Windows on Macs? Chill folks. It's much ado about nothing

Windows on Macs? Chill folks. It's much ado about nothing

Summary: I don't know about you, but I'm totally nonplussed when it comes to the enthusiasm that Apple's Boot Camp is being met with.  Gartner has these graphs that show how, in something called a 5-phase hype-cycle, new technologies are originally meant with ill-founded euphoria followed by a trough of disillusionment.

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I don't know about you, but I'm totally nonplussed when it comes to the enthusiasm that Apple's Boot Camp is being met with.  Gartner has these graphs that show how, in something called a 5-phase hype-cycle, new technologies are originally meant with ill-founded euphoria followed by a trough of disillusionment.  We should move straight to the trough if you ask me.

With all due respect to my fellow bloggers here on ZDNet The most impressive thing about Apple's notebooks has really never been the hardware. (Microsoft employee John Carroll who want to rush out and buy an Intel Mac or Jeffrey Young who says Boot Camp will revolutionize the portable marketplace), sliced-bread still rates in my book when compared to this somewhat meaningless announcement. Provided Apple eventually works the bugs out of its Intel systems' ability to boot into either OS X or Windows (bear in mind, Boot Camp is in beta) is just not all that exciting folks.  At best, this can be summarized as "Windows market takes on another Tier 2 systems manufacturer" and that's really nothing to write home about.

For starters, most Macs that I know of are really geared to work with OS X.  Putting Windows on them is like fitting a square peg in a round hole. The great thing about the way Microsoft licenses Windows is that it creates all sorts of competition between system manufacturers to build great systems for running Windows.  The results have been desktops and notebooks that have all sorts of whizbang features  (eg: special keyboards) that enhance the Windows computing experience.  Not only that, but these systems come in all shapes and sizes and are routinely priced way below Macs. On the notebook front, they're often lighter, are more easily expandable, and have better battery life.  And, quite frankly, while I'm quite impressed by some Apple desktop systems with their large brilliant displays (will there be Windows drivers for that hardware?),  the most impressive thing about Apple's notebooks has really never been the hardware.  It has been the operating system.  There are some very slick Intel-based notebooks out there that I would take in a heartbeat over Apple's PowerBooks if they could run OS X. 

If you're one of the very few who will really need something like Boot Camp (and I mean really need it), then I agree with Jason O'Grady: You're probably better off going the virtualization route.  Along those lines, it appears as though VMware (my favorite virtualization company) is readying an OS X version of it's software.    In other words, an Intel-based OS X system will probably be able to host Windows or Linux virtual machines.  This isn't too much of a stretch for VMware.  Under the hood, OS X is really Unix and  Unix has enough commonalities with Linux (already supported by VMware) that an OS X port shouldn't be too difficult now that OS X runs on Intel's architecture.  Whether VMware can go the other way where OS X is a guest on a Linux or Windows-based host OS remains to be seen but is certainly within the realm of possibility. 

But back to Boot Camp, I'm in actually in Cringley's camp (see A Whole New Ball Game: Blame Dell for Window Vista's Latest Delay, but Blame Microsoft for Apple's Boot Camp).  Regarding Dell, Cringley says:

It is easy to forget that Microsoft works mainly through its OEM partners, which include Dell, HP, and many others. If Microsoft announces a date by which some future product is going to be available, they can only do so with the agreement of the OEMs.....According to those familiar with the way Dell qualifies new software, they are very careful about their shipping OS/application sets. They put together new builds every quarter, and test them for a full quarter. This means that to ship something in October it has to be into a build set in July, which means it has to be slotted some time in April. And that's just for an application. Now imagine what Dell's test plan looks like for a whole new operating system.

Hard to argue with.  Maybe we'll actually see Vista in the Summer of 2007.  But, regarding Boot Camp, Cringley really nails it:

Readers (and Wall Street) took [Apple's Boot Camp] to mean much more than I did, and I like to think I am correct....Some cunning readers see this as a huge coup for Apple that will somehow keep Microsoft from shipping Vista (explain that to me again, please) and eventually take the hardware leadership away from Dell and the software leadership away from Microsoft. Yeah, right.....I doubt that its existence, especially as a beta product, is going to make some Fortune 500 company suddenly sanction the purchase of Macs because they can, with some effort and an extra $100, pretend to be Windows machines. While Boot Camp might help show prospective purchasers the superiority of Apple hardware, those purchasers would have to buy their Macs first and then convince themselves that they had done the right thing, which is totally backwards.

