What Mac Users Want (and It Isnt Wine)

Opinion: CodeWeavers says it's bringing Windows app support to Mactels. But is there really a need?

CodeWeavers, described in an eWEEK.com story as "a leading Windows-to-Linux software ISV," announced on Wednesday that it will bring Windows application support to future Macintoshes running on Intel x86 chips.

There will be a pause for the big yawn that naturally follows that announcement, followed by a perplexed look wondering what it means to be a "leading" Windows-to-Linux ISV. How many followers could there possibly be and what would their total annual sales add up to?

The Windows world, of which CodeWeavers will for this discussion be considered a part, seems to miss the idea that Mac users buy their computers because they like Mac applications and Mac OS X. If they really wanted Windows apps, theyd use a Windows computer. Or buy a Mac mini and share a display, keyboard and mouse with a Windows box.

/zimages/5/28571.gifMactel desktops may offer a triple threat. Click here to read more.

Apples pending move to Intel processors may open some new options. Apple has said it wont preclude Windows from running on its "Mactel" hardware, presumably in a dual-boot arrangement.

But theres already speculation that a virtual machine capable of running a real copy of Windows could easily be added to the Mac OS X environment running on an Intel-based machine. Microsoft still owns Virtual PC, which should also run on a Mactel box quite nicely. There may be other options, like CodeWeavers and Wine, as well.

Given all these potential options—notice the use of the word "potential"—I am not really sure what CodeWeavers can offer that customers will want. Gee, I can run real Windows or I can run Wine. Hmmm, Windows or Wine? Given the choice, Ill take Windows every time.

That, however, assumes we are given a choice. Apple and/or Microsoft could really mess up this happy "We Are the World" computing scenario if either or both were to choose to do so.

Lets see, Apple still could decide to prevent Windows from running on its Mactel boxes and presumably will prevent other brands of Intel-based machines from running Mac OS X. Microsoft could do something to keep Windows from running on Mactel machines. I am not sure what the motivation for either company would be, save Apples interest in preventing just any ol Intel box from becoming a Mac. But these are strange times and given Apples knack for top secrecy, we may not know much about any of this until the new Mactels are almost ready to ship.

There is nothing really wrong with the CodeWeavers announcement, per se. Its just that the need for such a product hasnt been proven. Nor has the interest of Mac customers in a bunch of conveniently ported Windows apps shown any sign of developing, at least at this most early moment.

As I said in the beginning, every Mac customer had the opportunity to buy a Windows machine and probably has access to one for whatever Windows apps the user "must" run. The value of the Mac look-and-feel and the overall Apple "way of doing things" should never be underestimated.

/zimages/5/28571.gifFor insights on the Mac in the enterprise, check out eWEEK.com Executive Editor Matthew Rothenbergs Weblog.

As best Ive been able to tell during my adventures in Macland, people who love their Macs dont really care what processor the operating system is running on. If Apple were to release Mactel boxes with only the limited Windows support (via Virtual PC) that todays Macs have, I think the Mac faithful would cheer the appearance of a Windows snub.

I am not suggesting Apple will or should cripple its new machines. Or that Microsoft will be anything but a Mac supporter, whatever path Apple takes. Still, speculation about Windows running on Mactel is quite premature. A product announcement from anyone besides Apple or Microsoft almost strikes me as funny, however well-intended.

Contributing editor David Coursey has spent two decades writing about hardware, software and communications for business customers. He can be reached at david_coursey@ziffdavis.com.

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