|Friday, June 10, 2005
13:25 - Stop wigglin' around, you jackass
I just have one thing to add to this, in response to this:
Brock Freaking Samson.
"Be a maaa-a-a-an..."
|Thursday, June 9, 2005
15:16 - It's still impossible, but we're doing it anyway
John Gruber has posted his lengthy and detailed post-mortem of the Intel announcement, replete with discussions of why everybody (including himself) seems to have been so spectacularly wrong about it, except for pundits who have been predicting an Intel switch for so long and so dogmatically that they're only correct this time by accident.
Rosetta — the technology that allows existing PowerPC software to “just work” on Intel-based Macs — is the missing link that makes this transition possible. “Emulator” is perhaps not quite an apt description; Apple seems to prefer the term “translator”. The specific description I’ve heard is that it is “dynamic binary software translation”. I’m curious to know more about how it works, but the only important questions are whether — as it was described in a slide during the keynote — it’s “Fast (enough)”, and how many important apps run under it. We should find out soon enough, when benchmarks start leaking from seeded developers. (Their NDA forbids publishing benchmarks based on the developer transition kit hardware, but come on, you know they’re going to leak anonymously.)
Well, that didn't take long.
The Rosetta numbers aren't very stellar. Well, in some areas they are—in some places even beating the native G5 platform—but there's clearly a lot of room for improvement. The biggest one, naturally, is Altivec/SSE# stuff, which Rosetta ostensibly doesn't support, although some have suggested that Rosetta includes automatic translation algorithms from the one to the other. (Perhaps it's Xcode that they were thinking of. That would make more sense.)
And I have to reiterate something that I'm starting to believe more strongly: in terms of real-world performance, Mac buyers in the next twelve months are going to see just as smooth a ramp in speed as they've always been accustomed to seeing. Between now and the switchover from top-end G5s and G4 PowerBooks to the Intel platform, said G5s and PowerBooks will continue to become faster, with probably one or even two speed-bumps between now and next June. And then, when the Intel boxes come out, they're not going to be hugely faster than their immediate predecessors from across the CPU divide: they'll have more raw oomph, yes, but that oomph will be mitigated by the lackluster performance of Rosetta-translated apps, which will account for virtually all of what customers have to work with until a) the app developers release new Universal Binaries, and b) the customers buy them. In fact, right out of the gate I wouldn't be surprised if the first Intel boxes are markedly slower in most everyday tasks than the G5s sold the previous day. But that would change with time, on the same hardware, as the apps made the transition.
The saving grace, perhaps, is that Apple controls so much of the core user experience—iTunes, iPhoto, iWork, Mac OS X itself—that it can guarantee that Intel buyers out of the box will be using Rosetta only for third-party stuff. And since most of the big-name third-party vendors will have made the transition to universal binaries by I-Day, there will at least be a clear upgrade path available for Office and Photoshop users, and though Rosetta will be no powerhouse, at least it will only come into play a minority of the time.
And there definitely seems to be more to that bear hug by Paul Otellini than mere showmanship. Chris M. writes:
Intel has some really, really smart engineers who are sick of hearing
how great Power PC is, and are tired of being hobbled by the needs of
the Wintel manufacturers. Apple meanwhile saw that IBM just wasn't
responding to their needs either. I wonder if this whole alliance might
have started with a few engineers from Intel and Apple getting together
one night for beers....
Reported from many directions, including AnandTech, is this idea that Intel needs Apple as much as Apple needs Intel:
For the longest time, Intel has been promising usage models and concept PCs that we all wanted, but would never surface. PC vendors focused on producing the cheapest system possible, while dealing with backwards compatibility and standards compliance with a huge install base - effectively, making change difficult. Look at how long it has taken us to transition away from the Parallel and Serial ports on PC motherboards or the move to SATA drives. With Apple, Intel finally has a partner that is willing to adapt to change at a much more rapid pace and one that can implement new technologies extremely quickly, thanks to a small, agile user base.
