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Maybe I should clarify this to prevent nasty lawyer intrusions: I meant to put that Dr. Bob posted about the mini, and also that in the Keynote Speech we heard about the 5 years of tests. Dr. Bob didn't post that part, AFAISTR.
But, I would like to know if he (Dr. Bob) did know about the switch before he left. I recall he posted something like "love the OS hate the hardware" sometime ago.
EDIT: It seems that currently the ACD Store Developer Tools section is unavailable. They might be updating it for the pre-release of Tiger x86.
How long will MacOS X be supported AND UPDATED as a native environment for existing PowerPC platforms?
If they commit to five years, then all else is basically moot (in my opinion...).
As we speak, thousands of hackers world wide are licking their chops in anticipation of the challenge...
Should we start a betting pool? Will it be one week, one month, or a year or two?
As for the announcement, wow, spank me, call me judy, etc. etc. It might have turned out to be true, but I still say it's not a good move.
I remember lots of people with the same sentiments when Apple moved from the 68040 to the PowerPC. The move will be a little uncomfortable for a while, especially for developers, but on the user end the experience will be smooth. Just think; no longer will the PC dolts be able to claim a megahertz gap between Apple and Wintel hardware!
OK, not really, but something very similar from our friends at Apple? I just want hard and fast assurances that the future iterations--at least for a reasonable amount of time after the switch occurs--of OS X will be compatable with my good ol' iBook G4. I know about the "dual life" OS X has been living, and I read about "Rosetta" but I still need the words from Apple that we won't be hung out to dry with 10.5--or even 10.6--because I love my PowerPC-based mac, and don't want "intel inside" until it is absolutely necessary. I know Schiller said it, but I also want to be darned sure that Apple retains at least some semblance of it's individuality as far as the hardware side of things is concerned. I have never been a proponent of licensing the OS--I want OS X on macs only. End of story.
The *big* win Apple's going to get out of this, in my opinion, is they'll finally have access to decent motherboard chipsets. System board architecture has always been the worst element of dealing with Mac hardware. (Every PCI Mac I've ever touched has impressed me with just how mediochre Apple's custom chipsets are.) Flakey, slow memory controllers, broken IDE implementations, cruddy sound hardware... perhaps there's some hope that switching to Intel's wares will give OS X some firmer ground to stand on.
As for Apple stopping OS X from running on "Generic" hardware, well, the fact that they distribute an x86 version of "Darwin" certainly complicates matters. Unless they do something *evil* like digitally signing binaries it seems like all you'd have to do is install Darwin on your PC and copy the rest of it over. Which makes me wonder if they *are* planning something evil. Intel, after all, was/is pushing that whole "Trusted Computing" fiasco.
In other words, don't be suprised if the "iNtelMacs" end up simply *ooozing* with nasty DRM hardware. Yuck.
How similar is the firmware?
btw already seeing requests for Marklar on Usenet...
How are they going to keep the worms in the can once they seed the preview to developers (who will be, I am assuming, using stock x86 boxes to develop with)?
I don't understand why they didn't just keep making G-series machines, and release the x86 version with their own HW, but allow generic x86 boxes to use it as well. I don't understand "PowerPC has no road map to the future..." I swear, years ago, I saw some sort of plan of all the G - chips... went right up to the G9, I think... I heard they were working NOW on the G6 and the G7... I just don't get it... just don't... long live altivec... sniff
They kept saying "Intel chips" in all the Keynote exerpts I've seen, so I'm wondering if maybe, just maybe, Apple is letting Intel license the AltiVec IP for use with an x86 core. If the x86 Mac OS needs AltiVec to boot, then commodity PC hardware won't work. An Apple-blessed CPU w/ AltiVec, or a mobo w/ an AltiVec co-processor would preclude piracy of the OS unless the AV instructions were stripped. THen, if they've seeded the OS w/ enough of the AV, when it's stripped, it's functionally pointless.
