Cyberman: Rhodri Marsden

Platform war is over
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There seemed to be the faint possibility last week that the unspeakably tedious platform war that has raged for decades between PC and Mac users could finally be over. This was sparked by Apple's announcement that a version of Microsoft's Windows operating system can now be run on its new range of Macs. In business terms, it's trebles all round; Microsoft now sees the day when all the world's computers can run Windows, and Apple will be delighted that its machines will be able to run the world's most widely used software.

But while corks were popping in the boardroom, eyes were popping on the internet. Allegiances were resworn by many blinkered Mac obsessives, as they slammed the news as the latest in a long line of grim betrayals. Others were more thrilled - for geeky code-monkeys, the idea of a gadget running software it's not supposed to has long been a source of fascination.

A fellow writer on this newspaper recently asked me how he might get documents from his Apple-manufactured iBook to open on his imminently-arriving desktop PC; he was relieved to be told that, in many cases, it just works. We've moved on from the days when we had to fork out for extra utilities to help us exchange files between Macs and PCs. Occasionally you might yearn to run a program that's not available for your computer, and you might try using a software emulator - but they run so sluggishly that attempting to play a shoot-'em-up game inevitably sees you vanquished before you turn the first corner. The majority of people just want to browse the internet, send e-mails or crop people out of their wedding photos. And as these tasks become faster and more intuitive to perform on all computers, it's unlikely that the old platform war will spread beyond a small corner of cyberspace.

cyber@timewasting.net

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