Running Windows on Intel Macs

Running Windows on Intel Macs

Summary: Worth reading: Henry Norr, one of the deans of Mac journalism, offers his impression of the Steve Jobs keynote. He comments on the potential impact a running Windows on a Intel-based Mac, which Apple exec Phil Schiller said would be possible, although Apple won't provide any support for such efforts.

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TOPICS: Apple
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Worth reading: Henry Norr, one of the deans of Mac journalism, offers his impression of the Steve Jobs keynote. He comments on the potential impact a running Windows on a Intel-based Mac, which Apple exec Phil Schiller said would be possible, although Apple won't provide any support for such efforts.

Below is Henry's take:

If, in fact, Windows will run reliably on the Apple hardware, some developer is sure to produce a dual-boot utility that would let users choose between Microsoft and Apple operating systems - or maybe even some software that enable them both to run simultaneously. If that happens, I think it could bring a flood of new switchers to the Mac platform, because it would remove most of the risk from the change. At the price of a Windows license plus the utility software I'm envisioning, they'd be able to try out the Mac, and stick to it where it excels, without losing access to the games and specialized apps that aren't available for the Mac platform.

So far Apple seems uninterested in promoting this approach, and, as a Mac consultant pointed out to me on the show floor, the company certainly has no interest in taking on the burden of support for Windows on its machines. Without such support, corporate IT managers aren't likely to adopt Intel-based Macs as a dual-OS platform. But if Windows actually runs reasonably reliably on these machines - as well, say, as on an average PC - I think the dual-boot option, even without official support from Apple, would have a lot of appeal to many small businesses, home users, and students.

Update: It turns out the Windows XP won't run on Intel Macs, but Vista will when it ships.

Topic: Apple

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6 comments
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  • Probably see VMWare for Mac

    Shouldn't be difficult to get VMWare to work on the Mac. It's BSD based after all. VMWare already works on BSD so it shouldn't be such leap to get it to work on x86 Mac. Having the free VMWare player for the Mac would probably allow people to run Linux/BSD/Windows within a window.

    XEN Source paravirtualization isn't feasible yet until Apple starts using the Intel chips with VT capability. There are only 3 Intel VT capable CPUs on the market and Apple is not using them (yet).
    george_ou
    • CPU is only part of the platform

      I think a more important question is, what does the underlying hardware model look like? It isn't just about the CPU - although that is significant, of course - it's also about the I/O and bus layout. Windows needs the existing "generic PC" hardware layer, or some software abstraction of it, to be useful.
      GDF
      • Windows won't run directly on Mac hardware

        Apple is using the newer extensible firmware interface (EFI) rather than BIOS.

        Only Windows 64-bit for Itanium and x64 (AMD/Intel 64) editions support EFI. The 32-bit version of Windows XP doesn't support EFI. I think Vista 32-bit may support EFI.
        george_ou
        • XP won't but Vista will

          Vista is supposed to support EFI, but then again, who knows when
          that will ever come out.
          tic swayback
  • What about Mac software?

    Why would ISVs write for Mac OS if they could reach both the Mac and Windows markets with a Windows-only version? And wouldn't Microsoft be able to honor its commitment to "Mac Office" by stating that Windows Office runs just fine on Mac hardware? The same goes for any other major ISV with users on both platforms. This is exactly what drove a nail into OS/2's ("better Windows than Windows") coffin.
    Accidental Angel_z
  • Reality

    If I read one more article about dual booting or doing a virtual machine deal with a Mac and a copy of Windows I'm going to scream.

    It's called FILE SYSTEM. What are you going to do? Shove three hard drives into a Mac? One for the Mac OS and software, one for Windows and Windows software, and one for common files? Or are you just going to divy up 1 hard drive into multiple partitions and let the drive chew itself to pieces as both Windows and OSX start hitting swap file? Even then, the common document storage area will have to be using FAT32, which I am sure will make half of the nifty OSX file features not work, and will certain take away a lot of Windows' functionality, not to mention security. Let's not forget that you will need to more than double your system resources (the virtual machine software takes up some by itself) just to maintain the same level of performance for each OS. It's a lot cheaper to buy two machines with equal, mid-range performance than it is to buy one machine with double that performance. And what if you want top-end performance for each OS? What will you do then?

    And have you ever run a dual boot machine before? I have... Windows98/BeOS, Windows 3.11/OS2 Warp, MS-DOS 6.22/Windows 3.11 (that's almost like dual booting, it terms of the hassle factor), Windows 98/NT4, Windows 2000/Windows 98, I've done a million options and guess what? It stunk. I always ripped it off within weeks. Why? Because dual booting is a miserable thing to do to yourself. You have all of the issues with the file system that you get with running vitual machines, and hooray! I get to RESTART MY MACHINE to do half of what I want to do. If you want to dual boot or do a virtual machine situation, you will be much, much, MUCH better served by getting two machines and a KVM switch. You'll be happier.

    J.Ja
    Justin James