Get ready folks - as the month of December comes to close, plan to be delgued with analyst predictions and juicy rumors about the Intel Macs that will (maybe) be introduced at MacWorld. We'll give you our take in a week or so.
First up, the upcoming 10.4.4. release. As AppleInsider notes, Apple ususally introduces updates right before they leave for Christmas break, and this year is no exception.
Sources and reports already present on the Internet say Apple this week released to developers build 8G17 of Mac OS X 10.4.4 Update -- a forthcoming maintenance release to the company's Tiger operating system.
Previous reports indicate that a later milestone of Mac OS X 10.4.4 may be the first version of Tiger to ship on Intel-based Mac systems. The release is also rumored to deliver fixes for AirPort and Bluetooth wireless access, Spotlight indexing and searching, and RAW camera support.
RAW support to fix some of the problems with Aperture? It's wouldn't surprise me. Also making the rumor rounds over the past few days is this one from MacRumors (and others) about Apple's plan to resurrect Yellow Box as "Dharma" to allow cocoa apps to run on Windows.
A first time poster to MacGeneration (French) forums posted the contents of an email, which was originally sent to another website.
The writer claims that Apple is reviving "Yellow Box for Windows" -- a development environment which promised Mac OS X developers the ability to develop and then deploy of both Mac OS X and Windows environments. The original plans for Yellow Box were promised during early developer sessions by Apple, but later killed.
The letter claims that the project has been relaunched internally under the name "Dharma". Resultant applications will be true "Universal Binaries", allowing developers to released their applications under the Windows environment also.
Finally, don't miss this very interesting interview with Steve Wozniak. Of special note, the father of Apple talks about running OS X on non-Apple hardware.
Apple has been very adamant and has stuck by their guns for a long, long time and they put everything at risk in the company many times to basically say that we're going to be a proprietary operating system and you're going to have to buy our hardware to run it. Apple has treated itself more like a hardware company than a software company, even though it really is the Macintosh operating system that makes it different.
While we knew that Steve Jobs has been committed to maintaining a cross-platform OS X since its inception, an interview with Michel Mayer, CEO of Freescale Semiconductor, gives some interesting context to Apple’s switch to Intel. From the interview:
Weren't you there during the discussions when IBM convinced Apple to adopt the G5?
Mayer: In my previous job, I ran IBM's semiconductor business. So I've seen both sides of the Apple story, because I sold the G5 to Steve (Jobs) the first time he wanted to move to Intel.
Five years ago?
Mayer: Yeah, that's about right. So I sold the G5. First I told IBM that we needed to do it, and then I sold it to Apple that the G5 was good and it was going to be the follow-on of the PowerPC road map for the desktop. It worked pretty well. And then IBM decided not to take the G5 into the laptop and decided to really focus its chip business on the game consoles.
The entirety of the Mac World is gearing up for next month’s, well, MacWorld. Everyone has a different opinion about what they’ll find there. Ars tries to quell expectations of an Intel Apple DVR (and does a pretty good job), ZDNet works to squash Apple rumors, AppleMatters chimes in with predictions, and the Taiwanese tell us to (maybe) wait until June. But where’s the fun in that?
What’s great about Mac rumors, as noted in our last article, is that so many sites quote other sites that rumors become near-fact overnight. Having said that, I firmly believe that we’ll see something based on Intel at this year’s MacWorld – it would have the element of surprise that Steve loves. “Surprise” in the “oh, we thought you said it would be June” not in the “OMG!!!11!! Teh Steve! Aha! We heard rumors about this…”
Let us know! What do you think Apple will do come early January? Will it be an Intel notebook, Mini, or are you holding out for – gasp – a Tablet? Or something even greater?
Apple has updated its Developer Transition Center with the Second Edition of the Universal Binary Programming Guidelines, Core Endian Reference, and a guide for Moving Your Project from CodeWarrior to Xcode. Also fairly new: The Transition to Intel-based Macintoshes: An Introduction for Testing and QA Engineers and Universal Binary Programming Guidelines: Rosetta. ...MacWorld has an article called Mac Games: What to look for in 2006, with previews of several games coming next year. Can we expect more or fewer games due the Intel transition?
As faithful readers, we appreciate the fine way in which you bring us the latest rumors of all things Apple. However, it has come to our attention that you used our story about Rosetta improvements and a iTunes universal binary in an article of your own without citing your sources, one of the first rules of journalism. Now, perhaps there is another OSx86 news site somewhere that reported on these two items apart from us. I am not aware of such a site. But if this is case, please tell us so.
The reason for our concern? Well, in a wonderful example of the art of spreading rumors, Mac Rumors used your article to "corroborate" a story in which they had previously referenced our original story. Essentially, they used your article about our story… to confirm our story.
It is for reasons such as this that Mac rumor sites such as your own are seen as lacking credibility by many – we can’t have an “infinite loop” of stories confirming each other without first confirming the original information. You normally do an excellent job at reporting and most Mac users appreciate your efforts. Next time, just give credit where credit is due, and problems such as this can be avoided.
I just hope another site will confirm this story for me.
AnandTech has a first look at "Yonah," Intel's successor to the “Dothan” Pentium M and the processor rumored to be Apple’s first choice for next year’s Intel Macs. It seems that the processor is a large improvement over its predecessor in many ways, although it’s still behind AMD’s dual core offerings in terms of power.
From the article:
Although we didn't consider it as such here today, Yonah will be quite impressive on notebooks. The thought of having such a cool running dual core processor in a notebook is honestly amazing, and the performance difference (especially for multitaskers) over what we have today will be significant.
