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Run Windows Applications Natively in OS X? 521

Posted by Zonk
from the predictiontastic dept.
mcho writes "Unlike other speculators, who get no spam, Robert X. Cringely offers an intriguing reason behind Apple's recent strategy of Boot Camp. From the article: 'I believe that Apple will offer Windows Vista as an option for those big customers who demand it, but I also believe that Apple will offer in OS X 10.5 the ability to run native Windows XP applications with no copy of XP installed on the machine at all. This will be accomplished not by using compatibility middleware like Wine, but rather by Apple implementing the Windows API directly in OS X 10.5.'
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Run Windows Applications Natively in OS X?

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  • If it can just run Windows apps anyway?
    • because people want native OS X programs. thus there is a market. thus profit.

      anyway, i'm doubtful this will happen - as then apple would probably have to support it.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 21, 2006 @01:53PM (#15175237)
      Cool! All of the spyware and viruses can run in OS X too. That would be great.
      • by The Snowman (116231) * on Friday April 21, 2006 @02:03PM (#15175367) Homepage

        Ideally this would be in a sandbox, similar to a virtual machine. That way all you have to do is kill the VM, and all that crud is gone. Since it's a VM, you can easily make backup copies of the file system -- similar to a restore partition on OEM machines. Set it up the way you want, and when ActiveX rips a hole in Windows or malware slows it to a crawl, it's easy. Kill the VM process, copy the backup partition over.

        Of course some of us can run Windows without malware, viruses, and all that stereotypical garbage. Some of us do have a clue how to administer a Windows computer. I've worked with many operating systems -- DOS, DOS/Windows, Windows NT, Linux, FreeBSD, Solaris, HPUX, and even little Vax. In my experience, none are easier or more difficult to secure with the exception of DOS or DOS-based Windows (96/98/ME), which suck. All it takes is a little training on the security issues and the ability to be proactive with security.

    • by non0score (890022) on Friday April 21, 2006 @01:55PM (#15175272)
      By your reasoning, then why bother writing OSX programs in the first place? The point is that people write programs for OSX because they want to, not because they're somehow stuck with a Mac and can't write something for the PC. This is giving people who use program Y that was never "ported" to the Mac platform (and thus can't switch over) a reason to switch over. Of course, this is also giving a lot of convenience to long-time Mac users who just can't seem to get any games.

      Now, only if I can plug in any PCIE gfx card and be able to get the OSX drivers for them, I'll be all set....
      • If Apple were to make it possible to port a WIN32 app to OS/X using winelib or something else, but providing hooks to allow the resulting app to have a native look and feel (if the developer were willing to exploit those hooks), then it could be a win-win.

        Apple would get the Windows apps, and Windows devs who would really like to build native OS/X apps would have a way to feasibly do that. Some 'porting' work required, but far short of a total rewrite.

        That would be really great.

        And if they were to release
    • by gluteus (307087) on Friday April 21, 2006 @01:56PM (#15175276)
      Because Mac users will treat any Windows apps running on OS X like second class citizens. They'll stomach it, but not for long.

      People credit Apple for how apps are consistently Mac-like and interoperate with each other, but the users are the ultimate enforcers. Any developer who steps out of line is crucified.

      • If I can run Outlook, Visio, & MS Project, I can switch out of Dell running Windows and into Mac OS X on Apple hardware. These are simply "must have" applications. Everything else is already native or has an accepted alternative.
    • by tourvil (103765) on Friday April 21, 2006 @02:00PM (#15175339)
      If it can just run X11 apps anyway?

      The answer? Because X11 apps (and likely Windows apps, if they did implement Windows compatibility) look and behave like crap next to Cocoa and Carbon apps. They don't use the menu bar, all the shortcuts use control instead of the command key, etc. There's nothing wrong with those on an X11 system, but switching back and forth between Cocoa and X11 apps can be jarring.

      I doubt Windows compatibility would cause existing Mac developers to drop support. And who knows, Windows-only developers might start considering a Mac port more seriously if a significant portion of their user base started running their apps on a Mac.

    • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Friday April 21, 2006 @02:05PM (#15175397)
      IBM had that problem with OS/2. It ran Windows apps just fine, there were very few that didn't work jsut as intended... Which lead to nobody making native OS/2 apps. I mean if you can write it once and it'll run on both OSes, why bother with a port? Sure it would work BETTER if it was a native app, but it worked well enough.

      I think Apple would face a similar problem. Not all apps would stop porting, of course, apps that have a healthy market like Photoshop would keep porting, but I think many would. You'd never see another game port, and any app that wasn't really core-market kind of app for Apple would likely stop porting. You have to figure you aren't really going to lose any sales since it does run, and there are few people using it in the first place, so why bother?

      Now maybe Apple decides they don't care. Maybe they want to implement the Windows APIs and just use those. Maybe they figure the other features of the OS are enough to keep epopel buying. However I gaurentee they are smart enough to know that if they implement the Windows API natively in OS-X, that most apps will just use that and not bother to port.
      • by IntlHarvester (11985) on Friday April 21, 2006 @02:38PM (#15175765) Journal
        You'd never see another game port, and any app that wasn't really core-market kind of app for Apple would likely stop porting.

        One could argue that Apple sees only a very small percentage of game and "non-core" ports anyway, so they wouldn't be losing very much.

