The Last Mac?

in General Discussion
I mostly use my laptop for software development for Windows, Linux and Apple applications.  I use VMware fusion.

There are a LOT of software developers like me that use their laptops for this, with Parallels or Fusion or whatever.

Whilst we are not the 'majority' of MBP buyers - we tend to buy top of the line configurations and we bring some kudos to the platform.

I'm writing this because I feel like the Apple Silicon transition effect on people like me hasn't received much attention in the media, but it should, because we have an outsized effect on Apple (we are software developers).  

Just before the recent 'event' I purchased a 'refurbished' 2019 MacBook Pro 16" (intel), fully maxed out, from Apple web store.  I hadn't intended to buy it, but my old 2015 MBP suddenly started to kernel panic and I couldn't be without it for however long it will take to get it repaired.  Now that the 'event' is over and there are now only M1 MacBooks for sale, I'm kinda glad I did.  I think this may be my last ever MBP.

I'm sure I'll always have a MacMini or three hanging around for various tasks, including compiling for Apple platforms in future - but without the ability to run Intel VM's the M1 MBP is useless to me.

Now I've used Apple Laptops for years, even when there were PowerPC based and I ran 'virtual pc' on them - the PowerPC could emulate an Intel processor faster than an Intel processor could, plus I could restore my virtual PC to snapshot states (eg: after a sales meeting, ready for the next one) when my colleagues had to use a disk cloner to get their Intel laptops back to a sane state.

With the 2019 MBP I think I probably don't need to replace my laptop for 3+ years now.

But if the single threaded performance of the Apple Silicon has not significantly increased to warrant someone coming up with a plug-and-play intel emulator virtual machine thingy - like virtual pc in the PowerPC days, then this 2019 MBP will be my last Apple Laptop.  Or, of course, that Windows on ARM and Linux on ARM is a huge success and results in the end of Intel as the key driver for software purchases.

My wife works at a school - and the IT department recently handed her a new M1 MacBook for her work - which is mostly Microsoft Word and Teams and Safari/Chrome.  Sure - I can see that she doesn't even know/care that it's an M1 processor in there and not Intel, but she sure does like the battery life, which is what the M1 delivers.  But it's a base spec machine, and a Chromebook could probably do the same thing for a fraction of the price.  It looks a little like it could turn into a race to the bottom.

I was hoping that Apple would release an update to the Intel Mac Pro - but given Apple just through Intel under the bus on the MBP (they could have easily kept the 2019 model in stock for those who still wanted Intel) I now seriously doubt they will.  VMware cancelling ESXi certification for the Mac Pro also sounds like this.  I'll probably try and pick up the last Intel MacMini for ESXi before it too disappears.

I guess I'm prompted to write this today by the dismissive tone in the article published today  - that software developers should drop everything to support Apple Silicon when it requires new hardware and makes their life just generally really difficult.  Of course, for many of us, Apple users are a significant market and we should support them, just like we did on PowerPC, then transition to Intel and now transition to ARM.  But for those of us developing on Intel hardware for 3 Intel platforms (Linux, Windows and Mac) - the odd platform out that makes our life difficult it going to come waaaay down out list of priorities.

In the same way as developers have been able to build for ARM on iPhone/iPad for years (either on MacOS with Xcode, or on windows with Xamarin/Visual Studio), for the ARM MacOS to be relevant to developers, we need to be able to develop for it on Intel.  Because we developers are going to be using Intel laptops primarily for a very very very long time.  Apple would do well to keep one top spec Intel laptop in their lineup for this purpose.  The majority of MacOS apps that natively support M1 have been compiled on Intel MacOS with the Xcode cross compiler/universal binary - not on M1 natively.  

We are yet to see software developers embrace Apple Silicon (except as a cross compile target from Intel MBP's), and unless the Apple Silicon single threaded performance increases dramatically and supports intel emulation in a virtualised environment (aka 'virtual pc') then I don't think we will.  Then the majority of ARM MacOS apps will be ones compiled from Xamarain/Visual Studio - ie: iPad apps.

I'm genuinely interested in your feedback.  From developers and 'users' and speculators.   Have I missed something obvious?  Am I alone in thinking this way?
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