EDIT: Public ADC doc on cross platform app development w/ Core Foundation Note how they don't mention machine arch, just OS types: OS X, Darwin, Linux, Win/CygWin. Maybe they've been seeding the idea of multi-arch ideas to developers with subliminal articles on how to do it, again.
EDITEDIT: Apple told us about Fat Binaries, again in their 64-bit article.
EDITEDITEDIT: MPI on OS X tells us in the "Interconnects" section that cross-platform MPI apps need no changes to source code. Thus, XGrid would probably function on both PPC and x86 with fat binarys, and scientists who need AltiVec could develop on a cheap x86 Mac, and compute on an XGrid w/ Xserve G5s for the distributed part.
Ex4: XCode 2.0 article:(my bold)
Ex5: Core Image is platform independent:(my bold)
I have not yet seen a text of Schiller's talk, but he apparently gave some assurances for upgrades to MacOS X on existing PowerPC-based Apple machines... He also apparently suggested that Windows (and by insinuation, the others - Linux, *BSD, and Solaris - will work on x86 machines made by Apple. If both are the case, then I see the following timing strategy in play...
(1) They are actually giving IBM a chance to redeem itself as well as giving AMD an openning to get in the game... Each has a year to wait unless they establish a dialogue with Apple beforehand (on the other hand, might the "civil union" with Intel be the reason that Darwin 8.x does not work on my AMD-powered Shuttle XPC?).
(2) Apple has basically told the world this: "between now and the end of 2006, Microsoft better get Longhorn out and the Linux community better get their desktop act together because we will be ready as an alternative to the upgrades you all will be forcing on people (Microsoft from XP and Linux for new users willing to consider switching from XP). Apple can say this because the out-of-the-box experience will include iLife and iWork (as an economic option) and will go all the way to Final Cut, etc.). The only thing lacking will be high-end gaming (see below points (3) and (4) for a contradiction to that point...).
(3) The move by Microsoft to a 2nd gen XBox will impact make (2) more complicated for them, too...
(4) There are, in reality, plenty of great games and simulation environments on Apple now (such as my favorite, X-Plane)... and OpenGL only makes it more inviting if a switch from Microsoft to a different non-console environment becomes attractive because of (3)...
1) Do you all see the price of current model machines going up, down or unchanged because of this announcement. I'm looking into purchasing a 12" iBook here rather soon. Is it even worth it? How many apps are going to be available for a defunct platform? I realize this computer will do everything it could do when it was new - but I need this iBook to last me for the next 4 years.
2) I understand that Mac OS X was running on a Pentium 4 processor today at WWDC. Wouldn't that mean that OS X can run on Vanilla x86 hardware in it's current compilation? Wouldn't OS X have to be given to developers in this state so they could develop applications to have available at the launch of the Intel-based Macs? If this is the case, it won't be long until you see this version of the Mac OS leaked onto P2P networks.
I'd guess they'd need some sort of dongle or a soft dongle to use it. Maybe a .Mac account would be needed to reference a serial number to finish booting. Or maybe there is a weekly/daily seed fed into developers .Mac accounts that is needed to keep the system running.
that sounds like a f*&^*&%g bargain, when can I sign up?
No. Apple will most definitely be locking future versions of OS X down to run only on Apple hardware. I'd be mighty surprised if one were able to get X to install on a generic box.
Also, those developer versions of X for Intel include the hardware. That $999 gets you the software plus a hardware lease until the real deal comes out (you have to return the hardware you're given at the end of the dev cycle). Apple also most likely locked the development version of X down to run only on the specific hardware that it'll be provided with. Even if a copy of the dev version of X for Intel leaked, it wouldn't work on any old Wintel box (and if it did, it would be crippled in its fuctionality because of a lack of the proper hardware drivers).
