Apple Details its Plan to Switch to ARM

Posted on June 22, 2020 by Brad Sams in Apple with 68 Comments

The rumors are true and Apple announced today at WWDC that the company will be moving to its own processors for future products. The company’s’ A-series chips have been used in iPhones, iPads, and its Apple TV boxes for years and the transition to the laptop/desktop is about to finally happen.

This should not come as a big surprise, the company has been touting how powerful their homegrown chips have been for years and they love to compare them to Intel’s offerings as well. By moving to use their own chips in their laptops/desktops, they are further consolidating the integration across software and hardware and reducing their reliance on third-parties for improving the performance of their devices. Further, by owning the chip process as well, they can release products on their own schedule, no longer when Intel/AMD says that they can update their hardware.

This is a monumental shift for Apple but it’s not the first time they have done this either. Most will remember when Apple switched from IBM’s processors to Intel and there are even a few other changes further back than the IBM transition. Apple knows the hurdles ahead of them and has outlined a plan to help move users, developers (and hopefully apps), to the new architecture.

To help make the transition, Apple announced Rosetta 2 and a host of new frameworks, including the ability to run iPhone and iPad apps, on the new hardware. The company also showed Adobe and Microsoft Office running on Apple Silicon (A12Z bionic) too.

There is also a new dev kit but more importantly, a transition kit that uses a Mac Mini with the A-Series chip inside to start building apps, or transitioning your apps, to Apple Silicon. These kits will start shipping this week and you can sign up here.

The first Mac with Apple Silicon will ship this year and they expect the transition to take two years. Apple will continue to support MacOS on Intel chips for several more years.

The big question will be if consumers and developers follow Apple? Considering that the company has a loyal following, it will likely have an easier time making the move than Microsoft has experienced with its attempts to support an ARM ecosystem. But with all major changes, time will tell if this was the right move for Apple or if Intel/AMD was the better path forward.

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Comments (68)

68 responses to “Apple Details its Plan to Switch to ARM”

  1. suavegav

    That's killed the Hackintosh community stone dead..

    • Jeffsters

      In reply to suavegav:

      Not for at least another two years.

    • joeaxberg

      In reply to suavegav:

      Given that Apple says they'll support Intel Macs for "several years" I think the Hackintosh community has a lot of life yet.

      However, agree that when Macs are fully on Apple's own custom ARM chips, that community will die out.

      Hackintosh's have been possible since Apple uses, for the most part, the same standard x86 architecture (with tweaks) as every other x86 systems ever built.

      I assume that Apple will not only use their own ARM processors, but that the SoC itself will be highly custom.

      With the emergence of ARM servers for the datacenter, is there some sort of standard ARM system architecture similar to x86 computers?

  2. dftf

    Okay, one question around iOS apps on macOS -- how-come Microsoft doesn't do similar and let you run Android apps on Windows? Surely in the "Windows 10 on ARM" edition this should be fairly-simple, given the CPU is the native architecture of most Android phones. And even on regular Windows 10 editions, surely an emulator could be used -- I seem to recall they did add one to Windows 10 Phone OS ("Project Astoria")?

    • jgraebner

      In reply to dftf:

      In fact, there is an Intel-based version of Android and most Android applications will run just fine on an Intel processor without emulation.

      • Paul Thurrott

        It's pretty much only used for developer emulators. Why on earth would any hardware maker ship an Intel-based Android device?
      • Paul Thurrott

        Also, it's possible that Intel-based Chromebooks, which are most of them, benefit from this.
  3. dftf

    In reply to shameermulji:

    They will increasingly change the UI to replicate iPadOS, and any macOS-specific apps will disappear (old stuff like TextEdit) and they'll just be replaced by iOS versions (for example, System Preferences will start to look more-like Settings on iOS, and Finder may become more like the Files app).

    Feels a lot like the old Android days, where apps would actually have a slightly-different layout on a bigger-screen device like a tablet, whereas nowadays it's the same-layout and just the text and graphics all become bigger.

    The more they do converge though, the more I wonder if people will ask: "if I can present my iPad on an external monitor, and use an external mouse and keyboard... do I need a MacBook Air or Mac Mini"?

