Apple's Boot Camp is just the start

Apple's Boot Camp is just the start

Summary: Apple has formally introduced a utility called Boot Camp that lets owners of Intel-based Macs run Windows XP: Boot Camp simplifies Windows installation on an Intel-based Mac by providing a simple graphical step-by-step assistant application to dynamically create a second partition on the hard drive for Windows, to burn a CD with all the necessary Windows drivers, and to install Windows from a Windows XP installation CD.


Apple has formally introduced a utility called Boot Camp that lets owners of Intel-based Macs run Windows XP:

Boot Camp simplifies Windows installation on an Intel-based Mac by providing a simple graphical step-by-step assistant application to dynamically create a second partition on the hard drive for Windows, to burn a CD with all the necessary Windows drivers, and to install Windows from a Windows XP installation CD. After installation is complete, users can choose to run either Mac OS X or Windows when they restart their computer.

It’s a time-limited beta, but Apple’s press release promises that the feature will be formally available in the upcoming OS X Leopard release.

I’m not a big fan of dual-booting, which represents a crude solution to compatibility problems. If you own a Mac, you bought it because you want to use your Mac applications. It’s an enormous hassle to shut everything down and boot into an alien operating system to perform a task that can’t be accomplished in the native environment. And while you’re running Windows on your Mac, you’ve lost all access to your familiar Mac desktop and programs. I'm also skeptical that drivers written for Windows XP will work seamlessly on this unfamiliar hardware platform. When you add it all up, this is a feature that diehard enthusiasts might experiment with, but it won't be particularly useful in the real world.

Now, what would really be interesting is if Apple or a third-party software maker could create a virtualization layer that allowed Windows and native Windows programs to run in an alternate process under the Mac OS. If I knew I could install a software layer like VMWare or Virtual PC and toggle instantly between the Windows environment and the Mac OS, with the ability to share data files and a Clipboard, I’d be sorely tempted to buy an Intel-based Mac.

Ironically, Microsoft might not even mind. Every one of those virtual PCs would require a license for its copy of Windows, sending a big ka-ching to Redmond and making it possible for any Mac owner to become part of the Windows family. It's all part of Bill Gates' original, 1970s-vintage mission statement for Microsoft: "A computer in every home and on every desktop, running Microsoft software."

Want to take bets on how soon it will happen?

Update 5-Apr-2006: Well, that was fast. According to Walt Mossberg in The Wall Street Journal, a Virginia-based company called Parallels, Inc. will release a beta version of its Windows VM package for Macs later this week. Mossberg says the program will be called Parallels Workstation for OS X and will cost $49, plus the cost of Windows itself.

Topic: Apple

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  • Probably soon.

    Mac users do not have the same range of available applications that Windows users do. (Statement is about specific applications, not the quality of those available on a Mac.)

    Mac users also tend to have above average incomes.

    Someone writing a Mac application designed solely to allow Windows to run easily and quickly would be solving a noticeable problem for people capable of paying for the solution.

    In the software business, you can't lose - or miss much - by following the money.
    Anton Philidor
    • WINE

      As I understand, there is a WINE port for OSX on PPC in the works. However, WINE should work now or shortly on OSX on x86.
      • DarWINE

        Check out the Darwine project at It has already been ported to Intel Macs. The project is still in fairly early stages of development, but is well on the way to allow you to run Windows applications natively on an Intel Mac.
  • Xen / Put a fork in it

    It would seem likely that Apple would derive something from Xen for OSX.
    D T Schmitz
  • The Big Shift

    Market share? Abundance of software titles?

    It would seem that it's starting to sink in. These issues are
    circumstantial and subject to change. If one aligns oneself with
    such capricious metrics rather than good tech judgement the
    writing is on the wall. Long time Windows users are in for a
    paradigm shift. They know a future of Unix derivatives looms
    large. The current frothing at the mouth is an attempt to
    position former Windows advocates as the new "platform
    agnostic". Hogwash!

    You were wrong in '84, and you're still wrong.
    Harry Bardal
    • Translation, please?