I'm most interested by the quote about how people are probably going to be able to run Windows on the new Mac hardware. In a year or so, I'll be looking for a new desktop PC; if it is possible to dual-boot a new Intel based Mac into X or Windows, I'll be taking a long, hard look at what Apple has to offer.
You can sign up right here for just $1350.
Even if Apple tries to keep the x86 Mac OS X only on their hardware, its only a matter of time before someone hacks it.
It wouldn't be too hard to get VMWare running on an x86 Mac, I'd think. Then it'd be near-native speed for a Winders environment. Even if the Macintel has an OF instead of a BIOS, the VMWare has it's own just for the emulation layer. Winders on top of OS X for x86 semms quite possible and easy to me. I'm just hoping it get's it's own sandbox and stays the heck outta the internals of OS X. I wouldn't want a new Mac to catch some VD (virtual disease!) from a naughty install of Winders.
Actually, Select membership is only US$500, so only $1500 total. Plus you'd get the benefits of ADC Select membership, including copies of each OS release, plus OS X Server, app previews, HW purchase discounts, etc. All in all, not a bad deal.
This is something I threw together tonight. It's a small tribute to the PowerPC processor of sorts. to the tune of American Pie by Don McLean. It's too long to post here on the forums, so I've provided a link: PowerPC Tribute
This truly is the day that the PowerPC died.
I think the Mac is dead. And I think it's been dying since the advent of the first iMac. Steve Jobs -- in his exile with NeXT -- was asked in an interview what he'd do if he could return to Apple. He said "I'd milk the Macintosh for all that it's worth and then move on to the next big thing." I think he's moving in that direction. For once, just once, I'd like to see the reality distortion field be honest and spit out his long-range plans. In the spirit of full disclosure I have to admit that I can't stand Jobs and never could. For someone who demands the ultimate from his employees, all he has been doing for the last 6 years is sell fruit-colored computers instead of buckling down and changing the world. If you're up on the spin Jobs likes to blow up skirts you'll get the reference. If not, you'll probably just get angry. Steve Jobs has sucked all the energy out of my enthusiasm for Apple years ago so I'm not feeling as betrayed as some of the rest of you. It's only a matter of time before Linux allows me to do basic graphics and web stuff. When that happens I think I'll use used Mac hardware and some Linux distro. Or maybe Steve will get completely sucked up into making cartoons . . .
Intel's coming up to a major roadblock itself. The Pentium line can't push past 4Ghz without reliability issues. The entire WIntel world has to go through a very painful transition within the next few years to a new platform yet to be announced, or if the rumours are true, developed by Intel. Apple, IMHO, should have either jumped ship to the Pentium back in the 68040 days, or waited another 2-3 years from now, then jumped on the Intel bandwagon. The timing of this decisions is atrocious business practice IMHO.
Another possibility, and this is totally the psych major coming out in me, is that despite the relative success of the Power Macintosh line, Steve had to kill it off if for no other reason than it wasn't his idea. It was developed during a period when he wasn't at the helm of Apple. Of course, he cannot make such a colossal jump unilaterally - Apple is a publically traded company, so there are shareholders to answer to. I think Steve was looking for any excuse to give the PowerPC a shove off and bring in a new chip vendor. The only real game in town other than PPC is x86. If this is indeed true, it's very sad that someone's ego is getting in the way of what truly is, IMHO, a superior product.
On a side note: Didn't Apple just introduce true 64-bit computing with the G5? Why on earth would they move back to a 32-bit machine?
I only have three answers (opinions, of course) to your questions:
- hardware should NOT matter... except to the degree that results are facilitated (so 64 bits is really only required where address space limits become constraints to simpler design...)
- people should NOT matter... but they always do, so the 'ego' questions are valid but, I would suggest, are compensated by the positive things that can be facilitated by leadership reflecting firmly held views (for example, I think they were simply trying to double marketshare in MacOS X and discovered the price/performance position of the PowerPC was a drag (especially on portable computers where the cooling problem was a specific impediment to progress)...).
