The Apple Code

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 6:33 AM

My blogging buddy (and friendly OS nemesis) Mark had a fascinating dream that sounds almost like the Da Vinci Code turned into a story about operating systems. Mark would make a good substitute for Prof. Robert Langdon in such a book — maybe he should write it, after all, computer debates do have a tendency to take on a religious feel. ;)

Unfortunately, Mark still has not seen the light concerning Mac OS X, so I need to help him understand the nature of this “insanely great” platform.

Now 5x Faster! Mark rightly questions how Apple could go from claiming that PowerPC was better than x86 to announcing the new Intel Macs are “5x faster.” You'll notice that the 5x number only shows up on the comparison of PowerBook vs. MacBook laptops. This is for the simple reason that Apple couldn't get a PowerPC G5 processor into a PowerBook, and hence everyone was still using a Pentium III-era competitor in the Pentium M and D-era. I think very few were deluded in this regard. The PowerBooks do handle extremely well given their aging architecture, but that's a testament to *nix not to the architecture (though RISC still seems admirable in many ways). I would suggest that the PowerPC remains a superior architecture (even Linus says so!), but that PowerPC needed someone of the likes of Intel or AMD to be pushing its desktop-oriented progress forward for it to have become a success (PowerPC's manufacturers primarily focus on the embedded space).

The Mac Pro is a different story. If you look at the numbers, while it is faster, it isn't that much faster, especially when you consider it came out almost a year after the PowerMac G5 Quad. The Xeon should be faster, because it is significantly newer and has more cache and other goodies. If we ask whether the PowerPC G5 was “slow” because a processor that is a year newer and has more cache happens to go a small amount faster, then we should also ask if pre-Woodcrest Xeons are perhaps “slow” too. The answer, of course, is no, they are just older. In fact, even in the case of the PowerBook, I would add that the Intel Core line of processors not only speeds things up because of the delay in any significant upgrades for the G4 series laptops, but also because Intel has made seismic leaps in progress over the last six months.

As a whole, no surprises, if we don't look to find fault with Apple just for the sake of finding fault.

Apple the iPod Maker. It is true that Apple now draws a significant portion of profit from the iPod, but I would note that it is still a minority of their business, and most people now seem to have come to grips with the reality that it cannot be Apple's primary focus forever — especially now that Microsoft has decided to go into its “we'll lose money for as long as it takes to beat our target” mode against the iPod. I don't think anyone other than Sony (with their PlayStation) and Google have held up to Microsoft when it decides to lose short term money in order to win a market, and right now even Sony is in for the fight of its life. The Redmond road is littered with companies such as Netscape and Palm that have been unable to resist Microsoft.

Apple the Evil DRM User. iTunes does not make the iPod DRM laden. If you never use the iTunes Music Store, you will never touch DRM. It is that simple. Now, why do pragmatic foes of DRM such as myself use the iTunes Music Store? Because every once-in-a-while I'd like one song from an artist, and I sure like paying ninety-nine cents a lot better than $13.99 for that one track. (And, by the way, you do get a nice digitized album cover in that price, and if you buy the whole CD you often get a digitized booklet and perhaps a music video, so the point about lack of album art is moot.) I don't know how many others are like me, but I for the most part have what I call my “two track rule.” If I try a new artist (or old one, for that matter) and find that I want to buy more than two tracks from a given CD, I refuse to buy any more from iTMS and wait until I feel like coughing up the price for a normal CD. Right now, for example, I have an embargo on buying any tracks from MercyMe because I have bought a track or two from each of their CD's, and now I'm going to either buy nothing more from them or buy a real CD from them.

Apple the Stealer of Virtual Desktops. XGL vs. Spaces is really a stupid kind of comparison. This is really looking at things backwards. While it is true that XGL and related technologies have provided 3D representations of virtual desktops first, I would note that all of these FOSS implementations appeared initially as ways of cloning Apple's Exposé, which premiered in June of 2003 at WWDC and was released to market in October 2003 as part of OS X 10.3 Panther. Spaces continues by adding the virtual desktops that FOSS has had for years, yes, but Apple was the one that came up with 3D accelerated navigation of running applications — Spaces is a logical extension of Exposé. Yes, Apple is copying virtual desktops, but XGL is nothing more than playing catchup with Apple's Quartz Extreme (which showed up in OS X 10.2 Jaguar in 2002) and the aforementioned Expose. Apple was the first to offer an OpenGL hardware accelerated desktop, something Linux is just starting to offer in a consumer oriented distro this summer and Windows will not offer until next year.

Start the Conversation

Be the first to comment!

Create or Sign In to Your Account

Post as a Visitor

:mrgreen: :neutral: :twisted: :arrow: :shock: :smile: :???: :cool: :evil: :grin: :idea: :oops: :razz: :roll: :wink: :cry: :eek: :lol: :mad: :sad: :!: :?:
Remember my information