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Bill Brown

A complicated man.

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I think that this keynote cements Apple’s status as thought leader for the computer industry. The new G5 and Mac OS X 10.3 aka Panther represent the culmination of embrace of open standards by a computer manufacturer.

The G5 uses the HyperTransport bus, developed by a consortium of computer makers. It’s got Serial ATA, the standard in the Windows world, as well as PCI-X, the next generation of the PCI standard of the Windows world. AGP 8X is the video interface and it’s utterly common in the Windows world. Let’s see, what other standards are supported in the new box: Bluetooth, 802.11g, DDR RAM, FireWire, USB2.0, 802.11b, and possibly more that I’m not aware of. All of these (except for the ADC) are prevalent and non-proprietary. It’s a change that Apple has slowly been performing. I think it’s a welcome move, even though they haven’t abandoned the PowerPC chipset for Intel’s. I would welcome that only because it would reduce the price of the Macs without significant reductions in power. Well, the G5 might change that last statement but I’ll believe it when I see it.

Mac OS X 10.3 embraces even more standards than the hardware. Jobs rattled off a number of them: FreeBSD 5.0, VPN over IPSec, IPv6, Samba, GCC, Rendezvous, NFS/UFS, X11, mbox, PDF, the new video conferencing standard (I didn’t see a name or reference), AES, and more. Plus, it supports these via published APIs—the level of publication varies, of course. These are the ones that have been enhanced or amended since Mac OS X 10.2: the list is much, much longer when you consider prior releases.

Why is standards support important or significant? Because any proprietary interface increases costs and decreases interoperability, both of which are bad, bad, bad. Reviewing the Xcode improvements, it again makes me wish I were a developer instead of a Web developer. I’m not entirely sure what everything meant but it seemed really well-thought out and progressive for a computer maker. I applaud Apple for their keynote announcements and look forward to the day when I might partake of them.