Apple is giving away US$10,000 worth of software to all those attending the World Wide Developers Conference in San Jose this week. This is not particularly surprising, until one realises that this extraordinary package of software does not run on a Macintosh. It runs on Intel-based PCs. The idea, apparently, is to give Apple developers a taste of how easy it is to use the tools developed by Steve Jobs and his lads at NeXT. Mr Jobs, of course, has now joined Apple in a senior position. Let me see. How does this work? I am an Apple developer and I pay a small fortune to go to San Jose to attend the annual developers conference (a terrific event, I must say. I have been there). I am handed a bundle of software worth ten grand that I have to go out and buy a machine for because I certainly haven't got an Intel-based silicon slave anywhere in my house or office. I go to Hewlett-Packard or Digital or Compaq and buy a real screamer of a PC with all the trimmings. I don't stop there. I get a 20-inch monitor and a 12x CD-ROM drive and 56 kbps modem. I then load up all my NeXT software and have a shot. So what happens? One of two things. The first could be that I find the whole thing such a tremendous environment for programming that I abandon all my Mac projects and convert them to NeXT. I am so overjoyed with the results, I neglect all Mac-based applications, forget about Apple and spend the rest of my programming life working in OpenStep. The second thing that could happen is that I find the whole thing an impossible mess. Try as I may, I am so locked into the Mac world that all the little differences bother me and I can get no work done. I then realise that this is not just an Intel-based nightmare, it is the future of the Mac! The resulting depression is overwhelming. For a brief moment I consider grinding up the computer's central processing unit and eating it (I was once told that this is a horrible way to commit suicide and that is what I am looking for). Just when I decide that life without my Mac is not worth living, the bill for my Intel computer arrives and my wife murders me for using the money that was supposed to go to the children's education on the 'useless box' in the corner. There is only a slight exaggeration here - believe me, I know what Mac developers are like. One does have to wonder, however, how wise it is to give these people all this software that runs on the 'enemy' platform. If Apple get lucky - something that has not happened to them for a long time - it will succeed. If not, columnists around the world will continue to make fun of them.