- transparency and choice are not always good... but in this case I agree with the need for both if Apple is to weather the next two years ... and that would mean a roadmap for the PowerPC that would leave the door cracked for its return to the fold (or, as I would personally prefer, a totally hardware agnostic approach...).
The tough part of the last point is that Jobs, the Board, and his minions might have a clear vision for a transition of Apple from a computer company to a digital electronics entity (with more iPod-like products, with less obvious internal commonalities, and a move away from the generic platform for computing); however, I don't think they could simply announce this as an objective...
What of Intel's Merced (RISC) chip? I'm not sure how soon that is due... maybe there is another reason that Longhorn is tardy... Steve didn't mention that in a few years, Intel will begin a transition of its own... and OS X will be running on the new chips via some hardware translation mechanism... then slowing phasing out the old x86 Macs for the new chips.
What is the reason for not going head to head with Windows on PC architecture machines? Was there some dirty deal we haven't heard about? How would it hurt Apple to encroach on Microsoft's home territory? If there is anything in Steve's past, its that he likes to do things he's done before: switch architecture, become platform independant, release a cube... why not turn a hardware company into a software company?
The problem with taking Windows on head-to-head is market share. Other superior systems have taken on Windows at different times (I'm thinking about Linux, BeOS, etc.) but have failed to take over the market. In some cases, they've been killed off by Microsoft. Apple is putting it's toe in very dangerous waters here, and it needs to be cautious. The initial feel people get from these new iNtel Macs *has* to be incredible, otherwise Apple could be in big trouble. While I don't think this is the best move by Apple, I do hope they manage to pull this off.
From page 47 of Apple’s Universal Binary Programming Guidelines PDF
Thanks for the info... so, if its not OF... and not BIOS, what is it?
and sorry to get off the subject here...
Your avatar is HUGE.... but how did you manage that?
It's most likely going to be BIOS-based. I doubt Apple feels up to the task of engineering a completely new input/output system.
is so sad. And it was told with Czar's song. I was floored when apple announced that they were going to intel. Now I am wondering if apple is going to survive at till im in my 30's
Just take a step back and breathe. Why is the processor so important to you? Steve said it best when said that the soul of the Mac is OS X. I'm also in a bit of a shock, but sad? Hardly. What is with all of the doom and gloom? Will Apple be around when you're thirty? You bet. Try to see past your own hatred of Intel, coius, and focus on some of the positives. You would be surprised at just how many of them there are. Not just for Apple, but for the end user.
Besides, there isn't a damned thing we can do to change it. If you won't accept Apple's transition and the CPU is more important to you then the OS, then by all means...switch to Linux. Switch to Windows. This isn't the "ordeal" you're making this out to be. Apple isn't attacking you personally. They didn't betray you or anyone else.
I really can't understand why so many people are taking this so personally. You would think that Apple is excising one of your internal organs and making it a sacrifice to Satan. i remember a lot of people bitching when Apple ditched 68k for PPC. Now these same people are bitching about the switch from PPC to Intel. They will be bitching about how Apple is switching from Intel to god knows what next in the future. The switch from 68k to PPC was pretty seamless for me as I expect this transition to Intel will be. As I said, the OS is the important factor. So long as OS X doesn't suffer, I really don't care about who makes the CPU powering my system. To me, this just doesn't even come close to the transition fro 9 to X.
I ask this final question to you guys that can't let go of the PPC. Would you rather have a Mac powered by Intel running Mac OS X, or a Mac powered by a PPC running Windows? Obviously, Apple would never make that kind of switch...but you have to think about what is important here. It isn't the CPU. It is the OS running on your machine.
I agree, there are enough benefits. I, for one, am excited about the prospect of a dual-core Pentium M Powerbook with a good chipset.
Would this mean that if we have Virtual PC that we would have faster emulator speeds?
Why use VPC if you can run Windows natively?