And via Mitchell M., Cringely makes an odd connection that I haven't seen elsewhere, but that would explain quite a bit (including Apple's blackout of AMD during the keynote):
The crowd this week in San Francisco at Apple's World Wide Developers Conference seemed mildly excited by the prospect of its favorite computer company turning to Intel processors. The CEO of Adobe asked why it had taken Apple so long to make the switch? Analysts on Wall Street were generally positive, with a couple exceptions. WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON HERE!? Are these people drunk on Flav-r-Ade? Yes. It is the legendary Steve Jobs Reality Distortion Field at work. And this time, what's behind the announcement is so baffling and staggering that it isn't surprising that nobody has yet figured it out until now.
Apple and Intel are merging.
Think so? I'm sure weirder things with fewer telltale signs in the marketplace have happened, but I'm at a loss to think of any. More:
Microsoft comes into this because Intel hates Microsoft. It hasn't always been that way, but in recent years Microsoft has abused its relationship with Intel and used AMD as a cudgel against Intel. Even worse, from Intel's standpoint Microsoft doesn't work hard enough to challenge its hardware. For Intel to keep growing, people have to replace their PCs more often and Microsoft's bloatware strategy just isn't making that happen, especially if they keep delaying Longhorn.
Enter Apple. This isn't a story about Intel gaining another three percent market share at the expense of IBM, it is about Intel taking back control of the desktop from Microsoft.
Intel is fed up with Microsoft. Microsoft has no innovation that drives what Intel must have, which is a use for more processing power. And when they did have one with the Xbox, they went elsewhere.
I had wondered whether the last straw for Steve was seeing all three game console companies suddenly announce new products based around PPC970-hybrid chips running at higher speeds than the fastest Power Mac available today; whether the 3.2 GHz vs. 2.7 GHz advantage comes from in-order execution or not, Steve may have decided that if IBM was that interested in throwing its weight into the embedded market rather than plunking down for a single-customer low-power laptop-bound G5, just as Motorola had always been more interested in cellphones than in developing its own G5, then now was the time to jump (rather than lead us through another sick period of fleeting promises like the G4 days). But what if Intel was as interested in breaking free of Microsoft as Apple was of securing its processor future? What if this deal was Intel's idea?
What with those huge leaps in Mac sales that Steve pointed out in the keynote over the last two months (while PC sales have remained flat), and what with iPod profits making the company feel its oats, it's certainly in a seldom-precedented position of strength if it's going to make such a risky move, and one that's so clearly going to result in such sucky sales for the coming year. But if Intel had been the one making overtures to Apple, putting up an offer Steve couldn't refuse—maybe that explains how he was able to keep the quaver out of his voice when he stood up there on that stage. Not to mention why his smile was as self-assured as ever.
UPDATE: Can this inevitability possibly be intentional? This from the same company that released iTunes 4.0 with a "Connect to Shared Music Library by IP" feature and apparently didn't think people would have incorporated stream-hijacking utilities into it within twelve to fifteen nanoseconds?
Unless they've learned more about Machiavellian espionage techniques in the last year than the CIA appears to have forgotten since 1970, my money's on "no". Just a happy accident, if this ends up only having positive repercussions.
UPDATE: AccelerateYourMac (via Bill B.) has some detailed, hands-on performance assessments of the Intel-based developer-kit Macs, giving us some idea of what we might expect to see native Intel apps like iTunes and iMovie doing a year from now (hint: they'll rock out). Also some more insights into what Rosetta does and to what extent. The tests they've been running "peg it at between a dual 800 MHz G4 and and a dual 2 G5 depending on what you are doing". And apparently "There are a lot of apps from big names running in the Compatibility lab already". Just imagine that atmosphere: geeks with company-logo knit shirts are carrying around their companies' flagship products in source-code form on iPods and LaCie drives; they're taking them into labs underground at Moscone, and before the week is out there are compiled binaries running on a new computer platform that nobody knew existed a week ago. That's what Mac geekery is all about: it's not just people explaining why one-button mice are superior or smugly spelling "Microsoft" with a dollar sign; it's about movers and shakers creating world-beating technology while at the same time being true believers. Sorta reminds me of Gothic cathedrals or the space race.
