back to article Who cares what Apple's about to announce? It owes us a macOS x86 virtual appliance for non-Mac computers

Apple will today announce shiny new things. Supposedly it'll be the sixth Watch series, and a mid-tier iPad Air. I want it to announce something entirely more useful, though: a macOS x86 virtual appliance for all capable systems. Apple has famously resisted macOS being virtualized on computers other than its own, but now it's …

  1. karlkarl Silver badge

    Running an OS that can only work on a single vendors hardware...

    Kinda sounds like it was the users own stupidity that left them in this position.

    This was encountered and solved in the early 80's. People should pick up a history book and *learn*.

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      IBM seems to have done very well over the years

      IBM360 onwards to the latest System Z

      The financial world would gind to a halt without them being used somewhere in the process of handling payments and moving money around the world.

      In general you are correct but as with everything in the Tech world, there are exceptions. We are all used to coding 'exception handlers' aren't we (sic)?

      1. MOV r0,r0

        Re: IBM seems to have done very well over the years

        IBM has done well - despite the 22 contiguous quarters of declining revenues?

      2. Ian Joyner Bronze badge

        Re: IBM seems to have done very well over the years

        IBM have done well out of using the dirtiest tricks in the industry. Read Richard DeLamater's 'Big Blue: IBM's Use and Abuse of Power'.

        The financial world would be much better off using Burroughs mainframes from Unisys, with maybe what is still the best processor architecture in the business. In fact, the ideas from these machines influenced Apple because Alan Kay who invented the window was a student of the Burroughs designer Bob Barton. Burroughs were the first machines exclusively programmed in HLLs, and Burroughs extensions to ALGOL make C look like a toy (which it is).

        IBM systems saw people as being peripherals to the system. That was broken by Silicon Valley putting people in control of computers.

        Burroughs systems take a fraction of the staff of IBM. But complexity ensures lock in in this industry and that is a very bad thing.

        IBM eventually lost because it brought out the awful IBM PC which was only to crush Apple.

        IBM doing well over the years has been to the detriment of the industry and computing as a way of exploring what computing and humanity is.

        Mind you IBM has done some very good stuff, like relational databases, but then somewhat wrecked that invention with SQL.

      3. Wayland Bronze badge

        Re: IBM seems to have done very well over the years

        The IBM 360 has been running for centuries in computing years and not been replaced by an ARM chip. Yes if you're on IBM 360 then perhaps you are at risk of IBM doing something to hurt your business but generally they just charge loads of money and you can continue to use the machine the way you always use it. Apple on the other hand want to drag their users where Apple wants to go.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "This was encountered and solved in the early 80's"

      It was solved by choosing a non-OS that represented the absolute worst the industry had to offer, or rather, had offered years ago. That's a solution too. But I would venture to say that there's more than one lesson to learn from the 20+ year period of misery and retardation that followed.

      1. ovation1357 Bronze badge

        I really want to upvote this because I do agree with the non-OS part but at the same time I can't because I truly believe it didn't have to be that way (but I'm not downvoting either!).

        Someone else could have done a much better job of supporting a wide range of general hardware. There _could_ have been a major, commercial OS which worked well on general hardware but also got dedicated support for hardware from a range of vendors that all had their own selling points but also contributed support to a common OS.

        I know this could have been done in the past because we now have Linux, which not only has a whole load of big commercial contributors but also does a truly amazing job of running extremely well on a huge range of general hardware in all sorts of combinations. These days I'm more likely to encounter a device driver headache with Windows than I am on Linux, and of course on a Mac if you stray beyond the walled garden then you're just going to get fried by the dragons.

        I do completely accept that there is still (sadly) a whole stack of hardware and peripherals that will only ever work with Windows because of closed binary blob drivers that would have to be reverse engineered to work on anything else and/or a complex Windows driver stack which the vendor won't port... But...

        This brings me to a completely opposite point that actually we might have had over 20 years of pain and general "suckery" (actually it's over 30 and probably nearing 40), however whilst you can run Windows on a big range of hardware, Microsoft still has a disturbing level of control over that hardware. For starters it very hard to buy a machine that doesn't have Microsoft's dedicated Windows keys on the keyboard which should be a big red flag for starters (or is that a blue flag of death?) but it goes so much deeper - they have very significant influence over the BIOS - they've steered the move to UEFI to include secure boot and hardware embedded Windows licence keys. They get the OEMs to bundle Windows with every machine they sell and have even locked down mobile devices to be Windows-only. And then there are a whole host of peripheral manufactures who produce completely closed hardware which only has Windows support - some of whom may be in Microsoft's pockets, whilst perhaps others don't (or didn't) see other OSs as worth the effort.

        I actually think I have Apple's increased market share to thank for the fact that an increasing number of devices officially support Mac as well (obviously increased Android share is also helping here): By adding Mac support I believe these manufactures have opened their eyes to life beyond just Microsoft and have made their hardware a little more open and/or standards complaint, paving the way for open source drivers that can potentially be written for any hardware-OS combination.

        Folks continue to jibe about the never-arriving year of Linux in the desktop, yet Linux on the server is very much alive and forcing MS to change their game. And so many devices now actually provide official Linux drivers... If the age-old arguments about commercial viability are true then these guys clearly now see it as a commercially viable thing to do. I don't entirely understand why Apple isn't interested in the server market any more but that's up to to them.

        Personally I don't give two shits what they do next because I've never been wowed by their shiny products and would never pay the massively overinflated price tags even if I did believe they were offering something amazingly superior...

        It seems that they've already screwed over a great number of people by ditching 32-bit support, especially when some of the very popular (and indeed even commercially important) software hasn't got a production-ready 64bit offering but now they're taking a brave step to adopting what I'm certain is a superior architecture (and I'm hoping may genuinely stimulate Linux on ARM as well) but which they will execute in their usual way of saying it's this or nothing.

        Personally I doubt they'll produce a supported VM - it's way too far outside of their comfort zone and would likely require a whole load of work to make it stable.

        What I'd love to see is the jilted Apple users voting with their feet and migrating to new software on other platforms. It might happen.

        Fair enough - GIMP isn't going to replace Photoshop anytime soon, but Photoshop is available on Windows on genetic x86 hardware and from what I've read - the gap is much narrower between things like Illustrator and Inkscape, and I think the likes of Scribus is for desktop publishing is also held in quite high regard. There's open source video editing software which is being widely used by commercial content producers. I believe the BlendR has a genuine place in 3d animation and effects now. Krita looks amazing. Whether it's Linux or something else, there really is an ever-increasing range of excellent open-source software which supports a wide range of architectures and often runs on multiple OSes as well. If there's any trend of moving away from expensive Apple kit with all of its hardware and software vendor lock-in, to a more open environment that there's just a possibly the Apple's shift to ARM might accelerate that.

        Could Apple's jump to ARM be enough to cause not only a swing away from their products but also a reset of the 'industry standards' on some of the expensive propriety software and especially the property data-interchange formats that currently mean that switching software but isn't an option in some professions?

        Time, as they say, will tell. I remember the time that Apple was nearly dead-and-buried but then made a small success of the iMac and rose from its own ashes with the iPod - I envisage another time in a few decades when their stuff is irrelevant and people can barely give it away. Hard to imagine given how vast, rich and powerful they are now but then: the bigger they come, the harder they fall.

        TL;DR

        I really don't like Apple or Microsoft and I'm probably an insane commie-socialist who naively believes in the possibility of a free and open world of software and hardware

        1. Ian Joyner Bronze badge

          Walled Garden? Linux?

          People keep throwing in this now pejorative phrase 'walled garden'. This is nonsense.

          The basis of security is to set boundaries and respect boundaries.

