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WHEN THE CHIPS ARE DOWN

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WEBWATCH

At last month's Computex 2005 event, Taiwanese motherboard maker AOpen revealed the mini PC - aka the Pandora - named, presumably, after the box of things you wish you hadn't opened. Actually, the mini PC is a slightly smaller but otherwise direct rip-off of Jonathan Ives's Mac mini design, right down to the slot-loading optical drive.

Pathetic really, because Mac mini-sized PCs have been available for a couple of years. Still, the speed of the design pirating was certainly impressive, because the Pandora/mini PC was first shown in public at an Intel developer forum just one month after the Mac mini was announced. I mention all this because, confusingly, Apple has just announced that it has decided to ditch the Mac's traditional Motorola processor in favour of an Intel dual-core jobbie.

So let's get our heads around this. The Mac, which is currently running an operating system based on Unix/Linux, is about to run it on a hitherto PC-only processor chip. There will be a transition period while programmers rewrite applications or use a translator for the new chip architecture. Meantime, wouldn't it be easier to just buy a mini PC and install Linux? Oh, that's a no, then.

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