Adobe’s Move to Universal Binary

Since Apple released its Intel based Macs earlier this year, it has been clear when Apple will update its professional software packages to run on the new systems.  Apple has plainly stated that the updates will be available in March of 2006… this month, in fact.  At the same time, Apple was quick to point out that all of the applications that ship on its new machines, such as iLife, already run native on the new hardware.  And while other software makers rush universal binary version of their applications to market, one software giant has been slow to make the conversion.

Adobe has had little to say about the release date of the universal binary versions of its applications.  Short of the forthcoming application known as Lightroom, none of the software giants applications currently run on Intel based Macs.  The extent of Adobe’s acknowledgment to date has been to simply say that Adobe Creative Suite 3 (CS3) will be native.  So when will CS3 be released, and why is Adobe waiting?

The release date of CS3 remains to be seen.  But in an interview with Photoshop Production Manager, John Nack, The Unofficial Photoshop Weblog as gleaned some insightful information.  Most notably is that all current Mac software released from Adobe is compiled using Code Warrior.  In order to make a smooth transition to the Intel instruction set, the applications must be compiled using Apple’s Xcode technology.  And the conversion from Code Warrior to Xcode appears to be the cause of the slow down.

What does this mean for the Pro users of Apple’s new hardware?  Older PowerPC based hardware will be the best way to run software for anyone that heavily leverages Adobe software.  And, what does this mean for Apple?  New Intel based hardware will be slowly adopted until Adobe can complete the port and release a universal binary version of its Creative Suite.  In order for Apple to smoothly complete the transition to its Intel based line of hardware, Adobe simply must complete its transition first.  Until such time, Apple will have no choice but to offer older PowerPC based hardware along side its newer Intel based line.

Check out the full interview at


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