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Apple switched to Intel processors in 2006, but maintained support for running PowerPC apps on Intel processors up until OS X Lion shipped, in 2011. Apple kept compatibility with a completely different processor architecture for half a decade. When I got my first Intel Mac, I just copied over all my PowerPC binaries, and they ran fine. It was unbelievable.

And this wasn't even the first time. Recall the 68k emulator that shipped in all classic PowerPC Macs.

Both Microsoft and Apple deserve enormous credit for their compatibility work. But Apple deserves special mention for shepherding the Mac through three completely different architectures (68k->PPC->x86) while maintaining excellent compatibility at each transition. Windows has also gone through significant transitions, but within the same x86 processor family.

Remember Windows NT which ran on PowerPC, MIPS and Alpha. They even ran x86 binaries on Alpha which were not only emulated but also translated for later runs [1].

Admittedly, all the other architectures Windows supported apart from x86 were added and later dropped again, so it were more sidesteps instead of transitions.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FX!32

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