One MacBook with a Thinkpad keyboard please (or OS X running on Windows, when hell freezes over)

Summary:Just because almost everybody is doing it, does that mean it's a good idea? Or does that mean that we've somehow been hoodwinked into thinking this makes sense.

Just because almost everybody is doing it, does that mean it's a good idea? Or does that mean that we've somehow been hoodwinked into thinking this makes sense. I'm talking about touchpads. Somehow, users have been convinced that these kissin-cousins to the digitizing tablets that graphics artists use (where the technology benefits productivity) make sense as a pointing device near a notebook's keyboard. It's a rotten bill of goods. Touchpads make sense to manufacturers because there are fewer moving parts that can fail (digging into profits if the machine is under warranty). Unless you're one of the ten people in the world that's particularly adept at guiding a mouse around the screen with your thumbs (I've never seen anyone doing this), touchpads are a productivity killer.

This gets to the one reason I don't own a MacBook: none of the MacBook models come with pointing stick like the TrackPoints found on ThinkPads. Maybe I'm in the minority but, touchpads like the ones found on MacBooks simply can't compare from a productivity point of view to a keyboard with a pointing stick that sits near a touch typists index fingers. And, I can't imagine a multi-touch touchpad (the one that Apple looks to be bringing to its notebooks) closing the gap much. They might be an improvement over the current touchpad. But not over a pointing stick. Keyboard productivity is based on your ability to keep you fingers over the keyboard. The minute you have take your fingers away from the keyboard, you're already losing time.

Go ahead, take your swings at me for this. But every time I see someone using a touchpad, I watch them closely and the the way they move their fingers away from the keyboard is unmistakable. There's just no way you can convince me that touchpads are equally productive as pointing sticks. So, there's no way I'm going to buy a MacBook that doesn't have a pointing stick (continued below).

MacBook with Thinkpad keyboard

What would be the next best thing? Maybe someone can mashup a Thinkpad's keyboard with a MacBook (see image above). Or, how about the ability to run OS X on a Thinkpad? Either on the bare metal, or, as a virtual machine.

Recently, there's been a bit of Mac-related news coming out of the virtualization community. VMware for example just released Fusion, a virtual machine product that among other things lets you run Windows in a virtual machine that runs on a Mac. And then then folks at Parallels launched the public beta of the next version of its virtualization software that Fusion will compete head-to-head with. But neither company (nor any other virtualization solution provider) offers a way to run OS X on a virtual machine that's hosted by something other than an authentic Mac. I asked Parallels director of Corporate Communications Benjamin Rudolph what's up with that? In addition to claiming that Fusion can' t possibly hold up in a comparison to Parallels 3.0, here's what he said:

While is probably possible to virtualize OS X, Apple's EULA states that you can only run OS X on real, genuine Apple hardware...even virtual machiens running on Macs don't count. So, since we don't want our users to get sued and we don't want to compromise our great relationship with Apple, we don't enable this kind of functionality.

I guess I'll see OS X on a machine with a pointing stick when hell freezes over (and yes, I know.... I should just move to Linux instead).

Topics: Operating Systems, Apple, Hardware, Laptops, Mobility, Virtualization, Windows

About

David Berlind was fomerly the executive editor of ZDNet. David holds a BBA in Computer Information Systems. Prior to becoming a tech journalist in 1991, David was an IT manager.

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