This isn't without its downsides, though: reportedly, the Intel Macs—at least the current dev kits—have a Phoenix BIOS instead of Open Firmware. Groan, shudder. Open Firmware is evidently gone forever, but this is an ugly, ugly compromise, and probably the worst concrete example I've seen yet of the lurches back to the stone age that we feared since the keynote confirmed what at the time was a nightmare fantasy. There's talk of a new Intel initiative for an Open Firmware-like replacement (EFI)—maybe this is one of those things Intel has been trying to do for years, but that Microsoft never let them realize their ambitions—but as things stand now, those boxes are pretty uninspiring to people weaned on boxes with "programmer's buttons" and complete device trees at POST.
Oh yes—and whither "sleep" mode for laptops? I imagine Intel's mobile chips can do all the bang-zoom stuff that G3/G4 laptops can do when you close the lid, and if not, perhaps that's another thing Intel wants freer rein to work on...
UPDATE: Jeff Harrell weighs in still further, now that all the breathless speculation of Intel takeovers and Microsoft-territory smash-and-grabs and Steve Jobs vacationing on a Pixar-rendered beach planet have settled into our stomach linings. It's definitely looking like nothing more sexy than a somewhat ramped-up bid for the same consumer market served by the Mac mini; but that's no small deal in the grand scheme of things.
|Wednesday, June 8, 2005
11:56 - You sound surprised
You know, just curious, but what did you think all those guys meant by calling the WTC replacement proposals the "World Cultural Center"?
The World Trade Center Memorial Cultural Complex will be an imposing edifice wedged in the place where the Twin Towers once stood. It will serve as the primary "gateway" to the underground area where the names of the lost are chiseled into concrete. The organizers of its principal tenant, the International Freedom Center (IFC), have stated that they intend to take us on "a journey through the history of freedom"--but do not be fooled into thinking that their idea of freedom is the same as that of those Marines. To the IFC's organizers, it is not only history's triumphs that illuminate, but also its failures. The public will have come to see 9/11 but will be given a high-tech, multimedia tutorial about man's inhumanity to man, from Native American genocide to the lynchings and cross-burnings of the Jim Crow South, from the Third Reich's Final Solution to the Soviet gulags and beyond. This is a history all should know and learn, but dispensing it over the ashes of Ground Zero is like creating a Museum of Tolerance over the sunken graves of the USS Arizona.
I wish I could say I'm surprised or disappointed by this, but I'm not. I saw it coming the moment they floated the first "Freedom Tower" models with sixty melty-ice-cube stories and another fifty diaphanous stories of wickerwork and papier-maché on top.
The people with the real power in this country and the Western world, the ones whose momentum is in the ascendancy, have as their ultimate goal our own humbling on the world stage, not to say our own destruction in favor of giving someone else a turn being king of the hill. (That's "fairness", see.) We may as well just get used to it—because in light of what's coming in the next few years as 9/11 matures into our social consciousness, this will just be par for the course.
Terrorism will be in all our backyards, and we'll welcome it with open arms.
UPDATE: Bill Whittle has these guys' number. Too bad there are a lot more of them, and they run the nightly news.
|Tuesday, June 7, 2005
18:35 - See it to believe it
Streamed video of the hour-long keynote yesterday. It's worth watching.
Steve makes it stick, as usual. There are some genuinely funny moments, as usual. You get a good vibe, as usual. And in the current atmosphere, a good vibe is a soothing balm.
Intel CEO Paul Otellini sure thinks this is a good idea. (He, not Steve, initiated this bear hug.) And the little tale at the end that he relates, about two companies coming together after thirty years of being at odds, eventually coming to realize they've got a lot of shared DNA, is sort of moving.
