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4/20/2006
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Some Mac Resellers Preinstalling Windows XP

A few resellers are selling standard Macintosh models with Windows XP already loaded via Boot Camp, but Apple says it has no intention of doing the same.

Several Apple resellers are marketing Intel-based Mac desktops and portables with Windows XP pre-installed, but Apple Computer Inc. reiterated that it has no intention of following their lead.

The resellers, which include a small Utah-based company and a major California computer online warehouse, are bundling Windows XP with standard Macintosh models, and pre-installing the Microsoft operating system using the Boot Camp dual-boot application that Apple released earlier this month.

ExperCom is touting a $2,029 MacBook Pro with Windows XP Home pre-loaded; the price is just $35 above the Apple price for the portable. Meanwhile, ClubMac.com, MacMall.com, and OnSale.com -- all three part of Torrance, Calif.-based PC Mall -- list MacBook Pro, iMac, and Mac mini machines with XP Home or XP Professional installed. Windows XP Home bumps up the usual price of the computer by $100, while XP Professional costs an additional $150.

Retail prices for Windows XP Home are in the $190-198 range.

A sales representative from MacMall told TechWeb that users can select the size of the disk partition assigned to Windows XP during the ordering process.

But there are limits to what the resellers will do. "We don't support Windows XP - and neither does Apple," ExperCom said on its site. "We'll install it for you, but, hey, we're Mac people, so we can't help answer Windows questions!" Lengthy disclaimers, primarily about Boot Camp's beta status, also appeared on the ClubMac, MacMall, and OnSale sites.

But Apple's not planning to follow where its resellers have trod. In a Q&A session Wednesday after Apple released its second quarter financial statements, the Cupertino, Calif.-based company's chief financial officer, Peter Oppenheimer, repeated Apple's line about Windows.

"We have no desire or plan to sell or support Windows," said Oppenheimer. "But we think [Boot Camp] makes the Mac more appealing."

The bundling of Windows with Mac was inevitable, said Joe Wilcox, an analyst with JupiterMedia. But he didn't think that the trend will become widespread, and doesn't believe Apple will ever follow suit.

"I see two scenarios," he said. "One, the people who think they might need Windows on a Mac. Now [with Boot Camp] they can be assured they can run Windows if they need to. But there people may never actually buy Windows.

"The second are those who have an absolute, but occasional, need to run Windows. They might be the happy household where one spouse wants a Mac but the other needs Windows to get into the office [network]. These are the people where I see XP pre-installed going," Wilcox said.

It'll be cold day in hell when Apple sells Windows in its retail stores or online. "It's not in Apple's interest to promote Windows" that way, said Wilcox. If Apple did pre-install Windows, it would have to follow the same rules as other OEMs, like Dell and HP, which are required to shoulder the Windows support burden.

But the ability to order a machine ready to run both Mac OS X and Windows XP out of the box may be increasingly attractive as the year goes on, Wilcox argued.

"The sales path is cleared for Apple through 2006. There will be no marketing bang around [Windows] Vista, and Macs are fresh, new, and different.

"So the people who are tired of the same thing, who want to try something new, but realize that the reality is that Windows is everywhere, they may start thinking about a Mac."

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