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Developers: Intel transition going better than expected

Nearly all of the Mac OS X developers surveyed by a Wall Street analyst at Apple's Word Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) last week said the company's Intel transition is going better than they had expected.

During the conference, PiperJaffray analyst Gene Munster spent time talking with some 16 developers about their thoughts on the Intel transition now that they have a full year of the switch under their belt.

Intel Transition Favorable

According to Munster, 14 of the 14 developers who had ported an application from PowerPC to Universal Binary said that the process was easier than they had expected. Additionally, the analyst said 15 of the 16 developers believe the Intel transition will result in a greater number of Mac applications in the future.

"While there are some concerns from industry analysts that the Intel transition will negatively impact Mac application development, we believe our conversations point to the opposite conclusion," Munster said.

The analyst also asked the developers to share their thoughts on the Mac's newfound ability to run the Windows operating system, to which nearly 90 percent of the developers said the enhancement will positively impact Mac application development.

Leopard Seen as Impressive

Meanwhile, Munster said he was able to get his hands on a developers-only preview copy of Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard, which he found impressive. "We tested the most significant new features including: Time Machine, a comprehensive file backup interface; Spaces, which virtualizes multiple desktop spaces; Mail 3.0; and Safari 3.0," he said. "After a week of testing the Leopard preview, we are impressed with the next generation operating system."

And while Apple offered no new details on Boot Camp during WWDC, it's Munster's belief that the final integration of the dual-booting software will have a significant impact on the company's ability to capture market share by winning Windows users. "As Boot Camp moves from beta to an official version in Leopard and the Windows installation becomes more user-friendly, increasing numbers of Windows users will switch to a Mac," he said.

Leopard to Trump Vista

In general, the Wall Street analyst believes Leopard will be seen by the masses as a superior product to Microsoft's Windows Vista upgrade, an advantage that should help boost the Mac maker's share of the personal computer market. Both operating system upgrades are due at relatively the same time, with Vista slated for "early 2007" and Leopard the "spring 2007."

"These releases are not necessarily a race to the finish, but we believe that Apple will work hard to ship Leopard before or close to the release of Vista," Munster added.