Steve says he expects to have Intel-based Macs already on the market by this time next year, which—if it doesn't mean they'll be introduced at Macworld in January—at least means sometime in the spring. Probably the first things out of the gate will be laptops, the G5-class PowerBooks we've been hoping to see for two years now. Followed shortly by top-end Power Macs, or whatever they'll be called.
And that also means that the drought of high-end Mac sales will probably be briefer than I'd thought—it won't be two years until saleable and runnable Intel Macs are available, it'll be less than a year, maybe as little as six months.
This might work out after all. And in the meantime, I fully expect Apple will send up some significant price cuts on PowerBooks and G5s in the intervening time, if it'll be that short a period—and it's not like these machines will be duds, or significantly worse in initial performance than the first Intel machines, because those will mostly be running through Rosetta. In fact, for the first few months while developers transition to new binaries, G5s will probably still have a performance edge.
And you know what that means we can look forward to? Another long period of better and better software performance on the same hardware, as we've enjoyed with each successive release of OS X.
Apple's spending a lot of capital with this move, but they've also got a lot of it to spend. That includes emotional capital too, and my well hasn't exactly run dry yet.
UPDATE: AnandTech (via Steven Den Beste) has some thoughts and/or insights into what chips Apple will be using; also an outsider's surprise at the level of genuine support that the seated audience showed during what was really a tough experience to sit through, let alone clap for.
Don't miss Anand's heavily illustrated keynote coverage, either.
|Monday, June 6, 2005
18:44 - The road more travelled
It's hard to get past the emotional impact of it, really, and discuss it dispassionately—but I guess we gotta. It's a done deal. Sorta like (though of course on a much smaller and pettier scale) how some of us involuntarily tried to make weird arguments to ourselves, on the evening of 9/11, for and against voluntarily tearing down the WTC, even though the judgment had essentially been rendered by history. In fantasy we like to give ourselves more power than we've got. So in the same vein, I (and others) find ourselves trying to see what's good about this step by Apple—and just as we've about got ourselves convinced that it'll all turn out okay, we step back and look at the situation with the eyes that embrace the enormity of the cataclysm, we realize just how irrevocable events have become, and we think, "God, this sucks."
Matt Roth-Cline has a pretty good run-through of initial reactions to today's Mac/Intel announcement. He's "cautiously optimistic" (his words), and I agree he's got a right to be on points. But that doesn't mean I wouldn't like to wake up tomorrow morning and find that this has all been an ugly dream.
For anybody who’s never seen a motherboard, this is a nonevent. For all the nontechnical crowd knows, switching from IBM to Intel is just a matter of dropping in a different chip. There’s a reason this announcement was made at Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference: developers are the only ones who really know what the hell this means.
I made this argument today at lunch, too; I can't see consumer-level buyers caring a whit for this. But people like J Greely embody a user base that will cause Apple's bottom line some severe headaches in what's going to be a leeeean couple of years:
Was planning to buy
dual G5 tower real soon.
Bit less likely now.
The trick is the Rosetta emulator, which is cause for some concern. Reportedly it emulates only G3 code—Altivec stuff, code that depends on G4/G5 instructions, and other features (including Classic) will be SOL when it comes to Rosetta. I was worried that Rosetta emulation would perhaps be too good (thus disincentivizing developers from bothering to produce optimized Intel code), but reportedly I need not worry: apparently the demo rig during the keynote was a Pentium IV at 3.6GHz P4 which was running at about the equivalent speed of a 1GHz G4. So developers will be forced to write fully ported apps, or else they'll be pigs.
But that's the key, I think: Rosetta isn't supposed to be the end-all, be-all of the porting process. Rather, it's a stop-gap, in the same mold as Classic. (In fact, some might argue that Classic is the precursor to Rosetta, in structure and intent—a dress rehearsal.) The idea being that without Rosetta, we had a Catch-22: developers couldn't produce Intel versions of their Mac apps because they had no hardware to develop on, because Apple couldn't release Intel-based Macs until there was software to run on them or else nobody but developers would buy them. But Rosetta allows people—developers as well as consumers—to ease into the new platform, however painfully. At least it's no longer a logical impossibility.
