Okay, as long promised (and delivered on time!), here is the story that no one else seems to be covering, but is the result of three separate tips that we have gotten since we started operations. More than a year ago, rumors started to crop up about this subject, using the codename “Dharma” (from Lost, for fans of that show), and yet no one has sat up and taken notice (probably because on the surface, things like iPhones and Mac hardware are more interesting to speculate about)…if you read until the end of this article, we promise you will more excited about this than any other Apple rumor on the web today!
First, a little introduction…everyone these days is talking about running Windows apps on the Mac with stuff like VMware, Wine, and Parallels coherence mode. That’s all well and good, as every now and then maybe you want a little Visio or Access or some other pile of crap not available for the Mac. Our question, though, is what about going the other way, with Mac apps on Windows? How would Apple do this? Why would Apple do this? When would they do it? What would happen if Apple did this? Sit back and enjoy the absolute cutting edge of Apple Recon, which you can only find here in an EXCLUSIVE report, told in our famous goofy style…
First, the how…put a quarter in the way back machine as we take you back in time to the days of Rhapsody. For those that don’t remember those times (you were probably too busy day-trading eToys, Avenue A and Excite stock), we’ll provide a Wikipedia link. You see, Apple once had technology called the Yellow Box, they even openly talked about it…it would allow Cocoa applications to be run on Windows (there are already some open source efforts to do this, with things like GNUstep (see the Cocoa article at Wikipedia for more info))! This was all technology that was inherited with the NeXT acquisition, and as Apple has recently shown with the Intel version of Mac OS X, old projects don’t tend to die at Apple, but rather to live a secret life.
Where this gets really interesting is that since our huge traffic numbers catapulted Apple Recon into the forefront of the Apple rumor sites, we have gotten exclusive reports that the Yellow Box is alive and well. Apple has nearly every Cocoa application they write running on Windows (yes, even Vista) in their skunkworks labs. Imagine the Yellow Box being deployable like the .NET runtime, or the Sun JRE; technically, they share similarities in implementation…just as you can run a Java application on Windows or Mac, with Yellow Box, you can run Cocoa applications on Windows. Connecting the Yellow Box to your application, currently, is a build option in the secret version of Xcode that Apple maintains to do this. In the future, such applications will be truly universal between Mac OS X and Windows at the discretion of the publisher.
Second, the why…there are numerous reasons why:
- Switchers – once people see how great Apple’s apps are, and start to rely on them for things like surfing the web, managing photos, editing video, etc. they will begin to realize “why do I need this piece of $h!t Windows operating system with all its security and virus holes?” Just as they have already started to realize due to iPod and iTunes.
- Irreparable damage to Microsoft – software developers are already frustrated with Microsoft (the fact that apps written to take advantage of all the new Vista crap won’t run on XP and 2000 for instance) and moving to Apple in droves (note the amazing increases in attendees at Apple’s WWDC each year)…imagine a future where you build your application on the Mac, and the same application works for Windows, too!! Once developers start moving to Apple hardware and development tools, Microsoft becomes completely marginalized, if no one is using its developer tools and building Windows-only applications, no one is locked in to its platform…and here is the Microsoft dirty secret…no one uses Windows because they like Windows, they use it because they have to!!
- Java for the 21st century – even today, Java applications are slow, and their user interfaces are inconsistent at best. Yellow Box solves both of those problems, Cocoa applications are by far the fastest on Mac OS X (and because of the lightweight and portable NeXT-derived APIs, share that same speed and efficiency on Windows), and if there is anyone that knows how to get the UI right, it’s Apple! Thanks to GNUstep, much of the open source foundation is there to bring this to Linux, should it ever become desirable for Apple to do so!
- Bring new developers (entry level) to the platform – anyone noticed lately that Apple’s developer tools are FREE compared to the $500+ for Visual Studio (and let’s not even get started on the thousands of dollars you have to spend on Visual Studio Team System if you want to go that route)?
- By selling Mac applications that are already written to the huge Windows installed base, Apple will add hundreds of millions of dollars in pure profit to its bottom line…not to mention other Mac developers (and can you imagine Adobe’s joy to be able to develop only a single version of all of its applications?).
- Being Intel-native means two things, both that developers need to move to Xcode to build Intel-native Mac apps (which will then “just work” on Windows with Yellow Box), but also that Apple’s job at building Yellow Box itself is much easier than having to keep both PPC and Intel versions going (of course, they will continue to have a PPC version for Mac OS X beyond Leopard).
Third, the when…this one is pretty straightforward…Apple will NOT release this, or even speak publicly about it, until AFTER Microsoft releases an Intel-native version of Office. The Office club that Microsoft wields is why the Yellow Box disappeared from the face of the earth in the first place years ago…times have changed, however, and Apple no longer is as desperate for future versions of Microsoft software on its platform. The Yellow Box will be seen by Microsoft as an outright declaration of war (as Mr. Ballmer likes to say, “developers, developers, developers, developers, developers, developers…woooaaagh!!”). You can expect nearly an immediate end of Microsoft software development for the Apple platform when this is announced. So, we don’t expect this announcement to come until at least Macworld 2008, once Office for Intel is already shipping and we are a couple of years away from the next release of Office. By then, Apple will have less to fear as it will have a current Intel native version of Office, there will be a fully functional Open Office out there (a Cocoa one, perhaps??) and for those that still want a true MS Office can always run it via Wine, Parallels or any of the other options.
Lastly, what would happen if Apple did this…first of all, it would end any fears of “developers stop developing Mac applications because you can just run their Windows counterparts via Parallels” because it would in fact cause the exact opposite to happen (build for the Mac, run on Windows…basically an Apple version of Wine, only instead of being reverse engineered by open source hackers, built by Apple itself); second, while Microsoft is focused on the wrong game, beating Google and building its “Windows Live” and “Office Live” Apple will come in and eat their lunch and crush them on the desktop platform (where all of Microsoft’s profits come from); and third, it will simultaneously bring piles of cash, hordes of switchers and legions of developers to the Mac platform, hurting Microsoft beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. Now we know, one of the arguments against this is that if we give people Mac apps Windows, there’s no reason to switch to the Mac…seriously…think about that for a second…Windows is such a mess, its very existence is the reason you switch to the Mac…getting a bigger taste of how good life can be with Mac applications will only make more people switch, not less!
Looking forward a couple of years, you can quickly see why Apple’s future is so bright and Microsoft should be very, very worried. The best part is there is nothing Microsoft can do to stop it…the boys in Redmond can’t even get their own OS shipped on time, let alone bringing any security or innovation to the table…as already mentioned, they are fighting Google on the web, Sony and Nintendo in video games, Apple in media devices, Linux in servers, legal battles on dozens of fronts, etc. which ends up giving them too many fronts to fight wars on, and leaves them wide open for an attack at home. The Microsoft house of cards is starting to fall, and all those iPod-loving-Apple-fans are ready to say good riddance!
Ultimately, the only respones that Microsoft executives will have is to kill Mac Office (which will immediately get the anti-trust concerns going again), and if they want to have a prayer at holding on to a development monopoly, do the exact same thing as Apple and release a “.NET/Win32 runtime” for other, non-Microsoft platforms. But as soon as they do that, and you an run all your Windows apps on a Microsoft-sanctioned runtime on other operating systems…well who in their right mind would keep running Windows??? This spells absolute doom for Microsoft, no matter how you look at it!
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