Tuesday, January 10, 2006

It's Intel Inside, but Apple Throughout

It's finally here, and I have to say I'm nothing but impressed. The new Apple laptop, the MacBook Pro, is here, and it's got an Intel x86 chip in it. The specs are all over the place, so I won't add to the redundancy. Just click the link above, or get the specs straight from the horse's mouth.

One acronym frequently finds its way into the rhetoric (pro or con) every time Apple makes the news: RDF, for Reality Distortion Field. There are a lot of myths, preconceptions, and party lines both for and against Apple. I'm going to use my little corner of the web to talk about these oft-posited points, and whether their claimants are correct, or just spouting hot air.

It will run Windows. Hold the phone, bud. It's true that yesterday we could have a triple-boot operating system (Darwin, Windows, Linux) on one x86 box. But one big difference between yesterday and today is that the MacBook Pro and the iMac use EFI to boot their systems, not BIOS. It may end up that Mac hardware can't boot Windows (or, rather, that Windows can't boot on an EFI computer).

It won't run Windows. You can be sure, however, that Microsoft's upcoming Windows Vista will support EFI, as it introduces a slew of features that build the first steps in the bridge towards their much-reviled Trusted Computing Initiative. So, even if a vanilla copy of Win2000/XP can never be loaded by a (vanilla or hacked) EFI Mac, the probability of Vista working on an Intel Mac is very high.

Macs aren't special anymore. Get your head out of your ass, zealot. As pointed out on Ars Technica, running Windows on a Mac would be "like letting a retarded kid drive a Ferrari." Mac hardware is still meticulously designed for minimum profile/weight, a bold look, and innovative features. Yes, other laptops have built-in 1.3 megapixel cameras, but how many of those cameras have IR recievers with which you can control a media frontend like Front Row?

They still can't play games. This is wrong on so many counts. Not only might you be able to run Windows (and thus rock out with your kickass Radeon X1600), but the whole Intel thing adds a new dimension of possibilities here. For example, I've been playing Half-Life 2 (a Windows-only game) on my Linux installation since shortly after its release, using a Windows-compatibility layer known as Wine. There's a Mac port, Darwine, but it's been held back because you'd have to recompile programs to run on the PowerPC-based Macs. Now, as soon as Darwine is synced with the source of Wine (or the Crossover/Cedega forks), any Windows program that runs in Linux will run in OS X. Including Half-Life 2.

It's been a long time coming, but Apple's hard work is about to pay off, and in a big way. Mark my words; I think there's a strong possibility that in two years or less, Apple will have 10% of the desktop market share. In five? Who knows, but my money's on 30%.

1 comment:

Mark Stosberg said...

If that's your guess for Apple's desktop share, what do you reckon the share for Linux will be? The last I heard, they were both about at 3% each, looking at the global market.

While Apple's got the polish, Linux has the price. I expect it to grow at least as fast.