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Will Intel Macs Entice?

The hype just keeps on coming for Apple's new Intel-based Macintosh machines. First, an contest proves Windows XP can run natively on Intel Macs. Then, Apple releases a public beta of Boot Camp, a dual-boot utility that makes it dirt-simple to run Windows on Macs at full native speed with full driver support. About the same time, Parallels releases a public beta of a hypervisor-based virtualizer for Intel Macs that lets you run any flavor of Windows, along with any Linux distribution--even Solaris, FreeBSD or OS/2--right alongside OS X. And initial tests indicate that Intel dual-core Mac laptops may run Windows software faster than any comparable Windows PC.

This is great news for Mac aficionados, but the question for the enterprise is, "Should you care?" If you use, or are considering using, Macs in your shop, the answer is, "Yes." Intel Macs mean you can run any Windows-only software you need without buying additional PCs. They also provide a single machine to test for deployments to mixed environments. And if you ever decide to dump Apple software, you can run just Windows on your Mac boxes. For developers who appreciate OS X because of its Unix underpinnings, the new machines may be the ultimate developer platform. What's not to like about one machine that runs virtually every OS under the sun, is blazingly fast, and is uber-stylish to boot?

For the rest of corporate IT, the case is less clear. You still have to pay for each copy of Windows you want to run on a Mac. And you'll incur the maintenance overhead of supporting two operating systems. That said, Apple is betting that Macs will shine in side-by-side comparisons of the computing experience of OS X versus Windows. And when you include the near-total lack of malware on OS X, Apple makes a good case for turning more companies into "switchers."