        (There's a wishful-thinking at work in the Mac community that eventually major software houses will come around, but the reality is that most desktop apps are just too tied to Windows for that to happen.)

        I always disliked the impression that OS/2 failed because of WinAPI support. To the extent OS/2 succeeded, it was because it was sold as a "Better Windows Than Windows". And OS/2 was reasonably successful with a marketshare about the size of Apple's.

        There's many more reasons one can find for OS/2 ultimate destruction. It wasn't a very technically sound design -- IBM spent zillons on a expensive Mach-based rewrite that failed. It was largely mismarketed by IBM first targetting "enterprise" customers, and then oddly "consumers". And the touted features like the object-desktop were ugly and poorly executed.
        • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Friday April 21, 2006 @04:08PM (#15176591)
          The reason OS/2 failed because of Win API support was because it chained them to a no-win cycle. They HAD to continue to support the Win API because there were almost no native apps. However supporting it was a bitch both in terms of time spent on implementation and in terms of design concessions. They finally decided to stop with Win32 and OS/2 dies shortly thereafter.

          At this point, Apple has people porting to OS-X. Not a ton, but enough. If they add Win32 support, I think the number porting will fall significantly. The problem is they then become chained to the MS API. If MS releases a changed API, they have to scramble to implement it as well.

          It also means that bugs and such come over. Thought your computer was protected against spyware? Sorry, no longer, it can execute Windows programs, and they don't bother to set the Evil Bit to allow you to ignore them, You get the good with the bad.

          I think that would take away a major percieved advantage Macs have. The one thing that more people who claim to want to switch, or actually do switch, bitch about than any other in my experience is spyware and viruses. They see them as MS's fault and want them ot stop. They've been promised the Mac does not have those, which is true at this point.

          Well, if all of a sudden all the Windows malware runs on a Mac, you are back to where you started. It is again incumbent on the user not to do stupid stuff, rather than having a protection because the bad code just won't execute.
    • What's wrong with not having programs written for OS X if it will be able to run the Windows apps anyway? Either way, people will buy macs and the mac marketshare will continue to increase. Eventually there are bound to be enough users to make having OS X versions of one's software (that can take full advantage of OS X's capabilities) advantageous enough to compel developers to make them in order to be competitive. Even if they don't, if MS does something with the next version to cause Windows compatibility
    • by squiggleslash (241428) on Friday April 21, 2006 @04:55PM (#15177015) Homepage Journal
      Well, this kind of argument goes on forever, usually with silly references to OS/2, and I think it's worth giving some examples of operating systems that have had substantial subsystems designed to give compatability with other operating systems that, nonetheless, achieved great success, and for which the bulk of apps written were "native". Note, in the below, while often the "other" operating system has a similar name, it generally has an entirely different API, look, feel, and smell (well, ok, I don't know about the last one.)

      1. Windows 3.0 - compatible with MSDOS (earlier versions had some compatability too but it wasn't as solid
      2. Windows 95 - compatible with Windows 3.x and DOS
      3. Windows XP - compatible with Windows 95, 3.x, and DOS
      4. Mac OS X - compatible with Mac OS 9. Also able to run many X11/Unix apps with just a recompile
      Other people can probably come up with other examples of operating systems that, in their time, were successful, and had substantial back-compatibility with platforms that you generally wanted to obsolete, not support.

      Anyone thinking "Hey, Windows is Windows right?" should note that Windows 3.x and Windows 95 couldn't have had more different looks and feels, and their APIs were only superficially similar. Win32, 95's base API, was 32-bit, worked with flat, 32 bit, addressing, and provided access to something resembling a sane file system. "Win16", the pseudonym of the Windows 1/2/3.x APIs, by comparison required programs be written to use segmented memory. Filenames were UPPERCASE and had eight characters, a period, and three more after that. The GUIs were marginally similar in terms of widget layout, indeed a Win16 application was grating when you saw it up against native 32 bit applications.

      The real question is: Is Apple prepared to get this operating system out to the mass market, should they consider including Red Box in Leopard? If they don't, then with a 3-5% marketshare, there's a serious risk that programmers will rely upon Red Box to get their critical, we're-the-only-people-who-do-this, applications to OS X users, and not care too much about complaints from Mac OS X users about the ugliness of the GUIs. Native Mac programs will still exist, especially if Apple re-releases an updated version of their OpenStep/WebObjects for Windows development tools, incorporating the software into Xcode. But they'll remain the minority, and the divide between Mac apps and Windows apps will, if anything intensify.

  • by yagu (721525) * <yayagu@@@gmail...com> on Friday April 21, 2006 @01:48PM (#15175165) Journal

    He points out one of the difficulties WINE has had keeping applications healthy:

    Wine is great, but it is also a moving target subject to Microsoft meddling. If Wine gets too good, Microsoft can "accidentally" break it at will. But Microsoft can't afford to do that with its own Windows API. The courts will no longer allow checking for a different underlying OS as Redmond did back in the days of DR-DOS. Besides, unless we are strictly talking about Microsoft apps, there isn't even much code involved here that Microsoft CAN meddle in.

    I wonder that his assumption Microsoft can't break its own API in Windows is correct, and suspect (or fear) it isn't. Or, at best, writing to Microsoft's API is only a half truth and is at the core of one of the EU's complaints against Microsoft -- complete API documentation!