App developers who care about the user experience would then develop real Intel-optimized versions of their software, not just Rosetta-powered ones. Sure, you can translate an app through Rosetta in two hours; but once an Adobe or a Microsoft sits down and spends a six-month release cycle developing a fully Intel-optimized version of each of their apps, they'll run at the full hoped-for speed, and apps that stay in Rosetta mode will flounder along like QuarkXPress in Classic mode, gradually alienating users.
Back to Roth-Cline:
Apple, however, needs to stay speed- and price-competitive with the x86 market. These days, the only way to do that is to enter the x86 market. (Incidentally, this is the same conclusion that Sun reached.) The desktop- and workstation-class CPU market has winnowed down to one architecture (x86) and two main competitors (Intel and AMD). While religious “enthusiasts” will bemoan the loss of their favorite architecture, this is a natural sign of a maturing market.
That's a fair point. Maybe it will be something we'll all get used to soon enough, talking about SSE2 instead of Altivec, as long as all the gee-whiz graphic effects in OS X still work the same way. I presume that everything that's so Altivec-optimized in OS X will be compiled to the standards of the Intel equivalents. Somehow I doubt that OS X itself will depend on Rosetta.
But then there's this small but important matter:
There’s another option that I haven’t seen mentioned. The Intel hardware for the Mac is likely not going to be the standard beige-box components. “x86” does not imply “open”; the XBox is a closed x86 platform. Control of the hardware is a big part of Apple’s business model, but it’s also a big part of their central selling point, user experience. A closed, controlled platform improves stability by giving developers a standard target. For example, game consoles are easier to develop for than the PC, because you only have to handle one set of hardware on the console versus a myriad of PC configurations, no two of which work exactly the same way.
Right, but as Will Collier says:
Yes, yes, Jobs and Apple VP Phil Schiller both say that Apple won't let other companies build Mac clones (Schiller says today, ""We will not allow running Mac OS X on anything other than an Apple computer,") but I doubt very much that they'll have much of a choice.
Very shortly after an x86 (i.e. Intel processor) version of the Mac OS is released to developers--which will happen in a couple of weeks--it's going to escape out into the wild. Sooner or later (I'm betting on sooner) some bright hacker or hackers are going to figure out how to get it running it on generic PC hardware, without the need for the proprietary Apple ROMs that will be included in "official" Macs.
And then it's all over for Apple as a hardware vendor.
They can't possibly compete with Dell and the "white box" PC manufacturers who buy commidity parts and operate on shoestring margins. Once that hack or set of hacks hits BitTorrent, that'll be that. Anybody with a copy of them and a copy of an Intel-friendly version of OS X will be able to cobble together their own Mac clone. I won't be at all surprised if Apple's own first Intel boxes are priced out of the market months before they can even ship.
No matter how well I've justified the idea of Intel Macs to myself with ancillary topics, this is what makes me step back, hyperventilate, and fall into despair. Yeah, performance might be better, yeah, we get fast laptops, yeah, Virtual PC can now be written in about ten lines of code—but Steve just opened the barn door. Now, granted, BitTorrent hasn't exactly ruined the Windows business model. But Microsoft subsidizes everything it does with sales of Office and corporate Windows installations; what does Apple have to compete with that? The iPod? I suspect that all those iPod profits are earmarked to helping Apple tighten its belt and weather the coming two-year drought of high-end Mac sales. There won't be any way for them to offset any hits to sales caused by piracy and cheapo OS X PC installations. But then, people who install cracked copies of OS X on generic Intel hardware aren't exactly the kind of people who would have bought a Mac anyway, or even who would have paid for a Windows PC. In the scheme of things, pirates might be a non-entity on the balance sheet. It's not like some company can pop up selling budget PCs running Mac OS X; Apple would send out flocks of lawyers from its newly colonized litigation planet where the lawyers' offices cover all the major landmasses and a giant sign stuck through the planet's crust says "Go stick your head in a pig".