  4. dftf

    In reply to shameermulji:

    I'm not sure about "blown away", but I'm sure some impressive battery-life figures might be due.

    I'd personally imagine the MacBook Air and Mac Mini lines will move to ARM; the MacBook Pro and Mac Pro lines will retain Intel for a couple of years at-least; possibly longer for the Mac Pro desktop line.

    The interesting thing will be how good their GPU performance is -- will high-end games run on an ARM MacBook Air or Mac Mini with only an integrated Apple GPU (and no separate NVIDIA or AMD option) as-well-as currently? There's a big-difference between games that run on iPad and iPhone and macOS in-terms-of visual-effects, max resolution, max framerates and so-on.

  5. ghostrider

    The only winner here is Apple. This is their final power push to take total top-to-bottom control of their entire portfolio so they don't rely on anyone else's hardware (other than commodity parts like RAM/storage and possibly GPU's). Apple want the control to shore up their market and will make MacOS more like iOS which could eventually lead to them merging. What's best for their users and developers doesn't even come into it - this is what Apple want, and everyone else can get on-board or get out.

    Apple think they're big enough, rich enough and powerful enough to make this work, and unfortunately, they're probably right. This won't effect their highly lucrative phone business, but it will force some to re-evaluate their loyalty to Mac's. Maybe MS think they'll hoover up some disgruntled Mac people onto Windows, but don't bet on it.

    • xamzara

      In reply to ghostrider:

      If it’s bad for users, then it’s bad for Apple. It is very simple.

      If the apps are there and the performance is great, then pretty much no one cares if it’s x86 or Apple Silicon.

      (...except some vocal non-Apple users in forums and comments sections like this - always very mystifying, considering none of this affects your life in any way whatsoever)

    • dftf

      In reply to ghostrider:

      Even though I feel the same about macOS' UI becoming more like iOS, I do wonder if this really will-be to Apple's advantage.

      They are predominantly a hardware company. If the CPUs and GPUs in iPads keep getting better, and given you can now use a bluetooth keyboard and mouse with them, people may start to wonder what the point in using a MacBook Air or Mac Mini is, when they all run the same apps (i.e. once more apps on macOS just become ports of the iOS versions).

      Why not just plug an AV adaptor into the iPad to display it on a larger screen (or wireless link it), and use your external keyboard and mouse when you want a more computer-like experience, and use it as a tablet when you want a more-casual experience? I wonder how many will increasingly settle on iPhone and iPad only...

  6. Daekar

    I feel kind of bad saying this, but it doesn't matter to me how powerful their chips are or what kind of battery life they get. I really loathe MacOS and the rest of the Apple walled garden. I'm not married to Windows, I love me some Linux too, but... I just don't trust this company at all. The level of smug just makes my hackles rise.

    • dftf

      In reply to Daekar:

      Question-marks too around those who buy Apple MacBooks to run Windows on them what the future there will be... I'd guess "Windows 10 on ARM" will run-fine (assuming Boot Camp is still offered) but regular Windows 10 will only work if they have a hardware-level emulator for x86-64.

      Let's hope Microsoft have been working hard on getting 64-bit apps to work in the ARM edition...

  7. red77star

    Sounds about this be a major pile of crap. Nothing beats x86-x64 in term of performance and in that department both AMD and Intel are going to be damn efficient when it comes to power.

  8. Jeffsters

    In reply to MikeGalos:

    PowerPC was first an Apple initiative to bring RISC to the desktop and they got IBM to join in with their engineering and fabrication teams. When the agreement ended IBM had decided to take the PowerPC into the sever realm and essentially left Apple with no future after the G5 and no options for low power notebook. So Apple had to go to Intel. Here Apple is once again at the mercy of another company for the guts of their machine and it's held them back. Intel has to make money selling to more than Apple. Apple's hardware and software are tightly knit so unable to get changes made to Intel it's held back the Mac while iOS and the processors that run it are developed with one another in mind. I don't see Apple ever going back.

  9. nbplopes

    In reply to Waethorn:

    Maybe its because people got tired for caring about MS pushes only to be than disappointed. I think that is the main difference here.

