Each press release has an element of hyperbole, and you can generally play Buzzword bingo at most of the major events. Sometimes but a phrase sounds a bit in place; the latest classic is Apple’s Phil Schiller image of removing the 3.5mm headphone jack from the iPhone as something that required “mod”.
The full quote is actually “The reason to move on: courage. The courage to go ahead and do something new that benefits us all, ”with Schiller wanting to frame Apple’s decision as something that changes the world.
Apple removed the floppy drive and the rest of the industry followed. Apple removed the number on the phone and the rest of the industry followed. And yes, Apple removed the headphone jack and everyone followed. Will Apple follow the formula again and force the computer and computer industry to break with Intel and move toward ARM architecture?
Tim Cook has stated that the transition from the Mac platform to the ARM will take two years, which I believe every island in the Mac Sea will have an ARM machine; there will be a MacBook Air powered by ARM, a MacBook Pro ARM, an iMac, a Mac and yes, even a Mac Pro. These will no doubt sit next to the existing machines designed for Intel – which will be supported by MacOS versions in the future – but the real future belongs to ARM.
MacOS 11 ‘Big Sur’ loses support for a number of older Macs, but you will still be able to update and run Big Sur on veterans, such as an early Macbook 2015, an iMac in mid-2014 and a MacBook Pro in late 2013 Appleis is being praised for offering a seventh year of OS support for the MacBook Pro, but it is surely the last version this laptop will receive. I expect Apple’s support of the older Intel machines will be shortened in the next few years.
Intel and ARM will live side by side, but it will not be an equal partnership. Even without Cook’s two-year warning, it is clear that Intel will facilitate a supporting role. Every newly purchased Mac should have a health warning; this Intel-powered machine may not be supported as long as it thinks it will
Apple’s ARM chips promise better battery life, improved connectivity and increased power. If Cook says “two years,” it’s a pretty safe bet that the new Macs sold in 2022 will all be ARM-powered and have the same or better performance than the machines sold today.
You know who would otherwise want a laptop with better battery life, improved connectivity and the same or better performance than today’s models? Every other computer manufacturer.
ARM’s move toward desktop computers has not gone unnoticed by Microsoft. Windows 10 on the ARM does exactly what it says on the tin. It’s Windows 10 and runs on ARM hardware. With ARM-powered Surface Pro X, Microsoft showed the product in the advanced Surface portfolio.
It was very early on Windows 10 days on ARM, and Pro X was as much a demonstration of Microsoft’s view of ARM-driven computing as it was a bleeding hardware. It showed that the issues of app compatibility had been raised, although not perfect. In addition to apps that specifically compile for ARM, it would also run x86 apps designed for Intel-based machines, albeit only those targeting 32-bit Intel chips.
Still, the package presented to the public works essentially. I would expect the same to be the case when Apple sells its first ARM-powered Mac machine – likely a MacBook Pro variant that was launched in late 2020. The Surface brand is partially used as a technology demonstrator. Previously, it has demonstrated the capabilities of Windows 10 and Microsoft’s cloud-based services, to promote the idea of tablet format 2-in-1, the ultra-portable Surface laptop, print the design envelope with the Surface Book and the massively usable Surface Studio.
Now it’s the turn of the Surface range to show the future of Windows with ARM to the rest of the ecosystem.
Here’s the question. If the ARM architecture offers manufacturers a better feature set, if ARM can match the performance of the corresponding Intel chips, and if Apple’s laptops and desktops move forward because of its use of ARM technology, competing manufacturers will decide to pivot from Intel – maybe not for every single computer, but to stay in the game there will be many more ARM computers out there.
Apple’s leadership role will be validated. Does Intel’s ability to define the future of the computer diminish, clear water between MacOS and Windows 10, and watch the competition try to get to a position it has already solidified?
It’s something worth labeling as “courage”
Read more about Apple’s surprising Mac Pro offering …