They must have been planning this for a long time, in other words. They must know more than we do. They had to have been planning for this contingency since before the G5 even existed, back to the beginnings of the Marklar build and the Darwin/x86 project. Maybe they never thought they'd actually have to pull the lever, but here we all are.
So maybe Apple has secretly been planning a conversion to a software-maker business model all this time. Maybe they really do have their sights set on Microsoft—until today, they were in markedly separate market segments, one firmly on the software path and the other selling complete computing solutions; but now Apple's a skip and a jump from being right in Microsoft's space. Maybe this is the time to be there. Maybe Microsoft has become weakened enough lately by security problems and malware malaise and Longhorn skulls in the desert that Apple actually thinks it can survive in a head-to-head competition. If Steve has actually thought this through, he might well intend for Apple's eventual opening up to generic x86 hardware to become an inevitability, and the Mac to die off as he embraces commodity hardware while eating Microsoft's lunch at the software game.
But I don't think so, really. Too much of this smells like Apple is taking the least sucky of many sucky roads here, and they wouldn't be doing this if there were any remotely better option.
Five years from now we'll look back on today with the same chagrined shudder as we remember Bill Gates' face appearing on the MacWorld projector screen in 1998 or whenever it was, looking for all the world like Big Brother in the "1984" ad, dispensing his largesse in the form of a his promise to keep making Word for Mac while dictating that Internet Explorer would be the Mac browser of choice for the foreseeable future. Things had gotten immeasurably better since then for the Mac community, it's hard to deny. It's been like a wonderful dream for much of the past six years. But, well, this is more like what we were used to a decade ago. Time to suck it up and soldier on.
UPDATE: Engadget has a very intensive and detailed log of the keynote speech and announcements; via Paul Denton, who's pissed. Though perhaps unfairly—it's not like Apple could have foreseen this eventuality five years ago. As recently as summer 2003, they thought they'd be able to make a go of it with the G5. It's only since then that the promise has fallen short.
And besides, let's be honest here: it'll be years before Intel-based Macs are on the market in force and providing commensurate bang for the buck. Until app developers get their optimized versions done, there'll be no reason to feel gypped by a G5 bought in the current computing landscape. Realistically it will be 2009 or so before they stop producing fat binaries compatible with G4/G5 processors—and that's well beyond the lifespan of a new G5 sold today.
UPDATE: Peter N. Glaskowsky, who was caught as flat-footed as the rest of us by today's announcements, has a three-page analysis that makes the case that Apple's decision to go with Intel has not to do with IBM's failure to deliver fast top-end chips or low-power portable chips, but a bold territory-grab by Jobs into the Wintel market.
How will Apple prevent the Will Collier eventuality (rampant piracy of a cracked OS X for generic hardware)?
The ideal future x86 Mac will run Mac OS X and Windows, but I think it's unlikely that Apple will release a version of Mac OS that runs on non-Apple PCs.
Apple relies heavily on hardware sales to subsidize Mac OS development.
A shrink-wrapped Mac OS that runs on Dell machines, for example, would cut into Mac system sales.
Jobs did not address this question in his speech Monday, but we should learn the answer later this year.
If Apple had adopted the Intel architecture instead of PowerPC, this would have been a difficult problem to solve.
Apple would have been forced to make its systems fundamentally incompatible with the standard PC platform to prevent hackers from making their own Mac clones.
Today, Intel has the answer. LaGrande technology provides an unbreakable cryptographic lock that can keep Mac OS from booting on systems not made by Apple.
The LaGrande solution allows full PC compatibility, so Macs could be able to boot Windows, but dual-boot systems have never been particularly successful. Users don't want to be forced to choose between multiple operating systems when they start their computers.
