Universally Challenged

Universal appsA little over a month ago I swapped-out my 15″ PowerBook for a white MacBook. (No, no discoloration yet, but it’s one hot mother…) I really can’t be happier with the machine. It’s fast, small, and does everything I need it to do – and generally a LOT faster than the former G4 that it replaced. But this isn’t another review of the MacBook.

Since my change to Apple’s Intel-powered hardware I’ve been getting used to the speed with which everything runs. Boot-up is seriously quick, apps pop open almost before I click on them, and things that typically took a heart beat to happen in the G4 world happen in the blink of an eye these days. Ahhhh, but what about Rosetta apps you say. Glad there’s a few people still thinking and not just drinking the Kool-aid.

It took me very little time at all to run the apps I use most for updates, making sure I had Universal versions of everything possible. Not because it was brutally slow, but because I knew it could be faster. I have a need…A need for, well, you know.

Desktop Manager is one of my favorite utilities, and my hands-down favorite as far as Virtual Desktop apps go. But development has been lacking on this program for over a year. It’s surely not Universal (and doesn’t appear that it will every be), and for me that has posed a problem. It’s since been replaced by Virtue, which (for me) has sat in a decent second place for some time now.

The field of software available on the Mac is extensive. It seems that every idea has been done by at least a couple of developers, offering choices in which app a user prefers. There’s a dozen RSS readers, Browsers, ftp apps, text editors, and on, and on. I believe that the real race is starting to be with who can get a Universal Binary out first. In most cases that’s been done, but there are still a few stragglers.

I wonder, as time moves forward, will those stragglers fall behind? Will ‘loyal’ users move-on and start getting comfortable with the competition which has already moved to a Universal Binary release? Obviously I’m speaking to the smaller developers and their applications. People will wait for the likes of Photoshop to go Universal and not think twice. But what about a piece of software that I used several times a day before I went to an Intel Mac? If it ran slow via Rosetta I could deal with it, but truth be told, it won’t even run on my MacBook. I’m told theres a compatible Rosetta build forthcoming, but I don’t know when that may be. So what am I to do in the meantime. There are some lesser competitor offerings out there, but nothing that’s a full and/or perfect replacement at this time.

So in this new, Universal age, will enterprising software developers spring up to fill the gaps left by the former heavy-weights? Will those former heavy-weights be able to battle back, or come out with Universal builds in time to remain on top? I think this situation offers the opportunity for some big changes in the software landscape on the Mac platform. As more and more among us upgrade and move to the Intel-based Apple hardware, the market for software that runs swiftly (natively) on it will only continue to grow.

So what are the thoughts from the crowd? What programs do you use that aren’t yet available as Universal builds? Have you since moved-on to more suitable replacements? Are you currently working on replacing a stagnant PowerPC-only application? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic.

Oh, and no, I won’t be saying which program I’m talking about. No need to kick them while they’re down, so to speak. Some of you may well guess it. Good for you.

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