While I don't necessarily agree with the hardware superiority comment (see my earlier thoughts on this), Cringley has it right.  This isn't the big deal everyone is making it out to be.

Topic: Operating Systems

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  • Short term, long term

    I do think it's overblown, but remember the numbers that we're talking about. If Boot Camp only inspires a tiny, tiny percentage of Windows users to buy a Mac next time instead of a Dell, that's likely to double Apple's marketshare. A small percentage of the Windows world is an enormous quantity in the Mac world.

    I also think Cringely is right in that this isn't necessarily something that hurts MS. As Steve Jobs' famously said, for Apple to win, MS does not have to lose.

    If dual booting (or more likely, virtualization) catches on, MS sells more copies of Windows, at least in the short term, so good for them. It does raise some issues for them--Apple is not supporting Windows (unlike other OEMs) so that means increased support costs for MS from all those boxed versions they'll be selling. I also think we'll see an increase in the number of bootlegged versions of Windows in use, as customers are used to getting an OS with the machine they're buying, not buying a copy off the shelf.

    And the final question is, what happens in the long term? If a Windows users is regularly exposed to OSX, will he stick with Windows? What percentage of users will be slowly weaned off of Windows altogether (again, remember the numbers mentioned above)? When they buy their next machine, will they even bother buying Windows for it?
    tic swayback
    • Or the other way around...

      "And the final question is, what happens in the long term? If a Windows users is regularly exposed to OSX, will he stick with Windows?"

      Or what happens when an OSX user see's the millions of software titles he can run he never could before and starts to realize just how much they have been missing out on???
      No_Ax_to_Grind
      • I'll try not to snicker....

        Given the loyalty that Apple seems to engender in their customers, I have a hard time seeing many going that way, and abandoning OSX altogether. Remember that by buying an Intel Mac, you're automatically getting OSX. Buying Windows is the extra here, the thing that would be more judged as to being necessary or not (a lesson learned from the dominance of IE--sure you can get another browser, but very few people do). If the millions of software titles make a difference, then the virtualization would continue.

        But even so, again it comes back to the numbers. If 1% of Mac users try this and abandon OSX for Windows altogether, that's a small loss for Apple. If 1% of Windows users try this and abandon Windows altogether, that's a huge gain for Apple.
        tic swayback
        • So will I...

          Ok, lets say I have a Mac, (the wife does) and I try Windows on it and start seeing all I can now do that I could not do before. Do you think that is going to figure into my next purchase? You bet it will and I suspect it will for a large number of Mac users...
          No_Ax_to_Grind
          • "All I can do now..."

            And what, pray tell, would that be. Given that you've already chosen a Mac because it was able to meet your needs, what shocking revelations are going to arise from being able to run computer games? And what would be so stellar to convince you to abandon the platform you've already made a conscious choice to use, against the mainstream easy choice of buying what everybody else uses?
            tic swayback
          • Ah, glad you asked...

            How abotu a real version of Office, one capable of dealing with media formats other than that gawd awful QT crap? How about HUNDREDS of vendors providing Windows media instead of being locked in to QT (Ipeed) and the single source for both content and playback? How about apps that don't exist on the Mac (AutoCAD as an example)? How about the new Microsoft Expression Suite? (If you haven't seen/tested it don't say a word becasue you are clueless about what it can do.) How abotu MILLIONS of samll apps and utilities that simply don't exist for the Mac and can be downloaded freely by Windows users? Do NOT turn your nose up at gaming, it's one of the leading forces in the PC world. Actually, the list is so long I could spend all day writing it, but by now even you should get the idea.

            Now, am I saying that it will happen? Nope, just saying it may happen and Apple opened a door they will never be able to close and it's a very risky door.

            We'll see how it plays out in the next couple of years I suppose...
            No_Ax_to_Grind
          • Eh

            ---How abotu a real version of Office, one capable of dealing with media formats other than that gawd awful QT crap?---

            Then again, there are those who claim the Mac version of Office is superior to the Windows version, so perhaps this could swing people the other way.

