Jean-Louis Gassée, former Apple executive, has postulated that Apple’s move to custom silicon will force Microsoft to move to ARM.
Jean-Louis Gassée worked at Apple from 1981 to 1990, taking over as head of Mac development following Steve Jobs’ ouster. After his own departure from Apple, Gassée founded Be, Inc., the creator of BeOS. With his background, Gassée has a unique insight into the industry.
Gassée ultimately believes that Apple’s decision to abandon Intel chips in favor of its own custom silicon will have profound impacts on the industry at large. Specifically, he believes Microsoft will be forced to follow suit, and adopt ARM processors to keep up.
After first pointing out the same advantages we have highlighted at WPN—such as heat dissipation, better battery life and faster performance—Gassée predicts Apple’s new Macs could have as much as a 25% throughput advantage over Intel machines when they debut. This will force Microsoft to make a decision to either adapt or cede the high-performance market to Apple.
“This leaves Microsoft with a choice: Either forget Windows on ARM and cede modern PCs to Apple, or forge ahead, fix app compatibility problems and offer an ARM-based alternative to Apple’s new Macs,” writes Gassée. “It’s a false dilemma, of course. Microsoft will forge ahead…with repercussions for the rest of the Windows PC industry.
“Specifically, what are Dell, HP, Asus, and others going to do if Apple offers materially better laptops and desktops and Microsoft continues to improve Windows on ARM Surface devices? In order to compete, PC manufacturers will have to follow suit, they’ll ‘go AR’ because, all defensive rhetoric aside, Apple and Microsoft will have made the x86 architecture feel like what it actually is: old.”
Gassée’s take is a fascinating read, and one Intel and the PC community should take seriously. If his predictions are true, it looks like Apple may be upending the computer industry once again.