Mac OS X on Intel?!?

For as long as I can remember, there has been a battle of operating systems. Which operating system is better, Microsoft or Apple? The debate rages on but what we do know is this: Currently, your organization does not have the ability to dual-boot a Windows and an Apple operating system.

Well, times are a changin’ and new Intel machines are gearing up for Apple and its OS X operating system.

In June 2005, Apple announced a brilliant strategy. They decided to abandon the IBM PowerPC processors to move to the Intel engine. Can you imagine the possibilities? We could live in a world where you could now buy a brand- name computer or clone and load Apple OS X Tiger on it or dual-boot your computer with OS X and Windows. You may even be able to run Windows on an Apple computer. Seriously.

Why the sudden change of heart? It is a known fact the IBM chips Apple is using are lagging in the ability to keep the processors cool. Combine this with Apple having trouble matching the lightning speed of x86 (Intel) competitors and you can see why they need to make a change.

Apple also needs a way to bolster sales in the computer/operating system market and by leveraging the Intel based platform; they will be able to compete more easily with their competitors.

What’s on the Horizon? The buzz on the street is Apple will release its next revision to OS X (code name Leopard) right around the time that Windows Vista ships. This is most likely to be middle to end of 2006. It will be very advantageous for Apple to leverage the Intel platforms when Microsoft Vista is released. My personal thought is that Apple will release this prior to Vista shipping to get a stronger foothold.

With Apple’s move to the Intel platform, I see several things happening in the industries where Apple reigns supreme, which include publishing, recording, Hollywood, etc.

Currently these industries use both Microsoft and Apple products. Imagine if these industries had the option to abandon Microsoft as the workstation and simply load OS X throughout their infrastructure; an infrastructure that already owns or leases Intel based PC’s.

Streamlining the network with one main operating system will save money in support costs and licensing. Furthermore Microsoft will be on the ropes, looking for ways to keep you as a customer— can you say “incentives.”

Either way, it will produce healthy competition and the refueling of an Apple/Microsoft operating system war. If Apple can take the next step and move into a licensing model, we could really see some things heat up which is very encouraging.

If you do not use Apple OS in your environment, you should keep a watchful eye over the next 18-24 months. At some point, you may want take a look at your infrastructure and see if Apple is for you.

You already own the hardware or are leasing it, and if licensing costs are cheaper or you are done with Microsoft, Mac OS would be a viable alternative to Windows or Linux desktops. I understand not every company could make the switch but it definitely is worth looking into as a project. I wait with high hopes.

Steven Warren is an IT consultant for the Ultimate Software Group and a freelance technical writer who has been a regular contributor to TechRepublic, TechProGuild, CNET, ZDNET, and, now, CIO Update. He the author of “The VMware Workstation 5.0 Handbook” and holds the following certifications: MCDBA, MCSE, MCSA, CCA, CIW-SA, CIW-MA, Network+, and i-Net+.