            ---How about HUNDREDS of vendors providing Windows media instead of being locked in to QT (Ipeed) and the single source for both content and playback?---

            Don't really see a big demand for this. "Ipeed" as you put it, is the de facto standard, commanding the vast share of the market. That's the standard that clearly everyone has chosen and that everyone wants. Why should Apple support the "also-rans"? Can't have this argument both ways, if no one cares about alternate formats and you only have to support the de facto standard when MS leads the field, you have to apply the same logic to Apple.

            ---How about apps that don't exist on the Mac (AutoCAD as an example)?---

            If this is a typical example, then I wouldn't worry. As I said, there are lots of Windows only programs with Mac equivalents. Having 10 different choices that do essentially the same thing as the Mac equivalent is not a big factor to get people to switch. Need a CAD program? Then you already use MacDraft, HighDesign, PowerCADD, VersaCADD, CADintosh, RealCADD, etc. Having 16 choices instead of 6 is not that huge of an advantage.

            ---How about the new Microsoft Expression Suite? (If you haven't seen/tested it don't say a word becasue you are clueless about what it can do.)---

            As you say, can't comment here about vaporware.

            ---How abotu MILLIONS of samll apps and utilities that simply don't exist for the Mac and can be downloaded freely by Windows users?---

            Doesn't the same apply for all the Unix and Linux small apps and utilities available for Mac and not Windows? And there's a reason these aren't earthshakingly big successes, they appeal to only small groups of people. If you're on a Mac, you find an equivalent, if you can't, then you occasionally boot into Windows for that one odd need. Again, not a reason to switch.

            ---Do NOT turn your nose up at gaming, it's one of the leading forces in the PC world---

            Oh I don't at all. It's a huge force, and now one that Apple has full access to. I'm with Harry (below), Windows is now Apple's gaming module.

            ---Now, am I saying that it will happen? Nope, just saying it may happen and Apple opened a door they will never be able to close and it's a very risky door.---

            Oh, I get that you're just making a fun argument. It is entertaining to consider. I don't think we'll see huge amounts of movement either way. But to Apple, a tiny amount of Windows users means a huge boost in business. Apple operates on a different scale than MS does, so what's a drop in the ocean for MS is a flood for Apple.
            tic swayback
          • I think you need to look at OSX

            MS Office exists for OS X, as Does Windows Media player.

            Small apps? How about the millions of small apps written for OS X, Unix, and Linux that are available for download to run on the Mac?

            Games? Gaming is a argument for having a dual boot Mac. (Personally games aren't that big a deal)

            There's pluses and minuses for any Operating system or platform. (currently I have both windows and OS X based computers - I use whatever's appropriate for what I'm doing. For personal stuff I find OS X prefereable.)

            Cheers
            woot!
          • Its more than just games

            I love Mac's hardware but I am not able to do my work on a Mac. With Boot Camp I am able to run my database programs that I use at work on my Mac. I bought the MacIntel Mini because I was ready to upgrade my Mac from my G3 ibook. The Boot Camp beta was not even out yet. But because of Boot Camp I do not have to get out my Windows PC to do work at home, I can do it on my Mac. I think that the happiest customers are the ones who already have a Windows XP OS disk and like Macs. I did visit an Apple store this weekend and the build up is pretty huge. I heard a lot of people talking about the Boot Camp program but very few actually shelling out the cash for the MacIntel machines (one to be exact, but he walked right in and asked for the Mac Book Pro without asking Boot Camp questions). The people that this benefits are the switchers, like myself. I use OS X for Audio production and other creative art work, like most people. When it comes time to clock in though, it is nice to just boot in to Windows rather than pull out the laptop. So yes I am stoked about Windows on my MacIntel, but I was loyal already. I don't think that loyalty will change too much but the Mac loyal can now run Windows, and cheers to Apple for making that possible.
            joeyp770
          • My wife want OSX

            I want Windows. So far I use the excuse I need it for work but in reality I could do my work on MAC too. Citrix and all but my wife doesn't know that. Actually the biggest reason I want Windows is GAMES!

            My wife on the other hand has seen what my aunt does with a Mac and she's running OS 9. Video and Picture editing has never been easier. Beats Windows hands down. So my wife really wants a MAC. So this gives us both what we want. Still I a little bit leary on the video cards that Mac supports. Anyone know if you can upgrade to the best 3DFX cards?
            voska
          • "...all I can do now..."???

