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Steve Jobs talking about universal binaries
Adobe says univeral Photoshop CS2 binary will take too much time to produce and makes no sense

Apple has been enjoying an extremely warm welcome for its new line of Intel-based Macintosh computers since the beginning of the year. Products are out the door and more are on the way. The most anticipated Intel-Mac of the bunch has been Apple's MacBook Pro, which replaces the potent PowerBook. For the last month or so, shipments of MacBook Pros have been lackluster at best but now, Apple has secured a large number of units and estimated ship times on Apple's online store indicate a quick 1 to 2 business days at most.

In its ongoing transition, Apple has ensured customers that all the applications that ship with its Intel-Macs run natively, and not a single component left unchecked. Apple has done an excellent job at keeping its word so far. In terms of 3rd party applications, many are beginning to switch over to universal binaries -- or simply versions that will execute on both Apple's new Intel-Macs and on its older PowerPC-based Macs.

For most purposes, Apple's x86 transition is going fairly well. However, professional applications such as those from Adobe, Macromedia and Microsoft still exist as PowerPC binaries only. For new Intel-Mac users, this is problematic. In all fairness, Apple has done a superb job creating an invisible layer of code-translation, called Rosetta, which allows PowerPC applications to run on the new Macs, but at a significant performance cost. According to benchmarks, most professional applications see a performance hit anywhere from 50% to 60%. Graphics pros who spend their time in Photoshop CS, will not find the new Macs at all pleasing to work with.

Of course, hopes are there that things are moving along, and that more professional applications will be recompiled fairly quickly. Unfortunately, according to Adobe engineer Scotty Byer, Photoshop CS2, Adobe's current flagship image editing application, may not become universal at all. The problems that Byer describes are rooted in the way Photoshop is designed as well as how big the application is. Byer says that although most applications can be recompiled by being sent through Apple's XCode development platform, Photoshop by its very nature requires much more intense work.

In Byer's company blog, he says:

Now, Apple is doing an amazing job at catching up rapidly, but the truth is we don't yet have a shipping XCode in hand that handles a large application well. And switching compilers always involves more work than you would think in a code base of this size.
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Now, I'm an engineer, and I'm all for getting products out in front of customers so they can use their machines to their fullest as soon as possible, but there is just no way putting out a Universal Binary of Photoshop CS2 would make any sort of sense.


So far, Adobe has not released any official estimated release date for Photoshop CS2 to be ported. According to Byer's blog, a release date for universal Photoshop CS2 may never come at all. In fact, Byer says that it makes more sense for both Adobe to focus on making Photoshop CS3 as robust and polished as possible, and for Apple's customers to wait for Photoshop CS3.

Byer's comments regarding Adobe's engineering focus and Photoshop CS3's development comes during at time when Apple is shipping its new Intel-Macs in healthy numbers. However, one glance at Apple's online store paints a clear picture: Apple's professional line of desktops that graphics pros routinely use are not yet ready either.




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