  10. igor engelen

    It's nice to see that they already have Microsoft and Adobe on board.

  11. nbplopes

    In reply to MikeGalos:

    Today we have clouds. Clouds means rain. Therefore today it will rain.

  12. dmitryko

    Apple devotees will be happy to ditch their Intel MacBooks for a glorified iPad Pro with a physical keyboard if it would run their "apps". This will be the final nail in the coffin for the pro user community however. The few remaining Intel iMac/MacPro users will soon find their devices abandoned and unsupported, in a typical Apple fashion, to they will discover that Adobe Creative Suite, Microsoft Office and Autodesk Maya work on Windows just as well and do not require ridiculously priced CPU and video card upgrades.

    • Saarek

      In reply to dmitryko:

      I'm intrigued by your comments, rather I don't really understand them.

      Let's say you had just recently bought a Mac for your work. The transition is going to take around 2 years and Apple will likely offer new version Mac OS Support for at least 3 years from the point that they cease to sell Intel based Mac's.

      So, you roughly have 5 years of use out of your computer on the latest version of Mac OS and will probably receive security updates for at least 7 years.

      In what way are you losing out? I suspect that most genuine "Pro" users will upgrade their computer at least every 5 years and all of the big names such as Autodesk, Adobe, Micrsoft, etc, are already on board with the Apple Silicon transition and of course lots of users buy Mac's for Apple's own Pro Apps which will be heavily optimised for the transition.

      • dmitryko

        In reply to Saarek:
        The transition is going to take around 2 years and Apple will likely offer new version Mac OS Support for at least 3 years from the point that they cease to sell Intel based Mac's.

        During the Intel transition announcement, existing PowerPC models were supported by then-current OS X Tiger and the following OS X Panther. That's two years and it's not enough for current apps like Creative Cloud which now require fairly recent OS X to run.

        I suspect that most genuine "Pro" users will upgrade their computer at least every 5 years and all of the big names such as Autodesk, Adobe, Microsoft, etc, are already on board with the Apple Silicon transition and of course lots of users buy Mac's for Apple's own Pro Apps 

        I suspect most Pro users would rather keep their Intel Macs as long as they can and migrate to Windows/BootCamp thereafter.

        Those who will remain with Apple would be users of Apple-exclusive applications who are comfortable with 1/2th of the performance and iPad 'app' versions of full-featured software.

  13. RobertJasiek

    Since Apple fails to bring general file mamagement directly to i(Pad)OS, I wonder again whether Finder will come to i(Pad)OS.

  14. Winner

    Unlike Microsoft, Apple will likely be successful.

  15. dftf

    In reply to MikeGalos:

    It remains to be seen if Boot Camp will still be offered; if so, only Windows 10 on ARM will work without emulation, yes.

    If there is enough demand to run Windows on macOS, maybe someone like Parallels will create an emulator for x86-64?

  16. glenn8878

    I will remain on Windows and Intel. I have no intention of ARM computing on Macs, but since I'm an iPhone user, it is quite enticing to see how Apple transitions. Apple's approach is remarkable. They know what they are doing, while Microsoft can barely figure things out with their failed products.

    • Saarek

      In reply to glenn8878:

      Out of interest why?

      I can fully understand you being happy with Windows and having no plan to change to Mac OS. I can't understand why Mac's being Arm instead of Intel based would change your decision if you were on the fence?

  17. wolters

    I can't argue with the fact Windows on ARM hasn't gone well and has a ways to go. But my secondary device is a Windows Pro X and just about everything I've thrown at it has worked and worked well and with it sporting my SIM card, I take it just about everywhere I go.

    They need to make this "just work" if they can and they need to hurry with Apple taking a lead here.

    • mattbg

      In reply to wolters:

      Agree, but there's a big difference between the two approaches. Apple is essentially going all-in and betting the future of the Mac on ARM, whereas Microsoft is doing it as a hedge against future Intel transgressions while continuing to depend on Intel for the vast majority of their installed base.

      There's no way Microsoft can commit to ARM to the same extent as Apple in this scenario. It won't have the top-down executive support and focus you need to pull this off. I mean, they don't even seem to like Windows that much anymore - so Windows on ARM is going to be even less interesting to them, whereas Apple's interest in ARM is essentially the entire company.