Because that way you don't have to reboot your machine all day to access Windows applications.
True enough. I just have a feeling MS is going to cease VPC development. Of course, this is pure speculation on my part. For me though, I would much rather see something like wine then use VPC to use Windows apps in Mac OS X. Something seemless.
I doubt that it will use a traditional PC BIOS. My money is on Intel's new Extensible Firmware Interface.
In Job's keynote he shows a G5-lookalike described as the $999 dev MacIntel box. He also mentions a end-of-2006 return date for the hardware.
Just curious, I wonder how Apple will enforce the hardware's return? Certainly those devMacs will be collector items . . .
I imagine that Apple requires you to sign something to say that you will return the machine. And we all know that Apple's lawyers have itchy trigger fingers... I guess the trick here is that Apple is maintaining ownership of the unit. The $999 is what they are charging for a lease. You can't keep your car after the lease expires without renewing. Apple is probably going to reclaim these machines and junk them.
So...when will we see the "sooooooo, we switched to Intel" ads?
If nothing else, Apple is superior at playing the news cycle game. Leak to C|Net a few days before the announcement to lessen the blow, then announce, but its not the first thing they do... like its not that important... then a series of sitcom-like interactions in front of developers. Then... a series of press releases to cycle the news... "QuickTime 7 available for Windows" "KHTML WebKit released" .... I expect a few more before weeks end... then, next Monday, announce the new powerbooks, but downplay it and play it cool to enhance the excitement (they BETTER be dual-core G4s or good luck selling them with the minor enhancements they've been doing on these things), and the news cycle is complete. We won't forget about the switch, they know that, but their strategy is to get the press to stop writing about it.
They played it cool. But this is serious, its a BIG deal to Apple. They know they aren't in control, and they are just as scared as we are. Meanwhile, end of business yesterday, Apple and Intel stock down... IBM up...
And even if it goes well, by the time the transition is complete... Apple will likely be forced by Intel into another transition to their RISC Merced chip... and the whole thing will start again... Apple will be secretive, then announce like it was what they planned all along, which is why they've been doing blah blah for the last 5 years... etc...
I picked this up over at FlckerMac:
Have . . . fun?
It hit a nerve . . .
As a longtime Apple fan, this decision confuses me. The Pentium 4 is still a 32 bit CISC chip with a FSB of 400 - 800 mhz. The G5 (in iMac and PowerMac form) is a 64 bit chip with a 600mhz -1.35ghz FSB. For some reason, this seems like a downgrade. Sure, Intel has a dual core chip up its sleeve, but IBM has had one for quite some time. The PowerPC 970 in the G5 is a scaled down variant of the Power5 chipset used by IBM in their pSeries (rs/6000 in 32 bit form) and zSeries (mainframe, known as s/390 in 32 bit form). Ah the joys of being former IBM and still having friends and family working there.
For reference, here are some links.
Intel's Pentium 4 specs - http://www.intel.com/products/processor/pentium4/
Apple's G5 specs - http://www.apple.com/powermac/specs.html
if they would use intel xeon processors, they have 64bit and the option to build powerful multiprocessor configs with that... why use the cheap pentium if you can have better options?
for reference: www.intel.com/products/processor/xeon/
I'm still not clear on why the CPU-power-per-watt thing is so overwhelmingly compelling. I see the charts but as I'm unfamiliar with Intel's CPU offerings I haven't a clue what sorts of products are being compared. Do the latest Intel-powered laptops, for example, have longer runtimes than do Apple's PPC-powered portables?
And another thing - 64 bit processors. While I understand most users have little need for 64 bit performance (so far), won't that become more important as apps become ever more demanding? I guess Intel will have something comparable within a year or two, so that may be soon enough? Presumably the G5 can soldier along until that time.
Shame about losing Classic in the switch, though there seems little technical reason why it couldn't be preserved. While many have no further use for Classic, lots of folks continue to use an enormous body of SW which will never be updated to Carbon, eg: children's games. Sad to think all that SW inaccessable to those using MacIntels.
