Gartner: Boot Camp won’t expose Mac OS X to Windows viruses or worms

On April 5, 2006, Apple Computer announced that it will support the installation of Microsoft’s Windows XP operating system on Intel-based Macs through a program called Boot Camp. The program is available as a beta software download from . It will be included as a feature within the Mac OS X “Leopard” release, which will be previewed in August 2006 at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference.

In a statement on its website, Gartner writes of Boot Camp:

By providing a safety net that will allow users to run Windows applications, Apple hopes to attract more buyers for Macs. The Boot Camp program will enable users to install Windows XP on a Mac in a dual boot environment. On boot, the user must decide whether he or she wants to run Mac OS X or Windows for that session. This should meet the needs of users who are occasionally required to run Windows applications. Users who often need to run both Windows and Mac OS X applications would have to reboot repeatedly to switch between the two operating systems. Gartner believes this is not the experience that most users seek, and that they are more likely to want to run the Windows applications natively on the Mac OS X.

In addition, to enable the dual boot environment, users need to acquire a full copy of Windows XP. Reusing a disk from a Windows PC that they already own would violate the terms of their license. Also, most new PCs currently ship with rescue media, rather than Windows disks. No volume licensing is available for a full version of Windows, only upgrades; full packages must be bought at retail, with list prices of $200 for Windows XP Home and $300 for Windows XP Professional. Enterprises and midsize businesses without a particular business need to fulfill are unlikely to pay a premium price for Mac hardware or support an extra operating system. Thus, Gartner does not believe that Boot Camp will make Macs significantly more attractive to enterprises outside of Apple’s traditional strongholds in the graphic arts, video production, scientific research and education.

We believe that the real significance of Boot Camp is that it demonstrates that Apple is serious about allowing Windows to run on Mac hardware. It also paves the way for Apple to support a hypervisor, which would run Mac OS and Windows side by side on a virtual machine.

Companies experimenting with requiring users to purchase their own PCs should expect more Macs to enter their environments. Small businesses, consumers and freelance contractors may find it useful to run their Windows applications on the Mac at work while also running the Mac OS for personal use. All users should ignore any hype about the possibility of exposing the Mac OS to more viruses or worms. The Mac software will be located on another partition within a different file system; thus, running Windows on a Mac will not expose the Mac software to more “malware.” However, if Mac sales and Apple’s market share increase, the Mac OS could potentially become a more attractive target for malware.


MacDailyNews Take: Apple says it’s called Boot Camp, and we quote, “for now.” In other words, Boot Camp’s real name is “Trial Balloon.” Mac OS X Leopard’s ability to deal with Windows applications will most likely not look, operate or feel anything like the primitive Mac OS X Tiger + Boot Camp Public Beta does today. Based upon early anecdotal evidence from a handful of Apple Retail Stores, Boot Camp is driving significant Mac sales already; just one week after it’s release. Gartner does an excellent job by advising all users to ignore any hype about the possibility of exposing Mac OS X to more Windows viruses or worms via the use of Boot Camp.

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Related articles:
Apple’s Boot Camp is first step towards Mac OS X Leopard’s inevitable support for virtualization – April 11, 2006
Video of Parallels running Windows XP on Mac OS X showing real time clock – April 11, 2006
VMware plans Mac version of virtualization software – April 09, 2006
Video of Parallels running Windows XP on Mac OS X – April 07, 2006
Parallels releases first virtualization solution for Intel-powered Apple Intel-based Macs – April 06, 2006
Ed Bott on Apple’s new Boot Camp: virtualization would be better – April 06, 2006
Dude, you got a Dell? What are you, stupid? Only Apple Macs run both Mac OS X and Windows! – April 05, 2006
Apple introduces Boot Camp: public beta software enables Intel-based Macs to run Windows XP – April 05, 2006
Parallels to intro virtualization software for Intel-based Macs – April 04, 2006
Apple Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard likely to feature Windows support, drivers for Intel Macs – March 28, 2006
RUMOR: Apple’s Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard to include VMWare-like ‘Chameleon’ virtualization software – March 24, 2006
Using virtualization to run Windows and Linux apps plus Mac OS X could double Apple’s market share – February 11, 2006
Intel’s Virtualization Technology runs multiple operating systems simultaneously – February 08, 2006
Will future Intel-based Apple Macs offer multiple OS worlds via virtualization? – November 16, 2005
Intel’s built-in virtualization tech could be one way to run Windows on Intel-based Apple Macs – June 16, 2005
Intel-based Macs running both Mac OS X and Windows will be good for Apple – June 10, 2005
Why buy a Dell when Apple’s Intel-based computers will run both Mac OS X and Windows? – June 08, 2005


  1. MDN says “Based upon early anecdotal evidence for Apple Retail Stores, Boot Camp is driving significant Mac sales already; just a week after it’s release.”

    This is true, I went to the Apple store at South Coast Plaza last Sunday and the place was a madhouse with Windows users checking out the new Macs. I asked the guy at the counter about it and he said they had probably sold more Macs in the 3 days that Boot Camp had been released than in the previous 3 weeks!. This was Sunday at around 5 pm, the mall was fairly quiet, the Apple store WAS PACKED!

  2. While Boot Camp was a welcome addition, I’ve decided to go with Parallels Workstation myself. It’s only $39 and it allows you to run any OS (not just XP SP2) inside of OS X, so no rebooting is required. Plus it’s fast and stable, even in beta. And since I’m not a serious gamer (I have a PS2 for that), I don’t need 3D acceleration either so that’s not an issue. Whichever way you go, it’s a great time to own a Mac.

  3. Malware could be written…

    Microsoft could write secure software.

    A nasty, working OS X virus could be written.

    With wings, a pig could fly.

    Many things could be done. That doesn’t affect how likely it is that they will be done.

    MW = were => Or how likely they were done.

  4. Apple should provide virtualization solution like parallel, but disable the network connections and external storage by default, so Windows will be safe from virus. It also should have an option to connect external storage and http connection to virtual machine (Windows) after virus scan (i.e., use OSX as firewall for Windows running on VM). Then Mac will become the safest computer to run Windows.

  5. tommy boy is correct. The Windows XP partition is blissfully unaware it is running on superior hardware (oh well…it MIGHT be happier…hard to say)…but it sure as hell has no idea that an OS X partition is even there. Malware is not going to be written that changes that. Sheesh.

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