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A Conversation With Intel

As you might have seen, Intel is running ads in MacWEEK and other Macintosh magazines touting their 80x86 chip architecture as an alternative to the PowerPC chip as developed by Apple, IBM, and Motorola.

I called the number, received the literature and called the 800 number they reference for technical questions (I encourage you and all your Macintosh friends to do the same. The number is 800/228-4549).

Here are the relevant points of our conversation:

I spoke with a pleasant-sounding woman and mentioned that I had seen Intel's ad in MacWEEK and was confused. "Can I run my Mac software on an Intel chip?" I asked.

"Well, not exactly," she replied. "There are many Macintosh programs that have Intel-based equivalents, such as Microsoft Word and Excel."

"Hmm," I said. "I use Claris MacWrite and Claris Resolve. But can I run my Mac operating system on Intel chips?"

"Well, not exactly," she replied, "you would have to use DOS or Windows. Intel wanted to provide Mac users who are considering the technology change to PowerPC with an option, since to use PowerPC they will have to buy all new hardware."

"But Apple tells me that I can run all my Mac software and the Mac operating system on the PowerPC, can I do that on the Intel chips, or will I have to learn a completely new operating system?" I asked innocently. I'm glad she couldn't see my grin.

"No, you would have to learn a new operating system," she admitted reluctantly.

"I don't think I want to do that. But what about the price? If your Intel chips will cost me less I might consider it. What is the cost of an entry level Pentium system?" I continued. This was going to be good...

"Intel does not sell computers, we just sell the microprocessor, but you would probably see street prices of around $2,500 for a Pentium based system," she replied, finding herself on safer ground briefly.

"Well, Apple says that their PowerPC systems will start around $2,000. Can I use all my peripherals and internal components like video cards on a Pentium system?" I queried.

Her answer came back even more reluctantly. "Probably not since the internal architecture of Macintosh computers is different from Intel-based computers."

"So let me get this straight," I said, driving in the final nail. "I can use neither my Macintosh operating system nor any of my Mac software programs, and if I want to use software that also exists on the Mac, I must buy new Windows versions of Macintosh programs that I don't even currently use. I must learn a new operating system, and buy all new hardware that may cost more than a PowerPC Mac. And all that, just to use Intel chips. It doesn't sound like much of a choice to me. Thank you for your time, I'm no longer confused."

"You're welcome." Click.


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