Goodbye to Wintel: the former boss of the Mac ensures that Windows PCs will also have to migrate to ARM
The impact of the transition from Mac processors to Apple Silicon will be felt beyond Apple’s domains. This is what Jean-Louis Gassée said in his blog, where he emphasizes with solid arguments that Microsoft will also need to make the transition. A decision that would leave behind the once successful relationship between Intel and Windows, known as “Wintel”.
Gassée was the Apple executive who replaced Jobs after his departure in 1985. In 1990, he left Apple and a year later founded the company Be Inc., responsible for creating the BeOS operating system. When Apple abandoned its efforts to rewrite the Mac operating system in the 1990s, it turned to two possible acquisitions: NEXT et Be. Finally, he acquired the first one and brought Steve Jobs back on board.
More battery, more power and better heat dissipation
According to Geekbench testing, the A12Z is equal to or better than my MacBook Pro. Apple did not disclose the TDP of the A12Z processor, but we can look at an indirect number, the iPad Pro 18W power adapter. That gives us an idea of what to expect in future Apple Silicon Macs: a TDP significantly lower without loss of processing power.
Then the performance. With what we see in the current A12Z, one cannot imagine that the Apple Silicon Macs of the future will have less than a 25% performance advantage over a corresponding x86 PC. I admit, these are broad and speculative traits on Apple Silicon Macs. Think faster, thinner laptops with 10 hours of battery life.
In addition to a noticeable improvement in performance and autonomy, Gassée highlights heat dissipation as another advantage. And for that, it indicates how your MacBook Pro with an Intel Core i7 gets very hot when performing tasks. Something that is not ideal in a product that the user can kneel down to work at certain times.
Apple Silicon processors therefore add three distinct improvements: more power, more battery and better heat dissipation. There are three variables that they would significantly improve Intel processors. And they open other doors in the design of new Macs. These ARM chips go beyond a simple power boost. They represent a new design horizon for the Mac.
Microsoft’s false dilemma
In 2012, Microsoft began to ditch Intel x86 processors with its first ARM-powered Surface machine. It didn’t work out very well. But Microsoft insisted, and late last year released the Surface Pro X with another ARM chip and running Windows for ARM. It was an improvement, but many journalists were not convinced.
To cite one problem, classic Microsoft applications did not run natively. It was even more embarrassing when Office was shown running on Apple Silicon during WWDC last month.
Gassée moves on to the second part of the article to focus on Microsoft. The company would be faced with a dilemma that it believes to be false: put aside the ARM version of Windows and allow Apple to keep that market, or solve software problems and have an alternative to macOS 11. The former Apple executive is clear that this is a false dilemma, as Microsoft won’t leave all PC makers out of the blue.
Microsoft Surface Pro X, review: ARM hardware ready to conquer convertibles, software is not yet
Keep in mind that manufacturers like ASUS, Dell or HP account for the bulk of Windows computers sold in the market. Particularly relevant for companies, which the primary focus of the services that make up the bulk of Microsoft’s business. We can therefore expect more effort from Redmond to develop an ARM compatible software ecosystem.
Farewell to Wintel, the alliance has dominated personal computing for decades
Gassée ends his article with the end of the Wintel alliance, named after its two components: Windows and Intel. For Windows, the advantage was clear and it was dominate the PC market with your operating system. As for Intel, the silicon company has put the chips that offer better performance and power efficiency than the competition, as well as a progression path to a clear future.
The former executive begins by saying how Intel refused to participate in the iPhone with its processors and got rid of its ARM license in 2006. About the Wintel relationship:
Now Intel faces a bigger problem: the x86 have higher margins not because of the chip, but because of the Intel-Windows duopoly, which means that with all variables being the same, the chips that do not run Windows have smaller margins than an x86 processor. Now this union, this advantage is about to disappear. Intel will tackle ARM SoCs by running Windows on ARM with applications, in PC-level quantity, at lower prices.
So the way seems obvious: get another ARM license and start designing chips with this architecture for Windows PCs. But not only will you find lower margins there, but also companies like AMD, Qualcomm, and NVIDIA. This will lead to a much more aggressive competition than that existing on the x86 market, where only AMD stands out.
Apple Silicon: details of an incredible transition to its own processors
Of course, the perspective provided by Jean-Louis Gassée regarding the transition to Apple Silicon is very valuable. This former head of the Mac gives us a vision that goes beyond the consequences for Apple in this change. One that makes perfect sense to push Windows PCs too. The next few years are going to be exciting on the classical IT level.