Sorry, people, but we're not doing Wildly Off-Topic Microsoft-Bashing Day this week. Don't get us wrong, it's not for lack of material; if we felt like it, we could, for example, riff on faithful viewer Lee Dronick's suggestion, which is Information Week's article on how Penn State University just urged all 80,000 of its students to stop using Internet Explorer immediately and switch to a browser at least slightly less likely to compromise the security of their systems and/or transmit the plague. See? Plenty to chew on, there. But in the spirit of the season, we figured we'd cut Microsoft a little break this week-- especially since it's such a good customer of Apple's and IBM's.
That's right, we're talking about the Xbox 2 again. Longtime viewers will recall the various rumors that when Microsoft ships the sequel to its game console, the new unit will have made a daring jump from the x86 chip architecture to the PowerPC. And despite claims by analyst Rob "No One's ALWAYS Wrong, But That Doesn't Stop Me From Trying" Enderle that Microsoft told him personally that the PowerPC Xbox rumors are completely false, it's hard to reconcile that with widespread reports that the company had already shipped its first "early access" development kit for Xbox 2 games-- and that it consisted of custom software loaded onto an otherwise vanilla dual 2.0 GHz Power Mac G5.
Well, as faithful viewer Small Paul, points out, The Inquirer reports that Microsoft is readying a new developer's kit for wider release sometime in the next three or four months. The first kit was apparently just for the company's most important strategic partners to give them a head start on writing games for a whole new hardware platform; this next one should ship for "regular" Xbox developers and will no doubt be a little more fleshed out, with more and better tools and some form of ATI R500 graphics card inside to better match the hardware specs of the Xbox 2 when it finally ships.
But guess what? According to The Inquirer, anyway, while the exact specs of the machine used for the new kit are still up in the air, "yes, it will be a Mac G5... running some kind of Windows OS." And sure, the thought of some creepy Xboxified Windowseque thing running on a Power Mac is a little unsavory (slightly more so than Windows running in Virtual PC-- at least in that situation, Mac OS X is still the boss), but we really have to see the whole situation as a net positive; Apple indirectly sells more Power Macs to all these Xbox2 developers, and IBM gets the street cred and bragging rights for putting PowerPCs into the gazillions of Xbox 2 units that'll eventually ship.
While we're not exactly expecting a big halo effect or anything, we imagine it couldn't hurt Apple for consumers to know that Macs aren't as alien as they might have thought; after all, they use the same general class of chips as the new Xbox 2. As bizarre as the concept may be to us, we can imagine at least a few people in the general populace thinking "if the hardware's good enough for Microsoft, it's good enough for us." Scary, sure-- but if it moves a few Macs, hey, it's a good thing, right? Maybe not good enough to prevent us from putting the boot right back into Microsoft next week, but for this week, anyway, 'tis the season and all that. Ho ho ho.