Apple confirms switch to IntelApple Computer chief executive Steve Jobs today confirmed company plans to deliver models of Macintosh computers with Intel microprocessors by this time next year, and to transition all of its Macs to using Intel microprocessors by the end of 2007.
In front of a World Wide Developers Conference crowd that included over 3,800 developers — the largest in over a decade — Jobs previewed a version of Mac OS X Tiger running on an Intel-based Mac.
Mac OS X has been leading a "secret double life," Jobs proclaimed. He said every release of the Mac OS X over the last five years was secretly built for both the PowerPC and Intel processors. So today for the first time, I can confirm the rumors that every release of Mac OS X has been compiled for both PowerPC and Intel. This has been going on for the last five years, he said.
Jobs also announced that developers can begin to pre-order a Developer Transition Kit. It will consist of a 3.6GHz Pentium 4-based machine and Mac OS X 10.4.1 "Tiger" for Intel, which will allow them to prepare versions of their applications that will run on both PowerPC and Intel-based Macs. The kit will begin shipping in two weeks for $999.
Under the transition to Intel, technologies such as Dashboard Widgets, scripts and Java will "just work," Jobs said. Meanwhile, Cocoa applications will require a few days worth of work to update and Carbon applications a few weeks. The majority of new Mac OS X applications are of the Cocoa flavor.
At one point, Jobs invited to the stage Theo Gray, cofounder of Wolfram Research, to demonstrate the portability of Mac OS X applications to the Intel platform and alleviate developer fears of another costly and timely code updating processes. Gray said his team ported Mathematica 5 to Intel-based Macs in 2 hours. "Were talking about twenty lines of source code out of millions," he said. "This is nothing like Carbonizing."
Jobs also showed off a new dynamic binary translator called "Rosetta," which runs PowerPC code on Intel-based Macs transparently to the users and without a significant speed decrease. In a demonstration he showed Microsoft Office for Mac and Photoshop CS2 running on Intel hardware in unmodified PowerPC binary form. Jobs said that Apple will be including the technology for its users because he knows each application isn't going to be ready for the new Intel Macs on day one.
Representatives from big name companies, including Microsoft and Adobe, also joined Jobs on stage to vouch their support of the transition to Intel and reaffirm their commitment to the Macintosh platform. They were soon followed by Paul Otellini, Intel's president and CEO, who played a 1996 Apple ad where an Intel bunny was set a blaze. Intel doesn't have a grudge, he said. "So after thirty years, Apple and Intel are together at last."
In closing, Jobs said that with both Apple and the Mac strong, it's a great time to start building for the future and making the company stronger. By next year's World Wide Developer Conference he suspects that most developers will be shipping universal binaries of their Mac OS X applications as Apple begins to divulge information about the next-generation Mac OS X operating system, code-named Leopard.
Because more than even the processor, more than the even hardware innovations we bring to the market, the soul of the Mac is its operating system, Jobs said. "And we're not standing still."
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