To: David Lazarus, The San Francisco Chronicle
I am curious as to the motivation behind your "Intel inside -- so what?" article: are you really as ignorant and intellectually lazy as you come across in it, or did you just want the attention of being the only guy in the press with a headline saying it's not a big deal?
The point of the article seems to be "Most people don't care how something works, just that it works." Well stop the presses, what a scoop!
But David, SOMEBODY has to worry about the "how" or nothing's going to get done.
So what "what" does this "how" lead to?
There is an ABUNDANCE of information online that can tell you exactly why the Intel switch is important, and what its long-term effects may be, and a competent reporter would probably have done some research rather than consult computer industry experts like the administrator of a San Francisco law firm, a flight attendant from England, or Officer Gary Constantine of the San Francisco Police Department.
But, failing that, I will do my best to explain why the Intel switch is relevant.
I'm going to start out with some extraordinarily basic background on the computer industry here, as your article makes you seem blissfully unaware of it.
Apple makes computers. Macintosh computers.
But most people don't use Macs.
Most people use Microsoft Windows, which runs on Intel (and compatible) hardware.
(Now, you may have already made a connection here: "Oh hey, Apple's going to be running on the same hardware as Windows!")
The MacOS is almost universally regarded as superior to Windows in terms of ease-of-use and security.
So why do people still use Windows?
Well, in-between talking to flight attendants, you might consider walking into a computer store where someone is buying a Windows machine and ask that person why he isn't buying a Mac. I can guarantee you that at some point in the conversation, he will tell you he is worried his programs won't run on a Mac.
This stereotype has dogged Apple for twenty years, and is largely unfair: anything the average user needs, be it Web, E-Mail, or Microsoft Office, will run on a Mac.
However, there ARE some power users whose programs DON'T have Mac versions: engineers who need AutoCAD, for example, or gamers. (And before you pooh-pooh gamers as a niche market, consider that they're the people who buy the most expensive computers -- with the possible exception of movie editors, who are already firmly in the Apple court.)
Now, why isn't there a Mac version of AutoCAD? Why aren't there Mac versions of many popular games? Well, it's largely because of the hassle of porting them to a new architecture.
You get that?
The hassle of porting them to a new architecture.
But with Macs switching to Intel, the MacOS is now running on the SAME architecture as Windows does.
Making it much, much easier for these developers to release their software on the Mac.
And even if they don't release their software for Mac, this makes it far easier for third-party developers to make software which will allow Windows programs to run on a Mac. Take Microsoft's VirtualPC, for example, which has heretofore run programs very slowly and lacked advanced hardware support because it's had to emulate Intel hardware -- that hurdle is now gone. Or take Cedega, a program for making Windows games run under Linux -- a Mac version was impossible on the PowerPC architecture, but many cite it as inevitable now that the MacOS runs on Intel architecture.
And then there are people who may want to dual-boot: to use the MacOS primarily but reboot to Windows when they need to use a program which is not available for Mac. While there are some technical hurdles to jump, it seems obvious that someone will find a way to run Windows and the MacOS on the same computer within a matter of months, if not weeks.
It is even probable that people will figure out how to run the MacOS on non-Apple computers, and, while Apple has said it will not provide support for such an installation, this is still a significant draw to many users.
So, given all this "how", David, we can answer your question of the "what": the Intel chips will almost certainly mean better compatibility between the MacOS and Windows. Which, if you recall, is the primary concern keeping people from buying Macs. Programs which previously ran only on Windows will run on Macs.
But what does this mean for the Apple faithful, the people who have been buying Apples for years and would buy them no matter whose chip was in the box?
You dismiss the idea that end-users won't be able to tell the difference between a PowerPC Mac and an Intel Mac as if it means the difference isn't important -- as if being able to transfer an entire platform to a completely different architecture with such a seamless transition that the average user can't tell the difference is something that doesn't even bear thinking about. That's simply absurd. That Apple has made this dramatic change but managed to make it in such a way that the average end-user won't even notice any change at all is nothing short of amazing.
So, in a way, your vapid, superficial article answers its own question: that Apple has made a fundamental change and you can't, for the life of you, tell that anything has changed at all IS the story here.