    Cringely does confirm third party reports of this suite of software working at Apple, but I wonder for how long? And for what versions? A complete, robust, and current maintenance of what is available for a Windows API is a minefield, and in my opinion, likely to somehow "break" rather quickly.

    I can imagine if Apple somehow has pulled this off and is ready to roll it out publicly they must be bracing for the Microsoft blitzkrieg, because they're going to get it.

    As to whether or not this really is a realistic scenario (Microsoft and Windows Apps running transparently in OS X), please, please, please let it be true! (We can all hope, right?)

    • If anything, with the EU pressure on Microsoft. Now would be the safest time ever to rip off MS's API's (even the undocumented ones) wouldn't it?
    • The other thing I'd like to point out is that what he's proposing involves rewriting a massive portion of Windows itself, something Microsoft has spent decades working on. He expects Apples magical engineers to just whip out a feature complete copy of the Windows API in just a few months?
    • The thing here is that the Windows API is already broken. There are any number of bugs and hidden features that come out with each new release of Windows. Developers write to take advantage of and work around these bugs. So invariably if Apple writes it they will have different bugs and not implement the current bugs correctly. So even if they had the resources to completely implement it, they could never be quite identical.

      Furthermore there are lots of assumptions built into windows about where things
    • by Jeremi (14640) on Friday April 21, 2006 @02:12PM (#15175451) Homepage
      As to whether or not this really is a realistic scenario (Microsoft and Windows Apps running transparently in OS X), please, please, please let it be true! (We can all hope, right?)


      I think it will come true, except for the part about "not requiring an installed copy of WinXP". What Cringely is proposing is just silly: he thinks that Apple can essentially write its own implementation of WINE, but somehow won't suffer from all the problems that WINE has. If you think that strategy works well, look at what happened when OS/2 tried it.


      On the other hand, adding a spiffed-out VMWare-style layer would be much easier for Apple to do, would leave most of the maintenance/compatibility problems for Microsoft to deal with, and would be less likely to piss off Microsoft's legions of winged monkeys (since they would still get money from Mac users buying WinXP sales).


      Trying to implement Microsoft's APIs natively is foolish: even if Apple somehow got them to work reliably in a foreign OS (fat chance considering the trouble Microsoft has getting them to work reliably in the native OS), things would break every time Microsoft released another service pack. Apple would spend the rest of their lives chasing Windows compatibility bugs.

  • Uhhh... hello. (Score:5, Informative)

    by jonnythan (79727) on Friday April 21, 2006 @01:48PM (#15175169) Homepage
    Wow, Cringely obviously has a clue.

    "This will be accomplished not by using compatibility middleware like Wine, but rather by Apple implementing the Windows API directly in OS X 10.5."

    Wine *is* an implementation of the Windows API.

    Cringeworthy is more like it
    • and you obviously have a clue don't you?

      WINE is not an OS. cf Rosetta.
    • Re:Uhhh... hello. (Score:3, Informative)

      by MustardMan (52102)
      Wine implements the API in an application which runs on top of the kernel. As far as I can tell, cringely is suggesting Apple will implement the support directly in the OS, and not in userland.
      • The vast majority of the Win32 API on Windows also runs in userland. The APIs that userland Win32 uses to talk to drivers look pretty different to the APIs that most application developers are using.
      • One of the advantages/curses of the Mach microkernel [wikipedia.org] that Mac OS X uses is the abstraction between the hardware drivers and the "kernel" that does stuff like manage IPC and disk activity etc., etc. The advantage is the isolation of hardware, the disadvantage is performance. While slower than a monolithic kernel, Mach can be a lot more stable. And with computing power at the level it's at these days I'm not sure how noticeable the difference is for everyday desktop use.

        Cringley's idea would make a heck of a
    • Right. But Wine is NOT an implementation directly in the OS. It is middleware, by that definition. Unless there is a version of Wine that is also a stand alone OS that I'm not aware of?

      Maybe you're not using the right quotes from the article to support your point.
    • Wine *is* an implementation of the Windows API.

      Wine has been in development, what 12+ years, and still hasn't reached 1.uhoh

      Windows APIs are a moving target, even on Windows.

      Personally, I would like to see the bugs in 10.4 fixed in 10.5 vs native windows support, which odds are will not happen at the OS X level this decade.


      • I hit post too quickly.

        Personally, I would like to see the bugs in 10.4 fixed in 10.5 vs native windows support, which odds are will not happen at the OS X level this decade.

        The decade thing refers to the windows support.

        I get flamed every time I mention the bugs in Tiger, but if I didn't already have so many 3rd party apps that require draconian licensing/registration/dongle crap, I would put 10.3 on my Mac in a heartbeat.

        And no, my RAM is not bad. The bugs are real and experienced by other users.
    • by everphilski (877346) on Friday April 21, 2006 @02:19PM (#15175554) Journal
      Sounds like Cringely has been sleeping with Dvorak too long. You know how when couples are with each other for a long time they begin to sound and act like each other...
  • As usual.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wiggles (30088) on Friday April 21, 2006 @01:49PM (#15175176)
    Cringely is out of his mind.

    1) There is no way in hell Microsoft would document their API to the level necessary to allow Apple to duplicate it.