  18. dftf

    @Paul: why do replies keep appearing at the top, not in the conversation thread?

  19. dftf

    In reply to shameermulji:

    "When Apple first started to grow the Mac market their initial strategy was try and attract Windows users (ie: I'm a Mac, I"m a PC ad campaign) but it seems like that strategy has tapered. Now by making macOS Big Sur similar to iPadOS / iOS, it's trying to grow that Mac market by going after iPhone / iPad users that don't own a Mac"

    I'm still unsure though if it'll work. If they had never let their iPads connect to external monitors, and an external mouse and keyboard, then yes, people may wish to replicate the same experience on a mac desktop or laptop. But as you can do those things on an iPad thesedays, I'm not sure where the advantage comes to running the same apps on a different device.

    The future is less devices, not more: look at how-many devices feature-phones and smart-phones replaced: PDAs; sat-navs; pagers; fax-machines (assuming you use a fax-to-e-mail solution); separate portable-media players; handheld games-consoles (Switch remains popular, but even that is both a handheld and, when docked, a console, so Nintendo reduced two lines into one); digital-camera; compass; physical notepad and so-on.

    The more iPad-like macOS becomes I can't see why you'd need two devices that ultimately do the same thing and run the same apps...

  20. jaredthegeek

    I use Windows a lot and had windows phones and CE devices going way back. I am thinking about leaving for the integration, the integration to me is killer. I wonder what this will do to the windows virtualization that people were running.

    • SvenJ

      In reply to jaredthegeek: They did have a short piece where they were supporting Linux in a Parralels instance. I expect that is being worked on and will continue to be viable. Don't know about BootCamp. Never really understood that anyway. If you are so embedded in Windows you want to boot into it, why not just buy a Windows machine. If you need it occasionally, or just an app or two, Parrallels is the answer.

    • kjb434

      In reply to jaredthegeek:

      With Android, Windows 10 is pretty much integrated just as well as iOS to MacOS.

      The only drawback is that the user has to choose to do this on Android.

  21. SWCetacean

    Wow, this is the first time I've ever been excited about Macs. Apple products have always been the most vertically integrated personal computing products, but this takes vertical integration to its logical conclusion. Silicon, hardware, firmware, OS, framework, and UI all developed by the same company. I don't think many personal computing devices in the past 30 years have had this much integration; I think DEC did this back in the day? The other examples I can think of are IBM mainframes and other HPC systems where a single company/organization designs silicon, hardware, and OS.

  22. Chris_Kez

    As far as getting Mac developers on board, I think maybe Apple has offered a nice carrot (Rosetta 2, Universal 2). For those who do not like carrots, there is the stick-- iOS apps running on Mac.

  23. F4IL

    There's another bullet point people seem to be missing. By using their own silicon, apple can detach their products from Intel and AMD cpu/gpu lineups, keeping all future SOC innovation under wraps. This will keep competitors and consumers guessing hw specs of the new macs (core count, gpu, etc) and greatly improve how these devices are marketed.

    • Greg Green

      In reply to F4IL:

      I think the prices of Macs will still keep most people away.

      And the unknown chips may backfire with benchmarking, since people will have to pay attention to benchmarks rather than components. Instead of having a known semi prestige chip, like an i9 10900K, in a system that costs 25% more and performs 20% less than a Windows system, there’ll be an unknown ARM chip in a system that costs 25% more and performs 20% less than a Windows system. There’ll be no technical glamor, just apple glitz and poor benchmarks.

  24. olditpro2000

    I might be reading too much in to this, but during the virtualization part of the presentation, did anyone else notice that Linux was mentioned multiple times but Windows wasn't mentioned at all?

  25. nbplopes

    This presentation was like if Microsoft presented ... Windows on ARM, x64 on ARM and UWP with millions of apps all in one package .

    Will see in a few months once it’s unleashed. But if it is close to as they say, and with Apple usually is ... man ... technologically is game set match.. Now, it’s match point ... it will be an interesting September

    • jgraebner

      In reply to nbplopes:

      The thing is that the Mac is really a very small market at this point, so this is kind of a big deal to a relatively small audience. The big question is whether or not this transition will attract more people to the Mac. A lot of the strategy seems to be kind of making the Mac into a professional version of the iPad (since iOS apps will now run natively), so it will be interesting to see how that transition works.

