- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 13, 2002

Apple Computer's fortunes may not have as many twists and turns as the plot lines on, say, a daytime drama like ABC-TV's "General Hospital," but it does seem to be full of surprises.
According to Cnet.com, Andrew J. Neff, an analyst for Bear Stearns, is forecasting that Apple, currently using Power PC chips manufactured by both IBM Corp. and Motorola, is likely to switch to processors made by Intel Corp. That's because Intel's chips can run at up to 2.5 gigahertz, or 2 times the speed of the fastest Power PC chip
Apple, of course, isn't commenting on such a prediction. If it did happen, though, I believe a dramatic shift in Apple's fortunes could result, since prices for new Macs could be closer to those of Windows-based PCs.
One thing that might help Apple make the switch is the growing popularity of its Mac OS X operating system, which is based on Unix. Unix, in turn, can run very nicely on Intel processors, so converting OS X to run on Intel microprocessors might not be that difficult.
Whether or not Apple's operating system migrates to the Intel platform, there are some other good things coming to the Macintosh platform.
OpenOffice.org, the group that's trying to promote a free, cross-platform "office suite" of applications word processor, spreadsheet, presentation graphics and so on has a very early, or alpha, version of its software that can run on a Mac using OS X, if other "windowing" software is installed first.
I downloaded all the items from www.openoffice.org, installed them and tested this early software. It works, if a bit awkwardly, and it shows promise for future versions. Like the version of OpenOffice that runs on systems using Microsoft Windows, the program's components are very close to those found in Microsoft Office, with similar features, screens and layouts. It can read (and write) files compatible with Microsoft Office, and is worth investigating, if you are willing to straddle the "bleeding edge."
Less "bleeding edge" and sorely needed by Mac users is the beta OS X version of Real Networks' RealOne audio-video player software, released July 17. I've used it since the morning of its release, and it performs flawlessly.
According to the firm, this beta version allows Mac OS X users to enjoy all of the content and hundreds of thousands of hours of audio and video created each week in RealNetworksfl formats, including the breakthrough RealVideo 9.
In testing, the player works both as a stand-alone application and with my Netscape Navigator browser as a plug-in. Later this year, the company said, Real's advanced subscription service will be available to OS X users.
It's a good thing for Mac users, who until now have only had, ironically, Microsoft's Windows Media Player for OS X as a streaming media player. While a lot of content is available in the Windows Media format, a vast amount such as my weekly AdrenalineRadio.com program are available only in RealAudio. Having access to it under Mac OS X is something to be thankful for.
What else can Mac users look for? Reports indicate that Quark, the popular desktop publishing software, will soon make the jump to OS X, something many fans will appreciate. But overall, the Mac OS X platform has plenty of applications, large and small, available, which makes the Mac an even more compelling choice for computer shoppers.
Write to: Mark Kellner, c/o The Washington Times, Business Desk, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, D.C. 20002. Send e-mail to [email protected], or visit his Web page, www.kellner2000.com. Talk back to Mark live every Friday from 5 to 6 p.m. EDT on www.adrenalineradio.com.

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