Snow Leopard, Apple and the Future

Being a design guy, if nothing is visual it interests me not in the least.

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So Apple’s new under-hyped (for the above very reason) Snow Leopard upgrade brought me no surprises as with Windows 7 upgrade. But for the record my upgrade went on smoothly. Except one, other all of my 208 odd applications still work beautifully. My old Macbook gained about 9GB in space, no usability changes but both boot and shutdown is snappier too. No sprung springs!

But under the hood this upgrade is significant to know how well different tech companies handle their turf. I ain’t much of a fan over Apple’s perspectives, one of the reasons I do not own an iPhone ( a situation that can change at any time 🙂 being a Mac user. But knowing that how tedious these tech development process is, I pretty much admire them for how well they execute it. You can read more on how Apple differs from the rest reading this programmer’s articles.

In contrast, cooking for years as Longhorn Microsoft released Vista with much hype to be doomed by the early adopters. Most simply went back to XP. So MS had to do quite a bit of profile building with refining the Vista’s issues and renaming it as Windows 7. No sound of WINFS which MS had been touting since Longhorn days. As big as MS is, company and resources MS still incapable of doing much of technological advances with their stuff. As far as I know MS has done no later revision that it is still the same DOS/NT kernel it used to run Windows for years with all those malware, security holes, dlls conflicts and driver issues. I hate it when they release things half-cooked, half hearted.

Apple does it in the other way, Snow Leopard without a noise looks almost the same as Mac OS X Apple released a decade ago. But they made some significantly difficult bold technological moves with it finally setting the standards for the rest of the industry to follow.

FIRST MOVE

Screen shot 2009-09-22 at 10.16.22 AM
With Mac OS X Apple ported their old classic Mac OS re-writing PowerPC architecture to X86 Intel. This is a daunting task in software perspectives because all the Mac specific drivers, extensions and software had to re-develop with new APIs to transit this to the end user. Apple did it with a minimal effect to end user as Universal Binaries.

SECOND MOVE

Screen shot 2009-09-22 at 10.55.41 AM
A part of Mac OS X core ported to ARM stripping the UI and the bulk and bundled with really modern Touch APIs, WebKit and Frameworks to make it possible the game changing OS X device, the iPhone and the App Store. The rest is already making the history dent!

My fantasy Palm Inc. which should have done this with Treo, anyway they are too on track now with new Palm Pre and Web OS.

THIRD MOVE

Screen shot 2009-09-22 at 10.10.42 AM
Apple moved Mac OS X to 64bit with Snow Leopard with few other technological advances all that end users will benefit when the developers make use of these to show up in their end software products. But importantly for us for now, almost none of our existing software code brakes since Apple kept the 32bit binaries which allows you to run the 32bit code as usual. But secretly ditched the PowerPC support altogether which is has to happen anyway.

MS had 64bit version of Windows for years which used by none, the market wasn’t ready for it, even if with many different versions of Windows to support, it is a daunting task for even MS likes and everyone who develops for Windows to support it. Just bare witness the other side of this phenomenon by the whopping 75,000 and growing App Store for iPhone in a year!

To boost this, Macs now can address whooping amount of RAM. There is Grand Central Dispatch, some geek technique to make modern multi-core processors transparent to developers but yield the power nonetheless and so on. Advances Apple made today will yield results of tomorrow without taxing anyone. It will be the same cake walk for Mac OS desktop software developers now if Apple wants to push it in that iTunes App Store direction. They don’t even have to, just a few scant developers from who flock in to iPhone development would suffice for next Mac OS advancements.

So the bottom line is when Intel bundles sixty cores in a chip and software/ game developers need another ten zillion Giga flops to do their math, Apple is already ready with their code.

This makes Apple can focus their resources to plan ahead the next ground breaking technology or the device at their own pace leaving others to do the catch up. Jobs this winning formula seem to work pretty much every time. From iMac, iPod to iPhone and beyond.

My worry is this will make Apple the new MS. Either Google, MS failing to keep pace, Apple will spring ahead to heyday and beyond!

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