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4/7/2006
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Windows On Macs, Oh My!

Apple last week began offering free software called Boot Camp that lets users run Windows XP on its new Intel-based Macs. It was only a matter of time before someone did.

Apple last week offered free software called Boot Camp that lets users run Windows XP on its new Intel-based Macintoshes. It was only a matter of time before someone did. Two weeks earlier, two San Francisco Bay Area developers, in response to a $13,000 Internet contest, came up with a workaround that demonstrated Windows XP could be made to run on the Mac. An open source project was rumored to be under way.

Running Windows on the Mac may be sport for some, but it's not likely to be all that attractive to the business world. For one thing, Boot Camp provides a new way for Windows viruses to creep inside the firewall. Corporate PCs have Windows antivirus programs installed. Macs don't: Until now, they've been considered immune.


Shocking, even if inevitable
(click image for larger view)


Shocking, even if inevitable
And Apple made it clear it's offering Boot Camp only as beta software, a way of saying you can test drive it, but don't call Apple if anything breaks. "Does it really utilize the Mac BIOS, or is it just a workaround," allowing some parts of Windows XP to function and others to partially function or malfunction? wonders Reginald Drakeford, IT officer of the Gladstone Institutes. Employees of the nonprofit biotech research labs are split between PCs and Macs, but he's not urging his Mac users to try Boot Camp.

Boot Camp may let Apple expand its desktop market share, estimated at less than 5%. Given the number of people who work on Windows at the office but might want a Mac at home, Boot Camp makes buying a Mac slightly more feasible if it can run Windows XP programs. Applications such as AutoDesk's AutoCad design software have been available only under Windows. "Apple is acquiescing to the inevitable," says Gordon Haff, an analyst with Illuminata, noting that Macs now are built with Intel chips. "If the Mac is built on an Intel system, people are going to look for ways to run Windows on it."

It may not be all that practical, but many techies won't be able to resist. Drakeford says he plans to boot it up at home--just "to see if it works."

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