    2) It's blatantly obvious he doesn't understand precisely what Wine is. Remember: Wine Is Not an Emulator. It's a built-from-scratch implementation of the Windows API.

    Idiot.
    • 1) There is no way in hell Microsoft would document their API to the level necessary to allow Apple to duplicate it.

      Most of Microsoft's API is already documented. The whole point of an API is that it doesn't matter HOW you implement the functions, as long as you offer the same frontend. So MS not completely documenting their API seems like it would only affect Microsoft apps that use undocumented functionality. I'm assuming that developers at other companies have to use the published Win32 API. So you'll

      • Re:As usual.... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by wulfhound (614369) on Friday April 21, 2006 @02:04PM (#15175379)
        The problem is not whether or not it's possible, but whether it's feasible for a development team to do it well enough (for Mac users, who expect much higher standards of such things than Linux users) and in a short enough time frame.

        Personally I think it's doubtful for that reason.
      • Re:As usual.... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by lgw (121541)
        ... seems like it would only affect Microsoft apps that use undocumented functionality. I'm assuming that developers at other companies have to use the published Win32 API.

        Wow, the real world will be a shock to you! The first Rule an engineer learns on the job is "the vendor is a lying bastard". This applies to the software world as well. Documentation is the starting point for using an API, but the actual functionality can only be determined by experimentation.

        You start with a program that "should work
    • 1) There is no way in hell Microsoft would document their API to the level necessary to allow Apple to duplicate it.

      And because of that, they're losing 2 million euros a-day...
    • Re:As usual.... (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      1) There is no way in hell Microsoft would document their API to the level necessary to allow Apple to duplicate it.

      TFA notes a cross-licensing agreement was in place from '97 - 2002 so likely Apple had MS' own docs on the API. Also Cringeley says he has talked with with people who have seen XP apps running directly under OSX, and that this has been going on in the labs for some time.

      2) It's blatantly obvious he doesn't understand precisely what Wine is. Remember: Wine Is Not an Emulator. It's a built-from-
      • Re:As usual.... (Score:3, Informative)

        by ziplux (261840)

        The way he put it was that running XP under OSX would not depend on 3rd-party middleware, but would run directly under OSX.

        So Apple develops their fancy new software to run XP binaries "directly" on OSX. Presumably, it's an implementation of the Windows API. Presumably, it's not an emulation. How is that code which provides the API not "3rd party middleware?" Just because Apple wrote it and includes it in the base OSX distribution, suddenly its not middleware?

        How is this thing that Apple might develop a

    • Remember: Wine Is Not an Emulator. It's a built-from-scratch implementation of the Windows API.

      Here's a question: If Windows had some bug in their API, do you think the Wine developers would only implement the API as it 'should be', thus possibly breaking applications that worked around the bug, or would they emulate the bugged version?

      • Re:As usual.... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by xoboots (683791)
        The goal is bug for bug as the whole point is to replicate behaviour.

        There would be no point (other than academic) in Wine being "cleaner" than Microsoft's implementation of the Windows API if it meant that software that runs on Windows couldn't run under Wine.
    • by MobyDisk (75490) on Friday April 21, 2006 @02:59PM (#15175975) Homepage
      You just disagreed with yourself.

      1) Nobody could duplicate the Windows API.
      2) Wine duplicates the Windows API.

      ???
    • Re:As usual.... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by confused one (671304)
      1) There is no way in hell Microsoft would document their API to the level necessary to allow Apple to duplicate it.

      The API is documented -- how do you think programmers write apps that work in the OS. There are undocumented portions; but, as Cringley points out, Apple has had access to the full API via cross licensing since 1997.

      2) It's blatantly obvious he doesn't understand precisely what Wine is. Remember: Wine Is Not an Emulator. It's a built-from-scratch implementation of the Windows API.

      Your pa

  • Moderation (Score:5, Funny)

    by palad1 (571416) on Friday April 21, 2006 @01:49PM (#15175182)
    Damn, I whish I could mod this story +5, Funny
  • Unlikely... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tjansen (2845) on Friday April 21, 2006 @01:49PM (#15175186) Homepage
    The Wine guys worked a decade on cloning the Windows API, and there are still more than enough problems. There is no way Apple can do this. Maybe for specific applications, but implementing Win32 with all the required libraries on top? Never.
    • how long has it taken people to make unix-based desktop OSs that still aren't 1/10th as polished as OSX?
    • It's a question of time really. If Apple is willing to spend the money to put more work hours into it, then it will work better. It's very unlikely it will ever work well though, so they can never really make it an official release quality feature without damaging their image.

      If I were Apple I'd hire a bunch of people to work on and maintain the Mac version WINE. It would then work pretty well and be available for people to use, but people wouldn't blame Apple for the applications which crash repeate
    • True (Score:5, Funny)

      by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland.yahoo@com> on Friday April 21, 2006 @02:19PM (#15175547) Homepage Journal
      WHat we need is a multi-billion dollar organization with knowledge of the Windows API and developers on staff...oh. wait.

  • It's a nice idea... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatman @ g m a i l . c om> on Friday April 21, 2006 @01:50PM (#15175193) Homepage Journal
    ...but it isn't going to happen. BootCamp is about advertising. Macs are generally known as Really Nice Hardware(TM). As a result, some people will buy Macs just to install Windows. They may even think, "Hey, I can even try out this Mac OS X thing so that I can *really* make fun of my Mac-lover friends!" Then the users purchase a Mac, try OS X, realize they don't actually NEED Windows, and never use BootCamp at all.