      Assuming professional computing on ARM does become standard, it will be interesting to see how it all shakes out. What we've seen with both desktop and mobile has been that there doesn't seem to be room for more than two major players and it typically tends to be Apple and a more open platform available to other manufacturers. In desktops, the open platform is Windows and on mobile it's Android. For professional ARM, I suppose the competition is probably mainly between Windows on ARM and Chrome OS. Will be interesting to see what happens there.

      • nbplopes

        In reply to jgraebner:

        Hopefully its gonna shake something. I’m tired of throttle boxes. The issue is not how small is the MacOS market at this point but how far it pushes the Industry moving forward.

        Don’t think Windows users will change to Mac because of this at all. It will depend if Apple actually manages to disrupt performance with this move, both on laptops and desktops. Much like iOS disrupted performance of Smartphones back than, even if it provided less features than some to start with. The experience was far smoother and more potential that what excited everyone.

        It will be interesting to see how the silicon powering the next gen Mac perform. That is what will matter most. If it is just on par even with some battery gains ... dunno if Windows users will care.

      • Jeffsters

        In reply to jgraebner:

        Seems to be big enough for you to care to follow and post so I guess that's good!

      • dftf

        In reply to jgraebner:

        "The big question is whether or not this transition will attract more people to the Mac. A lot of the strategy seems to be kind of making the Mac into a professional version of the iPad (since iOS apps will now run natively), so it will be interesting to see how that transition works."

        Yeah, I think the same: if macOS morphs UI-wise into more of an iPad clone, and the apps released for it just become the same iOS apps, is there much of a need in a lower-spec mac device, such as the mac Mini or MacBook Air, when you could couple an iPad with an external screen, mouse and keyboard?

        "For professional ARM, I suppose the competition is probably mainly between Windows on ARM and Chrome OS. Will be interesting to see what happens there."

        I think "Windows 10 on ARM" will eventually be a thing, but it needs 64-bit apps to run on it first, as many developers (such as Adobe and AutoCAD) have stopped releasing new versions of their software in 32-bit. Chrome OS I think is still too-limiting. Google would be better doing their own official version of "Android x86" and letting anyone install Android on any device: it would likely become the most-used Linux distro, given all the apps it has.

  26. Stooks

    On one hand it is a gamble. Then again the market for Mac's is so small it does not matter really. You have two kinds of Mac users.

    The very small group of professionals that use the few apps that are only on MacOS, basically Xcode and FinalCut are the only ones left worth mentioning and then you have the larger trendy anti-Windows crowd...look at me there is an Apple on my phone and computer!

    The larger group will be able to move easily since they probably use a web browser on their Macbook for 98% of the Macbook use. The smaller pro group will have to stick with the Intel Mac's until they make ARM chips powerful enough to render 8K video in FinalCut. That is the true gamble, because if Apple does not get a powerful alternative for those users they will continue to walk away from Apple.

    • Saarek

      In reply to Stooks:

      We use Mac's at work for our data science department. The servers are Linux based and then we use a mix of Mac Pro and iMac Pro Towers with R and Python.

      Overall we found that the Mac is more efficient for us due to having terminal, etc built right into the OS.

      But yes, like with Final Cut users we are a specialised market.

      I do wonder how RISC CPU's will perform for our use case vs CISC, traditionally we have always needed CISC CPU's to get the best performance.

    • dftf

      In reply to Stooks:

      Some people online are suggesting that Apple already have GPUs ready internally to rival AMD and NVIDIAs finest. I'll believe it when I see some benchmarks though.

      It's also being said the lower-end machines, MacBook Air and Mac Mini, will all ship with only an Apple GPU. Only higher-end ranges will still offer a discreet NVIDIA card.

      • Stooks

        In reply to dftf:

        Agreed on all of your points.

        I have no doubt probably 80-95% of Mac usage could be done on a powerful ARM based Mac with the included GPU. Like I said the typical Mac user is browsing the internet/Google docs, photos app etc that a iPad can do just fine now.