The ideal solution would offer access to all the software and all the data on the machine at the same time.
. . .
Properly implemented, an x86 Mac wouldn't need to boot Windows to run Windows software.
Mac OS would be the primary operating system, but if the customer wants Windows, Windows could get its own partition.
With Windows running on the same machine, Apple can make Windows applications part of the Mac OS X environment.
Mmmm. Think "Windows-flavored Classic"? Interesting possibility.
If LaGrande can be made to reliably lock down OS X to only Apple-designed motherboards, that itself is a big relief; and if they can work Windows compatibility into the equation—making true some of the wackier rumors from people far too clueless to have genuinely predicted this situation—then maybe when we look back at today five years from now, it'll be with relief.
UPDATE: Jeff Harrell, in a comment on Will Collier's post, says:
And Matt, I don't know what the developer NDA covers, so I won't go into too much detail on this, but I have a source who has provided me with some details on the IA-32 machines that are going to start shipping to ISVs in a couple of weeks. They're Power Mac G5s with almost totally stock system boards and new, air-cooled IA-32 PMUs. The U3H memory controller and bridge ASIC has been altered to match the bus timing of the IA-32 processor, but that's all. Everything else on the system board is exactly the same. The internal components are all still connected via Hyper Transport through the K2 ASIC and the PCI-X bridge chip. The PMUs have 3.6 GHz Pentium 4 processors on them, but these will definitely not be the processors that Apple ships next year. The processors will be IA-32-instruction-set-compatible, but they will not be Pentium chips. They're going to be specially designed processors that Intel delivers to Apple but to no other customers, binary compatible with the Pentium family but not identical to any off-the-shelf microprocessor. For lack of a better name, I've taken to calling them "G6," but that's totally my own invention and not meant to be in any way authentic. It's just my own shorthand.
Geez, it's starting to look like everybody's right, to one extent or another...
See the comments thread for lots more details by Jeff.
13:31 - I'm running out of link paste
Gotta save at least enough for this one. Heh—apparently enough people dislike the Screedy Bleats as to drive them onto their own page. Well, that makes 'em all the easier to find and archive, then.
Stories like these must be told, of course, if only to show what the media finds important, and remind us how good things are going. I can imagine in late 2001 asking a question of myself in 2005:
What’s the main story? The smallpox quarantine? Fallout from the Iranian – Israeli exchange contaminating Indian crops? A series of bombings in heartland malls?
"Well, no – the big story today has to do with soldiers mishandling terrorists' holy texts at a detention center."
Mishandling? How? Like, you mean, they opened it up without first checking to see if it was ticking, and it blew up –
"No, they handled it in a way that disrespected it. Infidels are supposed to use gloves."
Oh. So we lost, then.
Not yet, but I'm sure we've got it in us.
10:33 - The leopard wore stripes
Live coverage of the WWDC 2005 keynote, if anybody wants it.
So far nothing earth-shaking. Mac OS X 10.5 will be "Leopard".
INTEL RUMORS TRUE: Jobs says there have been two major transitions for Mac: 68K to PowerPC and then Mac OS 9 to Mac OS X. Now it's time for third transition to Intel-based Macs. Developers will begin to make the transition now. While users can begin to switch next year. Apple is making the move "because we want to make the best computers for our customers."
There is no G5 PowerBook yet. Future products can't be build on IBM PowerPC processors, Jobs says. Intel has better performance and delivers much better performance per watt. Starting next year the first Macs with Intel processors will debut. They'll begin shipping by next WWDC (June). The transition will be mostly complete by 2007 WWDC. It's a two-year transition.
Well, okay, there's that...
But still. Gleh.
Okay, so this means Macs will be on Intel hardware, but not that it will be an open platform. You still won't be able to just run Mac OS X on any off-the-shelf Dell or homebuilt box. Custom motherboards and chipsets will make sure of that. But of course you know that that will be the tune of every pundit from here on out: "Apple must open up Mac OS X for generic x86 hardware, or else they're dooooooomed!"
