This look at the Xbox 2 at the Register has me wonder what kinds of plans MS might have for Mac users.

The next-gen Xbox will boast three PowerPC 976 chips, each based on IBM's Power 5 architecture and fabbed at 65nm. [give or take the same processors in PowerMacs today -R]

Alongside them will be an ATI R500 graphics chip, apparently. It will support DirectX 10, which will also provide the graphics API for the next major version of Windows, 'Longhorn'.

Hrm. You know how many people try to make a big deal out of Apple perhaps releasing for x86? You know what might be a nice fringe benefit to MS from the Xbox2? That's right -- Windows on Mac hardware. MS doesn't care who's selling the hardware; only what OS they run. If MS can have Windows ready as a fallback for Mac users once they're forced into Apple's plan of "Buy or Bye!", they might find a pretty sizable audience. I've seen a number of people complain about not being able to run OS X on their boxes who have pitched to Linux, and many Linux users seem to have switched to OS X because of the superior hardware moreso than anything distinctly Mac-esque about OS X. The trend could continue.

The only issue is all those compiled applications. Two key things to remember there:

* .NET runs in a sort of virtual machine (a "common langauge runtime") like Java. Rewrite the virtual machine for the G5 and you're ready to run .NET apps on Mac hardware already.

* Microsoft owns VirtualPC now. Anything that's native can still run emulated on the G5.

I'm going to go ahead and cast my hat in the rumor ring and say that part of MS's potential anti-Apple strategy is releasing Windows for Mac hardware. They've done it, give or take, before (NT on PowerPC). Now they'll consider making a push for the client machines themselves. More conspiracy theory than something I'm confident will happen, but the pieces are all there.