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The Irritations Of Platform Marriage

John Gruber has a new one about the nextgen switcher phenomenon between Mac OS and Ubuntu that I don't entirely agree with. He does make some good points and manages, as always, to lend some historical perspective to his arguments. I was a pre-10.1 user and had the unfortunate task of not only figuring out how to sanely support its deployment but also how to herd the OS 9-centric masses on a college campus away from the familiar and comforting environs that were rapidly being shuffled off into oblivion.

I think one of the worst mistakes Apple makes is not taking its users terribly seriously. It wobbles around from one idea to the next with little regard for the fact that people have to spend serious fucking dinero on software that gets real work done instead of the lifestyle crap it peddles through every media orifice. This is even worse for those of use riding back into the scene on the Intel-based horseman of the Apocalypse because we're split between two different architectures and the big players (begins with 'A' and ends with 'e') aren't terribly quick on the uptake. Again, you've got a problem between Apple pushing their own stuff that will 'let you create a website' but doesn't help people who have a clue what they're doing in the slightest. I played around with all of the iLife crap enough to realize that I totally hate it and don't care to create anything that saves in its own format (Pages anyone) that no other application can actually comprehend. The only thing that makes this pile of lifestyle crap remotely tempting is the fact that none of the other heavy hitters have come up with Universal versions of their applications yet so you've got the choice between trying to get your work done with silly putty and lincoln logs or you can run the real stuff through the awful slowness and lack of responsiveness that is Rosetta. I'm torn because I'd rather endure the slowness of the Rosetta layer to actually utilize some features that make me feel like I know what I'm doing but cannot deal with my battery life being flushed down the toilet while watching progress bar after progress bar trickle away while both processors are cranked way over 50%. I routinely flee back to one of my Linux boxes just to get some simple word processing done because it is utter crap under OS X right now. That's a pretty miserable spot to be in if you're a hardware/operating systems company. It reminds me of the clones (before they were squashed out of existence) that were substantially cheaper than stock Apple hardware but smoked them in terms of performance.

In any case, I think one of the major problems that Apple is going to run into in the immediate future is exactly what Kottke is talking about that is the center of Gruber's disagreement with him. All of the outside appeal in the world isn't going to matter if the core audience is pissed off. When you can't use the applications that made you preferential to one platform over another the appeal of the platform is going to wear off rapidly. Apple should really be spending their time getting Adobe and other biggies on board in any way possible before trying to pimp yet another way to get your vacation pictures all pretty.

This shittiness is made worse by the current push of emulation so you can run alternate operating systems on your sexy new hardware. Parallels is great for what it is and convinced me to buy a copy but it doesn't pardon the fact that PPC emulation on the Intel machines sucks worse than sucking has ever sucked. While booting XP or a Linux distribution in a window on your desktop while your machine morphs into a heat entity approximate to that of our sun might be kind of amusing it really doesn't help me get anything done. Rosetta needs to be exponentially better or people are going to start migrating to other platforms and the learning curve associated with FOSS software (by the way, that perception is about 89% bullshit) is going to seem less painful when compared with the tedium of waiting for Photoshop to run through a filter more slowly than it did on the trusty old G3. Trust me, that isn't a big selling point.

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  1. I think you’re problem is with Adobe and not Apple. Now I am not a fan boy that thinks Apple can do no wrong. In fact, I believe, as everyone else should know, that Apple is a corporation and as such they are going to do whatever they can to secure there bottom line. Much the same as Microsoft only not as ruthless in some areas. But the reason that I say your problem is with Adobe is because I will bet any amount of money that Adobe, Microsoft and any of the other big software makers knew well in advance of the announcement that Apple was going to switch to Intel. Yes, Apple has a serious jones for secrecy, but information that could possibly make a company sink or swim is something that you’re going to let your business partners know about because it seriously affects them as well. So I say that Adobe probably knew as early as 2 to 3 months and probably have had develoepr machines as well. But Adobe is concentrated on the release of Flex that they haven’t placed to proper amount of manpower to develop a Universal binary. Not making a Universal binary of CS2 also works in their advantage financially: More Mac users will buy CS3 since it is a Universal binary that can run native on the Intel iMacs. More upgraders = more money. So you’re beef is with Adobe and not Apple. Apple can’t force Adobe to release a Universal binary of any of their software faster than Adobe plans to. What I suggest you so is start writing to Adobe, everyday if you have to, about how unpleased you are as a paying customer of their software. Maybe if more people started dirtecting their anger at the right company, Bruce Chizen would get off of his lily white butt and mandate that a Universal of CS2 be made pronto!

  2. Viperteg all of your points are valid but the important thing is that Adobe stands to gain from delaying the release of universal applications while Apple can only lose. People won’t stop buying applications like Photoshop or Illustrator even if the wait is exhaustive. The killer point here (and I should probably make it clear that other than owning an Apple laptop I could really give a fuck less about the Apple ‘big picture’) is that Windows will run all of the Adobe apps natively without doing anything. Vista is a long way off and even further off if stability is a concern for the user. Convincing designers who are traditionally a pretty strong Apple market that they’re wasting their time waiting around is about the harshest blow Apple could get as a business. Just another consideration when thinking about the problem…