If Apple allowed Mac OS X to run on Intel chips it would blunt the Mac’s edge and spark a way “that Microsoft is sure to win,” Charles Haddad writes in his latest
Byte of the Apple column for BusinessWeek Online .
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There’s ongoing speculation that Apple will port Mac OS X to Intel chips since Motorola and IBM aren’t making the progress on PowerPC chips that Apple wants. However, Haddad thinks that abandoning the PowerPC chip would be a disaster.
“A big reason PCs are so persnickety is that Windows runs on scores of different hardware configurations, over which Microsoft exercises little control,” he writes. “It’s a nearly impossible task, especially if you’re changing Windows every two years or so, to ensure it will run identically — and run well — on every PC.”
Apple’s advantage is that it controls both the hardware and the operating system so it can ensure that they work together and that third party hardware and software adhere to certain guidelines. For Apple to surrender that control would mean that the company couldn’t ensure that Mac OS X would work as well on all Intel processors as it does on systems bearing the PowerPC chip. And that would mean OS X would inevitably become “persnickety, too, just like Windows,” tarnishing Apple’s reputation for quality, Haddad says.
Plus, it would give Microsoft an incentive to bring its full clout to crushing Apple, he adds. Right now Microsoft “benevolently tolerates” Apple because they “occupy parallel but largely uncompetitive tracks,” Haddad writes. If this changes, “Macs would become roadkill in Microsoft’s powerful headlights,” he adds.