    It's a stroke of genius, actually.
  • by a_nonamiss (743253) on Friday April 21, 2006 @01:50PM (#15175197)
    ... would certaily push a lot of users like me over the edge to the Macintosh camp. If only I had bought that Apple stock 10 years ago...
  • YHBT! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NutscrapeSucks (446616) on Friday April 21, 2006 @01:50PM (#15175202)
    Cringely and Dvorak must be making humongous ad-revenue trolling Mac Fans lately. They're eating it up!

    It's understandable because Apple has made some radical moves lately (Intel, Windows), so the Mac Zealot's universe must seem like it's in total flux. No longer can they confidently predict Apple's next move using their supposed expertise in everything-apple. If Apple will put Windows on Macs, pretty much anything goes!

    Obviously these columnists sense the uncertainly and are having fun stirring things up a bit. Anyway, before you fire off your 1000 word point-by-point response denouncing Cringely, keep in mind he probably wrote this column in 15 minutes while high on cough medicine.
    • Re:YHBT! (Score:5, Funny)

      by Ohreally_factor (593551) on Friday April 21, 2006 @02:23PM (#15175600) Journal
      It is indeed an interesting time to be a Mac user.

      keep in mind he probably wrote this column in 15 minutes while high on cough medicine.

      Actually, he was only able to put down on paper the fantastic visions conjured by his drugged out mind for fifteen minutes before he was interrupted by a person from Porlock [wikipedia.org]. When he was finally able to get back to writing his article, he found that the vivid images had left him, and he was left with only a few fragmentary notes.

      In Cupertino did Kubla Khan[1]
      A stately pleasure-dome decree[2] :
      Where Alph, the sacred river, ran[3]
      Through caverns measureless to man[4]
      Down to a sunless sea.[5]


      [1] Clearly a reference to Steve Jobs
      [2] Jobs announces expansion of Apple campus [nbc11.com]
      [3] River Alph = 1 Infinite Loop(?)
      [4]Undocumented Windows APIs
      [5]Apparently where WinFS is hiding

  • by anlprb (130123) on Friday April 21, 2006 @01:51PM (#15175213)
    I bet it will be a classic like environment, but for windows. Once the data is on the HDD, it is trivial to start up a virtual machine and fool the win partition into thinking that it is booting natively. That is much more likely. That would be the final "Integrated" solution for running windows apps. They proved it could be done workably with OS 9. Now, they just have a separate partition to boot. But this again, is from another whack job on the innerwebinator thingie.
  • Could it be... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MustardMan (52102) on Friday April 21, 2006 @01:51PM (#15175216)
    Could cringely be saying something that actually makes a bit of sense? I have no doubt that WINE will eventually be at least as good on os x as it is on linux today, which is not too shabby. Apple have shown with boot camp that, if the hackers get it working and people are excited about it, Apple is willing to release a more elegant solution to accomplish the same goals. With the mach microkernel setup they've got going now, it's not too hard to imagine a windows compatibility layer that could run tandem to the BSD layer they already use. IMO, this one is at least a possibility. I wouldn't say Apple is neccesarily planning to do this right now, but if people start getting really exited when darwine starts getting good, I wouldn't be suprised to see the ole man in the turtleneck upstaging them by releasing an Apple sanctioned implementation.

    Really the most shocking part of this whole article is the fact the Cringely said something that actually kinda makes sense. I guess a stopped clock really can be right once in a while.
    • Really the most shocking part of this whole article is the fact the Cringely said something that actually kinda makes sense. I guess a stopped clock really can be right once in a while.

      Comparing Cringely to a stopped clock is an insult to stopped clocks everywhere.
  • to replace the mach kernel / userland bsd by the Windows Kernel / OSX Userland!
    Hope this one will not be a Flamebait!
    http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=183557&cid=151 59927 [slashdot.org]
  • Maybe (Score:3, Interesting)

    by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Friday April 21, 2006 @01:54PM (#15175257)

    ...I also believe that Apple will offer in OS X 10.5 the ability to run native Windows XP applications with no copy of XP installed on the machine at all. This will be accomplished not by using compatibility middleware like Wine, but rather by Apple implementing the Windows API directly in OS X 10.5.

    First, there is more than one API used in Windows. Second, WINE is an implementation of the Windows APIs. It is entirely possible Apple will reuse a lot of the WINE project and DarWINE in order to allow Windows Apps to run in OS X (hopefully sandboxed), but it is also entirely possible they won't. I rather suspect the latter for a number of reasons. First, Apple doesn't have to do this, there are a half dozen third parties clamoring to offer the same functionality. Second, by making it too easy to run Windows programs within OS X, they can reduce the incentive for developers to write programs to the current APIs. Third, since Windows is slowly strangling OpenGL on their platform and MS owns DirectX, Apple may have difficulty keeping graphics intensive applications behaving well if they go this route. Fourth, Windows APIs do not have all the functionality of OS X APIs and some of the most useful and advantageous features of OS X would be killed.

    Only time will tell for sure.

