Apple announced its move into x86 is now a consumer reality yesterday as it introduced new iMacs and "MacBooks". I don't know that I've had a computer I've liked more for daily use than my current iBook G4, minus the horrible keyboard (space bar sticks and "h" repeats at the slightest touch), but the thought of one day having a laptop that runs both OS X and Windows is awfully intriguing. How difficult would that really be?

I think we can take a hint from this interview with ATi at

When asked about using a PC ATI card in a Mac, however, it was pointed out that the Mac cards still feature different firmware sets as well as use different drivers.

I wonder if that's significant trouble. My initial guess is no. My "WinPC" Voodoo 3 PCI card needed a BIOS flash to run 3D games on my old StarMax, but booted stock 2D video just fine.

Now, OS X does use a video card's hardware to run "Quartz Extreme", so I wonder what sort of trade-off one'd have to take. Could you use a Windows BIOS, run OS X without Quartz Extreme in the MacBook, and be able to play 3D games in Windows? Or would you have to use a Mac BIOS for Quartz Extreme, settle for gaming in Macland, and use a generic set of display drivers in Windows? I'm pretty sure the latter is worst case, as Windows by design is ready for pretty wild combinations of hardware, like putting that Voodoo 3 into a PCI slot of a dual processor, 64-bit AMD motherboard.

In any event, I think I'll be just fine in iBook G4 land for a while yet, as I wait for more to become Mactel native -- you'll notice that though Apple's billing the new Intel iMac as being twice as fast as its G5 predecessor, PowerMacs still use G5s. Why? Because the high-end apps on OS X are still coded for PowerPCs, not Intel processors, and the power uses aren't settling for the drawbacks of emulation. So I'll be plenty happy using "Universal Binaries" for as long as I can, I hope. But in a few years, boy, it sure will be great to be able to hack VB.NET on the same portable hardware that's running OS X -- and at native speed for both!