Mac OS X Leopard to contain ‘Red Box’ for natively running Windows applications?

Could Apple’s decision to move to Intel processors be motivated by something more than IBM’s inability to meet the company’s processor demands? Now that Apple has chosen to go x86, is the rumored Red Box project back on?

“Though the marketing terms later changed, back when Apple took over NeXT… (or the other way around depending on your perspective), the company utilized colored box naming conventions to describe the OS’s various means of compatibility,” Kelly McNeill writes for osOpinion/osViews. “‘Blue Box’ (for example) was the name given for what would become the pre OS X (OS 9 and before) compatibility layer and ‘Yellow Box’ was the name given to describe the native operating environment. At the time, there were rumors suggesting that Apple was also creating another compatibility layer for Apple’s next generation OS.”

“This secretive compatibility layer (often referred to as Red Box) was said to give OS X, (then referred to as Rhapsody), full compatibility with Windows, whether it be the Intel version of Rhapsody or the one specific to PowerPC. (Some of you may remember that Apple originally planned on releasing a version of their operating system for both PowerPC as well as x86.) It wasn’t until later that Apple chose to abandon the x86 strategy and keep their next generation OS exclusive to PowerPC. Part of the reason for that is said to be because making Mac apps run on x86 was a major, (yet very doable) challenge. (This is now being shown with Apple’s Rosetta software.) Emulating Windows for PPC on the other hand, would cause too much of a performance hit. In the end, Apple opted to retain its PPC strategy to avoid complications,” McNeill writes.

“Now that Apple’s OS plans are more mature, with the announcement that Apple plans to adopt Intel processors, one can’t help but consider the likelihood that part of the decision may be motivated by the company’s former (rumored) Red Box strategy,” McNeill writes.

Full article here.

Related MacDailyNews articles:
Is Apple morphing Mac into the ultimate PC capable of running Mac OS X, Windows, Linux? – June 20, 2005
The Washington Post: ‘In a year or two, the best Windows PC may come from Apple’ – June 19, 2005
Intel’s built-in virtualization tech could be one way to run Windows on Intel-based Apple Macs – June 16, 2005
If Intel-based Macs can run Mac OS X and Windows, buying a Mac will be a no-brainer – June 15, 2005
Apple could use Trusted Platform Module chip to keep Mac OS X off non-Macs – June 14, 2005
Intel-based Macs running both Mac OS X and Windows will be good for Apple – June 10, 2005
Why buy a Dell when Apple ‘Macintel’ computers will run both Mac OS X and Windows? – June 08, 2005
Microsoft and Dell must have a lot of bricks lying around today – June 07, 2005
Apple to use Intel microprocessors beginning in 2006, all Macs to be Intel-based by end of 2007 – June 06, 2005

57 Comments

  1. Meanwhile back at Redmond…the circles are getting smaller and smaller…

    Heartlifting will be the day that Redmond waves the white flag in the direction of Cupertino!

  2. Great theory, holds water – except for one thing. Longhorn will be coming out at the same time as Leopard. I wonder if the “Red Box” can be made Longhorn compatible. I know people will say it doesn’t matter in the short-term, as everything is still written to run under Windows XP APIs, but it won’t look great if Windows XP apps run natively, but Longhorn apps don’t. Perception is everything remember – and “word on the street” will be that “Yeah Macs run Windows, but nothing written to take advantage of Longhorn.”
    Otherwise I think this could be 100% spot on. Given that there are 18 months before Longhorn is due, it may not pose any problems for Apple to adapt their Red Box environment to incorportate Longhorn changes/APIs though, so pehaps this is a moot point.
    I think they’ll include Linux compatibility too, so what you’ll have is a MacIntel that can run Mac apps, Linux apps, and Windows apps, all natively, all under OS X. Now THAT would be the Holy Grail of computing, surely!

  3. If people think Steve Jobs and NeXt pulled off an impressive coup d’etat of Apple, it’ll be nothing compared to what Apple could potentially do to Microsoft if the playing field were level in terms of not only the processor, but also software.

    It is fun to imagine, even if farfetched, that the superior OS can ultimately ‘win’ in terms of marketshare…. and mindshare.

  4. Yay, now I can run the $2000 of free software I got with my Dell POS.

    Hang on, I don’t need all that software, I’ve got Creative Suite and iLife… maybe I can run Norton???

    MW: ready – you just can’t make this up.

  5. Tommo_UK,

    What makes you think Micro$oft will have any Longhorn enabled apps when it’s released? They can’t even get the OS out on time, never mind Adobe releasing a ‘Longhorn Ready’ version of ANY of their apps.

    Solitaire might be Longwait compatible, but then that crappy time-waster has been in Windows since 3.1.

    Apple could really cash in – ‘why buy Longhorn and break all your apps when you can have OS X 10.5 & Windows XP running at once.’

  6. “Longhorn will be coming out at the same time as Leopard. I wonder if the “Red Box” can be made Longhorn compatible. I know people will say it doesn’t matter in the short-term, as everything is still written to run under Windows XP APIs, but it won’t look great if Windows XP apps run natively, but Longhorn apps don’t. Perception is everything remember – and “word on the street” will be that “Yeah Macs run Windows, but nothing written to take advantage of Longhorn.””

    1. This assumes Longhorn will make it out on their current schedule. They haven’t managed to keep any of their schedules yet, so why should they now?

    2. This assumes that Apple lacks the ability to upgrade their “Red Box” capacity after Longhorn does, finally, appear. Most of the Windows software will still be XP API … and even after they do start having Longhorn specific Apps, it won’t be long after that that Apple releases OS X.5.4 … with the RedBox updates for running Longhorn Apps.

    3. What is there going to be in Longhorn that Apple would want to “take advantage of?” If an IntelMac is running OS X.5 with a Redbox running (seamlessly and in the background through the OS X.5 interface!) any Windows apps they like, why worry about Longhorn features? The features WE want are the Mac OS features.

  7. Next shocking news for the world:

    MS will adapt IBM powerchips and abandon intel: The whole world will have to make a major switch again

  8. Highly doubtful.

    This is one of the things that killed OS2. It ran Windows apps perfectly, so people stopped developing for OS2 natively and just built windows applications.

    The Intel Macs will run Windows, but you will have to boot into it. Apple really needs to be careful here and not let greedy app developers a few years from now stop making OSX native apps since Mac users can use Windows apps easily

  9. But all this means is that manufacturer´s need no longer make software for Apple computers. Since Apple will run Windows software.

    So why should Adobe, et al, make 2 different types ofsoftware when 1 windows version will do….

    MDN is going to keep milking this storyline for the next year….

  10. Although WINE will be available, there is no way Apple will build this into the OS. After a couple of years, developers would no longer bother with Mac versions, leaving the Mac as nothing more than an Windows emulator for everything not released directly by Apple.

    How do you think Microsoft would respond? They would release security updates for their software that break the compatibility, whilst announcing the vulnerability the update fixes. Even if the MacOS itself protected the users against exploit code, the fact that the program couldn’t be patched on the Mac would stick in people’s minds.

    Red Box takes away flexibility in the long term. It’s not a good idea.

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