Apple’s move to ARM-based Macs is possible because most users want power more than compatibility

William Gallagher for AppleInsider:

Twenty-five years ago, I was features editor on PC Direct and had a monthly column in Macworld UK about working with both Macs and PCs. It was about how to read PC floppies, how to work with people when you’re on the Mac and they’re on Windows. Hand on heart, it’s difficult to remember now what it was about because it’s a quarter of a century ago and none of it is needed anymore…

This need for Windows compatibility has gone from when there was enough interest and plenty enough to say that I had many months employment, to now when Windows and Boot Camp is a tool for specialist users like AppleInsider readers… In all likelihood, Apple is going to move away from Intel to using ARM processors in the Mac. You can expect that it will start soon with the MacBook, and you can bet that it won’t happen with the Mac Pro for many years.

When the first ARM-based MacBook comes out, few buyers in the target market are going to notice because few will need to… In the end, Apple will do what it has always done and make the devices that will sell. It’s just that today, Apple is a juggernaut that can decide its own fate and not bother with any compatibility that it doesn’t want to.

MacDailyNews Take: Amen! The days of having to kowtow to inferior, derivative platforms in order to communicate with fools who make bad choices are long over!

Bring on the new Apple-designed, ARM-based Macs!

Apple has been, for years, building strength in the enterprise via BYOD and the rise of mobile which Apple ushered in with iPhone and iPad. “Compatibility with Windows” is not nearly as important today as it was even a few years ago… We expect to see Apple begin the ARM-based Mac transition with products like the MacBook and work their way up from there as the apps are brought over to ARM via Xcode and as the rest of the world continues to throw off the Microsoft Windows shackles into which they stupidly climbed so many years ago, lured, wrongly, solely by Windows PC sticker prices.MacDailyNews, June 19, 2019

We’ve been thinking about and anticipating this for a long time now:

Think code convergence (more so than today) with UI modifications per device. A unified underlying codebase for Intel, Apple A-series, and, in Apple’s labs, likely other chips, too (just in case). This would allow for a single App Store for Mac, iPhone, and iPad users that features a mix of apps: Some that are touch-only, some that are Mac-only, and some that are universal (can run on both traditional notebooks and desktops as well as on multi-touch computers like iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and – pretty please, Apple – Apple TV). Don’t be surprised to see Apple A-series-powered Macs, either.MacDailyNews Take, January 9, 2014


        1. That’s pretty specific. What is it you feel you need to run boot camp for? What PC Apps. are you trying to emulate on a Mac? Generally, I’d say the article and for 99% of users, apps are either cloud based or compatibility isn’t much of an issue… Just curious about your specific need…

            1. There lies the rub. Why does Apple have to address it.

              One of the things we learned in the early 80’s was identifying a customers motivation as a need or a want when discussing a feature and boot camp is a feature of the Mac. Features come and go and the first thing you need to ask about a feature is if it has a benefit to the customer.

              If Apple, Inc switches to ARM it will be because that bootcanp “feature” no longer offers them a benefit. And remember. This is Apple Inc., not Apple Computer.

      1. I’ll give you a simple example: Microsoft Office compatibility.

        Granted, Mac Office is pretty good, but when you start getting into automation on spreadsheets, the difference crops up, and the alternatives are to (a) switch to Windows, or (b) fork the code and write it for both … and in doing so, double your maintenance costs.

  1. I need Intel compatibility to virtualize Windows and Linux on my MacBook Pro and Mac Pro. Of the two, Linux is more important. A transition to ARM will force me to make a difficult decision.

  2. If Apple wants to move to ARM on their laptops, that’s fine with me, but I would still want Intel processors on my desktop machine unless Apple can prove to me its ARM processors are more powerful than what Intel processors could offer. As for compatibility, I can always keep some older Mac around or buy some cheap Windows laptop in case I really need to use some specific Windows program and there was no other MacOS alternative. If Apple can boost its market share percentage by selling ARM computers, more power to them. Of course, if they start selling ARM-based computers and they’re even more expensive, those computers better do everything better than Intel-based computers. Anyway, I don’t think I have to concern myself about Apple moving its computer product line to ARM for at least five more years.

  3. Fine for entry level stuff, but compatibility is survival for Apple. If they switch pro machines, including MacMini, to ARM, it will complete the transition of the Apple Ecosystem to the Apple Ghetto once again. Most users want both power and compatibility. Gotta have virtualization.