As a desktop contender, Yonah is a bit of a mixed bag. While its performance in content creation applications has definitely improved over the single core Dothan, it still falls behind the Athlon 64 X2 in a handful of areas. Intel still needs to improve their video encoding and gaming performance, but it looks like we may have to wait for Conroe and Merom for that.
This is very interesting news, especially considering yesterday’s rumor about an Intel based Mac PVR. If Yonah truly is slated for that Mac Mini Media Mega Monstrosity (there are so many alliterative options…), will it have enough horsepower for the multimedia aspects of the machine?
It seems clear that Yonah is a perfect fit for the other rumored Intel Macs in January, namely the iBook, Powerbook, iMac, PowerMac… oh, wait, we’ve heard rumors about all of them. If we believe the iBook/Powerbook story, it seems that Yonah will be the kind of low-watt, high-performance processor Steve talked about at WWDC 2005.
It seems that time (well, actually, just a little over a month) will tell.
Just a note that the 945G chipset (and similar variants) seems to be the intro platform, so if you're making a test box now, Dual Core+SSE3+NX+PAE+945(or similar) is your safest best). Also nice that the CPU seems as fast as a dual core 3.0GHz Pentium-D 830 even though it is just 2GHz, and is comparable to Athlon 64 models (most of the time, not in all tests). And, of course, it has the lowest power consumption of the CPUs tested, which makes it look nice for laptops (It IS a mobile CPU after all...)
But I don't know how some of that media performance will impact the "Kaleidoscope" product...perhaps its more than enough for that function, but Merom and Conroe are going to be better for media.
Think Secret is reporting that Apple’s first Intel-based Mac will be a Mac Mini built as a media center. From the article:
Apple's Mac mini will be reborn as the digital hub centerpiece it was originally conceived to be, Think Secret sources have disclosed. The new Mac mini project, code-named Kaleidoscope, will feature an Intel processor and include both Front Row 2.0 and TiVo-like DVR functionality.
The new Mac will supposedly be launched in January at the Macworld Expo. Steve Jobs is a man of vision, and it would appear that computing (and computer tech in general) is moving in the direction of entertainment - the smaller/prettier/easier, the better. Windows Vista will no longer have a separate Media Center edition, but wil instead have multimedia functions built into every distribution. It makes perfect sense for Apple to want to strike first in the home entertainment arena – I think it could lead to the capturing of a market that hasn’t largely been tapped commercially.
If these reports are true, one must wonder if Apple can become the dominant force in living room computing. Is it possible that “Kaleidoscope” will become as ubiquitous as the iPod?
We've received unconfirmed reports concerning a few interesting new toys under the hood of OSx86 10.4.3, including a vastly improved Rosetta and brand new ATI drivers - each far more complete than in previous builds.
First, the Rosetta emulation platform in 10.4.3 build 8F1111A has been upgraded to feature full G4 support, including Altivec. This not only adds a new layer of compatibility to Rosetta, but also improved speed for Altivec-equipped applications. This upgrade is reportedly available as a small downloadable update to build 8F1111.
Also, new ATI drivers available in 10.4.3 seem to offer much greater support for PC ATI graphics chipsets. Preliminary reports indicate that they may support most of the 9000 line, and parts of the X series, including mobile chipsets. Apparently NVIDIA systems have not been given this treatment. Is this discrepancy simply due to the pace of driver porting at Apple, or will ATI graphics hold a special place in the Mactel world?
On a side note, the weekend brought a newly leaked copy of OSx86 10.4.3 build 8F1111, the most recent seed from Apple. This seed, with its universal binary of iTunes, is a newer version than the build which was recently cracked.
Sources indicate that OSx86 10.4.3 – which, as reported in this space, contains increased hardware restrictions – has now been cracked in the same fashion as 10.4.1. It was initially thought that these restrictions would slow the progress of hackers, but it appears that they've done little to deter those tackling the challenge.
There are many interesting aspects to this news. First, it appears that Apple’s security enhancements between releases simply were not effective. Also, not only has the hacker named Maxxuss been able to hack the kernel to run on non-Apple hardware, he’s also been able to make the OS available to those who don’t have the most cutting edge hardware available.
While Apple has promised to lock their operating system to their hardware once its released, one must wonder what method they will use and if it will be stronger than the current TPM restrictions. While the TPM technology is itself virtually uncrackable, hackers have been able to fool the OS into thinking it doesn’t need the TPM authentication.
Will Apple ever be able to create a truly hack-proof OS? Right now it seems the score is Apple: 2 (leaked) releases, Hackers: 2 releases. With Intel Macs likely on the way in January, it’s game point and Apple’s move.
Stay tuned here for the latest news as it happens.
As has been reported in several news outlets, Apple has filed for a patent which seems to be directly preparing the company for the upcoming Intel switch. Patent 20050246554 was filed by Apple for rights to what they call a "system and method for creating tamper-resistant code."
According to the article:
"Tamper-resistant software is software that is difficult to change, tamper with, and/or attack. Code obfuscation is one technique for achieving tamper-resistant software. Generally, the goal of code obfuscation is to make it difficult for attackers to determine what is happening in a block of code. If attackers use debuggers or emulators to trace instructions, code obfuscation can make the code difficult to understand or change."
Also of note is the ability to select for the Macs to choose from one of the three operating systems: OS X, Linux, or Windows. This would seem to indicate that Apple is committed to earlier statements of supporting (but maybe not encouraging) multiple operating systems.
Will the "tamper resistant code" be a part of Apple's mechanism for locking the OS to Apple hardware?