Probably the biggest news in the blogosphere is the revelation that Apple has released software, called Boot Camp, to allow Mac users to run Windows XP on an Intel-based Mac. According to AP (via Yahoo! News):
CUPERTINO, Calif. – Apple Computer Inc. on Wednesday unveiled new software that allows Intel-based Macs to run Microsoft Corp.’s
Windows XP software. Apple shares rose nearly 7 percent in early trading.
The computer maker said its new “Boot Camp” software is available as a download beginning Wednesday. It allows users with a Microsoft Windows XP installation disc to install Windows XP on an Intel-based Mac computer.
“Apple has no desire or plan to sell or support Windows, but many customers have expressed their interest to run Windows on Apple’s superior hardware now that we use Intel processors,” Philip Schiller, Apple senior vice president of worldwide product marketing, said in a statement.
Boot Camp makes it easier to install Windows software on an Intel-based Mac, with a step-by-step guide. It also lets users choose to use either Mac
OS X software, or the Windows software when they restart their computer.
Users can download the new Boot Camp software from Apple’s Web site. A final version of Boot Camp will be available as a feature in the upcoming Mac OS X version 10.5 “Leopard.”
The responses to this news have varied quite a bit.
Om Malik isn’t too keen on the idea and thinks the ability to run Windows XP on a Mac may endanger one of the things that has given Apple its edge – its coolness:
Okay, someone at Apple HQ has a sick sense of humor.
Sick as in making people up north sick. The release of Boot Camp, a small application that allows you to install and use Windows XP on a Mac (running Intel chips of course) is proof that one should never ever believe what Apple says. After all for the longest time, the company issued half-hearted denials about no-interest in having Windows run on a Mac. Yeah right – that’s like saying that Steve Jobs has a wardrobe full of rainbow colored mock-neck sweaters.
Like Erick, even I think this could actually help the Mac market share a tad. But the bigger picture: this could turn the heat on PC makers to actually work on coming out with hardware that matches the coolness of a Mac. (For me personally, coolness has turned to serious hotness. MacBook Pro is near life threatening, in the future tense sort of a way!)
Scoble is pretty impressed with the Mac maker’s decision and although he got a little sidetracked with how Apple people blog, he had the following to say:
Apple today announced Boot Camp, which lets you run Windows XP on one of those new Macintoshes. Very interesting! The bloggers go wild!
And, yes, I’m very tempted to buy a MacBook.
Erick Schonfeld published a post on B2Day in which he recognises that Boot Camp is likely a sign that Apple is listening to its users and notes that Apple should tread carefully:
It seems that Apple is doing this reluctantly, but at least it’s finally listening to its customers who have been clamoring for a dual-boot capability since the last century. It’s the smartest thing Apple has done since it came out with the iPod. And, assuming this will work for Vista as well and that they can make it so you can toggle back and forth between operating systems without rebooting, I predict it is the one thing that will actually move the needle on Apple’s PC market share.
Update: I should note that there is a very good reason for Apple’s reluctance to make it too easy for Windows apps to run on Macs. All of those software companies that make or rewrite thousands of apps specifically for the Mac might rethink the need to do that, which would undermine the value of OS X as a computing platform.
So Apple needs to tread carefully here, balancing the legitimate desire of consumers to run anything and everything on a Mac versus the unintended consequence of giving developers a reason to abandon OS X en masse.
The Unofficial Apple Weblog has a series of posts on Boot Camp covering topics from why Boot Camp doesn’t mean the end of software for Macs to the real reason behind Boot Camp and including coverage on a video on installing Boot Camp. They even point out that this isn’t the first time a Mac has supported Windows:
Before we all get completely flabbergasted by Apple’s efforts to allow users to run Windows on their Macs, let’s respect our elders, shall we? This isn’t the first time Apple has supplied Mac owners with an official solution for running Windows. The DOS Compatibility Card was released for the Powermac 6100 series way back in 1995. It actually shipped with an installable version of Windows (3.1) and MS-DOS 6.22. They featured a i80486 processor that cooked along at an astounding 33MHz.
We are standing on the shoulders of DOS compatibility cards.
To me, this makes sense, especially in light of Microsoft’s refusal to continue development on its software for the Mac (including Internet Explorer and Windows Media Player). Unfortunately the majority of computer users run Windows and it makes sense for Apple to enable people to buy a Mac and still run the Windows software that isn’t available for the Mac yet. Perhaps the most compelling argument for Apple’s DIY approach is that Microsoft’s Virtual PC won’t run on a Macintel. Microsoft is clearly trying to cut Apple out of the loop now that it went and launched Intel based Macs a while ago.