    1. “compatibility is survival for Apple”
      Apple sold almost 4 million Macs in the first quarter of this year. If even 1% of those ended up doing any virtualization over their lifetimes, I’d be amazed.

      “most users want power and compatibility”
      BUT the compatibility most users want is with email, and the internet. Most users think Boot Camp is a military thing 🙂

  4. BYOD works in more cases than you think because that 1, 2, or 3 Windows packages that people have to run, run so damn well under virtualization, especially Parallels.

    I’ve got MacMinis that serve as MacOS, Windows, and LINUX servers. Simultaneously.

    I guess ultimately it’s no big deal. Major developers can switch to Windows, and businesses that need virtualization for whatever reason can switch back to Windows if need be, and the vast majority of Mac users will be happy in the Apple Ghetto without ever realizing they’re there.

    I can still pursue my dream of creating iPad only businesses where no Windows restrictions exist!

  5. The problem is the libraries written in C and C++ suck. C was a hack, let’s just admit it and be done. Security and speed almost seem to be impossible to achieve. That’s because there are so many holes and hacks and just plain crap in those libraries. Unfortunately all the newer languages are using C or C++ for their creation.

    Pointers in C are just crap, Crap I tell you. I don’t care you spent years learning and perfecting pointers, hell it should not take all that. The other thing is who, when, how in the hell could anyone decide they would start counting things at zero. Hack, Hack PDP11 hack. And… whey the inconsistency, like return 0 from main() means everything is ok, but 1 or any number other than zero means true. 0 means false. You know why, HACK.

    It’s time for those engineers designing those chips to let C go and C++ is a worse hack. Lazy son of a gun that created it…

    Swift, for goodness sake, start from the base metal. take the time to write that compiler in Assembler to start with. let C and its hacks go…

    just so you know Pascal was a beautiful language. Hey Swift team. why “let” as oppose to “const” or for that matter, how about variables, constants, sections. or at least var, const. give me a break.

    let’s make the processors much faster, let’s make the programming language way more readable and, and, and handle its speed in the compiler as an optimization.

    Good grief! dump starting with C tools!

  6. I’d venture a move like this Apple will lose some users that rely on Windows forever. As long as they are good with that, go for it. You can get a killer Windows PC or laptop for a fraction of the price that Apple charges, so it will end up being less and less important for real enterprise users, not fake ones that think they are enterprise users with Apple gear. Whatever.

        1. For performance laptops and desktops, THERE IS NO ADVANTAGE TO ARM. When doing equivalent calculations, ARM isn’t even more battery efficient. Apple has done a great job optimizing its chips for low performance mobile devices but come on, look what a real Mac Pro can do. Intel chips offer BOTH power and compatibility. Abandon that and watch Apple become a true one trick pony.

          You can stop scouring the internet for these bulls!t ARM fanboy stories now MDN.

          1. “For performance laptops and desktops” there is no “blah, blah, blah”.

            There is obviously an advantage to ARM since you are typing your post on an iPad.

            The future says there is not advantage to Intel. Fight that all you wan’t but hardware compatibility is the buggy whip of the first half of this century.

          2. Yeah, but Intel is WAAAAAY too slow in the mobile game. If they were able to reliably increase performance in the mobile space in a way that companies could COUNT on, then there wouldn’t be an ARM desktop discussions.

            For Apple, the one HUGE advantage to ARM is that every year, Apple can release a new ARM processor that improves on the performance of the last… like clockwork, with 2, 3, 4 year delays.

  7. Arm, Intel, Motorola. Apple will always be ‘compatible’ in its software and in the age of the true fruition of the Internet Superhighway which is occurring right under your noses, who makes the processor really doesn’t matter.

    Apple sell a solution, OS/X which addresses peoples needs. In an age where information is ubiquitous in spite of platform, why would you think a processor would really matter all that much. Especially to Apple which will dump unnecessary technology in a heartbeat.

    If you need windows, but a cheap clone. The world is becoming compatible through the internet.

  8. I need compatibility because Adobe won’t sell me Flash.

    I’ve paid repeatedly for drawing tools that haven’t changed since the 1990’s (including the bugs), but for some reason exist nowhere else.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.