      Can you translate that into English? I understand what the individual words mean, but I have no idea what point you're trying to make.
      Ed Bott
      • The Big Shift II

        Ok, Here we go.

        It seems Apple, by not spoon feeding you Windows, hasn't gone
        quite far enough? The most interoperable and flexible system on
        the planet is still not quite there yet?

        It's not Apples job to make a rich Windows experience
        transparently available to those who choose Windows over OSX.
        The 3rd Party Mac developers with the skill set to make this
        available to you, are likely OSX users. They might take your
        money but they'll be first in line to question your judgement.

        The virtual solutions will be slower.

        To put a finer point on it. Windows on OSX is a OSX primer and a
        transition tool. People who use OSX in any real way inevitably,
        stay with it. Apple knows this. Apple users know this. The
        inconvenience of having to boot into Windows will create a call
        for more Mac native apps. The Mac native apps will run faster
        and run in a more stable environment. Booting to Windows will
        be considered a pain. More to the point, people will realize
        booting Windows always was a pain. The side-by-side
        comparison will be the catalyst for a larger exodus away from
        Windows. The exodus will draw developers.

        We see different futures. I'll extend the arc of my prediction and
        make it as simple as possible. As of today, the entire Microsoft
        Windows ecosystem, and all 50 million lines of Vista code are
        nothing more than Apple's gaming module.
        Harry Bardal
        • Same facts, different view

          I see your point, but I believe your reasoning is flawed for two reasons.

          Apple hardware costs more than generic Intel/AMD computers and Windows based PCs are ubiquitous. This announcement is unlikely to change either of those things.

          Buying a Mac, adding something VMWare-like and a Microsoft OS makes for a pretty hefty entrance tariff. I see most candidates for this being current Mac die-hards who have a burning need to be interoperable with some Windows application, not the other way around.
          • YOUR logic flawed

            OK, let's not battle over who's logic is most flawed. You said:
            "Buying a Mac, adding something VMWare-like and a Microsoft
            OS makes for a pretty hefty entrance tariff."
            Which is inarguably true! And quite wrong. Buying a Mac is
            certainly more expensive than buying a 'generic' PC - but it isn't
            competing with a 'generic' PC. Buying the MS OS is certainly not
            cheap ... not Apple's problem. The "something like VMWare" is
            actually "OSX/10.5" and you need that OS upgrade to get the VM

            If Apple's VM feature works anything like the ones I saw at
            LinuxWorld on Tuesday then you'll be able to run several OSs at
            once - Linux included, and various flavors of Windows - with
            instant access to any of them. No 'dual-boot' required. You'll
            need [b]Boot Camp[/b] to easily install the new OSs on the
            custom Apple hardware, but that will also be included in the
            price of the latest Mac OS.

            You won't be able to do much with a "basic Mac", though. You
            will need 512MB of RAM to run Vista on it - may actually need a
            1GB system to get much use out of it at all. And you'll want a
            dual-core system, maybe dual-processors at that! It will still be
            less expensive than buying all that hardware and linking it
            through a KVM switch.
          • Who can argue with that?

            <i>Which is inarguably true! And quite wrong.</i>

            OK, You got me there. I certainly can't argue with that logic!

            My point, was and still is that you're not going to find a whole lot of converts one way or another with this latest announcement. Sure, there will be those who want to have the ability to run OSX and Windows on the same machine. They aren't a majority of PC users, nor are they the majority of Mac users. For those who do need that capability, the only logical choice will be a new Mac. Big deal!

            My comments were in response to the post <b>The Big Shift II</b>. I was trying to express that this is NOT going to cause the Big Shift. Nor do I think it points out weakness in anyone's hardware, software or even marketing platform.
        • Big Brass Ones!

          Very boldy asserted! And very well said! Right or wrong, congratulations on having the chutzpah to say it, and say it well!
        • I'm a Mac user...

