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From Boot Camp to Legacy API? An Apple timeline

Developers, developers, developers...

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Analysis So Apple has endorsed dual-boot Macs, and the only surprise is that it took Apple so long to disclose. What follows is an imaginary time-line that illustrates the opportunities and perils for ahead for Apple.

  • August 2006: Apple announces Mac OS X 10.5 or Leopard, the "HyperVisor OS", promising the seamless run-time integration of Mac OS X and Windows applications using Intel's VT virtualization technology. Win32 binaries run in their own window, and can be launched from the Dock.

    "You're going to love this," says Apple CEO Steve Jobs as he touts benchmarks showing Apple computers outperforming Dell systems on native Windows games performance.

    Microsoft chairman Bill Gates welcomes the move.

    In addition to a BYOWCD ("Bring Your Own Windows CD") option, Microsoft and Apple announce the future availability of a bundled Windows run-time.

 

  • November 2006: Adobe's appeals for compiler experts grow more desperate. Perks for successful candidates to work in "a highly challenging environment" include two years paid holiday, to be taken anytime after June 2007.

  • December 2006: Adobe licenses Stardock's WindowBlinds. A product manager explains it will "unify the user interface experience for our CS2 and MX creative product suite customers".

  • March 2007: Microsoft's Macintosh Business Unit affirms its commitment to develop OS X native binaries of its Office suite, "so long as there is a business case".

  • June 2007:OS X Leopard ships, with a time-limited offer of the Mac OS X VE (Vista Edition) runtime software available for $99. ("$349 value", according to the joint Microsoft-Apple press release).

  • July 2007:Microsoft announces the general availability of Windows Vista.

  • August 2007:The first widespread Mac virus is reported. It features an animation of a Pizza-delivery boy driving a Segway across the screen. Steve Wozniak denies involvement.

  • December 2007:Adobe announces it is withdrawing from the native Mac applications market after 21 years with the following statement:

    "Adobe today confirmed its ongoing commitment to the Macintosh platform by offering a free, OS X utility compatibility extension for the Windows version of its Creative Suite. The software brings Apple's familiar look and feel to Windows binaries running in the Mac OS X VE environment."

    Microsoft confirms it won't be offering native versions of OS X applications and pointedly renames its Mac BU the LPD, or "Legacy Platforms Division". With the exception of one-part time blogger, staff are reassigned to optimizing the performance of Windows binaries in OS X VE.

  • December 2008:Microsoft announces a $200m investment in the Legacy Products Division of Apple Entertainment Products Inc, formerly Apple Computer Inc, and now a $20 billion a year company. "We have supported Apple for 25 years and are happy to do so again," says Microsoft chairman Bill Gates. "This reaffirms Microsoft's commitment to healthy competition in the PC marketplace".

    "The PC wars are over, Done" says Steve Jobs. "Microsoft won a long time ago." [*].

Any flaws with this picture? Well, gathering dust in Apple's vaults the OpenStep envionment, which was designed to allow a Universal Binary to run on Solaris, HP-UX, Digital Unix and Windows. (In the end, as PADL software founder Luke Howard reminds us, while the Open Libraries shipped on these platforms, Universal Binaries were only supported on NEXTSTEP.)

If Apple is to keep developers interested - it may need to think about reviving such a plan.

Write and tell us what you see in your crystal ball. ®

Bootnote: [ * ] A real quote from Steve Jobs to Fortune magazine, from 1996. Thanks to Kai for the inspiration.

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