  • by American AC in Paris (230456) * on Friday April 21, 2006 @01:58PM (#15175305) Homepage
    I'd be a lot less surprised to see good, solid virtualization. Give users a high-speed sandbox where they can run Windows and Windows apps and they won't care whether or not the apps are integrated into the OS. Most users don't do much direct application-to-application integration in Windows, anyhow--generally, you're saving files to the disk, then importing or converting them in another app. Virtualization works quite well with this sort of thing.

    Frankly, it's probably better not to go down Cringley's road, since Microsoft's flavor of application design and integration is so very, very different from the OS X model; running Windows Word "native" in OS X would be a constant headache for users used to the drag-and-drop-just-works world of Apple's flagship apps...

  • by thewiz (24994) * on Friday April 21, 2006 @01:59PM (#15175314)
    1. Why and how would Apple implementing the Windows API be a good thing?
    2. What Cringly has been smoking?
    3. Most importantly, where can I get some of what Cringly been smoking?
  • Windows in a VM (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Nate Fox (1271) on Friday April 21, 2006 @01:59PM (#15175319)
    Why bootcamp when you can run in a VM (aside from games)? Anandtech has a nice review [anandtech.com] of the macbook, and running windows in a window, as well as dual booting. Seems performance is quite good, even with the beta!
  • wasn't this basically the point of rhapsody. I also believe that this cringley whathisname guy is guessing not recoding the api's , but more like liscensing the actual ms code and having that run in the compatability layer. It's almost like rhapsody revised:)
  • by dham340 (969899) on Friday April 21, 2006 @02:02PM (#15175361)
    For all those who have not read the article and have thrown out issues with apple maintaining and/or duplicating the Windows API:
    Remember Steve Jobs' first days back at Apple in 1997 as Interim-CEO-for-Life? Trying to save the company, Steve got Bill Gates to invest $150 million in Apple and promise to keep Mac Office going for a few more years in exchange for a five-year patent cross-licensing agreement? The idea in everyone's mind, of course, was that Microsoft would grab lots of Apple technology, which they probably did, and it quite specifically ended an Apple patent infringement suit against Microsoft. But I'm told that the exchange wasn't totally one-way, that Apple, in turn, got some legal right to the Windows API. That agreement ran for five years, from August, 1997 to August 2002. Even though it has since expired, the rights it conferred at the time still lie with the respective companies. Whatever Microsoft grabbed from Apple they can still use, they just aren't able to grab anything developed since August 2002. Same for Apple using Microsoft technology like that in Office X. But Windows XP shipped October 25, 2001: 10 months before the agreement expired. I'm told Apple has long had this running in the Cupertino lab -- Intel Macs running OS X while mixing Apple and XP applications. This is not a guess or a rumor, this something that has been demonstrated and observed by people who have since reported to me.
    If true, then Apple has a *legal right* equivelent to that of an owner to use the Windows API. Yes, M$ can change it, but it would have to be prospectively.
    • Well, a buddy of mine down the road observed Elvis and a bunch of little green dudes landing a flying saucer and making a bunch of circles in the neighbor's wheat field a couple of weeks ago. That doesn't even come close to making it a verifiable fact.

      Yes, I read the article, and just saying that Apple has the "legal right" to implement the API doesn't necessarily mean that they would be able to do it effectively. As others (including myself) have pointed out, due to the cross-development agreement that

    • It's a pretty dangerous move to incorporate old Windows APIs into their new system without the ability to update those APIs in the future. If Apple starts being able to run Windows apps in the next release, and then lose compatibility in the following releases, I could see people dumping Apple for loss of functionality. So even if Apple has access to XP APIs, it seems like too much of a risk on their part, especially since Microsoft is known to change APIs to break compatibility from their competitors.
  • by evandrofisico (933918) on Friday April 21, 2006 @02:03PM (#15175373)
    there have been a lot of work on that!!! It's called http://darwine.opendarwin.org/ [opendarwin.org] and it's not yet stable...
  • Wine Is Not an Emulator.

    Wine is an implementation of the Windows API and yes MS does break compatibility with it's API a lot. That's why some Windows software needs to be rewritten every so often when MS comes out with the "next big thing" (tm). Sure, there's a nod toward backward compatibility but it's not guarenteed. This, and the sheer complex (obfuscated?) nature of the Windows API, is what makes it so difficult for Wine to keep up.

    I like Cringley but he must have went to tea with Dvorak or something be
  • by Nick Driver (238034) on Friday April 21, 2006 @02:05PM (#15175396)
    ...because Apple might just have their own implementation of a Windows API ready to go before Vista actually ever ships.
  • "The Windows API" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ValentineMSmith (670074) * on Friday April 21, 2006 @02:07PM (#15175417)
    I was really amused at the way he mentioned "the Windows API" like it was half a dozen export functions from some 3rd party dll. If he'd ever gone to MSDN (or had installed any version of Visual Studio with the appropriate documentation), he'd know that attempting simply to implement enough of the core Win32 API to be useful would be virtually impossible. This isn't even counting some of the add-on systems like COM and Direct X. And it's not counting the fact that this implementation would not need to be "documentation compatible", but bug-for-bug compatible with its Windows counterpart.

    There have been at least three projects that I know of (Wine, OS/2 Warp 4, and ReactOS) that have tried to do implementations of the Win32 API. OS/2s implementation never truly got off the ground (and was neither able to run native Win32 code, nor was it even reasonably complete). Wine and ReactOS have both been fighting a Sisyphean battle with Microsoft throughout the life of their projects.

