29th January, 2004
For quite some time now, it has been possible to install Windows on a Macintosh and run Windows applications with the help of VirtualPC, originally developed by the ingenious programmers at Connectix - who also made the Playstation One emulator for Mac - now bought by Microsoft.
Users of Linux and other unix-like operating systems on x86 architecture have benefitted from the development of Wine, an open source implentation of the Windows API, allowing them to run Windows applications without installing the Windows operating system at all.
As MacOS X is a very unix-like operating system, the FreeBSD-based foundation of which, the open sourced Darwin, is available for several platforms, Darwine intends to port Wine to MacOS X and thereby make it possible to install and run Windows applications without the need for the extra layer of the Windows OS itself. While the project is very much at it's beginning, there is an early development version available for download [functional only on x86 hardware].
In spite of all the great things Darwine could achieve [playing Windows-only games on my Mac for instance], should Darwine become a success, it might mean that several developers of important applications [Adobe, Macromedia, and the entire gaming industry] will end the development of Macintosh-specific versions. The number of active Mac-users is extremely important when deciding whether a Mac version should be done, and if they might just as well run the Windows version, why spend the extra money? A little known but much appreciated improvement in MacOS X over earlier versions, is the object oriented API known as Cocoa, that Apple inherited when it bought NEXTStep. Abandoning this in favour of the Windows API or even the much hyped .NET would, in my oppinion, be a mistake. In fact, an open sourced semi-port named GNUStep is on the way, indicating that there is more to it than just marketing babble from Apple.
Time will show, but for the moment, I'll be following the progression of Darwine with excitement.
Update @ 16:47: I thought about the last paragraph and decided I was wrong. It doesn't matter on what platform the apps were originally intended to run as long as it runs on Apple hardware. If Apple could present the world a machine capable of running applications for the three most common OSes in the world, it would be a tremendous salespoint, provided this was possible using only MacOS X and some future variant of Darwine [if Apple were to integrate this application in their software family, wouldn't iWin be a proper name? :)]. It will always benefit Apple and the users of the machines they make.