Compatibility Issues

By John G. Spooner  |  Posted 2006-04-05 Print this article Print

Running Windows on a Mac might solve the software compatibility issue—and thats a positive development, said David Bray, an associate with the Goizueta Business School at Emory University in Atlanta, Ga., and an eWEEK Corporate Partner. But it might introduce additional costs, he said.
"My first concern is this just going to be a more expensive hybrid OS X/Windows PC where I need to by copies of both OS licenses?" he said.
"Further, the primary point to owning a Mac was the superior user experience provided by the hardware coupled with the Mac OS; moving to Windows seems to lose that benefit." Rebooting from one operating system to the other frequently can be inconvenient, he said. "What Id rather see is better development of the ability, through virtualization, to run Windows within OS X or vice versa without having to reboot, recognizing there already have been some developments" there, he said. Microsoft officials in Redmond, Wash., for one, have said they are committed to moving ahead with Virtual PC for Intel Macs, which would allow the machines to run Windows applications at near-native speeds. Microsoft has not yet announced a ship date for the product. "Were pleased that Apple customers are excited about running [Windows], and that Apple is responding to meet the demand," said Kevin Kutz, director for Microsoft Windows Client, in an a statement e-mailed to eWEEK. Apple doesnt appear to have plans to offer the ability to run Windows and Mac OS X simultaneously, however. "Were sticking to what weve done today. We think we have a very good simple, easy to understand solution for people," Croll said. "Its the simplest way to solve the problem." Given businesses IT worries, consumers are much more likely to try out Boot Camp immediately. Many consumers have expressed interest in running both Mac OS X and Windows on their Intel-based Macs. For buyers where money is less of an object, such as gamers or other enthusiasts, the ability to run Windows on a Mac—given the Macs cache—could present an opportunity for Apple to gain market share. Those consumers might buy a Mac in order to use Mac OS X for its user-friendliness, or its video and photo editing capabilities, but also access to the latest Windows-specific software such as games, Bray said. Indeed, some users had already taken up the cause on their own. One individual sponsored a contest to create a workable way to boot Windows XP on a Mac. A working solution appeared in late March, he said on his Web site. However, Apples solution appears to be more effective in that it offers a graphical interface that walks the user through installing Windows and supplies critical software such as graphics drivers and system firmware needed to make running Windows go smoothly. Yet despite giving Apple a crack at additional sales from people switching from PCs, Boot Camp leaves room for improvement, Kay said. "Maybe this will give Apple the chance to take some share from the PC hardware OEMs," he said. "But I dont think its going to be that big…unless its [providing] a much better experience." Ideally, "youd be able to see your files from either operating environment symmetrically," Kay said. "Itd have something like fast user switching where you could go between environments smoothly…not only see but read and write data from both sides. Thats what would really make it really interesting." However, running Windows on an $800 Mac Mini or a $1,299 iMac will present most people with the prospect of purchasing a full version of Windows XP—Windows XP Home generally sells for around $200—in addition. "Now that $1,299 iMac looks more like $1,500," Wilcox said. Although, "If youre a person that was thinking about having two computers… That $200 or $300 extra for Windows is a lot less than a new computer." Editors Note: This story was updated to include information and comments from Apple representatives. Mary Jo Foley provided additional reporting for this story. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis on Apple in the enterprise.

John G. Spooner John G. Spooner, a senior writer for eWeek, chronicles the PC industry, in addition to covering semiconductors and, on occasion, automotive technology. Prior to joining eWeek in 2005, Mr. Spooner spent more than four years as a staff writer for CNET, where he covered computer hardware. He has also worked as a staff writer for ZDNET News.

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