I never really expected Apple to make the jump to Intel x86 processors. Even after the rumor mill was ablaze over the weekend, it wasn’t like we all haven’t heard the stories before.
I’ve talked to a number of Mac users who expressed concern about spyware and viruses coming to the Mac starting with the introduction of Intel-based machines. I’m positive this won’t happen. Why? The x86 architecture has little to do with viruses. The fault lies in the operating system, and this is the Mac’s strongest area. As I put it to those people, Linux doesn’t have virus problems and it runs on a vast array of processor architectures, including x86. Mac OS X is designed similarly, and I am confident that the Mac experience we all know and love will be just the same, if not better, than it is today.
On the subject of moving operating systems around, Apple has already stated that Mac OS X won’t run on off the shelf PC hardware. While this may be true, I’m sure there are many who are willing to attempt the Mac OS X to PC transplant. Personally, I would love to be able to install OS X on standard hardware and build some cheap Macs, but this option would certainly impact Apple’s hardware sales. Right now, it’s just too early to tell how hard this feat will be. Like it or not, though, there will be people trying their best to make it happen. If this upsets you, be aware that Apple knows what they’re getting into. The decision to switch to x86 hardware wasn’t a bright idea Steve had one day — they’ve likely been planning this since, well, NextStep days. As for dual-booting Windows on an Intel Mac machine, Phil Schiller has stated that Apple will not support it, however, they won’t be doing anything to prohibit you from doing so. Again, it’s too early to tell. The Developer Transition Kits announced yesterday will be shipping in two weeks, and people will by trying everything they can think up.
Apple has clearly made a tough choice which may significantly impact hardware sales over the course of the next few months, but the overall goal is to provide customers with cooler, faster, and (hopefully) more affordable hardware. If this is true, I’m all for it — my 1.25 GHz PowerBook gets mighty hot. I wholeheartedly agree with Steve, though, that “the soul of the Mac is it’s operating system.”