Ah, the legally troubling world of emulation. MSX, a company based in Hawaii, have announced the release of their CherryOS – an application that allows the owner of any reasonably well-specified PC to turn it into a Macintosh G4, if they so choose.
The G4 is based on on IBM’s PowerPC architecture and as such is radically different from Intel’s x86 platform – so the host processor’s instruction set has to be translated from one platform to the other. Emulation effectively creates a virtual machine, in this case a G4, within the other computer’s operating system, in this case a PC. CherryOS emulates a G4 so well that all of the system’s hardware resources, an area where most emulators usually fall down, are accessible. Getting Firewire, USB, PCMCIA and Ethernet all to work well can’t have been easy.
Processor overheads and memory use are another traditional sticking point for emulators since the emulator has to be stored somewhere and instructions have to be translated, but MSX claim that CherryOS uses up only 20% of a host PC’s resources.
Users won’t be able to do much with their virtual G4 unless they install an operating system on it. MSX assure that OS X, available from Apple for about US$149 (€120), works fine.
Apple won’t be pleased: even if the product is 100% legal, didn’t reverse engineer any of their hardware or use any Apple code, it means users can now run Macintosh applications on hardware that is considerably cheaper (and less stylish) than their own kit.
Arben Kryeziu, CherryOS inventor says he created the application because he grew tired carrying a PC and mac around with him. “Think about it,” he said, “Now about 600 million PC users can have the Mac advantage. One computer to use all software and if PC users would use Mac software to get email, perhaps they would avoid viruses, Trojans and spy-ware.” True, but one could argue that about Linux, which is more popular than OS X. What else have you got?
He also went on to describe some of the advantages CherryOS brings: “You can build and test applications for a Mac on your development PC, test web site design for Mac web browsers without having to buy the hardware, run OS X, the world’s best operating system, on a less expensive hardware platform and use your favourite Mac apps on a PC.”