            As an 18-yr Mac user (home) and a 20-year Mac user (work) and a 9-year Windows user (primary work), I have yet to find any Windows programs beyond games and specialized programs (some CAD, e.g.) that can't be matched by a Mac program. Would you mind telling me "all I'm missing out on"? (Other than viruses, anti-virus and anti-popup and anti-spyware software, blue screens of death, hard drives that last a few month to a couple of years, freezes, crashes, bugs, updates, patches, service packs, etc.) Thank you so much. I MUST be missing something, right? I don't think so! If you come to my house and find a Windoze computer as the primary, you may assume that I have passed on to a world with a very different operating system.
            wgs_z
          • cost per unit per maximum result

            i.e., you are stuck with what you have. If you want to upgrade, your options are limited. Let me see you put 4 ATI Radeon 1900 xtx extreme graphics card in your Mac. Even if you replaced it you couldn't. How about a 10K rpm drive or even an HD DVD player? Or if you want to use the new Samsung 32gig flash memory disk drives in a set of two or three, how exactly would you do that to replace your mechanical disk drive on your Mac?

            Re the OS, you are right, until XP, which is quite stable, but I am jaded because I have already experienced and dealt with the things you mention and I learned how not to experience those things. And yes, I do use 7k worth of solid modeling software as well as play games like Half Life II.

            If you are a bean counter or a photographer or a graphic artist, stick with your MAC.
            WinnebagoBoy
      • Following up

        "Or what happens when an OSX user see's the millions of software titles he can run he never could before and starts to realize just how much they have been missing out on???"

        Or what happens when an OSX user see's the millions of spyware and virus that run rampent on his system slowing it down. Then they'll start to realize how silly it was.

        As for programs... considering UNIX based OSs' have been running long before Windows 3.1 there are millions more utilities/apps/programs that don't run on windows but work wonderfully on Macs Not that I really care, use whatever you want. I just wish the zealots like you would stop thinking this kinda stuff is acceptable in debate.
        Rokstar83
        • Where do you guys come up with this stuff.

          Look, I run more WinXP machines than I care to count. Take a guess how many virii infections we have had? Exactlly ZERO. That's right, zero, nada, none...

          I wish YOU ZEALOTS would stop thinking this kinds stuff is acceptable in debate...
          No_Ax_to_Grind
          • What percentage of users do you represent

            ---Take a guess how many virii infections we have had? Exactlly ZERO.---

            Good for you. You are a proficient administrator. Now given the constant stories we read about millions of infected machines, rampant spyware, zombies, trojans, etc., what percentage of Windows users are likely to have the same experience and expertise as you?

            Remember that even if the answer is 98%, 2% of Windows users would effectively double Apple's marketshare. Not a bad move at all.
            tic swayback
          • Before or after automatic updates?

            I've been telling everyone that can do it to turn on automatic updates and they tell me since doing so they haven't had any problems at all. I expect that to get even better in Vista.
            No_Ax_to_Grind
          • Do automatic updates solve every problem?

            Do automatic updates remove spyware or adware? What about situations like the IE hole that was left unpatched for a month by MS?

            I know you're smart enough not to be hammered by these things, but clearly, other people aren't, otherwise they wouldn't exist, and wouldn't be so successful.
            tic swayback
          • Congradulations

            Wow, do you want a cookie? When someone buys a new computer and doesn't know what to do with it, they don't have the expertise that you do. Those are by far the majority of users. I used to work for a college campus, which was about 50% mac 50 % windows. for its students Guess which ones I was fixing constantly? Guess which one I had to run virus scans on? Guess which ones brought down the networks? Now guess which people didn't have problems during midterms/finals? Look you can use or do whatever you want believe me I won't care or try to stop you, but try and be realistic.
            Rokstar83
          • Very Good

            I have XP machines too. No viruses here either. Anti-Viruses thats another story. Anti-Spyware programs: I run two. Anyone can stop a virus. On my OSX I don't have to worry about it at all. Anti-Virus programs slow things down.
            joeyp770
          • Yup, that's what I don't use AV software

            My PC takes a 30% hit from Norton and others were even worse.

            No I don't install AV software, at least not permanently. I download it, install it then do a scan, after I'm found clean I uninstall and I do this once a month if I'm lucky. Never had virus yet.
            voska