||So somewhat ironically, Apple finally had an operating system that ran on PCs, but it no longer mattered, because they could not sell it. Many NeXT developers and users were upset to find that, because of the Mac's legacy, NeXT's core feature of cross platform, run anywhere deployment would never be realized. They watched in horror as Apple slowly terminated all cross platform development environments, from NeXTSTEP for Intel to WebObjects/Yellow Box for Windows. It appeared that Apple had entirely squandered a monumental piece of NeXT's potential, as if Sun had bought up Apple and then terminated the Macintosh, just so they could port the Finder to Solaris.
Any hopes of seeing a cross platform edition of Mac OS X appeared to fall into the realm of lost ancient legends. Beyond the requirement to run Classic, Apple seemed to be moving further away from a cross platform future as Carbon appeared to migrate from a tacked-on and perhaps temporary Mac OS 9 stepping stone, toward being an integrated, native development environment on the level of Cocoa. Rumors circulated that Apple continued keep Mac OS X running on Intel, but it seemed increasingly unlikely that Apple would devote very much of their development efforts toward such a strategy when the potential of Mac OS X ever actually running cross platform seemed to be shrinking. Apple was clearly committed to PowerPC, and developers were never blatantly instructed to keep things portable.
There were some subtle signs that things might change. In addition to the rumors of internal x86 development, Steve Jobs had made passing comments to the effect that, if problems arose with the PowerPC, they did have an operating system with portability, and could take their OS to Intel. Apple also released the base OS foundation of Mac OS X as an open source project called Darwin, and provided a completed port running on Intel hardware. Still, the explosive speed of OS development at Apple made it appear dubious that the company would be jumping though hoops to ensure that all the new technologies in Mac OS X would be designed to work cross platform, and further that the company would be actually completing all of this parallel development behind the scenes.
Then things did begin to change. The importance of Classic and Mac OS 9 dropped off considerably. At WWDC 2002, Steve Jobs put OS 9 in a casket and proclaimed it dead. Software for Mac OS X moved from 'mostly tweaked OS 9 apps' to a wide selection of modern, native apps. Apple can now, for the first time, introduce a non-PowerPC Mac and have existing software available for it. Ties to the old hardware and the old Mac OS are finally weak enough that Apple can now break free from twenty years of legacy issues that kept the Mac tied to specific hardware. Mac OS X is now almost where NeXTSTEP was ten years ago: processor agnostic and highly portable.
For the analysts who had been insisting for decades that Apple could not support a unique hardware architecture and needed to move to Intel, it was a self-congratulatory orgy. But all the articles suggesting that Apple was now "thinking like Dell," were way off base. They don't yet get it. They have been wrong for twenty years, and they are still wrong. Apple zigged when the industry expected a zag. It announced that it would be building Macs, as it always has, but moving to chips made by Intel. Rather than Apple being held back by not moving to PCs, it's actually Intel being held back by the stagnant PC industry, and now working with Apple to blaze some trails into innovative territory. It is convenient for Apple to have the ability, for the first time ever, of teaming up with Intel, right when Intel needs them the most.
Part VI > How Apple And Intel Fit