop, you’ll want a native version.

Q: Will it be hard for developers to make their software work on these new Macs? A: Most likely not. If a developer’s application already compiles with XCODE, then a recompile should work, followed by some changes for the differences in Intel and PPC. As for Altivec code, I’d guess that is toast.

Q: Will my Mac be suceptible to all of these Windows viruses? A: No, not unless you run some form of windows on your Mac. This is no different than if you ran Virtual PC on your Mac and let the Virtual PC have access to your entire home directory. Nothing changes here. OS X is OS X and is not more virus prone due to a processor change.

Q: When will these Intel based Macs be available? A: Jobs says there will be machines available by this time next year, 2006, and by 2007 there will be no Macs shipping with PPC processors.