I can hear it now... "Honest, Mr. Apple Lawyer; it was stolen! Somebody broke in and took it! The cops have no leads at all."
Or do you suppose these machines will have some sort of beacon in the firmware that will contact the Mother Ship any time they're connected to the 'net? Or maybe they'll self-destruct on a certain date... Oh the nefarious possibilities!
The Pentium M is a darn good CPU, with power draw comparable to or even lower then the G4, and it's fast. The Dell D600/D610 machines the Windows people at my office get easily get four-plus hours of battery life, while my new 1.5Ghz Aluminum Powerbook barely manages half that. And the Aluminum runs hotter then hell, whilst the Dells are actually comfortable to keep in your lap.
(I'm amazed that Apple actually managed to produce a machine that makes me regret giving up a Titanium. The fit and finish of the aluminum is a lot nicer then the Ti, but the innards just plain suck. I'd trade it for a Dell if their power management worked under Linux.)
Apparently you've missed the fact that Pentium 4 CPUs have been shipping with 64 bit support for months now. (The ones with "600" series model numbers, in addition to the Pentium 4-based Xeons.) Intel licensed the x86-64 instruction set AMD uses on the Opteron/Athlon 64 line. The state of UNIXoid OSes (FreeBSD/Linux) on these monsters is way ahead of OS X on the G5, so it's possible that switching platforms will actually Apple go fully 64 bit.
The only monkey wrench in the works is that Intel isn't shipping a mobile chip with 64 bit support yet, but it *is* right around the corner. (If they needed to ship *today* that would of been a good argument for going with AMD instead, as they do have mobile Athlon64s.) You're going to see a Pentium M EMT64 long before a mobile G5, anyway.
Your information is several years out of date. Merced was the code name for the Itanium processor. The Itanium has been out for nearly 5 years and its vendor support has been luke warm at best. Also the Merced is not a RISC CPU. There really is not a such thing as RISC or CISC CPU in non embedded applications anymore. All modern processors even the Pentium 4 is a hybrid between the two.
The x86 is going to be around for a long time in some form or another. We will see new CPUs from Intel in the next few years, but it will be like going from a Pentium III to a Pentium 4.
I know I am repeating myself somewhat, but I think we need to have some perspective...
(1) Hardware should NOT matter:
- suppose IBM had said "we don't want to make PowerPCs any more"...
- Intel is just a company (I don't know of any nefarious monopolistic practices, but I could be wrong...)
- if Intel products hit a wall, MacOS X can be adapted "easily" to equivalent platforms (as has been the case with the UNIX architecture since its beginnings at Bell Labs)...
- applications that are difficult to port are either poorly written, unstable, or too performance/functionality-bound to be running on a generic OS (My old firm updated over 200 industrial applications for Y2K and many of our customers did not have to change a line of code... and typically it was code that they wrote themselves...)
- 64 bits make a difference when large address spaces are needed...
- Altivec is hidden to most, and OpenGL is in the GPU...
(2) Personalities and "secret" longterm strategies DO matter
- but they are normal to all business... though one has to admit that Steve Jobs is a real piece-of-work... both in the good and bad sense.
- they can be compensated by choice and flexibility... but that has a price, too... be it in design or implementation...
- the three-way competition between Microsoft, Apple, and the F/OSS community creates a very healthy dynamic for the latter two to grow their piece of the pie significantly whatever the first does... and more if they blow it in Redmond...
My only criticism, at this stage, is the lack of visibility for the products already out there... Apple will be selling PowerPCs for a couple of years, and MacOS X will evolve, too... I would love to hear them make a 5-10 year commitment to MacOS X support and upgradability to the latest version on the PowerPC used in existing machines... the drivers don't need to change, so where's the problem...
Anything less - or longer - is meaningless...
