It’s tough to write about something when you’re speechless. It’s April 5th, and I still suspect that Apple is playing an elaborate April Fools Day trick on us all. Today, Apple announced a public beta of software it calls Boot Camp. Though only a beta, the software allows users to easily repartition their hard drives and install Windows XP on an Intel based Macintosh. This is a shocking move for Apple but one that appears to have caused its stock value to rise 6.7% following the announcement.
Since the new lines of Macintosh computers now run on Intel processors, the technical walls that prevented Mac users from running Windows have crumbled. On March 16th, two enterprising hackers found a way to install Windows on an Intel based iMac and claimed at prize in excess of $13,000. Prior to that, Apple had stated that it would not prevent users from installing Windows. Apple simply would not support it.
Today’s news from Apple changes all of the rules. Since narf2006 and Blanka claimed their prize as the first people to develop an installation procedure for Windows, Windows drivers for the Apple hardware have been the single largest problem. Each component in the computer needs to have a drive in order for the operating system to properly utilize it. Windows contains an untold driver set, but no one has ever had the need to write Windows drivers for Apple hardware. The real beauty of Boot Camp is that it includes all of the drivers necessary to properly run Windows on Macintosh hardware. It also allows easy partitioning of the Mac’s hard drive without data loss or the need to reformat.
Boot Camp requires that you have a new Intel based Mac in order to install and run Windows. As of today, that lineup includes the iMac, MacBook Pro, and the Mac Mini. New Intel based towers are expected in June or July of this year. Users must also be sure that they are running the latest firmware for their computer. Aside from that, we just need a legal copy of Windows XP SP2, 10GB of free drive space, a blank CD, and the Boot Camp installer from Apple’s web site.
I am, admittedly, uneasy with this development. I can see both good and bad in the future. Mac users will finally have access to the vast catalogs of Windows compatible software including games. Mac users will also have new insight into the horrors of spyware, viruses, security holes, and data loss.
But either way you look at it, this is a momentous day for Apple Computer and Macintosh users everywhere. It’s also a day that computer manufacturers like Dell and Gateway have long feared. Apple has found a new way to step-up competition. Apple was instrumental in bringing about the personal computer revolution. Today, the playing field has been altered yet again. Who knows what the future will hold!