          Actually, it is more than respecting boundaries it is enforcing boundaries. A platform and OS must enforce boundaries.

          Some spread this myth that such controls are against freedom. For some this is childish, others naive, some dishonest – at the very least it is a complete misunderstanding of security.

          Linux is also overrated. I think it is a good OS, but its adherents push that it is technically superior to anything else. That is not true. Linux has made a tradeoff of security for performance. And that is why MacOS is based on a better version of Unix for end users. Mind you I also think Unix is overrated, but at least the Mach, Darwin, BSD underpinnings of Apple are better than Linux.

          1. sed gawk Silver badge

            OSX is not unix, it's mach kernel with BSD userland

            See title,

            if you think "UNIX" means a terminal, sure it will meet your needs, but if you mean UNIX, as in the semantics that your application can rely upon, then no, it's not a UNIX, not a particularly good BSD.

            If you want UNIX, use UNIX, if you want Linux, use Linux, but stop with this idea that a non-UNIX kernel is a UNIX.

            Try AIX if you want UNIX, or an actual *BSD. I bet, you'll hate it.

            UNIX uses monolithic kernels, MACH uses microkernels, they are not the same design.

            As for the "overrated linux", how many of the top 500 supercomputers run any form of apple os?

            The current top ten all run linux, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TOP500

            If you like the UI, like the hardware, please enjoy it, but stop gaslighting us.

          2. karlkarl Silver badge

            Re: Walled Garden? Linux?

            You talk about macOS setting boundaries increasing security for its consumers.

            Do you honestly believe a server running macOS (even if you managed to strip out its GUI frills) would be more secure than Linux, FreeBSD and OpenBSD.

            These three platforms have no artificial boundaries enforced upon their users and yet I suspect they are indeed more secure.

            I predict there are more spyware and viruses in the locked down Apple AppStore than in the completely open (and auditable) FreeBSD ports collection.

            1. MachDiamond Silver badge

              Re: Walled Garden? Linux?

              From the beginning, Apple has approached the Mac as being a tight integration between the hardware and the OS. They wanted to avoid the headaches of trying to support the OS on multiple, random implementations of the hardware like it is with Windows. Old folks like me will remember that print drivers used to be built in to the applications so you had to have a printer that worked with the application you wanted to print from. Apple thought that was nonsense and defined a spec for printing so it was seamless across all programs.

              I think the announcement they are going to switch CPUs yet again is going to kill sales. Why would somebody invest $6,000 and more for a professional level Mac if the chance of a upgrades to the OS and core software is going to end shortly? Anybody thinking they will be able to get reasonable money on their used current model Macs is going to be disappointed. I have a couple of Mac Pros that have been left behind and worth so little that selling them is more bother than the money they'd bring. One of them I have down-graded the CPU and RAM so it draws less power and use it as an internet appliance and NAS.

        2. Ian Joyner Bronze badge

          Industry Standards

          "Microsoft and have made their hardware a little more open and/or standards complaint, paving the way for open source drivers that can potentially be written for any hardware-OS combination."

          "Could Apple's jump to ARM be enough to cause not only a swing away from their products but also a reset of the 'industry standards' on some of the expensive propriety software and especially the property data-interchange formats that currently mean that switching software but isn't an option in some professions?"

          I think the writer of the above does not understand industry standards. Industry standards are not whatever is most widely used. Industry standards are data layouts and protocols for interoperation so that there is as little lock in as possible.

          It does not mean that Intel as the most widely used is the standard that vendors must use. That would forever keep the industry back. Standards should be as little prescriptive as possible,

          1. sed gawk Silver badge

            Re: Industry Standards

            I think the writer of the above does not understand industry standards. Industry standards are not whatever is most widely used. Industry standards are data layouts and protocols for interoperation so that there is as little lock in as possible.

            I think the author understands perfectly.

            Logic is industry standard DAW.

            Illustrator is industry standard DTP

            Photoshop is industry standard DTP

            GCC/Clang are industry standard compilers.

            GIT is industry standard SCCM.

            C++ is industry standard language for serious commercial software ( AAA games, large commercial applications, the mars rover etc)

          2. Stuart Castle Silver badge

            Re: Industry Standards

            RE: I think the writer of the above does not understand industry standards. Industry standards are not whatever is most widely used. Industry standards are data layouts and protocols for interoperation so that there is as little lock in as possible.

            Actually, no. While it is important to have defined standards and protocols to ensure that equipment from different manufacturers works together, Industry Standard in this context means what the Industry uses.

            For instance, in media, arguably the standard video editing software packages are Apple's Final Cut, Adobe's Premiere Pro and Avid's Media Composer. These are industry standards.

            Arguably, for a long time, Internet Explorer was an industry standard, despite it actually working against the agreed web standards.. This was purely because of the amount of users..

        3. sed gawk Silver badge

          It's about the pro applications

          I'm a linux user, but I've worked for a lot of media organisations.

          These orgs use apple kit, to run adobe applications. They have an opinionated workflow, and while they require that workflow, switching over to other applications isn't happening.

          Conversely there is a lot of massive kit controlled by windows pc's and they are never switching as Xmillion quid worth of kit is not being switched out until it dies, and certainly not for some business case, which says "at best, it will work the same, and you won't notice the difference".

          Linux is slowly creeping up in the education sector, with chromebook type devices, and is owning mobile with Android / an-other distro based on Linux.

          For the rest of us, Linux has been doing sterling service for a very long time.

          I'm currently issued with a work apple laptop - a 2019 macbook pro.

          It's not to my taste, my hands are too large to avoid hitting the touchpad whilst typing.

          The UI seems to dislike having two maximised windows on different screens (one external monitor).

          It can be done, but not maximised so, it has to be manually placed, which is a slightly irritating.

          It only has thunderbolt ports, so adapters are required to use wired keyboards/mice/ethernet.

          As a programmer, it's not a very useful machine, as it makes typing actively painful without the desktop setup, e.g. it's a mobile computer that is not great when on the move.

          But it can be easily remote wiped, and that's what work cares about.

        4. Wayland Bronze badge

          I'm more of a rebel than a commie when it comes to Open Source v Microsoft or Apple. Where Richard Stallman would not run anything he did not compile from source I am happy to run anything that's useful and good value.

          I have switched to Linux over a period of many years and now only run Windows for specific tasks where either Windows is better or I've not found a Linux solution.

          If I wanted to move off a Mac then I would first switch my software to programs that could be run on Linux. Then whilst keeping my Mac I would switch my daily work to the Linux machine. I would try VNC or something to access the Mac from my main PC.

          Virtualisation would obviously be the penultimate step before ditching the Mac. If it can run on a Hackingtosh then it ought to run as a VM. Someone just needs to put in the work to make a virtual Hackingtosh possible.

        5. willum0806
          Megaphone

          i Bling

          Totally agree with all your comments.. I would NEVER have any piece of hardware with an 'i' label and I actively discourage anyone I advise to do the same. Overpriced bling...

    3. mark l 2 Silver badge

      I suspect Apple are quite happy with MacOS only running officially on Apple hardware. They tried the licensing of MacOS to other manufacturers in the 1990s and a lot of the computers released by the third parties under cut Apple on price. I doubt they will want to go down that road again especially since at the moment they can charge whatever prices they want having no competition for official MacOS running hardware.

      I think they probably do envision iOS and MacOS becoming one in the future. So you can write an app once and it can be run on either iOS or MacOS but hopefully with different UI depending on if its on a phone or PC. As Microsoft showed us with Windows 8 that a one UI doesn't work for both phones and a computer.

    4. Mage Silver badge
      Coffee/keyboard

      Why is the article writer surprised

      68K CPU

      Power PC

      Intel 32

      x64 only

      Also OS 9 and earlier are almost unrelated to OSX.

