It's for real. Starting next year, they're going to ship Macs running on x86 hardware. IBM's been dicking Apple around too long, and they finally pulled the plug. By 2007, they plan to have fully transitioned over to the x86.
Well, WTF mate? Obviously, there's some real bad news here. First off, it's a massive hardware shift, which ruins developer confidence, and isn't so great for consumer confidence. Hell, I'm looking at my iBook in a different light now, as if I found out she had been cheating on me, but didn't want to let on I knew. Or something. Also, while IBM might have been falling through on raw power for the chips, the PowerPC, in my mind, is a better architecture. Built in vector processing is a good thing.
There's some good news to balance this out though. First off, OSX has been capable of compiling on an x86 for some time (advantages of an open source kernel). Apple's also releasing a massive code conversion kit that will allow PPC and x86 versions of the same software to exist side by side, as well as do translations between systems. So, it looks like they've laid a great deal of groundwork, and this idea, while held close to the chest, has been underway for a long time.
The goal is to make OSX platform independant, which is something that should make Microsoft plotz a fucking brick. Apple's leaving the whitebox market and going into the operating system market, using the same hardware as Microsquish.
If Apple can make it through the storm that's about to ensue, I think that OSX has a really good shot at kicking over the Windows Hegemony. No expensive hardware changeovers to make the switch. A solid, reliable OS that's built for speed. A code conversion system. Since the actual machine code will be the same code, it means that it's going to draw more software developers from the Windows world.
My prediction is this- Apple is going to have a black eye with it's current niche market right now, cries of betrayal, bloodlust, etc. All of those people are going to come crawling back anyway. But the Intel market is going to go nuts over this. If Apple gets into a strategic partnership with some software vendors, maybe works in conjuction with the WINE project, or the commercial relative, from Transgaming, they could even pull windows software off the shelves and run it natively in OSX.
Wham. Bam. Thank-you. Ma'am.
An Apple VP announced that they won't encourage the running of Windows on their new hardware, but they won't stop it either. Not so for OSX, which will work only on Apple computers. This, to me, is stupid. It doesn't keep Apple from playing the "Complete Solution" game. What it does do, is feed a market of people hungry for OSX, but leery of the hardware price tag, as well as locking themselves into that hardware. Once you get OSX users, when it comes time for the upgrade, what are they going to do? Buy a PC prebundled with Windows to wipe and put OSX on, or buy right from the source?
Fuck. Why doesn't anybody tell me when I accidentially screw up a closing tag?