Cringely predicts Apple Boot Camp for non-Apple PCs to allow Mac OS X to run on generic x86 boxes

“Microsoft said a couple weeks ago [that Windows Vista] would be shipping later than expected and would miss the 2006 Christmas season. There has been lots of speculation about exactly why Microsoft had to make such an expensive decision, and five of those reasons were covered right here two weeks ago. But this time I am ready to lay the definitive reason for this particular Windows Vista delay on Dell Computer,” Robert X. Cringely writes for PBS. “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. I know we hear (and I write) a lot about Microsoft beating up its partners, but Bill Gates can’t put new software on a Dell computer without Michael Dell’s permission.”

“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,” Cringely writes. “Last week, a Microsoft data security guru suggested at a conference that corporate and government users would be wise to come up with automated processes to wipe clean hard drives and reinstall operating systems and applications periodically as a way to deal with malware infestations. What Microsoft is talking about is a utility from SysInternals, a company that makes simply awesome tools. The crying shame of this whole story is that Microsoft has given up on Windows security. They have no internal expertise to solve this problem among their 60,000-plus employees, and they apparently have no interest in looking outside for help. I know any number of experts who could give Microsoft some very good guidance on what is needed to fix and secure Windows. There are very good developers Microsoft could call upon to help them. But no, their answer is to rebuild your system every few days and start over. Will Vista be any better? I don’t think so.”

“Now to Apple and its Boot Camp utility announced this week to allow Intel Mac owners to boot into either OS X 10.4 or Windows XP. Readers (and Wall Street) took this to mean much more than I did, and I like to think I am correct,” Cringely writes. “Boot Camp, itself, is unexciting. So you can boot into Windows or OS X, big deal. You can’t boot into Windows AND OS X. You can’t cut and paste data between the two OS’s or even access the same data, as far as I can see. For this you’d need Virtual PC – a Microsoft product – if only a version existed for the IntelMac platform.”

MacDailyNews Take: You definitely don’t need Virtual PC. Virtual PC is dead. See Parallels releases first virtualization solution for Intel-powered Apple Intel-based Macs for one example of a solution. Others are sure to follow; perhaps even from Apple themselves. Boot Camp will be a different thing altogether when integrated into Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard.

Cringely continues,”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.”

MacDailyNews Take: It’s interesting how far off base Cringely is on this: Macs plus Boot Camp aren’t pretending to be Windows machines. They are Windows machines while they are running Windows. While we feel for the poor Mac, and Mac users, that’ve been temporarily dumbed down, this isn’t Virtual PC-like “pretending” we’re talking about here.

Cringely continues, “the only company that truly benefits from Boot Camp is Microsoft, because they’ll get to sell a retail copy of Windows XP for every copy of Boot Camp and retail XP makes Microsoft about three times as much money as the OEM version. Microsoft LOVES Boot Camp and I am sure they’ll say that shortly. After all, Boot Camp sells more copies of Windows without threatening more sophisticated products like Microsoft’s own Virtual PC. One reason why Microsoft isn’t surprised by Boot Camp is because Microsoft has been working with Apple to make sure that Windows Vista runs well on IntelMacs. Apple will support Vista dual boot, though I don’t know if they will become a Vista OEM, but I can’t imagine why they wouldn’t if it will help sales.”

MacDailyNews Take: If Microsoft “LOVES” Boot Camp, then they are suffering from delusions of grandeur: Why would Microsoft want anyone who doesn’t already know to experience the difference between Windows XP and Mac OS X? That’s like a NYC hot dog cart vendor offering taste tests vs. a five-star restaurant’s filet mignon. In the short term Microsoft could sell more copies of Windows XP. In the long run, though, people who’ve tasted the filet aren’t going to want to eat Microsoft’s hot dogs anymore.

Cringely concludes, “I predict that Apple will settle on 64-bit Intel processors ASAP (with FireWire 800 please), and at that time will announce a product similar to Boot Camp to allow OS X to run on bog-standard 32-bit PC hardware, turning the Boot Camp relationship on its head and trying to sell $99 copies of OS X to 100 million or so Windows owners.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Does Apple really have to go that far?

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  1. I think Cringely is offbase here. OS X is not going to appear on a Windows box anytime soon if EVER. There are simply too many differences and cultural roadblocks. People wanting to make the switch are FAR more likely to buy a new Mac mini, use bootcamp to still access those elements of Windows they find necessary and will understand over time how much more secure, and elegant OS X really is. However, despite this truth, Windows XP in most installs I’ve seen (thousands)…is simply FASTER than any Mac I’ve ever used. Since I currently support over 40 macs ranging from 8.6 to 10.4.6 in all sizes and shapes as well as a few Windows systems and have been involved with computers since the 1970’s…I speak from experience.
    So… little things like being able to move a window by clicking on the side, or resize it the same way, and yes, system responsiveness seem to be issues for switchers

  2. totally bogus, apple is a hardware company (which has been confirmed further by recent events) and would never sell their OS outside of a Mac. they (apple) know the money is in showing people you can dual-boot with their computers, but can’t do that with HP, toshiba, etc. once people realize that, apple won’t have to try and sell osx, the computers will sell themselves.

  3. It’s pretty hard to sell apple hardware if os x can be run on much cheaper dellboxes (yes i know they are pretty poor compared to apples, but the average joe who has never known the luxury of an apple computer will settle for it). I think virtualization is the way to go, hope apple comes out with a solution and doesn’t get in trouble for it. (I mean if apple provides a solution currently provided by another company, for every new mac that ships, isn’t apple using it’s position to the other company’s disadvantage?)

  4. Crigley totally blew it at the end. I agree with MDN, why would Apple sell OS X to beige-box Hell? Why would Apple cut the hardware revenue. Why would Apple abandon the millions of Apple hardware fans?

    Sure the soul of the computer is the OS, but someone has to be the quality and innovation leader in hardware too. Apple wins biggest when they do both.

    Crigley has intereting and plausable insights, but some of his conclusions are a bit too far out in left field. (there’s my baseball analogy)

  5. I will probably run boot camp if OS X 10.5 doesn’t contain virtualization technology.

    Will I buy a new XP licence? Will I hell!

    Microsoft is not getting one penny more out of me in response to the years of time wasted on their pile-o-dung operating system. No, I’ll use the copy I already suffered through and even then only for about two programs, in highly unique circumstances, and to support and legacy file backups that I have not yet converted to the Mac equivalent software. I already use Virtual PC for that purpose and no I didn’t buy a new copy of XP for that either.

    Surely Apple are after existing XP customers who can likewise transfer their licence (albeit through Microsoft annoyingly stupid reactivation process)?

  6. pr is right.

    Now that Apple builds PCs albeit with EFI instead of Bios there isn’t much to distinguish Mac and PC. OS X is that difference. A mac will run OSX, Windows, Linux etc etc. A PC is unlikely to run OSX.

    I simpl cannot wait for the Conroe Macs. I am waiting to fill my boots……

  7. pr: However, despite this truth, Windows XP in most installs I’ve seen (thousands)…is simply FASTER than any Mac I’ve ever used.

    Just from my own business and family I have noticed that Windows XP is snappier, peppier, faster than our Macs.

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