      Apple's solution has always been for the faithful to buy a new Shiny and new programs. Though they have had compatibility tools in the past, maybe to run Power PC or OS9 stuff on x86-32 OSX, I forget.

      It would be nice if I could run MacOSX x86 old 32 (which doesn't run on current OSX) and Mac OSX x64 on a VM on Linux, or any HW not supplied by Apple. But I'd be surprised.

      I've an Android phone older than an iPhone 4s, it can USB load old apps and even install some from the Playstore. The iPhone 4s can only have music added by iTunes and nothing else. The previous owner hadn't added any apps, so it's useless compared to much older Android phones or tablets or PCs.

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: Why is the article writer surprised

        "The iPhone 4s can only have music added by iTunes and nothing else. The previous owner hadn't added any apps, so it's useless compared to much older Android phones or tablets or PCs."

        Not sure about this. I have an iPod Touch here that's even older than a 4S (this caps at IOS6, 4S stuck on IOS 9), and it allows me to sign in and download apps. Not a lot of those are compatible, but if the app existed long enough, I can get an old version that works. You could probably do the same and better because IOS 9 is more likely to be supported than IOS 6. You could also get an old version of XCode and compile code to it. Whether there's a point is another question, but it should be doable.

    5. c1ue

      The OP is ignorant.

      PowerPC systems still underlie many of the core capabilities in big companies because of its hot swap capability. VMs exist in this case but still cannot replicate the hot swap nor can they replace the big iron original basis.

      However, the lack of MacOS VMs is 100% Apple patent trolling.

      MacOS is a flavor of Linux - there is absolutely nothing preventing virtualization besides Apple's lawyers.

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        "However, the lack of MacOS VMs is 100% Apple patent trolling."

        No, it's 100% Apple not wanting to make it available, which is mostly them wanting money and thinking that, by not doing this, they'll make more.

        "MacOS is a flavor of Linux"

        Wrong. Macs are based around a kernel which is neither Linux nor based on Linux code or behavior. Its userland comes from BSD, not Linux. It has more compatibility with Linux than does Windows or some other things, but it is not a flavor of Linux by any means.

        "there is absolutely nothing preventing virtualization besides Apple's lawyers."

        Well, some driver work would need to be done, but you're broadly correct. Apple doesn't make it easy because they don't want you to.

        Patent trolling is abusing patents which are overly broad, granted even though the holder didn't invent the thing, or in some other way invalid but nonetheless legally granted. Apple might do that sometimes, but that's not what they're doing here. People want a thing. I would like that thing. Apple doesn't want to give or sell me the thing, so I don't get the thing. That's their choice. Patents haven't come into it.

  2. gnasher729 Silver badge

    Right now there is a huge range of Intel Macs available. In a year's time, there will be a large range of Intel Macs available. For obvious reasons, Apple will start replacing the low end Macs first and work its way up, because they have to build powerful ARM processors first. On the other hand, people requiring VMs usually need powerful hardware, so the hardware they needed will be available for the longest time.

    And if you really need an Intel computer, Citrix or something similar should be able to display the output of any Intel computer on a Mac screen, no matter what the processor is. Citrix can either display the whole Intel screen in a window or on the Mac screen, or can display Windows windows mixed with MacOS windows; you often don't even notice it's not a native window. Usually the Windows computer is a big server far away, but it might as well be a little box connected through a cable.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > Apple will start replacing the low end Macs first and work its way up, because they have to build powerful ARM processors first.

      They've already got powerful ARM processors that out benchmark Intel processors - that's the reason Apple are changing: Intel's laptop processors simply can't compete with Apple's own.

      1. gnasher729 Silver badge

        Coward, you can buy Macs with 2 cores to 28 cores. Which ARM processor outperforms a 28 core Intel processor _today_? Or a six core Intel processor _today_? And who is talking about laptop processors?

        1. tip pc Silver badge

          The a12z based off the 2018 a12 is in benchmarks comparable to higher end newer intel chips

          https://gizmodo.com/so-just-how-powerful-are-apples-new-laptop-chips-gonna-1844134011

          https://9to5mac.com/2020/07/23/apple-silicon-benchmarks-apps/

          All there is is the DTK cobbled together with an older cpu for dev testing, and it’s already not too bad.

        2. katrinab Silver badge
          Meh

          I believe the Fugaku Supercomputer outperforms anything that Intel has to offer.

          The A12X outperforms the 9700U, which is obviously not Intel's fastest chip, but scale it up to the same TDP as the chip you want it to outperform, and it will do so by a considerable margin.

          1. kryptylomese

            Google search for fastest CPU in 2020

            Search

            Rank Device 3DMark Physics Score

            1 Intel Core i9-10900K Processor DirectX 12.00 13877

        3. Steve Todd Silver badge

          Do what?

          Who told you that you can buy a 28 Core Intel CPU? You might be able to find a Xeon with 28 cores, at an extortionate price, but no desktop equivalent. The best desktop Intel have to offer is the 10 core Core i9-10900, and the 11th gen models stop at 4 cores.

          Intel Core i5 CPUs were outclassed by last years A13 (heck, the A13 with just 2+4 cores (2 big, 4 small) gave the 12 core Ryzen 7 3900X a run for its money). This years A14 is expected to be the first CPU on 5nm, and should be faster yet. Desktop power budgets also mean they can have more cores for the non-mobile versions.

          1. ckm5

            Re: Do what?

            You can buy Xeons in the iMac Pro and Mac Pro

            https://www.apple.com/imac-pro/specs/

            You can buy a Mac Pro with a 28 core Xeon

            https://www.apple.com/mac-pro/specs/

            Who told you it wasn't possible to get a Mac with a Xeon?

            1. Steve Todd Silver badge

              Re: Do what?

              But the point about it being extortionate to get 28 cores stands, It’s a $9000 option on the Mac Pro. It’s a Workstation class CPU and is priced accordingly. Desktop is already inside the performance range of the A13. A Workstation class A series CPU will be along in due course.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        For me Apple choice for ARM/OSX is

        they see the CPU and GPU only as a part of there system-on-a-chip (SoC).

        If you look at the evolution of A-series there is more and more integrating specific hardware for a specific task .. like the camera, security, specific software acceleration and so (maybe in next 2 generation the complete integration in there SOC of the in-house (ex intel) G5 and network module )...

        which they tiedly integrated with there operating system.

        There is also a economic part to reuse some mobile in-house developed hardware modules in the mac computers or soc.

        I'm sure Intel will have a better core and maybe in the near future a better power package and/or lithography than TSMC.

        But Intel will not let Apple integrate there additional hardware modules in there soc.

        How to VM these specific future hardware of Apple on a general use Intel based computer without damaging the user experience of OSX i don't know and maybe does not make sense.

        Even if I share the authors dream to have OSX working nicely on any VM or x86 hardware.

        1. NeilPost Bronze badge

          ARM/NVidia

          Curious what will be the fallout with the proposed ARM/NVidia acquisition?!

          Unless NVidia do a absolute cross-licensing deal... Apple’s financial firepower will blow them out of the water .. many-many times over.

          The best post-Softbank outcome for ARM is back to a joint/cooperative ownership with all major customers (Apple/Samsung/NVidia/Qualcomm/Marvell etc) owning 10-15%, no-one allowed to own more than 20% and the rest left to small investors. It worked will in the early days before Apple had to dispose during Pepsi-gate to stave off bankruptcy.

          * SoftBank should never have been allowed to acquire ARM. Shame on you and devilment on your houses ... Theresa May and Greg Clark being the decision makers when this went down.

