I want to buy an Apple

Even if people start to use Windows in large numbers of new Apple computers, Apple wins because the quality of its hardware will be hard for other companies to match.

Really, I do. Yes, I work for Microsoft. And yes, you can be 100% sure I would install Windows XP, something I'm newly empowered to do, because I'm a programmer who targets the 95% of people who use Windows as well as someone who prefers to remain compatible with 99% of the hardware and software products on offer. The Mac OS may be a great operating system. I prefer Windows.

Apple can't lose irrespective of what happens in the marketplace.

That doesn't mean that I don't appreciate the hardware design skills of Apple corporation. I recently bought an iSight camera for a friend of the female persuasion who just so happens to use a Mac. It's a sexy camera. I remember thinking "why can't web cameras for PCs look as nice as this." It wasn't cheap, but then again, neither will the HD TV be that I hope to buy. I buy gadgets, and if the gadgets are GOOD, I am more than willing to pay a premium.

The biggest problem is still compatibility. Drivers for many hardware products typically used with a Mac don't yet exist, including for the iSight camera. I expect that will soon be rectified, something Apple will pursue enthusiastically if the ability to run Windows on an Apple computer turns out to be a strong selling point.

To be honest, I can't see why it could be anything but. Some worry that making it possible to run Windows on a Mac might undermine use of the Mac OS. If Windows XP (or Windows Vista) runs on a Mac computer, wouldn't that increase Windows market share, thus providing even more reason to target Windows before all others?

Maybe (though with a 95% share, that reason already exists in spades)...or it could just provide a true head to head comparison between the two operating systems, something which has been lacking while Apple played Venus to Microsoft's Mars. This could enable a new generation to discover the kinds of software available for the Mac. The Mac has great audio / video software, which makes it a leading solution for graphic artists and musicians.

However, let's assume for the moment that in the future, a decent percentage will buy Apple computers to run some variant of Windows. Apple has some of the best hardware designers in the industry. Those designers are the reason iPod dominates the market for music players.

iPod doesn't win on features. Many alternative media players boast more features than the iPod. iPod, however, is better designed, a fact apparent to anyone who has perused the media player aisle at Target before visiting the Apple store.

Those same hardware skills apply to Mac computers. Most Windows PCs have all the appeal of a stapler. Mac computers clearly are an improvement in this regard. Furthermore, the ongoing maintenance of the iPod market share shows that it is very hard for other companies to match that quality. Culture is a difficult thing to replicate.

This would seem to bode well for an Apple which chose to throw its net into PC waters. They may just be capable of building nets other companies would have trouble matching.

All in all, Apple can't lose irrespective of what happens in the marketplace. If Mac OS attracts new converts, then the benefits to Apple are obvious. However, if Mac OS gets displaced by those running Windows on their laptops, Apple wins as it grows its share in a much larger segment of the market against competitors with more a sense for business staplers than computer fashion accessories.

Now, if only they'd include .NET support in the Mac OS...