Whining about Universal Software for your Intel Mac?

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Date: Friday, April 28th, 2006, 08:00
Category: Software

I have been reading many posts on the PowerPage and other similar Mac interest sites over the past month or two, as well as reviews from reputable publications regarding the Intel Macs. Many of the recommendations I’ve read are to not buy an Intel Mac now based on the fact that Universal Binary versions of certain pieces of software – specifically Adobe’s Creative Suite – are not yet available. Many of the reviews state that when running non-Universal applications under the Rosetta emulation environment, you will experience a MAJOR decrease in speed and application response as well as slowing down your entire system to a crawl. This is just NOT TRUE.
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I have been reading many posts on the PowerPage and other similar Mac interest sites over the past month or two, as well as reviews from reputable publications regarding the Intel Macs. Many of the recommendations I’ve read are to not buy an Intel Mac now based on the fact that Universal Binary versions of certain pieces of software – specifically Adobe’s Creative Suite – are not yet available. Many of the reviews state that when running non-Universal applications under the Rosetta emulation environment, you will experience a MAJOR decrease in speed and application response as well as slowing down your entire system to a crawl. This is just NOT TRUE.
I know many of you out there would consider yourself a “power user” – quite frankly, most of you are not. At least not so much that these “speed hits” are going to affect your work day or your productivity. I AM a “power user”/full-time web designer/developer. I purchased a MacBook Pro 2.0Ghz about a month ago. When I received it I went out of my way to install only Universal Binary versions of the applications that I use on a daily basis (Transmit, Onyx, Fire, BBEdit, etc. – as well as the iLife and iWork products from Apple). The one category where I couldn’t find suitable alternatives were the 2 applications from Adobe’s Creative Suite that I use every day, religiously – Photoshop/ImageReady and GoLive. I am editing images for the web all day long with Photoshop and ImageReady as well as busting out killer XHTML, CSS, JavaScript, etc. with GoLive, and quite honestly I notice NO major decreases in speed or processing power. And – running these apps does not slow my system or other apps down to a crawl as I had expected after reading all those negative posts and reviews mention above. PhotoShop and GoLIve are certainly no slower than they are on a G4 PowerBook. So in essence, they will still run at the same speeds you are used to and just maybe not “4X faster”.
My conclusion – If you are the “power user” that is working with 50MB Photoshop documents or 20MB Illustrator files, then a new Intel Mac probably isn’t for you. If you depend on Flash 8 daily, you need to get a PC. If you need to run VirtualPC, than these machines are not for you. Meaning, unless you are doing something really out of the ordinary with really large files that are dependent on some really bloated and/or processor intensive software applications, you can stop fearing the Intel Mac and putting off your purchase. Stop by your local Apple Store or test drive your buddy’s new Intel Mac and see for yourself. And most importantly, stop all the whining.
Contributed by: Earl P. Swimmington

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2 Responses to “Whining about Universal Software for your Intel Mac?”

  1. Actually, you’re statement ” If you need to run VirtualPC, than these machines are not for you.”, is dead wrong. If you need to run VPC, these machines are a much better option for you, because while VPC isn’t Mactel (and probably never be), Parallells does the same thing for $49 and is about 100x faster than VPC on a Mactel. Plus, if you really need true Windows speed, Boot Camp is another option.

  2. I think many of you are missing the main point of the article. Yes, Universal Binary applications are faster than those running in Rosetta. Yes, Parallels is faster than Virtual PC ever thought of being, but those are just picky points. What Earl was saying is that for most of us the current state of affairs is just fine.
    No Rosetta, isn’t going to benchmark like Universal Binary. So what? I’m finding that Photoshop and Dreamweaver run similarly on both a new Intel iMac and a year old G4 Powerbook. For anybody not working on high end media like audio mixing or high-resolution print design, that is more than good enough. Basically he said that, in the worse case, the new Macbooks perform at least as well as the old Powerbooks. For native applications the speed increase is impressive. Pages seems like a whole new program.
    Okay, power user was an unfortunate choice of terms. He would have been better saying something like high end media production pros. But that too is a picky point.