    2. tip pc Silver badge

      “ And if you really need an Intel computer, Citrix or something similar should be able to display the output of any Intel computer on a Mac screen, no matter what the processor is. Citrix can either display the whole Intel screen in a window or on the Mac screen, or can display Windows windows mixed with MacOS windows; you often don't even notice it's not a native window. Usually the Windows computer is a big server far away, but it might as well be a little box connected through a cable.”

      If your a business and want OS X on intel you need to run that on a Mac, you can relay the screen image via what ever you want.

  3. Sykowasp

    The lifespan of a Mac is a good 5 years even for professionals. There will be Intel Macs running this legacy x86 software in 2026.

    By that time I would truly hope that most of that software was available in ARM form, even the most laggard software team should have achieved that.

    If not, then the Apple ARM chips of 2025 will likely run the software in emulation at even better performance than today's emulation, and it will likely exceed today's native performance.

    So we now are down to a very small set of performance critical, unmaintained x86 Apple MacOS software. I guess these users will have to get a few spare machines whilst they can.

    1. Joe W Silver badge

      By that time I would truly hope that most of that software was available in ARM form, even the most laggard software team should have achieved that.

      Yeah. Right. Looking at my workplace.... nope.

      1. DS999

        How much of that is because Intel and Microsoft have included backwards compatibility all the way back to DOS 1.0 on 8086, making it hard to convince the beancounters of a business case for porting.

        Sounds great in theory, why mess with software that "works", after all? The problem is that the people who understand it leave, and then it goes from "we can't justify spending someone's time to port this" to "we can't port this". So that old application written for Windows NT that doesn't take any advantage of multicore, has logic to optimize performance for a rotating hard drive that's pointless when it uses an SSD, and assumes VGA resolution since that was the lowest common denominator at the time will be used essentially forever.

        At least they're finally being forced to replace that old ActiveX stuff, since the new Edge browser doesn't support that or 'IE6 mode' any longer.

        Backwards compatibility is a good thing in the short term, but if you extend it out forever it is a curse.

    2. Oh Matron! Silver badge

      This.

      It's always the poorly maintained (if at all) software that mandates a particular set of APIs / HW that has people getting upset.

      And as for your first comment: My MBP 15" Retina from 2012 is running the most up to date MacOS. And works perfectly well. Processors are not the only bottle neck, with SSD and memory interfaces being part of the problem too.

    3. rg287

      By that time I would truly hope that most of that software was available in ARM form, even the most laggard software team should have achieved that.

      It's not just software. My brother is (I begrudgingly admit) a rather talented amateur musician.

      When he moved from a POWER to Intel Macbook, his external sound card stopped working. Nothing so prosaic as a driver issue - there was a known hardware issue and that was that. Paperweight.

      For him, that was a tedious £100 to shell out for a new model. For a recording studio, jog on - they're not going to bin £100k mixing boards because something weird doesn't play nicely with ARM (granted, you would hope at that level you would be able to get sensible manufacturer support - if they still exist).

      Of course studios are an "industrial" setting with long-life hardware installations where if it works today you can just carry on using it (same reason there are MRI machines and CNC stations driven by Windows XP boxes). But sooner or later the hardware will die and then if it won't play nicely with Apple's ARM gear, then you'll need to be able to hackintosh onto whatever x86 hardware is available that year. Which means having Apple offer a legitimate OSX licence for virtualisation or generic-hardware, just as you can for WinXP in those exceptional cases.

      1. Franco Silver badge

        That's an interesting use case though, because musicians have a tendency to gravitate to "older is better". Depends of course on the genre and the type of musician, but guitarists tend to like old instruments and tube amps, there's the age old analog vs digital debate especially on echo and delay units.

        I don't know what they use these days, but Erasure and other such electronic bands were using BBC Micros well in to the 90s.

        1. james_smith Silver badge

          The fetish for old guitars isn't reflected in most musicians choice of computers. All the bands I see have a brand spanking new Macbook on stage with them, even if the guitarist is struggling with a 70s vintage Fender. Even guitarists are finally leaving the dark ages in some respects, with the Kemper modelling amplifiers becoming the standard for touring bands. Now us bassists, well we're still wedded to our hernia inducing valve or solid state amps since the lightweight class D stuff can't reproduce low frequencies very well.

          1. Franco Silver badge

            I use a Roland Cube 30 myself, but if I was filling arenas I'd probably want a Marshall JMP2203 for crunch and a vintage blackface Twin Reverb for clean given the option.

            The computers though are largely dictated by the software and hardware required IME. For example, although they use Macs and Cubase now, for years The Sisters of Mercy used old 486 PCs running DOS for their sequencers and apparently only switched because they couldn't get MIDI interfaces that were compatible anymore.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Musicians will keep using what they know until they're forced to change. Because they're not interested in the computer stuff, they just want it to be invisible, to stay out of the way while they make music. Having to buy new computer hardware when the old stuff isn't actually completely broken makes musicians very unhappy people.

              Certain people in the audio industry are making sure to focus more effort than usual on Windows at the moment, as they're expecting a backlash against Apple when people can't use their 20 year old kit with a new mac.

            2. james_smith Silver badge

              Last time I saw the Sisters, Doktor Avalanche had gone from a rack of equipment to a MacBook nursed by some random bloke waving his arms the air like he was at a rave!

              1. jason 7 Silver badge

                The Sisters are the most overrated live band ever. Saw them in 2006 and walked out halfway in disgust. Three fog machines at 110% and some disco traffic lights do not make a great live event.

                No new album since 1990...lazy!

                1. james_smith Silver badge

                  They've been terrible live since Marx, Hussey and Adams left. The "Vision Thing" era was basically Edlritch trying to break the US mainstream by going hard rock, and the subsequent line ups are just part timers for live shows. They haven't even had a bassist for the last shows I've seen, with a crap synth bass sound instead.

                  1. Franco Silver badge

                    No full time bassist since Tony James left IIRC. I saw them at the O2 ABC in Glasgow a few years ago, thought they were pretty good although agree about the excessive smoke and Eldritch is hard to hear live (although by his own admission this is because he sings quietly and turning the volume up creates distortion on the vocals).

                    Wish they would record a new album though, songs like Crash & Burn or We are the same, Susanne are really good but only available as live recordings.

          2. AlbertH

            Now us bassists, well we're still wedded to our hernia inducing valve or solid state amps since the lightweight class D stuff can't reproduce low frequencies very well.

            Cobblers. The Class D amplifiers and wireless audio links I've been building lately for a couple of bass players have a flat response down to below 15Hz. The heavy part of their bass amp systems are the loudspeakers and loudspeaker cabinets. The poor response of modern bass amplifier systems is down to poor cabinet design (usually in a misguided attempt to reduce weight).

    4. AlbertH

      The lifespan of a Mac is a good 5 years even for professionals. There will be Intel Macs running this legacy x86 software in 2026.

      Are you mad? The lifespan of a Mac is until the newer, shinier version comes out. Apple depend on the high turnover rate of their hardware. Much of it is appallingly built - at the lowest possible price - and glued together to make repair largely impossible. Apple don't want to support their users - they never really have. They just sell "aspirationally priced" junk to the gullible.

      Some years ago, if you were some kind of "creative" ("Dude, you're a barrista!" was remarkably apposite), there might have been some justification for buying Apple gear and buying into their "walled garden", but that time passed many years ago. The musicians, animators and visual effects designers that I know wouldn't dream of buying "Apple Crap" these days. The guys working on video all use Linux of various flavours, and so do the musicians (the Linux DAW offerings blow away anything that "runs" on Windoze or Mac these days).