        As far as Apple having a GPU that can rival AMD and NVIDIA, I highly doubt that especially the high end NVIDIA stuff. The again they have mountains of money.

        I think the real question is software vendors. How much does Adobe want to spend to migrate something like Premiere over to an ARM based Mac?

        Mac market share is sitting at 9.4% according to Netmarketshare. Lets be nice and say 50% of those Mac users are using Adobe premiere or photoshop to do high end work. So 95% of high end premiere or photoshop users are NOT on Mac? in Windows users. Now they have to rewrite those apps to retain the 5% of users that are on a Mac???

        • Saarek

          In reply to Stooks:

          Your numbers are not necessarily representative of the professional user base of each platform.

          Most PC’s sold are either corporate boxes or cheap and nasty sub £400 PC's stacked high and sold cheap.

          The last concrete comment from Adobe that I could find dates all the way back to 2009 where it was roughly a 50/50 split between Windows and Mac at that time. Assuming that still roughly holds true today it would show why Adobe continues to support the Mac. 

        • JoePaulson

          In reply to Stooks:

          your math is flawed. Adobe could have half their high-end users on Mac. that 9.4% market share is total market share. the vast majority of computer users don't use Adobe Premier or photoshop.

        • Jeffsters

          In reply to Stooks:

          You need to go back too school for either math or statistics. Read again what you wrote, especially, "Mac market share is sitting at 9.4% according to Netmarketshare. Lets be nice and say 50% of those Mac users are using Adobe premiere or photoshop to do high end work. So 95% of high end premiere or photoshop users are NOT on Mac? in Windows users." Read that again and edit as needed.

          • Stooks

            In reply to Jeffsters:

            MacOS has 9.4% of the desktop/laptop OS market according to netmarketshare. Lets round up and call that 10% of the desktop/laptop OS market for simplicity. 90% of desktop/laptop users are NOT using MacOS.

            If 50% of all MacOS users use Adobe CC....that would translate to 5% of the desktop/laptop OS market use Adobe CC on some kind of Mac.

            The rest of the Adobe CC users are on something else....lets say Windows since it owns 89% of the OS market share and the last time I checked Adobe CC does not run on Linux or Chrome OS.

            What is missing from my crazy math is the real number of Adobe CC users in total. Maybe 90% of Adobe CC users use a Mac....but I kind of doubt that, especially since Apple pretty much abandoned the Pro market for 5-6 years and lots of those Mac users moved over to Windows for the hardware power.

          • Paul Thurrott

            And you need to be nice to people even when you disagree. No personal attacks please. Go after the data, etc. Please don't go after people.
        • spullum

          In reply to Stooks:

          They demostrated Photoshop, Office and Maya running natively on Apple Silicon, and said Adobe is on board to port Creative Cloud (which should include Premiere hopefully)?

          It sounds pretty easy to compile (most) apps in Xcode and if they get Adobe this time they are smooth sailing. Plus Intel apps work too, and everything on iPhone/iPad will now run on ARM Macs natively.

          • dftf

            In reply to spullum:

            "They demonstrated Photoshop, Office and Maya running natively on Apple Silicon ..."

            Given you can get Photoshop on iOS, and Microsoft Office on iOS, Android and Windows 8/10 ARM editions, work had already been done on porting both to ARM previously.

            As for Maya, they mentioned the scene had "6 million polygons", which does make me wonder how-well high-end games will run on an Apple GPU, given that the PS2, released back in 2000, could do around 15-20 million fully-textured polygons a second at 30 FPS; so 6 million would be in Sega Dreamcast territory (3-7 million).

            The lack of a discreet GPU on lower-end MacBook Air and Minis may well hurt gaming...

          • Stooks

            In reply to spullum:

            In my experience any emulation sucks in terms of performance. Rosetta was slow on the first Intel Mac's. VM's are slow on your average desktop/laptop computer. x86/64 apps are slow on Windows 10 for ARM via emulation.

