Monday, January 23, 2006

Mac Intel, the race is on

With the first of the Intel based Macintosh computers now shipping, there will be a race amongst those who care, to be the first to ship with native support.

There are plenty of companies who don't care because of the small Mac user base and its historic bias for consumers and publishing users.

Recent high end Macs have been much more interesting for technical work, and Apple has shown some focus on grid/HPC computing. Nevertheless, a quick port to Mac is more a matter of prestige than huge commercial return. Somewhat like being the first to the moon, though rather easier.

In response to the usual vocal Mac users demanding it now, there have been some clues from software companies.

Mathworks Mac developer, Brian Arnold seems to be hinting at a time frame when he explained that Matlab would take a month to test in its current version, and that the result would probably be a recommendation to not use it. He wouldn't be drawn further but one can probably conclude that a native release is at least 2-3 months away.

Meanwhile Paul DeMarco at Maplesoft was willing to be more precise and more ambitious, suggesting that Maple would be "several weeks" away.

No comment has yet be drawn from Wolfram Research. The silence is quite suprising, since Steve Jobs first announced Mac Intel with Wolfram Research's Mac developer, Theodore Gray, on stage next to him, claiming to have managed a prototype port in "a few hours". Presumably release quality ports and testing take a lot longer, but Wolfram have set their users up with anticipation that must be lived up to.

Place your bets now.

[See Feb 17 update for winner]
[See June 6 update for Maple and Matlab Mactel news]
[See June 13 update for further Maple Mactel comment]

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