Monday, January 02, 2006

2006: the year of Wine on Mac OS X?

2006 has arrived, and using the opportunity given by the new year, I would like to talk about another prediction of what I think Apple will be releasing during the next months (as I told in a previous post, I think 2006 will be the year the Mac mini will become a full featured home entertainment hub).

It is well known that 2006 will be the year Apple will move to the Intel processor architecture. This is very exciting news and a reason for the excitement is that, along with the x86 architecture, a new world of software will be made available for the Apple computers. To make this potential true, Apple may very well be using Wine, the free Windows implementation.

If you never heard about it, Wine is an almost full featured implementation of the win32 API. It has been developed for years by the Linux community to be able to run windows software natively on Linux. It has however not been completed, and is currently used only by Linux enthusiasts.

So, were are the great news about Wine? For one, Wine is achieving several goals in the last years. A beta version of the software emerged in the last month, after more than ten years in alpha stage. This finally happened due to the conclusion that Wine is almost complete and can be used by a larger audience.

Second, Apple has great experience in turning obscure free software into great successes. First, it created the Mac OS X based on Darwin, which is a version of the free BSD Unix. Then, it created the Safari browser (which is in my opinion the best browser for Mac OS) from the open source Konqueror, written by the KDE folks.

Given these successes, I believe it would be a good move for Apple to work hard on the Wine code in order to make it commercially acceptable by the Mac OS X users. Then, the new machines with Intel processors would benefit directly from a free API emulator that would run any windows application as a native Mac OS X program.

I think 2006 is a great year for Apple in the desktop with its transition to the Intel platform. I would personally say that they are fools if they are not trying to use this opportunity to do something along these lines. Due to Wine features, using it in the Intel version of the Mac OS X would be a logical step for Apple, a step that I really expect them to be pushing during this year.

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* Will Apple pull out the Shuffle in favor of iPod nano?
* Apple Mac mini the next game console?


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