      Apple haven't realised that there's little or no market for incompatible, over-priced rubbish these days. They even change their connectors from year to year in an effort to make their poor users buy new peripherals whenever they buy new shinier stuff. Granted there's a huge proportion of the population who are taken in by the shiny nonsense (see the numbers that buy those dreadful, unusable iPhones), but even they are starting to question Apple's approach to try to sell the gullible ever more junk.

      Apple might (on paper) be a rich company, but they're heading for a spectacular collapse when they render all their older equipment obsolete at a stroke!

  4. chivo243 Silver badge

    Vendors

    Software vendors need to get on the stick... I've heard it a million times, Apple screwed us! But when put in perspective, it's the software developer\vendor that needs to stay current. Time marches on, and so does technology. I've had a handful of software that won't run on Win10... can we turn that argument around then??

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Vendors

      You've got the main on the head. This entire article is predicated upon some hypothetical software not being maintained or updated in the next few years, and said software then not running satisfactorily in emulation upon whatever the hell ARM chips is shipping in a few years time.

      A valid concern, but premature perhaps.

  5. tip pc Silver badge

    Hackintosh

    I’ve been running a hackintosh with server app for years, some great resources available.

    https://www.tonymacx86.com/

    I’ve not bothered to update it from high Sierra and I’m literally retiring it this week in favour of running what I need in docker on Ubuntu.

    Would love an arm Mac mini with 64gb ram to run all my virtual loads in the future.

    Will be great to see what we get today.

    Apple have been making a thing of security and coupling the intel mads with T series processors that handle cryptography and ssd encryption. That doesn’t virtualise well.

    Hackintosh works around that but a future OS X vm will need some kind of hardware added to Mac it run officially.

    Also Apple doesn’t charge for its os.

    1. jason 7 Silver badge

      Re: Hackintosh

      "Also Apple doesn’t charge for its os."

      Oh it does in most cases through folks paying £2000 for £500 worth of laptop.

      The odd bod doing a Hackintosh with a old copy of Snow Leopard doesn't make a dent

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: Hackintosh

        Oh it does in most cases through folks paying £2000 for £500 worth of laptop.

        While Apple does charge a premium, it's nothing like that. If you compare similarly specc'd machines from Dell, etc. you'll see comparable prices.

        And the reason people keep on buying the machines for work is the "value proposition" of everything just working out of the box. Less time fiddling with drivers, etc. means more time doing what we get paid for.

        That said, the move to soldering everything is a real PITA, but seeing as most of the other manufacturers are now doing the same thing isn't really Apple's fault. What we need is better regulation.

        1. Ian Joyner Bronze badge

          Re: Hackintosh

          "That said, the move to soldering everything is a real PITA"

          No soldering is more reliable than pluggable.

        2. AlbertH

          Re: Hackintosh

          While Apple does charge a premium, it's nothing like that. If you compare similarly specc'd machines from Dell, etc. you'll see comparable prices.

          Err..... No. My £1100 Lenovo in a titanium case makes any Apple thing look like a tawdry toy, and outperforms any Mactop at any price.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    gamers

    "There will also be some people who have their own special reasons for just wanting x86 macOS machines for the long haul."

    Yes, gamers. All games are developed either for consoles or X86. None on ARM.

    Already we see the number of games released for Macs drying up to 0, since the announcement of this non-sense.

    Those morons are going to kill the Macs.

    1. Pete B

      Re: gamers

      " All games are developed either for consoles or X86. None on ARM"

      Um - guess gaming on mobiles/tablets isn't a thing then?

      1. katrinab Silver badge
        Meh

        Re: gamers

        A very different type of game. It tends to be puzzle type games rather than first person shooters and racing games.

    2. Oh Matron! Silver badge

      Re: gamers

      Well, that's simply not true at all! Imagine being a gaming house and being able to code once for iOS, TVOS, iPad and Mac.... That's well over a billion devices....

      I'd say that's quite compelling. Not everyone is sat in their PJs in the cellar playing games. There's many more sat on planes, trains and automobiles....

      1. J27 Bronze badge

        Re: gamers

        You can already do that, with any of a large number of multi-platform game engines. Code once, run many places. Unity is probably the most well-known.

        Additiionally, CPU architecture isn't really that important. Most games are written in high-level languages like C. In high-level languages the OS matters muc more than the CPU architecture.

        1. ovation1357 Bronze badge

          Re: gamers

          "high-level languages like C"

          Wow! If C is high-level then where do you place the likes of Java or even Python and Ruby.

          C is about as close as you can get to the hardware without writing assembler. Yes, it can be written in a portable way to compile on multiple architectures but that generally doesn't happen without a whole bunch of platform-specfic conditionals in the header files, consideration about endianness and so on.

          I've never heard it called 'high level' before ⊙.☉

          1. TheMeerkat Bronze badge

            Re: gamers

            You are too young.

            1. ovation1357 Bronze badge

              Re: gamers

              I don't get called that very often :-)

          2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

            Re: gamers

            At the time of its development it was considered very high level.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: gamers

      As if Gamers are at the top of the User Food Chain in Apple's eyes? Aren't they are more concerned with creative types.... or so I've been told. /s

      Either way, I've just pulled the trigger and bought myself a 16in MBP/32Gb/4TB which runs Catalina. It is going to replace my 2012 15in MBP/16Gb/2TB (2x 1TB SSD added by myself in 2016)

      That will keep me going until... 2026 or later.

      1. tip pc Silver badge

        Re: gamers

        “ I've just pulled the trigger and bought myself a 16in MBP/32Gb/4TB ”

        I don’t think you can add additional internal storage since 2016

        My 2016 Mbp is the first 1 I’ve not opened up or added anything too.

    4. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: gamers

      > Those morons are going to kill the Macs

      History suggests that Apple's traditional 'meh' attidute to gamers doesn't hurt them. Gamers will always want the fastest hardware over any other consideration - this plays far more to the strengths of commodity hardware slingers than it does Apple's strengths of creating integrated systems and then charging a premium for things not expressible in GHz.

      Apple also know that gamers haven't always enjoyed the best image in the wider public perception. As Apple wants to sell computers to lawyers, dentists and doctors - in short, grown up professionals with money - keeping a bit of distance from gamers can only helps Apple's image in the eyes of people with money. It doesn't hurt that Apple computers are associated with artists and musicians, either.

      I know plenty of Mac owners who play video games, but they do so on a Playstation or Nintendo like a normal person.

      The idea of using a work machine to play games stems from the 1980s when all computers were pricey. Today, anyone in the market for a Mac for work can easily afford a console on the side.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: gamers

        "The idea of using a work machine to play games stems from the 1980s when all computers were pricey. Today, anyone in the market for a Mac for work can easily afford a console on the side."

        True that, and particularly in the post-Jobs Apple, where all Macs cost thousands.

        But during pre-Jobs times, there were Macs gamers, like I was.

        The point is, with ARM, there will be none of them.

  7. Tom 38 Silver badge

    Rosetta

    Two thoughts:

    * Rosetta will run most everything fine anyway. Apple have good experience of doing this, plus the transition this time is not such a large step - most holdout software that didn't work on the original rosetta were "Classic" apps (eg, for OS 9)

    * Most app developers will release newer versions that work on both intel and arm, its not going to be as significant a porting effort as ppc -> amd64.

    1. gnasher729 Silver badge

      Re: Rosetta

      99.9% of iOS software has been built with Intel versions in the last ten years, to run on a Mac under the iOS emulator (which makes every newish hardware + OS combination available). Shows that creating code that runs the same on Intel and ARM 64 bit is really easy.

      1. Def Silver badge

        Re: Rosetta

        The iOS simulator compiles the code for the host platform with the iOS APIs. It has never emulated the target device.

