Apple Blesses Windows XP On Macs

Boot Camp is a beta of a feature which will also be bundled in the next major update to Mac OS X. It represents the first time Apple has endorsed

April 5, 2006

3 Min Read
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Apple Computer, Inc. on Wednesday did something it's never before done: endorse another operating system.

And Microsoft Windows at that.

Boot Camp, a beta of a feature which will also be bundled in the next major update to Mac OS X, rolled out Wednesday.

Apple explained the shift by saying that users wanted to put Windows XP on the newest Intel processor-based Macintosh desktops and portables.

"We have no desire or plan to sell or support Windows, but many customers have expressed their interest to run Windows on Apple's hardware now that we use Intel," said Philip Schiller, a senior vice president of marketing for Apple, in a statement. "We think Boot Camp makes the Mac even more appealing to Windows users considering making the switch."Boot Camp is a set of instructions and an assistant application that walks users through partitioning the hard drive (so Windows can be installed), burning a CD with the necessary boot drivers, and installing Windows XP SP2. (Separate Windows XP installation CD and license required.) The download is a hefty 83MB.

If this sounds familiar, it should; it's the same process that was published more than two weeks ago by a Texas man who launched a dual-boot development project by raising more than $14,000 in prize money. The prize was awarded in mid-March by Colin Nederkoorn, from Houston to two California programmers.

"I don't know how to feel about it," said Nederkoorn when asked about his take on Apple stealing his thunder. "I'm kind of sad that our project is now largely irrelevant."

But while Apple was not immediately available for comment on why it debuted Boot Camp, Nederkoorn is convinced that his contest, which wrapped up on his OnMac.net Web site, jogged Apple into action.

"I don’t think they would admit it, but yes, we had an impact," Nederkoorn argued. "All these people yelling and screaming for dual boot, yeah, I think it certainly helped. People were willing to donate their money and support, and I think Apple heard the message loud and clear."Nederkoorn also noted that Apple refrains from most public betas. (One of the last was a 2003 beta of iChat; before that, iSync was available in public beta form in 2002.) "They rarely do public betas."

Another tip-off that Apple acknowledged the impact of the OnMac dual-boot development is the rough-hewn feel to Boot Camp. "It's a little more polished than ours, but this product is extremely unfinished," said Nederkoorn. "Except for the drivers, it's pretty much what we have."

That driver support, however, is very welcome. Boot Camp burns a CD that includes all the Mac-specific drivers for Windows graphics, networking, audio, and wireless. Coming up with matching drivers would have been very difficult for the open-source project, Nederkoorn admitted.

In its announcement of Boot Camp, Apple couldn't help but take a shot at Windows, even though it was making it easier for Mac owners to put the rival OS on their machines.

"Windows running on a Mac is like Windows running on a PC," Apple said in an aside on its Web site. "That means it’ll be subject to the same attacks that plague the Windows world. So be sure to keep it updated with the latest Microsoft Windows security fixes."

Boot Camp will be finalized as a feature in Mac OS X 10.5, dubbed "Leopard," which will be previewed at the Apple Worldwide Developer Conference Aug. 7-11 in San Jose, Calif. Some analysts now expect Apple to release Leopard in November 2006, beating the now-delayed Windows Vista to market.For his part, Nederkoorn said that even though Apple had appropriated dual-boot, the development experience was worthwhile, enough to continue. "We're tossing around some ideas using this development model," he said. "This model is somewhere in between commercial and open source, it's open-source with money involved, and I think it would work for other projects." He refused to detail what might be next on his agenda, however.

Investors approved Apple's move, pushing up Apple's stock $5.24 (8.6 percent) by mid-day Wednesday to $66.41. Microsoft's shares rose 12 cents (0.4 percent) to 27.76 in early trading.

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