The eternal Mac OS on Intel rumor resurfaced last week, and as always, my reaction was “I’ll believe it when I see it.” Well, I’ve seen it.

After five years of rumors, Apple has not only confirmed Mac OS X can run on Intel processors, but future Macs will run on Intel. No, they won’t be releasing a version of Mac OS that you can install on your PC, they’re “just” replacing the CPUs in future Macs. Apparently Intel has a better road map for future performance. (Hmm, better tell the marketing division, quick. The PowerMac page [] still touts the PowerPC’s superiority over the Pentium 4.)

It’s a switch on the order of—well, on the order of leaving the Motorola 68K for PowerPC. Back in those days, it was Apple vs. IBM Compatibles, and IBM was a partner in the PowerPC design. These days it’s Apple vs. Wintel, the Windows/Intel combination.

Apple seems to have everything planned out. Secretly running OS X on both PPC and x86 for the past five years, preparing developer tools to produce applications for both architectures, setting up a translation tool to run PPC apps on Intel chips. Microsoft and Adobe are already on board. It’s not a surprise, really—they’ve done it all before. Of course, we all know how well the best laid plans go…

I do have to wonder how this will affect Linux distributions aimed at the PowerPC line. Yellow Dog Linux, for instance, is also advertised as running on IBM’s own PowerPC systems. And depending on the rest of the hardware, standard x86 distros may have to incorporate formerly PPC-only code. Update: It hasn’t shown up on their website yet, but I just got an email from YDL stating that they will remain focused on PowerPC, remain “in good standing with Apple” as a reseller, and “expect [server OS] Y-HPC to gain an even greater userbase with existing Apple Xserve users.”

I also wonder which Intel chip line they plan on using. Everyone seems to be assuming it’s x86-based, and I’d guess it’s 64-bit (why go backwards from the G5?). In theory Apple could go with Itanium, since they don’t need to drag around x86 compatibility, and the extra volume might be enough to bring the price down.

It took four extra days due to the UPS snafu—and would have taken longer if the regular carrier hadn’t been on the route. (They changed the suite number. I know I didn’t enter it in wrong, because when I talked with them on the phone Friday afternoon, they told me they had changed it.)

Anyway, I opened up the box to take a look, and aside from a sticker on the box and a 1-paragraph license addendum, I don’t see anything else to indicate how the 5-license pack differs from the standard 1-license pack. I guess they figure on voluntary compliance rather than messing around with license keys. (Keep in mind I’ve never actually installed Mac OS X before. Katie’s upgraded her computer a couple of times, but the laptop came with Panther pre-installed.)

On the plus side, we already know 10 days’ worth of pitfalls to watch out for before upgrading…whenever we have the time to do it.

Anyway, off to lunch and then back to work.

eWeek: Tiger Bugs Break Networking Software. Apparently a lot of third-party VPNs and other networking programs don’t work with the Mac OS X update. Some are due to changes in the way the OS works, and some are apparently due to bugs in the OS.

So…did no one bother to test their software with the betas? Sure, you expect some things to break with any upgrade, but I can’t imagine these were all due to last-minute changes.

Mac OS X Tiger will be released on April 29. Not suprisingly, you have to hunt around a bit to find the version number. Only once on the main page does it mention it’s really Mac OS X 10.4. Yep, those numbers are going to get harder and harder to see, folks. But what happens when they run out of cats?

Interesting cost comparison: the 5-system “Family Pack,” which can be used for both upgrades and fresh installs, costs $199. That’s only $70 more than a one-system package. It’s also the same as a one-system full install of Windows XP Home or two copies of the Windows XP Home Upgrade. And while Microsoft does offer additional licenses, the only pricing references I can find are three years old and only a $10 discount per extra system.

Of course, you also have to take into account Apple’s faster release cycle (IIRC this is the third version of Mac OS released since Windows XP shipped), though that’s slowing down.