The Grass Has Riz (3/27/00)

Spring has sprung-- heck, it sprang a week ago. But even though the Boston weather's been rather sunny and pleasant so far, we couldn't help but feel that something was missing. See, when winter's over, we just don't feel like we've shifted gears until one of the Classic Mac Rumors™ pokes its leafy green shoots out of the ground. How lucky for us, then, that Darwin 1.0 is nearing release-- for PowerPC and Intel processors. Those are perfect conditions for the blooming of the perennial "Star Trek" rumors.

"Star Trek," for those who've forgotten, was the secret project at Apple to get System 7 running on Intel hardware. The engineers succeeded, but the project was killed for political reasons before the product ever saw the light of retail. But ever since Apple bought NeXT, rumors of "Star Trek: The NeXT Generation" have popped up from time to time. Since Mac OS X (and its open-source core, Darwin) are based on NeXTSTEP, and NeXTSTEP ran on Intel iron, it's not inconceivable that Apple could in fact port Mac OS X to Intel. Of course, there's a lot more to Mac OS X than the core OS-- porting Carbon and Classic and the Apple user interface isn't exactly the kind of thing a couple of Apple engineers are likely to do to kill time on a slow Sunday afternoon. But according to a Wired article, Apple's lead Darwin engineer publicly stated that the first full release of Darwin will definitely include an Intel build, which is a start. And that's why the rumors of Mac OS X on Intel are blooming nicely.

Our personal take on the matter is that we're not likely to see boxed copies of Mac OS X for Intel PCs anytime even remotely soon. Apple makes its money primarily from hardware sales, and especially with Intel and AMD extending the lead in the processor speed race, we just can't imagine that Apple would throw a bunch of Mac sales right out the window. Think about it; if the complete Mac OS X ran on Intel, you could run it on a PC that's faster than the fastest Mac. You could also run it on a PC that's cheaper than the cheapest Mac. Colored plastic and funky industrial design only goes so far; all else being equal, money talks. And so does speed. With Mac OS X poised to be insanely great, we imagine Apple's just loving the idea of boosting Mac sales to people who will buy whatever machine can run it. Still, we're glad the "Mac OS X for Intel" rumors are sprouting again; that means it's time to play frisbee in the park.

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The above scene was taken from the 3/27/00 episode:

March 27, 2000: You know it's spring, because the "Mac OS X on Intel" rumors are sprouting all over. Meanwhile, Apple's lawyers shut down the MacCards site, a mere two months after its own iCards site premiered, and Stephen King's Riding The Bullet finally surfaces for Mac users...

Other scenes from that episode:

  • 2183: Cease And Desist (3/27/00)   Another one bites the dust; as faithful viewer Ed Nelson reports, MacCards is no more. Do we detect the faint odor of Ninja Death Squad in the air? Nope, Apple's wetworks team is a lot more subtle than that-- they crash servers, sever network cables, intercept bandwidth payments, and make uncooperative webmasters "disappear" to get certain sites off the 'net...

  • 2184: Downloading The Bullet (3/27/00)   Mac-using Stephen King fans, rejoice: a solution has materialized. When King's latest book, Riding The Bullet, was recently released only in e-book format, Mac users were left out in the cold...

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