Running .exe On Intel Macs Without Emulation?

By on November 22, 2005

I thought this was interesting…

I just wanted to tell you about a hack I experimented on my PC (I didn’t really know what to do with it since I bought a Power Mac). It was surprisingly simple: I installed OSX86 and then Darwine. These are both simple operations. Now if I double-click on “Notepad.exe”, it just runs !

This is how it works:
Now that OSX runs on Intel (or even on AMD as far as I’m concerned…), it is possible to run Wine – a soft coming from the Linux world and whose aim is to provide a Windows environment – WITHOUT emulation. Thus an application such as Notepad.exe, which is compiled for ‘86 CPUs, can be run as long as the calls to Windows services are supported (opening a window, a menu, managing the mouse…). An obvious exemple is Microsoft Office (the Windows version – Microsoft hasn’t compiled it for a Linux environment, of course…), which runs with Linux thanks to CrossOffice, a commercial version of Wine.

Same story for OS X in a few months. Darwine is the OS X86 port of Wine. The fact that I could make my “Mac-Intel” notepad-compatible with basic versions of Darwine in 10 minutes means that, within a few months, most small Windows applications which have no equivalent on OS X will be runable without emulation, that is: with speed.

The more I think about it, the more it seems to me that the Intel transition will have big consequences on Windows market share and that Apple is well aware of it. From there, we could even suppose that the transition has nothing to do with problems about the PowerPCs, but is indeed a step to implement a hegemonic system able to run OSX, Windows and Linux application.

Not that such a development would make a hardcore Apple-hater (like you-know-who-you-are) buy Apple hardware, but it would invalidate yet another argument against buying Apple.

What Links Here


  1. I’ve been hearing that such things should be possible since shortly after Apple announced the Intel switch. What worries me is that Developers will start deciding that they don’t need to write a Mac version of their product. Which to me means the quality of software running on a Mac is going to take a hit. Regardless, it’s going to be interesting.


  2. Developers will start deciding that they don’t need to write a Mac version of their product.

    What do you mean “will start”? Most don’t write Mac versions now.

  3. Most? Nah. Only the ones that don’t matter. ;o)

    Then I never want to hear a complaint again from the resident Mac crew about companies that don’t make Mac versions. Ever.

  4. There are a lot of things I want too, Deane, but have learned to live with disappointment.

    Actually, I think Michael brings up a legitimate concern. But I don’t think commercial software publishers will be able to get away with that because of support issues; if they sell me a piece of software that was built for Windows but tell me it will work under OS X using Wine, they’d dang well better make sure it functions fully.

    I guess for most commercial software it’ll work out one of two ways; publishers will continue to have a Windows and a Mac port available and support both, or they’ll put out a Windows version only, with Mac compatibility using something like Wine, and will throw some effort into improving compatibility with Wine.

    But like Michael says, quality is going to suffer; Mac users will have to put up with ugly Windows-like UI elements and inconsistent keyboard commands. It’ll no doubt be a second-rate experience. Fun.

  5. Mac users will have to put up with ugly Windows-like UI elements and inconsistent keyboard commands.

    I have found Windows UI to be extremely consistent over the years. And ugly? I guess I don’t ask my apps to be pretty, but rather to actually do stuff. They’re are pretty as they need to be.

  6. Someone who’s opinion I respect (mostly) once posted this about Why Beautiful Things Work Better

    … the role of aesthetics in product design: attractive things make people feel good, which in turn makes them think more creatively. How does that make something easier to use? Simple, by making it easier for people to find solutions to the problems they encounter.

    I kind of see it like buying an Audi and then discovering that the dealer ripped out the CD player and satellite radio and installed an 8-Track player. My car would perform nicely and I would enjoy the attention to detial that went into the product..unitl I wanted to listen to some music.


  7. Fine, fine — I’ll retract the bit about the ugliness or prettiness of an app. But the thing about controls being consistent — I’m sticking with that.

    Generally speaking, Windows apps are so consistent they’re boring. File, Edit, View. Ctrl-O, Ctrl-S, Ctrl-P.

  8. The consistency I was referring to is the differences between the UI in the Mac apps and the Windows apps. With this sort of arrangement, running one alongside another on the same machine, you’d probably end up with different keyboard commands, different look to the app windows, window control buttons on opposite sides, etc…

  9. Having experience WABI (remember this adventure), I can say running a windows app under an emulation like WINE on an intel Mac will not change the windows application misbehaving. It will still lock up, freeze the app or WINE or just act up.

    I still use a PC once in a while and have Virtual PC on my Mac. I switched to a PowerBook G4 3 years ago from a Sony Vaio. I love my Mac – It just WORKS! However, I have to say I went from spending about a day a week trying to keep my Windows machine working/running to absolutely zero equivalent time on my Mac – It just works. AND, I don’t have to subscribe to Norton/Symantec/McAfee for $$/yr to keep it running.

    My Mac is truly an appliance which does what I need to do. I’m not a slave to my computer anymore.

    As for writing applications for OS X, I think the rapid development of the applications for OS X since its launch is proof that with INTEL underneath there will be even more. Now the Linux ports will be MUCH MUCH easier. Grab some popcorn and enjoy the movie!

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