            Rosetta 1 was coming form a slower CPU (PowerPC) to a faster CPU Intel at the time. Not knowing any real details about these new Apple ARM chips for a Mac will they be faster than the current Intel CPU's or will the coming from a faster (intel) CPU and going to a slower (gen 1 Mac ARM) CPU and then trying to "emulate" X86??? Ugg not thanks.

            We are missing so many details no one can really answer that question right now. One thing is for sure after many, many years of using Apple products......You DO NOT want to be the version 1 customers. If this takes off V2 or better yet V3 is where native software is plentiful and the the ARM chips are way better and finally the need for emulation is greatly decreased.

  27. dftf

    It makes sense for Apple to do this, given the cost-savings and control by using their own custom chips, and it will likely lead to better battery-life on their laptop and desktop devices too (I'd assume the MacBook Air and Mac Mini lines will be first to transition).

    But two things I wonder.

    First: macOS 10.15 "Catalonia", released October 2019, dropped support for 32-bit apps, and even this transition saw some major recent-versions of apps be updated in-time (such as Adobe: PhotoShop 2018 or older; the latest Acrobat Pro and Reader at the time of its release; many anti-virus apps, also) but also some popular, older software, was 32-bit only (such as Illustrator CS5 (2010) or older; InDesign CS6 (2012) or older; Microsoft Office 2011 for Mac; QuickBooks 2015; Parallels Desktop 7.0.15094 (2011); VMWare Fusion 3.1.4 (2012)). True, in all cases newer versions exist, but in some-cases it may be an upgrade someone can't afford, or has removed a feature they rely on, or has changed from a one-time purchase model to subscription-only. I wonder if some-people may be put-off getting a mac with a non-Intel chip fearing some apps they rely on won't work (such as people who have held-off upgrading to macOS 10.15 to retain 32-bit app support). They have said a "Rosetta 2" will be included (like in the PowerPC to Intel days) but performance of that wasn't said to be great. So they could face the same issues as Microsoft trying to get x86 apps to run on ARM.

    Second: one would assume "Rosetta 2" will be a stop-gap, and only exist for a set-number of macOS releases. I guess in future Apple will change macOS from its current form into an iOS/iPad OS based OS. I wonder once this happens if the software will have all the same feature-sets as their old macOS counterparts, and will the interfaces change things like icon-sizes and add menus to accommodate when using a keyboard and mouse? Will gaming performance also be as-good, given you'll essentially be running the mobile-versions of games on your mac laptop or desktop.

  28. jwpear

    What does support macOS on Intel chips for several more years mean?

    Disappointed I just spent about $2K on a Macbook Pro for my daughter as she starts college--this week, in fact. Does this mean it won't be supported through the 4+ years she'll be there?

    After this announcement and timeline, who would buy an Intel-based Mac if it may only be supported for a few more years? If I had known Apple would be this aggressive, I would not have purchased my daughter's MacBook Pro.

    • SvenJ

      In reply to jwpear: Based on the keynote, the development environment is designed to provide cross platform binaries. It should not be a matter of a developer choosing to support ARM and the Intel version no longer working. I expect everything your daughter needs will be available now, and even new things for years to come.

    • olditpro2000

      In reply to jwpear:

      The Intel Mac announcement was in June 2005. The first release of Mac OS X that dropped PowerPC support was 10.6 in August 2009.

      I would imagine there is at least 3-5 years of OS support on the MacBook Pro you just purchased.

      • jwpear

        In reply to OldITPro2000:

        Hoping that's the case. Thanks for the insight. Have to say, I've been impressed with how long Apple supported my 2012 MBP. It's finally moving into the unsupported lane this year. Great machine and a great run of support.

    • jpr999

      In reply to jwpear:

      Or does it mean that arm on macs is not that good and they still need intel

  29. suavegav

    Mac is a niche platform and now they've made it even more niche. You can currently buy a Mac and run Windows on it to fill in any professional app gaps you might have. There are some great solutions to run your BootCamp Windows partition as a VM like Parallels Desktop with really amazing integration. What happens when that ability is gone? No mention of Windows running on their new virtualisation platform..

  30. Greg Green

    In reply to Winner:

    And not so recent politicians. Look at the attacks against Reagan, Clinton or WBush. You could even go back to the 1700s for some real juicy attacks. Politics has always been ugly business.