Is Steve Jobs prepping ‘The Cupertino Project’ – Intel-based Macs that will run Windows apps, too?

“For as long as I can remember, there has been a battle of operating systems. Which operating system is better, Microsoft or Apple? The debate rages on but what we do know is this: Currently, your organization does not have the ability to dual-boot a Windows and an Apple operating system,” Steven Warren writes for CIO Update. “Well, times are a changin’ and new Intel machines are gearing up for Apple and its OS X operating system.”

“In June 2005, Apple announced a brilliant strategy. They decided to abandon the IBM PowerPC processors to move to the Intel engine. Can you imagine the possibilities? We could live in a world where you could now buy a brand-name computer or clone and load Apple OS X Tiger on it or dual-boot your computer with OS X and Windows. You may even be able to run Windows on an Apple computer. Seriously,” Warren writes. “With Apple’s move to the Intel platform, I see several things happening in the industries where Apple reigns supreme, which include publishing, recording, Hollywood, etc. Currently these industries use both Microsoft and Apple products. Imagine if these industries had the option to abandon Microsoft as the workstation and simply load OS X throughout their infrastructure; an infrastructure that already owns or leases Intel based PC’s.”

“If Apple can take the next step and move into a licensing model, we could really see some things heat up which is very encouraging,” Warren writes.

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take by SteveJack: Everything out of Apple so far says Mac OS X will only run on Apple-branded Macs. Apple execs have also said that it would be possible for Windows to run on Intel-based Macs and that Apple would do nothing to prevent Macs from doing so. Until we hear otherwise, I’ll have rate the idea of being able to run Mac OS X on any x86 PC as “not likely.”

After Jobs’ [announcement that Apple would shift its Mac line to Intel-based chips], Apple Senior Vice President Phil Schiller addressed the issue of running Windows on Macs, saying there are no plans to sell or support Windows on an Intel-based Mac. “That doesn’t preclude someone from running it on a Mac. They probably will,” he said. “We won’t do anything to preclude that.” However, Schiller said the company does not plan to let people run Mac OS X on other computer makers’ hardware. “We will not allow running Mac OS X on anything other than an Apple Mac,” he said.CNET, June 6, 2005

The possibility of being able to run Windows on any Intel-based Mac seems a much more reality-based idea and the possibilities are much more fun to imagine. Dual-booting Mac OS X and Windows on Intel-based Macs is one such idea, but hardly the most elegant. Another is having the ability to run VirtualPC (Windows within the secure Mac OS X environment) at native speeds. Probably the most intriguing concept can be seen in a project like Darwine which allows the user to run Windows applications via Mac OS X without needing Windows at all. Imagine if you could run Windows-only applications (think AutoCAD, for just one example) at native speeds without needing Windows on Intel-based Macs? How many industries that are tied to Windows-only apps (Architecture, Engineering, Real Estate, etc.) would be able to consider Macs again? Who wouldn’t want to be able to run the virus-free Mac OS X that can run Mac-only apps like iMovie HD, Keynote, GarageBand, iDVD, iPhoto, Aperture, Pages, Motion, DVD Studio, Final Cut Pro, Logic, etc. along Windows-only games and apps?

The Cupertino Project?
Was Schiller’s “no plans to sell or support Windows on an Intel-based Mac” comment just another Apple smokescreen along the lines of “no video iPod is planned?” Could Steve Jobs be preparing to drop just such a bomb on the Windows box assemblers at Macworld Expo or sometime in 2006? Would he first drop just a moderately destructive atomic bomb on the likes of Dell, HP, Lenovo, Gateway, etc., leaving out the “Windows apps on Mac without Windows” threat to Microsoft? Or could Jobs actually be boldly planning to drop the industry-devastating hydrogen bomb on both the Windows box assemblers and Microsoft all in one fell swoop? If a Mac could run Mac OS X and Windows, who would buy a Dell, HP, etc.? If a Mac could run Mac OS X and Windows applications without Windows, who would buy a Dell or a copy of Windows from Microsoft? And what would Microsoft be able to do about it? Drop Internet Explorer for Mac (LOL)? Drop Office for Mac? Big deal, we’ll run the Windows versions on our Macs then, if need be. Is this why Jobs has been building a world-class library of Mac-only software titles for years? Does Jobs still harbor the desire to take back the personal computer industry from Microsoft? Could that be the real reason why Jobs is undertaking the massive switch to Intel-based Macs? Or do you really think the switch to Intel-based Macs is just to get better performance per watt CPUs for Apple iBooks and PowerBooks?

Today Apple has mastered the art of moving from one computer user’s space to another with its graphic cube effect. This is commonly known as Fast User Switching and is a system preference in Mac OS X. But [can you] imagine a world wherein you can cube the cube? Imagine that each user account can have multiple instances of operating systems (perhaps OS X and Windows, or Linux and OS X) running simultaneously. From the Apple menu a user would select an OS environment and an Exposé cubic switch would literally swing around a different OS environment, just like today’s Fast User Switching… Apple already has the interface technique in place and the technology to make this happen in Exposé. What it lacks is the ability to run multiple operating systems side by side. That it can now get from Intel and its virtualization technologies inside of future Pentium and Xeon chips. [Intel-based Macs from Apple] may offer us not just smooth multiple user environments, but multiple OS worlds as well.Architosh, November 16, 2005

For even more tantalization, Google “Yellow Box for Windows” and/or “Mac Dharma.” (Note: Mac OS X users can highlight the text I’ve placed within quotes, Control-Click (or Right-Click) on the highlighted text and choose “Search in Google.”)

SteveJack is a long-time Macintosh user, web designer, multimedia producer and a regular contributor to MacDailyNews.