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Rosetta

      With Rosetta users will be at Apple's mercy. Sure, initially there will be lots of reasons to make it very good but in a couple of years from now there will be lots of pressure to support an ARM-only world.

      Besides, whilst most software developers will probably make the shift to ARM fairly quickly – here Apple has done a lot of work in making cross-compiling easy and fast – it's often the less interesting bits but equally important bits of software that won't be updated. For example, switching off 32-bit x86 put paid to quite a few things like my printer controller and I'm routinely being warned that thinks like my Cisco AnyConnect (from last year) soon won't work either. The way Apple has handled these changes smacks of arrogance and doesn't bode well for future changes.

  8. PeeKay

    For use on Apple-branded Systems

    "They're also problematic because Apple's T&Cs for macOS only permit the software to run on actual Macs"

    It's says the subject line at the top of the first page of the Mojave legal terms. I've always assumed that slapping one of those Apple stickers that you used to get a lot of would cover that. /s

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: For use on Apple-branded Systems

      Who's being sarcastic about it?

      It says Apple-labeled computer. Slap an Apple label on whatever hardware you want, you're golden. No sarcasm necessary.

      1. gnasher729 Silver badge

        Re: For use on Apple-branded Systems

        It doesn't say Apple-labeled computer in any T&Cs in the last ten years. It says "Apple branded".

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: For use on Apple-branded Systems

          It doesn't say Apple-labeled computer in any T&Cs in the last ten years. It says "Apple branded".

          Then an Apple-shaped piece of metal, pre-heated in a fire for 30 minutes, should do the trick.

      2. Franco Silver badge

        Re: For use on Apple-branded Systems

        Apple are suing a company with a pear logo for infringing on their trademark, if they were to catch anyone trying to pass off kit that wasn't theirs as genuine Apple in any way, shape or form the lawyers would be sent round promptly.

        1. bpfh Silver badge
          Unhappy

          Re: For use on Apple-branded Systems

          Which was also the apparent rumoured fate of Pear Linux...

  9. Gordon 10 Silver badge
    WTF?

    What is the Author actually asking for?

    They're wanting a VM with no security updates and no long term support. How is that functionally different from either the virtual hackintosh images (I presume these still exist) or the MacOS virtual machines available right now? Are they really only asking for Tim's lawyers to give them the magic permission statement? Talk about setting the bar low.

    Either they or I are very confused.....

    1. katrinab Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: What is the Author actually asking for?

      If you run Windows 10 on VMWare Fusion, you get about 90% of the performance you get from BootCamp.

      If you run Catalina on VMWare Fusion, you get about 5% of the performance you get from running it natively.

      And, yes, businesses aren't going to download VMWare images and patches from ThePirateBay.

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: What is the Author actually asking for?

        Yes, Apple didn't bother to make it run in the environments they want to prevent. I'm with the original poster, though. The article specifically says that they don't care if the OS supports new hardware released after now, and they don't care if it gets security updates. At this point, I find myself asking why they need one at all--you can get that and more just by buying an Intel-based Mac today. To me, a VM is only useful if, in 2025, I can still run the latest OS with security patches on the hardware available for purchase then. If what I'm going to get is a VM running what an Intel Mac runs today and nothing more, then I might as well just get an Intel Mac today; the benefit is the same.

      2. O RLY

        Re: What is the Author actually asking for?

        Windows 10 VMs on VMware Fusion (note VMware is not "VMWare") or Parallels run really well. Catalina as a VM on VMware Fusion or Parallels is dogshit. It's uselessly bad. I have VMs for every macOS/OS X version that supports running in a VM and Catalina has never run correctly in a VM in any version, beta to today. Native Apple applications (e.g. Music, TV, News) take minutes to respond. I thought it was intentional, but macOS 11 Big Sur beta runs pretty well in VM. Catalina is just terrible.

      3. captain veg

        Re: What is the Author actually asking for?

        Years ago I got Snow Leopard (which I paid for) running in VirtualBox in Linux. I think it's fairly common knowledge how to set this up. It worked, but was barely usable due to the non-availability of Guest Additions.

        -A.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As ever, you have all completely and utterly missed the point.

    It does't matter what Apple releases because idiots like me with minimal sense, no self-control and worryingly deep pockets will just buy it anyway. Again. And again. And again.

    I don't want virtual shiny, I want actual shiny. I want it now, and I will pay stupid money to get it.

    Why does no-one understand? I despair of you all, I really do (yet somehow keep coming back for more).

    1. Deej

      Re: As ever, you have all completely and utterly missed the point.

      Finally, someone talking sense!!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: As ever, you have all completely and utterly missed the point.

      Mom, is that you? Stop spending my inheritence damnit!

  11. J27 Bronze badge

    "It owes us", that's rich. Apple leadership would never think like that. Apple treats their customers like sheep that lap up anything they want to sell, regardless of how anticonsumer it is. Single source app store? Yes. OS tied to hardware for no rational reason? Sure. No standard desktop form-factor system? Ho ho. Price gouging on upgrades? You better believe it.

    I gave up on the idea of Apple producing anything I'd like to buy a long time ago and I've been all the better for it. Build my own desktops, Android phones, money in my bank account.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Nintendo don't have a standard desktop form-factor system either. Nor does BMW, Canon, Panasonic, or the Raspberry Pi foundation. They all seem to be doing reasonably OK in their respective fields without one. What is your point?

      PS: *Every* major company treats its customers like sheep. In fact, to be fair, compared to some (Google, Facebook, et al), Apple does actually seem to do it a wee tiny bit less; *you're* not the 'product' at Apple.

      PS: 'Time', as well as 'skill', is an important commodity. Not everyone wants to use it to (learn to) build their own machines, mine their own copper or extract their own teeth. Sure, some do, and that's great - but that's for them. I don't make my dentist feel crap about not being able to install a network switch. This whole "Well, I do this, so it must be right for everyone" crap needs to cease. Reasons.

      1. AMBxx Silver badge

        Apple have always been shits. Only difference is that they've not got any worse. Now they look good in comparison to just about every other major tech company.

      2. J27 Bronze badge

        Yeah, because those companies sell personal computers...

        P.S. Other companies also being garbage is not an excuse.

        P.P.S. Who cares, it's not like there aren't other pre-assembled computers sitting on the shelves at your nearest Best Buy waiting for you.

  12. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

    Apple's doing a curious thing from a customer perspective. Their *useful* hardware is getting more and more expensive - over £2K for a good 15" MacBook pro! The more 'affordable' machines are not particularly powerful. It seems to me that they're just interested in making playthings for the rich.

    They need to open up their system, to get more people into their ecosystem. Having more and more machines that are very expensive doesn't sound like a good way to do that. It would make much more sense to sell MacOS for use on ordinary PCs, as a way of hooking people in. They'd make money on the OS, and they'd make money on people joining their 'ecosystem'. They can continue to sell high-end hardware as well.

    The problem apart from that is that by going over to ARM, it makes macs more and more like 'ipads that run MacOS' - only apps from the app store will run natively. It's basically an iPad running a desktop OS.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      sell MacOS for use on ordinary PCs

      There are major advantages when only a limited set of hardware builds are supported - only one set of drivers and no worries about undesirable interactions between a multitude of (supposedly) compatible devices from a number of vendors.

      I have always respected Microsoft for taking this on and Apple for not!

    2. aki009

      Macipad is the future

      The future of Apple is a world of Macipads. Looks like Macs, works like an iPad. Great for data consumption and specific narrow applications. It'll work for 90% of the consumer workloads, but anyone trying to do some heavy lifting will be SOL. And kiss your existing software investment good bye.

