The biggest Mac news this year is the switch to Intel chips. Just when it looked as if that was going well, Apple sanctions Windows ON your Mac. What’s next? Windows IN your Mac.
It took me awhile to figure it out, but there is a difference and it’s huge for the future of the Mac.
When Apple launched the first Intel-based Macs early this year, we knew it was just a matter of time before someone would get Windows XP or Windows Vista running on a new Mac.
It happened, though the process for installing Windows was cumbersome, not for the faint of heart. We also knew that an easier process would arrive soon.
What we didn’t know was that Apple would be the provider of the easier process to run Windows XP on an Intel-based Mac.
That big news is called Boot Camp, a Mac application that preps your Mac and lets you install Windows in a dual boot mode. Either Mac or Windows ON your Mac.
With that cat out of the bag, virtualization software maker Parallels announced their version of the whole Mac and Windows experience; Windows which can run IN your Mac.
IN vs. ON? What’s going on, Jack? It’s virtualization. Taking advantage of certain features in the new slate of Intel chips, multiple operating systems can peacefully coexist and run at the same time on a Mac.
With Boot Camp, your Mac (the hardware part of what makes up a Mac) becomes a Windows machine.
But it’s dual boot. You have to drop what you’re doing on your Mac, reboot into Windows.
When you’re done with whatever task is required in Windows, you boot back into your Mac. By most accounts, that process, though a bit cumbersome works well and Windows is finally ON your Mac.
Apple says Boot Camp will show up in the next version of Mac OS X, Leopard, which will be introduced or previewed in August at the Apple World Wide Developers Conference.
In the meantime, Parallels offers a different way to get Windows XP “IN” your Mac. It’s IN vs. ON. Parallels lets Mac OS X open a window that, well, it runs Windows inside.
Just as you switch from Safari to Mail to iCal, you can use Parallels to switch from Mac OS X or any Mac application, and run Windows inside a Window on your Mac.
Which is easier? A dual boot operation where Mac OS X shuts down and you start up again in Windows, or your hit the Command-Tab keys and Windows is already there an running?
That’s the world of virtualization that Intel’s new chips bring to the Mac world. Is this a big deal? What’s the strategy behind such features?
First, it’s a very big deal and must be part of an overall strategy Apple is working on. Think of the obstacles and choices that the average Windows users, home or office, face when disgusted with Microsoft’s offerings.
The choices? Linux? Linux distributions such as Red Hat and SUSE, while good, stable, and secure, don’t offer the breadth of applications available on Windows.
Mac OS X? The Mac has plenty of comparable and in many cases superior desktop applications, far more than Linux. But Windows users, by and large, are not familiar with Macs, think Macs too expensive, and would hate to have to buy all new software for a Mac.
By moving to Intel chips, Apple has removed an obstacle which may have prevented some from switching to Macs. Intel Inside is familiar. By allowing Windows to run ON or IN a Mac/Mac OS X, Apple has removed yet another major obstacle.
Think of it. A Windows user can now buy a Mac, install Windows, install a few favorite Windows applications, and compare the two desktop experiences side by side. Who wins?
For the short term, probably everyone. Windows? Microsoft sells another copy. Apple? A Windows user switches to a Mac. The Windows user? Hey, they’re running a Mac.
May the best desktop experience win. To be fair, Microsoft isn’t going out of business because of Boot Camp, Intel chips, or Parallels, or the upcoming Leopard version of Mac OS X.
But a three-percent downside click in market share means Apple’s share doubles.
That will make for an interesting scenario for our favorite Mac maker, no?
But what of Apple’s strategy with Leopard? What else is in store? Here’s a scenario that I see being launched with Leopard and Macs over the course of the next 12 months.
Mac OS X Leopard will be able to dual boot Mac OS X or Windows. And, Leopard will allow for full virtualization of Windows and allow it to run inside a running Mac OS X, just like Parallels.
In fact, it’s more than possible that Apple becomes an OEM for Windows, just like Dell, HP, Sony, et al. How? By pre-installing Windows on every Mac.
When you buy a Mac running OS X Leopard, you’ll have the option to install Windows Vista for an extra, say $100. Microsoft wins. Apple wins. The user wins. The Mac experience becomes the best of all possible worlds.
Macs will remain premium products, just like Sony video gear, or BMWs, or Nike cameras. How compelling is that scenario? The Mac becomes the one machine you can buy which runs everything. ON or IN.
Leopard will bring more to the game than just virtualization or dual booting. Look for 64-bit support, too, as Intel rolls out the first of a generation of 64-bit chips. Let me save that wish list for another time.
In the meantime, Microsoft’s old strategy of EEE; Embrace standards, Extend standards, Exterminate standards, will be turned against the Redmond giant in a unique and gratifying way.
Apple will Embrace Windows on Macs, and Mac OS X; ON and IN. Apple will Extend the desktop wars in a side-by-side full on comparison for users; Mac OS X vs. Windows Vista. It’s the growing, stable, secure, vibrant desktop OS, against the aging, bloated, scaled back, stripped version of Windows’ Longhorn.
Exterminate? Did I forget to mention the final “E” in the scenario? Sorry. I’m all out of time today.