What's New for 2006

Apple: Intel Inside

Two worlds will collide in 2006, producing the first systems capable of running both Windows and Mac OS. (Maybe.)

For years, computer users have sought a hybrid. Not a half-electric, half-gasoline motor vehicle, but a computer that combines the elegance of Apple's software design with the raw horsepower of an Intel CPU. In 2006, that dream will come true.

When Apple announced in June 2005 that it was abandoning IBM PowerPC processors in favor of an Intel engine, the blogosphere lit up at the possibility of buying brand-name PCs loaded with Apple's Mac OS X. That won't happen, at least not in a form that Apple will officially sanction. Apple will probably key the final release of its Mac OS for Intel processors to a specific piece of hardware included in the new Intel-based Macs.

That means that the Apple family of computers will suddenly get a much needed power boost, initially in the notebook line. Held back primarily by the IBM-based chips' lack of cooling capability, Apple has struggled to match the chip speed of its Intel-based Windows competitors. With Intel powering its products, Apple will no longer have to cope with this issue.

Don't look for Apple to start marketing Windows-loaded computers anytime soon, though. That hybrid isn't coming. But Apple's next revision of its OS X operating system, code-named Leopard, is likely to arrive in late 2006, which is right around the time Windows Vista hits the shelves. With both platforms running on some of the same processors, the Apple-versus-Microsoft war could heat up.

Also, look for some hacked-together systems (not released by Apple) in which an Apple computer runs Windows or dual-boots both OSs. Asked about that possibility when he made the Intel announcement, Apple CEO Steve Jobs seemed resigned to it. Apple will neither sell nor support such a thing, but "that doesn't preclude someone from running [Windows] on a Mac," he said. "They probably will."

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