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Related MacDailyNews articles:
Report: Apple contracts with Intel for design of next-gen Power Mac motherboard – December 27, 2005
Report: Quanta and Asustek to partner with Apple on new Intel-based iBooks and PowerBooks – December 27, 2005
Intel ‘Yonah’ specs, performance detailed; processor expected to power first Apple Intel-based Macs – December 22, 2005
Move to Intel-based Macs one of the most important switches Apple has ever made – December 22, 2005
It’s official: Apple CEO Steve Jobs to deliver Macworld San Francisco 2006 keynote address – December 01, 2005
Will future Intel-based Apple Macs offer multiple OS worlds via virtualization? – November 16, 2005
Apple patent application describes Intel-based Macs that run Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows – November 05, 2005
Is Apple morphing Mac into the ultimate PC capable of running Mac OS X, Windows, Linux? – June 20, 2005
Intel’s built-in virtualization tech could be one way to run Windows on Intel-based Apple Macs – June 16, 2005
Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ ultimate goal: ‘to take back the computer business from Microsoft’ – June 16, 2005
Why buy a Dell when Apple ‘Macintel’ computers will run both Mac OS X and Windows? – June 08, 2005

83 Comments

  1. Running both Apple and Windows applications simultaneously in native speed on an Intel-based OS X Mac would be the single most important development in Apple’s history to date.

    I would be thrilled if this became a reality.

  2. Steve,

    Where’s the BS? Apple would sell tons more hardware (and Dell, HP, et al would sell tons less) if Intel-based Macs could run Mac OS X and Windows apps at native speeds! You’d have to be a rabidly anti-Apple moron to buy anything else but a Mac.

    Apple wins and Microsoft has no recourse. MS can’t tie Windows to specific hardware – as Apple can with Mac OS X and Macs – because the vast majority of Windows boxes are not brand-name PCs, but rather white-box and grey-box PCs.

  3. Performance per watt. I think Apple would have a real support problem trying to use a Darwine-like technology. Let people buy Windows if they want to. There’s no reason to throw rocks at Microsoft. MS helped the Mac become successful in the beginning with the Office Apps which were on Mac first.

    Apple and MS have a long relationship. We CAN get along. If MS decides to embrace Mac OS X truely, I think MS could be a great supplier of software. The Mac Office suite is fairly Mac-like. I think it could be better if give proper support.

    Apple has to think about enterprise customers if it wants to win. They are using MS. Mac will not be compatible without the support of MS. Lets not be assholes to MS. When Apple wins back the desktop, let’s hope that the incredible pace of innovation just keeps going.

    Maybe in 5 years Apple will have a new chalenge and a new computing platform that will be the next electronic revolution. The desktop as we know it is not the final battle. It’s not about Apple vs MS. It’s about being able to do great in creative work and enjoy doing it. We all can win. Nobody has to be the loser.

  4. For my job, I will be happy to run Windows or Windows apps at native speeds on my Mac. However, the one thing I don’t want to see is software vendors dropping the Mac versions of their apps (or never considering them) and instead saying, “you can run the windows version on your Mac, so why should we develop two versions for two different platforms?”

    This would make me sad.

  5. I don’t see vendors supporting Windows over Mac because Mac users can buy Windows. I do see more pirated versions of Windows in the future though. Mac users will be loath to purchase Windows. Who wants to buy two $100+ OSes for one computer?

    No, this is a transision machine. A switcher machine. A take-over. We all know that once Windows sufferes see the better way, the Apple way, they will stay. Of course Windows will likey run better on the better-engineered Apple hardware as well.

    Apple wins either way. Apple is dipping into a developer pool that vastly outnumbers the current pool. The problem will likely be a degradation of the high Mac programming standards. That would be sad. I hope the new Mac developers get a good orientation when writing Mac software. Otherwise Mac will end up being a dumping ground for crappy software that we are not accustomed to. Our new neighbors may not be welcome.

    There are many very good Windows programmers we would invite with open arms. I hope Apple gives them every incentive to write for the Mac.

  6. The #1 Mac developer is Apple. Somehow, I don’t see them dropping Mac-only apps to write Windows versions.

    People buy Macs because they like Mac OS X and Mac apps. Windows-only devs, if anything, would write Mac apps (universal binaries) instead. Especially if more and more people buy Macs.

    Do it, Steve! Drop the hydrogen bomb!

  7. A lot of these speculations may be true in the long term. However, for 2006 the priorities are to ensure a complete transition for the full product line from PowerPC to Intel, and continue hammering the Windows users with the rumored insanely great CE products (home server/DVR, a true video iPod, gaming, seamless services etc.). This will weaken their will to stay in the Windows camp. Later, when seamless interoperability happens, it will be a no brainer as to which hardware people will buy.

    Intel has been frustrated with Windows and M$’ sluggishness in pushing their processors to its limits. The Apple Intel partnership pushes each company to the edge of the excellence envelope and no doubt great performance and features are planned for the future.

  8. In my opinion, there were several reasons that Steve Jobs decided to make the switch (no G5 Powerbook, the heat issue, slow development cycle at IBM, the 3 GHz. pie in the face, etc.) However, I think that he and the engineers at Apple realized these other potential benefits, too. I think that they will do this in typical step-wise Apple fashion. In other words, initially systems will be dual-boot only if the consumer decides to install another OS. Then, only later will they provide a Windoze-less Darwine-like solution (which will be SWEET!). I can’t imagine Apple providing revenue for Microsucks by requiring their customers to purchase a Windoze OS in order to run Windoze apps. At least this is what I hope.

    Woo Hoo! Second post! How come no one ever says that?

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