Boot Camp: Apples Enterprise Trojan Horse?

Opinion: Boot Camp could give enterprise customers a reason to give Apple a try in the enterprise. There's an ROI case to be made.

"Apple has no desire or plan to sell or support Windows, but many customers have expressed their interest to run Windows on Apples superior hardware now that we use Intel processors," said Philip Schiller, Apples senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing. "We think Boot Camp makes the Mac even more appealing to Windows users considering making the switch."

Thats a simple statement—a throwaway line amid news that Apple will release software that can boot Windows XP on Intel Macs—with potentially large enterprise ramifications.

The whole idea of booting Windows XP on a Mac may seem counterintuitive to hardcore Macheads. The reaction goes something like this: "Why in the world would anyone want Windows XP anyway since OS X is so much better?"

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Windows users—including our own Mary Jo Foley—have no interest in using a Mac. Foley writes on her blog: "Who out there really wants to run Windows on a Mac? Mac users are true believers in the Mac OS; Windows users might like the prettier hardware, but would that be enough of a reason to move to a dual boot setup?"

Fair enough on both sides of the Mac-Microsoft aisle, but as usual the majority is in the middle. And the middle happens to be running the technology infrastructure for corporations of all sizes from the large multinationals through the middle and down to SMBs. These folks—the CIOs and CTOs at a company near you—need a hedge if they are ever going to introduce Apple into the enterprise beyond a few token PowerBooks.

Boot Camp is that hedge. CIOs have a lot invested in Windows and arent going to junk the OS for Apple. However, if a CIO can get a twofer—Windows XP and Mac OS on one machine—a flyer may make some sense.

The Boot Camp Assistant Beta creates a partition just for Windows XP without erasing your existing Mac OS X information. The Boot Camp Assistant Beta also burns a CD with drivers for Windows XP so you can use your Macs built-in graphics, USB, audio, Bluetooth, Ethernet, AirPort and more. The drivers are automatically installed when you insert the disk into your Macintosh after you install Windows XP.

Now, this enterprise case for Apple isnt going to become apparent right away. After all, Apple is known for its iPod and consumer gear, and the company is enticing consumers to switch.

But theres an ROI case to be made if Apple chooses to make it. Among the arguments:

  • Security: Windows is a target for hackers. Therefore, if you use Windows youre a target too. Meanwhile, Microsoft isnt even sure what can be done about malware. Move to the Mac; youre less of a target—for now at least.
  • Apples OS X is built on Unix, which most corporations are very familiar with. So a switch isnt as painful as it once was. The Wall Street Journal reported on April 3 that Japans Aozora Bank is dumping 2,300 PCs for Macs.
  • Your Windows applications will run just fine.
  • Its a twofer. Why not open your options—and perhaps get negotiating leverage against Microsoft—by dabbling in Apple?
  • Customer loyalty: If you give employees snazzy hardware, they will be more loyal to the company. OK, thats a reach, but Ive seen worse ROI cases made.

Chatter will abound today about how Boot Camp is a Trojan horse for growing Apples consumer market share. "While we believe Apple would clearly prefer that consumers adopt its hardware and software, Boot Camp provides a direct boost to Apples capability to sell its highly profitable Mac systems into the massive PC installed base. In addition, with the Mac OS already installed, a Mac running Windows can be seen as an important Trojan horse for the Mac platform," said J.P. Morgan analyst Bill Shope in a research note.

But Trojan horses come in various flavors. This one may be for the enterprise.

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