Putting Apple’s Intel switch into perspective

With Jonathan welcoming Apple’s decision to switch to x86 hardware I found myself discussing this with a very good friend of mine, JP, who has worked with Macs for a long time.

JP’s not the most public person so I was surprised to see his first ever blog entry looking back at the history of Apple, Macs and why software, not hardware, is the key. He writes:

I can’t be sure why Apple chose to switch – whether it is tied in with Movie Stores, or IBM complacency, or even a bid to beat Microsoft. Perhaps it is really a complex and subtle mix… to be sure it is a tough call. I do remember that one of the important rules in business is to make a decision – even if it is the wrong decision. Jobs could have stuck with IBM… only to later regret it. Whatever, I am pretty sure Jobs has picked the only possible time to make this switch – Apple has public recognition, a respected OS, money in the bank and a small but strong installed base. It’d be harder to do at any other time.

From a processor snobbery point of view I personally love RISC chips with their orthogonal, copious and windowed registers. I find the x86 instruction set clumsy and hard to navigate. It’s all very, well, 1980s. But then it still runs code from then too. Hold on, isn’t upwards binary compatibility one of the (many) excellent features of Solaris? – perhaps I shouldn’t be too dismissive of the same feature in processors.

As for the Apple-Intel deal – very interesting. I’m looking forward to running Solaris on the new boxes.

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