    Then, you need to add in the fact that Apple has historically been very jealous of their user experience. I don't expect that Apple would ever release something like this unless and until it was impossible to distinguish a Win32 application from a native app.

    Don't get me wrong: I'd love to see it (it would provide justification that I could use on the spouse for upgrading our G4 MiniMac). I just think that Cringely needs to put down crack pipe and slowly back away.

  • wouldn't this mean that any poorly designed parts of the win api (think gdi) would have an impact on osx? now we could have a single worm rip through windows, wine on linux, AND osx.
  • A few weeks ago I was telling a Mac using friend of mine that knowing Apple and the really slick way that they do things, they have something big up their sleeve. Witness:

    1. They switched to Intel. Why? VERY LIKELY to take advantage of the coming virtualization technology that will allow one CPU to run multiple OSes simultaneously without the overhead of a guest OS. Intrigued?
    2. The release of Bootcamp is a test to see how Windows will run on the Mac. Once they've worked out the bugs and it's stable, i
  • This line is the kicker:

    Remember Steve Jobs' first days back at Apple in 1997 as Interim-CEO-for-Life? Trying to save the company, Steve got Bill Gates to invest $150 million in Apple and promise to keep Mac Office going for a few more years in exchange for a five-year patent cross-licensing agreement? The idea in everyone's mind, of course, was that Microsoft would grab lots of Apple technology, which they probably did, and it quite specifically ended an Apple patent infringement suit against Microsoft. Bu

  • by dokebi (624663) on Friday April 21, 2006 @02:24PM (#15175609)
    A lot of comment so far correctly point out that WINE is is an implementation of the Windows API, but they miss Cringely's point that Apple licensed the Windows API. The whole shebang. So unlike the WINE development team, OSX-XP project team doesn't have to reverse engineer undocumented and cryptic API's. Anyone who remembers IBM's OS2 knows that IBM licensed the Windows API, and included it into OS2, and could run all Windows programs. OS2 failed because of lack of consumer appeal (eye-candy), not because of lack of compatibility.
    I imagine Apple could pull a better OS2 than IBM. Security, stability plus consumer appeal plus Windows compatibility.

    Even if all this is speculation, it probably gives Messrs Dell and Gates nightmares.
  • by Been on TV (886187) on Friday April 21, 2006 @03:03PM (#15176015) Homepage
    Microsoft has an ongoing issue with the EU where Microsoft is unable (unwilling) to produce documentation on their APIs to a standard that anyone can sensibly write code that interfaces with it. If the state of affairs are as shoddy as Microsoft gives the impression of, even Steve Jobs's RDS cannot reliably help Apple engineers re-implement the full Windows API.

    The EU is treathening to fine Microsoft $2,7 mill a day for the inability to produce said documentation.
  • How this would work (Score:5, Interesting)

    by joshv (13017) on Friday April 21, 2006 @03:13PM (#15176112)
    I doubt Jobs is looking to support running every Win32 binary under the sun - for that you can dual boot. If something like what Cringely describes were to take place, OS X would implement only a subset of the win32 API, but with graphical widgets having an OS X look and feel and perhaps some win32'ish extensions that provide access to OS X specific functionality (spotlight, etc...) This 'subset' API would be different enough that there would be very little likelihood that an unmodified binary would run out of the box on top of this compatibility layer.

    But with a recompile and some refactoring, I bet most windows programs could run quite will under this compatibity layer. What those would do is open up the Mac platform as a viable target for Windows software developers. Recompile under OS X, fix the few quirks, or work around the APIs that aren't present, and bingo, you've got a mac app. With a few IFDEFs you might even be able to support both Mac and Windows versions with the same code base. Software makers like Quicken might find this a very attractive option.
  • My favourite parts (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Sentry21 (8183) on Friday April 21, 2006 @03:38PM (#15176307) Journal
    Quite simply, a monolithic kernel like the one used in Linux or most of the other Open Source Unix clones is inherently two to three times faster for integer calculations than the Mach microkernel presently used in OS X 10.4. ... Apple has evidently reached the point where they need to trade claimed performance, -- typically based on floating-point operations that aren't a part of much web or database service -- for real performance.

    In this amusing quote, Cringely is asserting that the mostly-microkernel architecture of Xnu is responsible for poor integer performance, which wrecks web/db performance, but does fine with floating-point operations. Makes sense to me!

    Speeding-up performance is great, but normally a system vendor won't want to do that for older hardware, which might encourage some users to keep their old box and just add a new OS. But in this case, Apple HAS NO installed base of Intel Macs to worry about having to compete with, so speeding up the OS becomes a no-brainer, especially if it simultaneously encourages PowerPC owners to upgrade so they can share in the fun.

