Universal Binaries, how long will they last?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Kimi, Jan 28, 2006.

  1. Kimi macrumors regular

    Oct 29, 2005
    Newcastle, England/ Stirling Scotland
    Simple question, how long do you guys think that companies will release software in the form of a Universal Binary?

    The reason I'm asking is that I'm going to be getting an iBook. (or MacBook if that's what they name the Intel ones.). Originally I wasn't, but I got more money than I expected for my Birthday (it was my 18th, so that helped) and now I can afford to buy one.

    I'm going to be off to university in September for four years, so I'm not going to be able to buy a new computer until about 2010 (God, that seems ages with out upgrading...). I've got a 17" 1.9 G5 iMac which I'm taking with me, and I'll be getting an laptop too. What I'm worried about happening is that companies are going to stop producing software that will work on my iMac and I'll end up having to do all my work on the 'Book. This would be a bugger as I plan on getting the smallest screen I can for transport reasons.

    Also, I don't need a laptop. I'm doing a Maths degree so typing papers in the library isn't a big part of the course. Would you recommend that I put the money away and wait to get it while I'm mid way through university. That way I could maybe get a new iMac if the Universal Binaries are stopped.

    Any suggestions?
  2. jsw Moderator emeritus


    Mar 16, 2004
    Andover, MA
    I think it's always a good idea to wait if you can, because, obviously, your money will always get you a better computer later.

    However, to get to your original question, I suspect that it will be some time, indeed, before Universal Binaries go away. The Intel Macs just came out, and Gx-based Macs will still be sold for a few months, if not much longer, so I suspect you'll be fine either until 2010 or nearly so. Or, more specifically, the apps that are not supported on PPC in, say 2009 are likely not to run on an old system (which yours will be, by then) anyway.

    Since it is so trivial to support PPC for many companies, I don't see why they'd remove support when they might be able to sell more copies if they left it in.

    If it were me? I'd wait until school started and buy a laptop or new desktop when - and only when - you need one.
  3. T-Stex macrumors 6502

    Jan 15, 2006
    I wouldn't worry about when the UB's will stop being supported. I'd expect that they'll still be coming out in 2010. Basically, I'd suggest not considering that in your decision to buy a laptop. Wait as long as you can, and buy the best laptop that suits your needs when you actually need it. There's no harm in waiting, but you might be dissapointed if you don't wait and then miss out on buying something else.
  4. bousozoku Moderator emeritus

    Jun 25, 2002
    Gone but not forgotten.
    It was a while before 680x0 software stopped being available so I expect that UBs will be around long enough that the various 1 or 2 year old machines will be happy a while longer.
  5. Chip NoVaMac macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

    Dec 25, 2003
    Northern Virginia
    My take it will be about 3 years after the last G5/G4 system is sold by Apple. Meaning that we are looking at the end of this year for a complete transition to the Intel platform, so at a minimum for two years after that.

    Though given the history of Mac users holding on to their systems longer than Windows users (based on reports by Apple in the "switch" reasons).

    I personally hope that I will be able to hold on to my iMac G5 2.0 20" for the next three years with universal binaries and the update to OSX 10.5 next year!
  6. NewbieNerd macrumors 6502a


    Sep 22, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    Regardless of when you decide to get a laptop, I really don't think you'd mind having one, of course depending on what kind of person you are. I have had a laptop all through college (senior now) until I just got my new iMac, and I have been so thankful to have had it. I almost always have done my work somewhere on campus away from my room, sometimes to get away from a roommate as in freshman year, and most times just to be in a more productive, less dirty (my room, hehe) environment. I'm a Math/CS student, and I proudly do my LaTeX all over campus.

    Also remember that you probably have other requirements, not just Math courses, so at times you may need the portability, especially if working on projects, but even in math you may work with partners and need to go elsewhere. Bottom line: flexibility is a beautiful thing in college. Yeah you can get by and be fine with a desktop, but I have loved having a laptop so much that I will probably always have one.
  7. RacerX macrumors 65832

    Aug 2, 2004
    Well, the easy answer is that most companies will stop making Universal Binaries when their minimum operating system requirements exceed the newest version of Mac OS X for PowerPC based systems.

    So I would guess that that would start happening within 9 months of the release of the first Intel-only version of Mac OS X. Expect that the majority of software developers will have dropped PowerPC support by about 2 years after that. I'd say that you would be safe for at least 4 years, most likely 7 years.

    Besides, contrary to popular belief, software doesn't stop working after the release of the next version. I, for example, use older versions of both Mathematica and Theorist (LiveMath). Sadly students (even with their student discounts) usually pay two to three times what they really need to for computers and software because they are under the misguided impression that only new will do.

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