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Friday, January 27, 2006

The Law of Unintended Consequences Takes a Bite of the Apple?

Well, perhaps.

Apple's recent announcement that it's building PC clones with Intell-based chipsets prettily painted over with a veneer of OS X is really just making lemonade out of a whole big bunch of sour lemons. Why choose Intel chips? Well, cos Motorola and IBM have been wanting out of the PowerPC chip business for years-development had languished and setting up to fab new runs of the things for Apple wasn't great business, since Apple has such a small market share in its idiosyncrastic hardware.

Sooo... go with Intel. The chips are good, their characteristics well-known and not at all difficult for Apple to port OS X to (after all, nearly every other OS will run on Intel chipsets), they're just not "Apple" hardware...

Oh, and this: Apple's Switch to Intel Could Allow OS X Exploits

The recent move by Apple Computer to begin shipping Macintosh computers that use microprocessors from Intel could open the door to more attacks against computers running the company's OS X operating system, security experts warn.

The shift to Intel processors from the Motorola Power PC processors will make it easier to create software exploits for Macintosh systems, and could result in a steady stream of Mac exploits in years to come.

Yeh, the Law of Unintended Consequences. Caught between a rock and a hard place with its perennial chip fabbing problems, Apple bit the bullet, forsook its hard line stance on hardware (like, you couldn't see that coming, as Apple had already adopted the PC's PCI bus, PC-style memory architechture and all the other trappings of a regular old PC) and adopted an Intel chipset.like you'd find in any beige box. Sure Apple dressed it up in pretty, cutsy (impractical) iMac clothing, presented it as "setting the Intel chip free" (in qa Mac OS straight jacket) and loudly trumpeted "Pay no attention to the man behind the cutain!"

But really. Apple's become just another Intell PC choice. Spend an arm and a leg on an Apple Intel box... or get very similar functionality (and expansion limited to snaking a buncha wires around your worspace) by spending $300-$400 at WallyWorld for a Mandriva Linux box.

And have the same security issues all Intel-based boxes have. Sure, Wintel boxes more than most, in part because M$ is still not really serious about security (can anyone say "Internet Exploder" and "WMF flaw"?) and even more because nobody bothers to steal from the guy who has nothing worth stealing... When there's an almost overwhelming wealth of Wintel boxes to choose to attack, concentrating on a niche market like Mac users is naturally less appealing.

But now, if Apple makes this run, similarities at low-level-even machine code level-code base could make attacking Apple machines more appealing. And it's not as though Apple users were automatically secure, anyway, as my recent check of Mac security sites rvealed when one of the highly-referenced Mac security sites turned out to have been hacked.

Not a really security-conscious group, as a whole... In fact, Mac users as a class (note: I do know some very sharp, intelligent, competent Mac users who simply like the interface) seem to me to have more in common with AOL users than any other group...

There, now I've slammed both Mac users and AOL users. *heh* That feels pretty good. If I could add enviro-cultists who do their computer faking modeling on Macs I'd have a hat trick.

linkposted at Stuck on Stupid, cos it just seemed appropriate...