          Still, I find that by Apple making Windows readily available as an
          option is a little scary. What if developers pck up on this and
          when we scream for Universal Binary we get Windows programs
          and uncaring developers who say why don't you just boot
          Windows? I'm sure most people with a reasonable amount of
          experience on both platforms would choose OSX, but Apple by
          making it easy to run Windows may be opening a can of worms.
          Without developers people won't run OSX and without OSX the
          Mac is just high quality hardware maker and really nothing to
          distinguish between Apple, Dell, HP, Sony,or Toshiba.

          I think virtualization like Parallels is a better way to go so you
          never have to leave OSX. If Windows crashes or freezes just force
          quit the app and keep going like every other application.
          Virtualization should run pretty well and only a few games may
          take a performance hit.
  • Virtualization

    Yea, that is the best solution. But until that occurs this is just what I need. I switched to Mac (bought intel power book) and there is exactly 1 application that is critical to me that does not run on macOS.

    So I am going to dual boot and I will take the time to boot windows when I need to execute this single program and I will be quite thankful for that ability.

    All I need is for my wireless to work and I'll be thrilled.

    You can't always get what you want, but thanks Apple for giving me something I really needed. Dual boot!
    not applicable_z
  • Apple is a hypocrite

    This is so Apple. Why doesn't Apple release its O/S to run on other platforms? Apple users are constantly bashing Microsoft and Windows but they seem to go to extremes to run it on their Macs. If Apple is so great, why do you need Windows?
    • Cheese for switchers

      Face it, buy a Mac and you can run almost every piece of
      software out there, including the *nix stuff (the Mac will also
      boot Linux). You won't have to give up your games. You get to
      discover what all the Mac fuss is about -- security, stability, ease
      of use, a sense of design, style, and good taste throughout. OS
      X, iLife.

      Those who use Mac aren't in a hurry buy Windows. If we wanted
      the saddled with most popular OS it would have been easy and
      cheaper to pick it up a long time ago. The fact that Mac can now
      boot Windows as well, is just icing on the cake. Windows might
      come in handy for the odd game.
      Len Rooney
      • OSX on regular intel chips

        The majority of people do not want to spend a whole lot of money for a home machine and that's why MACS would not penetrate too much. What people want is a stable operating system. Apple should make OSX available for PCs and that's the only way sales of Windows would begin to decline.
        • Wrong market

          "Apple should make OSX available for PCs and that's the only way sales of Windows would begin to decline."

          Possibly, but you are missing the point. Apple is a hardware company. They produce software and services only to drive hardware sales. iTunes leads to iPod sales, OS/X is necessary for Mac sales. The last thing they want is a way to undermine their own hardware sales.

          Making the Mac so it can also run Windows adds value to the Mac hardware. Making OS/X run on commodity PCs is the exact opposite. They dont have the expertise to support thousands of hardware partners, nor would they be able to extract margins from pure software sales. Thats why they are very happy for Microsoft to sell Office for the Mac.

          Apple and MS are in very different businesses, don't get confused about that. The overlap is surprisingly small. I guess Apple's real rival is Dell.
        • agreed

          I know that I personally am thinking of doing a reverse-hack for the dual-booting of OSX and Win... mostly because I have found Mac to be a bit underwhelming. People have made it out to be all that, and then it fails to live up to the hype that I've heard...... In the end, my budget size stops me from doing anything (no budget = no new OS to work with)

          Really, I learned programming on Mac OS 9, and have found I much prefer MacOS to Win for programming...... but I don't find one is vastly better than the other (NOTE: I DO realize how windows has too many security holes, but I'm a smart user, so, viruses/worms/etc. have a very hard time to hit me... and that's the only real difference I notice)
      • no hurry at all

        Those who use windows arent in a hurry to buy apple, if they were Apple would not be a minor player. Apple's rival is Linux not a major player. Using XP could be a disaster it would show the zealots that XP is stable, not only is it easy to use 98% of people can and do use it every day. Its style and taste is different not everyone find Apple products tastful.

        • Spoken like someone who

          has never even used an OS other than Windows. Certainly someone
          who has spent little to no time at all using OS X
          Len Rooney