      And it's not just the software. Imagine all the hardware that will be paper weights without new drivers. The narrow set of providers for Macs will become even narrower, with the "high quality" drivers from the usual suspects being even "higher quality" on a new platform. Even today it's a Mission Impossible trying to get a decent scanner with software that works as well on Macs as it does on Windows; I presume in the future with ARMs it'll be even more so.

      This change is Apple effectively forcing its users to go on a beta-journey for half a decade or longer, while they debug the OS, the processors, the ecosystem, and then slowly supporting vendors do the same. It does not sound very inviting to me.

      1. DS999

        Re: Macipad is the future

        That's your fantasy world you want to see because you obviously don't like Apple.

        In the real world Apple has been running macOS code on their ARM SoCs for years, so they've already done the legwork and will hit the ground running and the ARM SoCs will be faster than every Intel CPU it replaces in each Mac model. They will not do the "heavy lifting", they will do it better than Intel CPUs!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > They need to open up their system, to get more people into their ecosystem

      Do they really? As a $2tn company, I suspect they know how to make money better than you do.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      True, but businesses will still buy those extremely expensive Macbooks.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "businesses will still buy those extremely expensive Macbooks"

        I guess it depends on the business. A few years ago, we were banned from buying them due to cost, and less-than-stellar quality and support.

  13. LDS Silver badge
    Devil

    Even if it was a good idea, now that's been asked by The Register...

    ... it will be engraved forever in the Apple Bl[a|o]cklist....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Even if it was a good idea, now that's been asked by The Register...

      Oh, Apple was never going to do that anyway.

      Ultimately, the Apple silicon is the beginning of the end for Apple. This will kill the Macintosh.

      No, not just the lack of compatibility with x86 software. The compatibility with iPhone software is really what's going to do it in. Why would a developer waste time writing a Mac version when the iPhone version will work without a recode? Why would a customer buy a Mac when the only software it runs is iPhone software anyway?

      And once the Mac is dead, why would anybody buy an iPhone?

      It'll take decades to die, of course. Companies that big don't disappear overnight. Look at the emaciated almost-corpse of Sears, still barely breathing after a 20 year decline.

      1. O RLY

        Re: Even if it was a good idea, now that's been asked by The Register...

        Apple sell 210M iPhones a year. They sell ~20M Macs a year. Most iPhone users are not Mac users.

      2. Gordon 10 Silver badge

        Re: Even if it was a good idea, now that's been asked by The Register...

        Rather a large chunk of "what-ifs" there. Starting with the assumption that iOS apps wont need a re-code and going from there...

      3. Handy Plough
        FAIL

        Re: Even if it was a good idea, now that's been asked by The Register...

        Wow! It took me scrolling to the bottom of the page before I found an "Apple is doomed!" trope. Well done commentards!

  14. trevorde

    We don't owe you anything! You owe us! We own you!

    Best wishes

    T. Cook

  15. localzuk

    Never gonna happen

    They didn't even allow this when they abandoned their line of rack servers, they're unlikely to do it for their client devices.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So Apple are moving from Intel to Nvidia - plus ca change, as they say in Brooklyn.

    1. LDS Silver badge

      Invidia is the Apple business model....

    2. gnasher729 Silver badge

      Who says Apple is moving to Nvidia? Nvidia has nothing that Apple would need. After buying ARM, they still have nothing that Apple would need.

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        I'm assuming here that the comment is referring to the perspective purchase of ARM by NVIDIA. While they're not using ARM's cores, they still have to pay a license fee to ARM in order to be allowed to produce compatible cores of their own. This could give ARM, NVIDIA, or whoever eventually buys it to have some leverage against Apple and increase the demanded license fees, although NVIDIA has promised not to do that.

        1. DarkwavePunk

          I was under the impression that Apple bought an outright ARM reference license then completely went it alone from there on in with their A series. I may be wrong but I don't think they pay a bean to ARM these days.

    3. DS999

      Apple isn't "moving to Nvidia". Did anyone claim they were "moving to Softbank" a few years ago? The owner of the company that licenses the ARM ISA is irrelevant to Apple, they do their own designs and haven't used anything designed by ARM for a long time. They won't use anything designed by Nvidia, so nothing Nvidia does could really affect them - they can't change the terms of Apple's architectural license, raise prices, or deny access to Apple.

      The only thing they could MAYBE do is if the license only covers the current ARM ISA and not future extensions, ARMv9, etc. then they could raise the price for adding those in the license. If the terms aren't to Apple's liking they could simply say "no thanks" and stick with the current ISA which is more than adequate for a long time to come.

  17. hoola Bronze badge

    Marketing

    Apple, like other premium brands develop a following that will pretty much buy the product whatever. The underlying products (and they actual products as this does not work for anything else) are of good quality but the brand has an exceptional marketing machine that means people are prepared to pay significantly more than the actual development and production costs. One of the important skills is being able to charge what the desired market will stand and where possible ruthlessly push the envelope upwards as your user base gets drawn in. Apple is interesting in the way they have been able able to develop this in a consumer environment where the economies of scale have given them a license to print money.

    Other brands or products that have been successful are:

    DuPont with Corian worktops & Amtico flooring, both use cheap raw materials turned into good quality expensive product that was market at a premium. This made it desirable and people both expected to pay a high price for it and when the cheaper alternatives appeared, would shun them because of the brand.

    The same could probably be said for some car brands:

    Porsche, Bentley. Bugatti, etc, maybe even Rolls Royce.

    Miele, Maytag appliances.

    The crucial thing is that as an earlier post states, people will continue to buy the brand where they can and pay the premium price tag because they are prepared to. They want the product and for tech, it needs to be a current version. As long as the product broadly continues to deliver what they need then the customer is happy and the company rakes in the money. This takes us back to the marketing. In the grand scheme of things marketing is cheap for these people but is a crucial investment to maintain the brand position. Apple have changed CPUs before and probably will do again. The fact that most people simply don't care what the CPU is as they use a basic set of preinstalled or easily installed software is the winner. It just needs to work.......

    Maybe I am wrong but having sold some of these products and understand what goes into make them, marketing and pricing for what the consumer is prepared to pay accounts for a lot.

    If this move by Apple were to upset the majority of their customers then they would take a hit but they will recover because it is unlikely it would be so bad that people deserted the brand in the long term.

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Marketing

      It will be interesting to see the marketing messages they'll use to get the non techies to switch to an Apple Silicon Mac.

      Even my friend (aged 70) had heard about it. She uses a 2010 Mac Mini that is about to give up the ghost. I'm hoping that an ARM based Mini will be available by the time it dies.

  18. iron Silver badge

    > the idea of macOS on a hypothetical future four-socket PC brandishing a fistful of 32-core i9s sounds like fun

    Sounds like an over complicated, over priced nightmare. Throw in a beefy 64 core Threadripper or two instead and save your cash for a nice shiny monitor!

  19. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921 Bronze badge

    I managed to install Mac OS Lion in a VM on a i3 laptop but it was extremely fiddly and ran it so heart-stoppingly slowly, that I deleted it in a fit of frustration. There are many sets of instructions on how to do so, out there on the interwebs. With the newer Intels having much better virtualisation specialisations, it may now even be worth doing. Fiddly but fun project.

  20. S. Steffann

    Awesome idea

    I used to have a Mac Pro 2009 for work, but moved to an AMD Threadripper with Linux recently. I still have a MacBook Pro, an iPhone, Apple Watch and a Mac Mini. I'd love to have access to macOS in a VM so I can still access the whole Apple ecosystem from my work machine!

  21. Robert Grant Silver badge

    "...It owes us... ...deserve another option...."

    Can we talk like adults? No one is owed; no one deserves. I would definitely like them to do it, and I think they'll lose money if they don't, but we don't need to talk like jealous siblings. Nor like chocolate adverts.

