Wednesday, April 05, 2006
If you were waiting for the other shoe to drop it's time to wash your socks--Apple just did what many of us suspected it would do: it has produced software that will allow Macs to run Windows. The stock, already astronomical [I resisted buying it at $15 before the split because I was told by experts never to buy stock on emotion], jumped seven points. And well it should.
Apple has released a beta of Boot Camp, software that will permit Windows XP to run on Intel-based Macs, the newest machines they sell. By year's end, all new Macs will have Intel dual processors. The moment they made the Intel announcement, people were wondering if that meant they could run Windows, which was designed for Intel microprocessors. Several hacks accomplished the deed. Apple first said it wouldn't support such a thing--go do it if you want to but leave us out of it. They apparently didn't mean a word of it or changed their minds. The new Mac operating system due later this year, Leopard, will include a final copy of Boot Camp and while Microsoft will have to support it, Apple won't mind.
You'll need to partition your hard drive, but with a Mac that's easy. Exchanging files may be a problem.
Why would you want to do such a thing? The current Mac system, Tiger, is already several generations ahead of Windows. But many people have software, usually corporate and proprietary, that only runs on Windows. Then there are all those games that run only on Windows. [Did you know there's not a single baseball emulation game for the Mac?] Now they can use Mac' OS X for everything else and still be able to run that stuff. Apple will sell a hell of a lot of computers to people who really want Macs and had been prevented by their IT people (scoundrels all) from using them. And Microsoft's new Windows won't be out until sometime next year--if they ever get their act in order. Computer geeks who've seen it, say the new Windows Vista still doesn't match Tiger, the current Mac OS, and by the time Vista is out, us Mac folks will be on to Leopard--with Boot Camp included.
[UPDATE: It should come as no surprise to anyone that industry observers are now reporting that Microsoft will delay Vista yet again, at least another three months, putting it back to about a year from now. Apple's Leopard should be making its appearance this fall. As one analyst put it, Microsoft is never on time.]
Several writers have suggested the next step, for which I approve heartily: make it possible for people now using Wintel computers (your Dell, your HP) to boot Mac OS. Then, instead of buying an expensive computer to run inferior software, you would be able to buy an inexpensive computer and run superior software. For a good explanation, go to Slate here. You miss the aesthetics of Mac hardware, but for some people that doesn't matter, particularly if you can save $500.
John Markoff's fine piece is here. The Windows-oriented PC World actually installed Boot Camp in a 20-inch iMac and was dazzled.
And remember, never buy stock on emotion. Sell Dell.