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Apple moves to x86 and the winner is Java

Posted by gfx on June 7, 2005 at 12:45 AM PDT

Yesterday, Steve Jobs proudly announced the 3rd major transition in Apple's history. After the move from the 68000 family to the PowerPC and after the move from MacOS 9 to beloved MacOS X, Apple will move from PowerPC to Intel x86 family. And Steve Jobs confirmed the rumors: Apple compiled and built all its applications and releases of MacOS X for x86. "Just in case" said Jobs.

Why does it has to do with Java anyway? Well moving from one CPU architecture to another will demand a lot of work from the Mac community. Sure it won't be as hard as moving from MacOS 9 to MacOS X, but still, it's huge. As usual, Apple takes care of easing the pain: Xcode 2.1 can generate PowerPC and x86 binaries. Best, you can generate them in one single universal (or "fat") executable. MacOS X will also be shipped with Rosetta (Steve Jobs maybe want to be seen as the Champollion of IT), a runtime library to run PowerPC binaries on x86.

Despite these (wonderful) tools, nothing will be as easy as porting your Java apps from MacOS X PPC to MacOS X x86. You'll just have nothing to do. Jobs even emphasized this point when, speaking about the amount of work required to port existing applications to x86, he explained that neither Dashboard Widgets nor Java apps will need the slighest change. Unfortunately he deceived us. Some Dashboard Widgets will need a bit of work, at least a new build.

That's why we are the winners in this transition. We can rejoice to get a user friendly, stable and elegant OS on our well known x86 hardware and still enjoy our favorite development platform without bothering a minute about it.

If you needed a proof of the advantage of hardware decoupled bytecode, you got it right in front of you my friends. We live interesting times and I'm glad I'm not talking about server side or mobile stuff.

P.S: This is one more reason to check out the Quaqua Look and Feel and to contribute. As WinLAF, this look and feel aims to fix the glitches and minor bugs in comparison to the native look and feel.

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