  22. 759b954e-617b-408b-a2b1-f5a42c3688d4
    Linux

    Owes?

    Apple doesn't owe anyone anything.

    Its users chose to buy a hardware/OS combination knowing that the OS was tied to the hardware.

    The phrase "hoist by their own petard" springs irresistably to mind.

    No, I'm not an Apple fan, just not a fantasist either.

    Icon because that's the future.

  23. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Not seeing it

    First, I'm not seeing Apple allowing this. It's just not how they do things.

    "Some of you may at this point suggest DIY x86 Macs, aka Hackintoshes, as an alternative. It's certainly possible to create a Hackintosh but they are a faff to get running reliably, in my opinion. They're also problematic because Apple's T&Cs for macOS only permit the software to run on actual Macs, not whatever x86 box you've built for the job."

    Actually I've found that a hackintosh-type setup on Virtualbox (and apparently vmware as well) are much less finicky; it's set to provide some set of hardware OSX can deal with, so you can then have whatever real hardware you want on your system; at that point your only hardware requirement is a new enough CPU (pre-2010 or so Macs can't run newer macos due to some CPU requirement, the same requirement still applies in a VM.) Totally unsupported due to those T&Cs.

  24. Ian Joyner Bronze badge

    Why listen to someone who won't buy Apple anyway?

    Why would Apple listen to you who probably won't buy anything from Apple? Are you admitting that MacOS might be desirable to run rather than your beloved Linux, Android, or Windows?

    The best computing experience is from integration – integration of both hardware and software. The best security is also from integration.

    Bob Barton – the original 'think different' guy realised this. He went on to teach Alan Kay and others who really invented today's industry and influenced in no small way Apple.

    https://www.scribd.com/doc/61812037/Barton-B5000

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is an entirely reasonable request, which Apple will ignore because they want to sell you more shiny shiny.

  26. FrankAlphaXII
    Meh

    I've said this for years...

    But if Apple were to start selling macOS by itself that is the single Apple product I would buy. And I'd pay a good deal for it too.

    Its for-real SUS compliant UNIX with an outstanding graphics and window management subsystem and decent driver support for less than the thousands of dollars that whatever the SCO remnants currently call themselves, HPE, Oracle and IBM are going to gouge you for their OS and the hardware that runs it (in IBM, HPE, and Oracle's cases anyway).

    While I'd love to use macOS, I have absolutely no desire to use Apple's overpriced hardware. I value function far over form and on Mac computers the form has been super-ceding the function for quite some time, but I would switch from Free and FuryBSD as my main UNIXlike in a heartbeat if Apple sold macOS by itself. Unfortunately the whole idea makes sense and would work, so it'll never happen.

  27. Martin Pittaway

    Protection Quality

    Why do people buy Rolls Royce motor cars? Because the build quality is beyond question, they don't go wrong that often, when they do Rolls Royse looks after you with quality spares that matches the original quality or better than the original. Oh and they offer a classic design that is timeless.

    Hang on. Isn't that what Apple offers?

    Now watch for the abuse that will follow from the cheapskates. You know them. They buy the cheapest car and complain when in less than 2 years it keeps breaking down when they need it most and grumble even more when the 50 year old Rolls silently drives buy.

    1. Handel was a crank

      Re: Protection Quality

      No, that isn't what Apple offers. My 2012 MacBook Pro stopped talking to internal drives earlier this year. Do I get repairs with quality spares from Apple? Do I fuck, I just get the option to buy a new MacBook.

      1. Martin Pittaway

        Re: Protection Quality

        Well Mr User of expletive four letter word.

        You completely missed the point here about your hard drive! Apple don't make hard drives. They buy them in from the same people that make windows PC's because it's more cost effective for them to do so.

        So the poorest quality item in the build failed and you blame Apple?

        Hmmmm. Wonder if this is the same reason Apple are moving to processors they design, build and make themselves cos they are fed up with the crap Intel puts out?

      2. Martin Pittaway

        Re: Protection Quality

        In addition to my previous response. A £50 SSD drive formatted will give your 2012 MacBook Pro a complete new lease of life and it still looks good. Show me a 8 year old Lenovo or Asus doing that.

  28. Hawkeye Pierce

    Cloud-based virtual machines

    Personally I suspect that Apple won't get out of the mindset that macOS is what you get when you buy a Mac - they don't see themselves as a software company and the software they do produce is with one intention - to sell Apple hardware.

    However... I'd be surprised if they hadn't considered offering up cloud-based virtual Macs, rentable perhaps even by the day. That way, they don't have to sell macOS as a standalone piece of software and they don't have to provide consumer support of the OS on virtual machines, and they do keep tight control over it (it only runs in their data centres). But it does provide a stopgap for when the ARM based Macs come out and people find they have some Intel-only based software they need and it would also be a godsend for developers of iOS and macOS software for whom even using cross-platform technologies are still more or less forced to use a Mac in a couple of places in the development lifecycle.

    1. Ian Joyner Bronze badge

      Re: Cloud-based virtual machines

      "they don't see themselves as a software company and the software they do produce is with one intention - to sell Apple hardware."

      Wrong – a software company is exactly what Apple is. They keep control of the hardware to support the software. Hardware is secondary to software. You can't trust hardware to hardware people and companies.

      https://www.scribd.com/doc/61812037/Barton-B5000

  29. RichardBishop

    Totally agree - virtual Macs would be great for development pipelines

    I need to add Macs into a corporate application development pipeline and they're really hard to work with because they are an "exception" to most corporate IT security standards. It would be far simpler to host virtual Macs on the network (or better still in the Cloud) and I know that this would be popular for corporate customers who need to incorporate Macs in their development pipelines for application and device signing.

  30. Handy Plough

    They don't owe you a damned thing! You chose not to buy A Mac and go down the Hackintosh route!No-one held a gun to your head. Own you your choices.

  31. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

    The author..

    .. is making the same mistake as Apple did in the early 1990s. Then, they opened up their OS to clone makers and *lost* market-share. Why? Because the clone makers were, to a greater extent, crap at building clones. So they performed worse than Apple kit and put people off using the Apple OS. Also, a clone-builder sale meant a lost hardware sale for Apple but there were not enough OS sales to make up for the lost hardware sales. So Apple started on the long slide to potential bankruptcy that only ended when Jobs went back there and promptly killed the clone program.

    So, if Apple does as the author suggests and allows people to virtualise MacOS, all that will result in is lost hardware sales. Since Apple is still partly a hardware company, they gain nothing out of the deal (the MacOS store income is, let's face it, paltry compared to the iOS app store income) and won't replace that with extra app store income or software income. There is no commercial reason *at all* for Apple to do this and a whole host of reasons why to not do it. Unless, of course, they charge the same for the Mac emulator as they currently do for a top-spec Mac and, if they do that, they'll get zero sales of the emulator. As to Hackintoshes - why should Apple assist those who make it easy for Apple to potentially lose hardware sales?

    So I see the chance of Apple doing this about equivalent to the chance of me strolling around on the moon in shorts and t-shirt. And it makes me sad that an El Reg columnist has so clearly missed learning from history.

  32. Aseries

    Apple Vaporware

    Apple vaporware prior to rollouts and the Pavlovian reaction of tech blog writers and fanbois has become something between a social phenomenon and a bad joke.

    1. Ian Joyner Bronze badge

      Re: Apple Vaporware

      'Apple vaporware prior to rollouts and the Pavlovian reaction of tech blog writers and fanbois has become something between a social phenomenon and a bad joke.'

      Vapourware is preannouncing products. That is not what Apple does. So I think your comment is wrong (it is not very clear what you are getting at).

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