Putting Intel in the Mac will lure developers who had been only Windows shops in the past to the Mac, writes an IT expert.

Developers did not support the Mac previously because of an "arcane architectural difference" between the PowerPC and the Pentium called the endian problem. Hurwitz & Associates partner Arnold Reinhold explains: "The computer industry never standardized on how to number bytes within larger blocks of information called Words. There are two ways to do it and Intel's approach differs from the approach Apple has used in the past."

While programmers try to write programmes that are endian independent, "lapses cause pesky bugs that have to be tracked down one at a time," he writes.


This new compatibility does not mean that applications written for the Intel processor will run on the new Macs, however. The capabilities of Apple's Rosetta software that translates software developed for the Power PC processor to run on the Intel processor are limited and do not extend to translating Windows applications to run on a Mac.

Transitive, the company behind the Rosetta solution - interviewed in the September issue of Macworld, out on July 14 - claims that such a move may be made possible in the future, but it would take a bit of work.

In the meantime, there is an open source package called Wine which is designed to allow Windows applications to run as-is on x86 Linux boxes, notes Reinhold in the IT Director article, hinting that there may yet be a way.