I have stayed out of all this for the last few days but I'm pretty excited about it.
I think its hogwash and stupid those "tributes" are. Playing taps while showing half of the comptuers that didn't even use powerpc chips? What exactly is the point there?
This isn't the deathnell (sp?) of Apple, to me its the first step on a road to being a software company and a damn good one at that. And finally it REALLY could beat Microsoft at its own game. I would LOVE to be able to run OS X on a generic intelbox. I know a large amount of professors would love to run OS X on a intel box as well. And then think about this, they could then port something like WINE to os x on intel and then run windows native applications at pretty much native speed.
I really think that these steps and plans that Apple has are in the best interest of the company even if Apple eventually stops being a hardware company. I read somewhere that if Apple were to sell 3 times as many licenses of OS X than it does now, and dump the hardwware side, they could make more profit than they do now.
The only thing that we would no longer have if that ever proved to be true (eventually dumping hardware in lieu of being a sofware company ala Microsofty), are pretty and expensive computers. But I tell you, a lot of the new laptops coming out are pretty danged close to being as good as ibooks and tibooks or even better.
And if apple does lock down the intel hardware and keeps os x on their own hardware, then everything should be business as usual and all this negative talk is just dumb.
I think the big thing is that mac afficadios are hating to eat crow and they are actually now going to have to eat it and thats why so many Apple fanboys are freaking out. They can no longer keep touting the party line of "G4 chips are WAY better than Intel chips" when their precious macs will be using Intel chips in the next year or so.
I think Apple really could dent microsoft if they allow the Mac OS be ported to run on generic Intel platforms since it clearly is a much better operating system than Windows. Apple has a much better upgrade cycle than Microsoft as well, that will keep them on their toes too. Think about it, we are still using Windows XP (from 2001?) while Apple has gone from OS 9 to OS 10.0/10.1/10.2/10.3/10.4. Thats 5 operating system upgrades whereas Windows XP hasn't had but service pack upgrades.
And the last thing that I am thrilled about, the rubbing in the face of Intel into the Apple Elitist. Thats the one thing that I do NOT like about the Apple community, the Apple Elitist.
In a nutshell, so what if your mac is runing an intel or powerpc processor? It is still going to be runng the best mainstream operating system in the world. Thats the important thing.
I agree and disagree with what you've said here:
I agree that the Mac OS could definitely give Microsoft a run for it's money in the consumer OS market. It is a superior operating system, hands down.
However, Apple's going to be running into some major problems if they allow the Mac OS to be run on generic Intel hardware. One of the sources of Windows' instability is the plethora of hardware the OS must support. Some of this hardware is badly designed, and some of it has poor support within the OS. In my experience, upwards of 25% of crashes within Windows are due to hardware/driver issues. Up until now, Apple's practically had a vertically integrated market structure (with the notable exception of the Clone era). They controlled the hardware and the software aspects of the Macintosh. Windows isn't a bad OS when you get down to it, but the closed-source nature, combined with the massive array of hardware available for the x86 market leads to instability within the OS. OS X will have to overcome these issues as well if it's going to run on generic Intel boxes.
Here's where Apple is going to run into problems, IMHO: Microsoft has had how many years to work out these problems? Windows has been around for what, 20 some years now? MS has finally gotten Windows to the point where it doesn't crash 5x/day. My 2000 SP4 box gets rebooted maybe once a month, depending on how heavy the usage is. Most of the time, the reboots are because I need to take the machine apart to clean the dust out of it.
Apple's definitely got an uphill battle to fight here. If Apple decides to licence OS X to the generic market, they're going to have to make damn sure everything works *perfectly* out of the box, otherwise they're dead in the water. No one is going to go to the hassle of switching to OS X from Windows if they have to babysit it for the first few months until updates come up.
Darwin's open-source core could definitely prove helpful here, but it greatly depends on how extensively Apple provides end-user access to it.