But here's one silver lining: at least in the great Mac-vs-PC debate, processor performance will no longer be a factor. We'll never have to hear about CISC/RISC comparisons or "long pipeline" discussions ever again, and people won't be able to judge the Mac on the basis of the performance of its individual hardware components, because it'll have the same advantages and disadvantages as everything else.
Which of course also means that many fewer unique selling points, too. But, hey, I guess going to IDE hard drives and standard DIMMs and using filename extensions hasn't exactly hurt them...
See Brian. See Brian justify. Justify, Brian, justify.
UPDATE: Steven Den Beste says: "I think the reality distortion field has become so intense that it's collapsed in on itself and become a black hole."
Maybe the whole purpose of the iPod shuffle's bizarre, seemingly untenable marketing campaign was so he could practice for today...
And of course one just has to wonder: what must IBM have done to piss off Steve this badly? This'll be a hell of a story to read, once the insiders leak it.
UPDATE: Oh yeah, back to the keynote:
Mac OS X has been leading secret double life, Jobs proclaims. Every release of Mac OS X has been built for both Intel and PowerPC-based Macs over the last 5 years. Mac OS X is cross-platform by design. Jobs shows all Mac OS X Tiger running on Intel. All features are already compatible with Intel-based processors. It's not done yet, but will be put into the developer hands for finishing.
Marklar. Yeah, okay.
Under the transformation: Widget/Scripts/Java Just work, Jobs says. Cocoa apps will take a few days to update. Meanwhile, Carbon Apps will take a few weeks. Jobs tells carbon developers to start using Xcode. Over half of developers using Xcode. Next Xcode (version 2.1) will be delivered today. News Xcode generates a single "universal binary" that supports both PowerPC and Intel x86 processors. Available to everybody at registration desk following the keynote.
Jobs introduces Wolfram's CEO, who said they ported Mathematica 5 to Intel-based Macs in 2 hours. Only about 20 lines of code changed.
# Jobs shows Rosetta: a dymanic binary translator. It runs PowerPC code on Intel-baesd Macs, transparently to the users. It's pretty fast. Jobs demos Rosetta used to run PowerPC macs on Intel-based Macs --shows Microsoft Excel/Word running on Intel-based Mac (without any porting and/or recompiling). Jobs also shows Photoshop CS2 with all plugins that are translated and run on Intel-based Mac without significant speed decrease.
You bitch, Steve.
The Mac OS X for Intel Develpoer Kit includes a 3.6GHz Pentium 4 and OS X 10.4.1 for Intel (preview release). Order today; ships in two weeks.
Well, at least there appears to be a much smoother transition path than was widely assumed. I wonder how fast "pretty fast" is? Rosetta will have to be damn good—but then, if it's too good, people won't bother recompiling for dual-platform at all, and Intel Macs will be stuck in a "Classic"-like hell for longer than actual Classic apps were.
Was he smiling at this keynote? Or was he dying a little inside?
"The world's most innovative computer company has teamed up with the most innovative chip company." Paul Otellini plays Apple's "Toasting the Pentium" commercial from 1996.
Seriously. I'm wondering.
UPDATE: Oh, and what does this mean about all the demonstrations in past keynotes of how much faster the Mac of the day was than the comparable Intel PC? Does this imply that all Macs to date have been sold under false pretenses? How long until the class-action lawsuits get flung blazing onto Apple's lawn?
So they ported Mathematica to Intel-based Macs. Does that make it faster? Slower? Intel has "better performance", eh, Steve? If it's faster, can we expect that Macs will blow away the Windows-based competition even harder now—or will they lag behind? Is OS X that much of an optimizing powerhouse that it compensates for slower PPC execution versus comparable Intel chips with Windows? Or is the G5 actually faster, and OS X will now be a detriment, bogging down the same hardware more than Windows does?
I eagerly await Ars Technica's take on this.
And John Gruber's, for that matter.