    Apple already does make their OS releases faster from one to another - I don't know about other Apple policies, but the WebKit team, for example has a strict 'no performance regressions' policy which is enforced pretty well. It wouldn't surprise me to find the same is true of the rest of the OS and components. Asserting that Apple is so intent on selling new hardware that they would intentionally ignore potential performance improvements is ludicrous to say the least.
  • by Enrique1218 (603187) on Friday April 21, 2006 @03:45PM (#15176377) Journal
    Wow, he got all that from Apple release of Boot Camp. His article me of another contemporary article of a man who traded up to apartment from a red paper-clip. I just thought the release was becasue Apple wanted to sell more Macs and sales are down due to the transition. Whether via virtualization or Apple directly using Windows API, Windows program will run on top of Mac OSX in the future. The question with virtualization is speed and direct access to hardware. Alternatively, using Windows API raises the question of appearance and consistency of interface. Apple's interface is not exactly like Windows. Menus are different and located in different places. Borders are also very different. In addition, keyboard combinations will be different. For example, the difference between using alt-f4 versus Command-Q. So, Windows programs are just going to bring in inconsistency to Mac OSX that Apple goes through great pains to avoid. It will screw up people who have become accustomed to certain way thing work in Mac OS X and mess up their work flows. One other problem is it will discourage developer from Mac OSX native programs. I am sure Apple doesn't wants that.
  • by Danathar (267989) on Friday April 21, 2006 @04:19PM (#15176702) Journal
    I had an apple rep show me a beta of Codeweavers Crossover Office working with OS X in a demo 3 weeks ago (Alpha version).

    It does not need to run 100% of apps to REALLY be a hit. If the majority of vanilla apps run with little or no issues then I know of MANY People who would dump windows.

    What if Apple bought codeweavers? With the Windows API in hand they could probably take their modified codebase and get it running even better than it is now.
    • Why bother? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by bogie (31020) on Friday April 21, 2006 @06:10PM (#15177685) Journal
      The big thing about Crossover office is....Office. Apple already has office for OS X. Look at the supported apps page http://www.codeweavers.com/products/cxoffice/suppo rted_apps/ [codeweavers.com] 50 whole apps are supported. Many of them only work partially. You know what? Most of those already have versions for OS X that work 100%. Photoshop. itunes, Quicken, Notes, etc the list goes on. Maybe there is some special win32 only app that would really help if it was ported to OS X, but going by that list I just don't see it.

      Here is the deal, codeweavers have been working their asses off to get win32 apps to run on linux. Thus far they have barely scratched the surface and can only run like .005% of Windows apps. In fact they are falling behind. How does that possibly help Apple? It doesn't.

      The only thing Codeweavers brings to the table for Apple is possibly the ability to help devs port apps to OS X X86. My guess is that if most vendors are not making their apps available on OS X it sure as hell isn't due to difficulty in porting but rather has more to do with the limited ROI of making apps for OS X in the firstplace.

  • by suv4x4 (956391) on Friday April 21, 2006 @04:55PM (#15177014)
    You may recognize that porting Win32 is far from enough to have modern and future Windows apps running on OSX. They'll have to port DirectX, .NET, Avalon, Indigo, in the near future WinFS and more like those.

    Porting Win32 is hard enough, but I can tell you Apple has neither time nor resources to port the entire WinFX framework.

    And this, besides making it easy for devs to make Vista apps, is the whole reason WinFX exists in first place, to lock apps further into Windows with a sophisticated, very flexible and capable, yet simple to use framework.
    • Yeah, but ....

      Wine already works with many XP apps. Mono is can do some interesting things, as well, in terms of usage in combination with Wine.

      Wine + Apple's pockets? And maybe IBM's pockets?

      Booyah. Not to mention that the Wine project is getting pretty dang close to Win32. DirectX included.

      MS can't make Win32 too much of a moving target, or they'll have to EOL XP. And they can't really make the API's too sophisticated, because then they'll turn off developers. The biggest problem the Wine project really h
  • by gone.fishing (213219) on Friday April 21, 2006 @05:11PM (#15177171) Journal
    I am not an Apple fan, I have never used an Apple computer but I have come to admire Apple for it's business savy. How many times has it been down for the count only to come back better, stronger, and smarter? I've lost count.

    I don't know what Apple will do. I do not know any insiders and unlike Cringly, I do not have some sort of mystic ability to look into a crystal ball and predict the future.

    What I do know is that Apple is currently operating from a position of financial strength, they are making quality products that have captured the public's imagination and, they have a great deal of real marketing talent on their side. At various times in their history, you could have said that Apple lacked focus but I don't think we can say that today -- I think they have a plan and are following it. I do not know what it is but I suspect that it is the right one for Apple.

    Is Boot Camp a sign of something to come? I don't know and neither does anyone outside of the inside circle at Apple. Maybe it is a flag they are waving at Microsoft, telling them "Yea, we can run your O/S too" or maybe they just thought that they had to float it out there before hobbiests did something that Apple would find harder to control? Maybe by showing the public that they can run Windows, they can manipulate Microsoft into giving them a very attractive license agreement?

    In the end, Apple will do what they know is the right thing for their product(s) and their plans for the future. That is what has always worked for them before. They know what they are doing. They are bright and savy technobusinessmen (hey, did I just invent a word?).
  • Noooo! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by porneL (674499) on Friday April 21, 2006 @05:19PM (#15177241) Homepage

    That would suck. Apple has pretty good interface guidlines. "Preferences" is 3rd option in App menu. It's not Tools->Prefs, View->Options, File->Properties, View->Customize, Edit->Configuration, etc.

    DarWINE is fine, but I don't want Windows app and their (un)usability officialy made "native" for OS X.

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