Posted on 20 Mar 2006 at 11:57
Jon Honeyball explores Microsoft's new development strategy and questions the company's policy on digitally signed applications
I've ordered the Apple MacBook Pro, which has a dual-core Intel processor. My experience of the Intel development kit, which consists of a small Intel-based motherboard rattling around inside the vast expanse of a G5 aluminium case, is that this is going to be a mature and interesting new hardware platform. Don't think, however, that you can just take your existing copy of XP, slap it in the drive and boot it up. Apple has gone for an entirely new style of BIOS loader that replaces the achingly old-fashioned nonsense we have to put up with in most of today's PCs. However, I'm told that Microsoft will be adopting this new boot-loader technology for Vista too, so who knows? Maybe it will be possible to dual-boot the Apple laptop into Windows.
One thing that definitely won't work, however, is Microsoft's Virtual PC for OS X. It's not clear what's happened here: Microsoft is implying that the first Apple Intel shipments have come sooner than it expected, which might almost give the impression that it was caught with its trousers down. The reality is, I think, a little more complex because Apple has announced it will support true virtualisation and hypervisor capabilities in the next release of its OS, due at the end of this year. Would it be a sensible business decision for Microsoft to release a port of the current technology onto Intel, when the game is going to change within a few months? I think not, and I suspect this is what's at issue, but it just won't come out and say it aloud.
Kudos to Apple, though, for one thing - completely out of the blue, it sent out an email to all of us who'd bought the Intel development kit for $999 last year. This box always remained the property of Apple, and part of the agreement was that it would be returned to Apple by the end of 2006. This email states that we can swap the development box right away for a brand-new Intel-based iMac computer worth nearly a grand, and that Apple will cover all transport costs. Oh yes, and this new iMac will be ours to keep. Would that some other development companies had such an enlightened view about developer support.
Don't expect to see the essential Microsoft TechEd conference happening in the summer time, as in previous years. I'm sure you'll remember this week-long event was held most recently in Amsterdam. Well, it's all change this year, doubtless driven by a desire to make it as Vista-orientated as possible. This time around, it's happening near Christmas, it's back in Barcelona and the management-orientated IT Forum is apparently running in the following week. I can see how this all makes sense for Microsoft - only one site to set up for two events - but it does make it hard to be able to attend both, not only for keen delegates but also for Microsoft's staff. I'm not yet convinced that this change will work for the best, but the proof will be in the eating.
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