The Joys Of Dual-Booting XP And OS X

By letting you run Windows XP and Mac OS X side by side on the same computer, Apple's Boot Camp beta gives you the best of both worlds. Here's how to get the most out of dual-booting--including tips for making it all run smoothly.
Business Casual In The Office
As the newness wore off after a couple of days of dual-booting, the real -- and long-term -- habits started forming. During the day, my MacBook Pro is almost strictly business, running Windows and serving up the tools of the trade for my systems administrator job. Even with all of the required firewall, anti-virus, and anti-spam applications loaded, the machine still has Windows running smoothly.

I installed the standard corporate load of Microsoft Office and other business applications easily, and they run without a hitch. Because the Mac hardware is actually running Windows and not using any kind of emulation, both Windows and Mac applications run at full speed. I am able to quickly sync my PDA with my Outlook contact data, either with its USB cable or wirelessly using the Mac's built-in Bluetooth functionality.

The Joys Of Dual-Booting

•  Installation

•  Making It All Play Nicely

•  Everyday Dual-Booting

In other words, thanks to Boot Camp, my new Apple laptop very quickly took over for my previous Windows-only laptop, and did so almost completely without glitches.

My So-Called iLife
When I leave the office, my laptop magically sheds its corporate facade and the fun nature of the Mac comes out. While Windows is the corporate side of my computer use, OS X has clearly become the personal side. This is in large part due to the bundled set of applications collectively known as iLife. The iLife suite includes iMovie, iPhoto, and iDVD, as well as the familiar iTunes music player.

All updates to the iLife suite, as well as the firmware updates for my iPod, are automatically downloaded as part of the Software Update feature of OS X. The operating system takes care of keeping my music player current, instead of the manual process in Windows of checking the support site and downloading updates.

What's more, all Intel Macs now ship with the Front Row and the Apple Remote. Front Row transforms your Mac into a media hub, putting all of your music, videos, photos, and even DVD player functions in one place and controllable from across the room with the Apple Remote.

As you would expect from their names, iPhoto, iMovie, and iDVD handle digital photos, editing home movies, and creating your own video DVDs. All three of these applications, while essentially stripped-down versions of the professional tools Apple sells, blow away any and all Windows apps for handling these tasks. In fact, I have actually put the Windows software I had purchased for editing videos and burning DVDs on the shelf, and have entirely switched over to the Mac for these tasks.

When Rebooting Is A Pain
Even though switching between the two operating systems is pretty simple, it can still get tedious to jump back and forth just to open a spreadsheet or Word document, for example. In the end, I installed Microsoft Office on both operating systems, which makes the process of opening e-mail attachments and simply getting work done that much easier. Of course, the easy way is not always the cheapest way -- in this case it cost me the price of two copies of Office.

Obviously, in order to work effectively on both sides of the machine, other common applications have to be duplicated. For instance, most of us need access to e-mail and the Web whenever our computers are running, no matter which OS we're in.

Unless you're content to work exclusively with Web-based e-mail, setting up mail clients on both sides is a necessity. In my case, corporate standards made the choice for me. Because of the Exchange server back at the office, I use Microsoft Outlook while in Windows and Microsoft Entourage while in OS X. Both Outlook and Entourage synchronize with the corporate Exchange server, so not only my e-mail, but also my contacts and calendar are kept in tune.

While Safari, OS X's default Web browser, works perfectly fine for every Web page I have tried to load on it, using two browsers means having two sets of bookmarks and stored passwords to maintain. I found the perfect solution to this dilemma in Google's Browser Sync extension for Mozilla's Firefox browser. I can run Firefox in both Windows and OS X, and the extension synchronizes my bookmarks and settings -- including cookies and saved passwords -- between both versions of Firefox.

The All-In-One Solution
Even in its current beta form, Apple's Boot Camp works like a champ to bring the true Windows environment to Mac machines. Users wanting to run both systems are no longer required to own two machines. Apple is opening the door to a whole new group of previously untapped customers: those who want Apple hardware but need Windows applications and those who want the biggest choice of applications. If the final release straightens out a few quirky driver issues, Apple will have a real winner on its hands.

Boot Camp beta
Apple Computer:
Price: Free
Summary: Although still in beta release, Boot Camp delivers on the promise of a dual personality on a single machine.

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