Discussion on Apple's Boot Camp - Running Windows on a Mac

Recently I recieved an email saying "It seems to me that Mac's are going through a process of self-discovery, something along the lines of, 'Gee... we want a larger market share, so let's go ahead and just do what Microsoft is doing, since we can't keep up...' " The person who emailed me also asked, "Jeff, if you're a Mac person, why don't you see this as selling out to 'The Man'?" To his email, I responded:

Because that's not Apple's strategy. Notice how Apple allows people to install Windows on their Macs, but they do not provide it... and there are a few disabled features if you run Windows (like the video camera and the cool media software.

Apple makes Mac OS X, and it is, indisputably, the best consumer OS in the world. The only two things holding Mac OS X back from gaining large amounts of market share are mainstream games (which Microsoft has a stranglehold on) and certain proprietary programs that developers have only made for Windows.

Apple's 'Boot Camp' allows people who want to use the Mac OS (which many people want to do) and also be able to boot into the Windows OS that they have to for some reason or another. Apple's plan is to get a greater amount of market share by letting Windows users 'test the water' on their new Macs.

If someone were to buy a Mac to only run Windows, that person would be insane—a Mac costs a pretty penny (for a reason—Apple's hardware is top-of-the-line), and it would be silly because you can usually get a PC configured with the same specifications (but not the same level of customer satisfaction as Apple has) for a lower cost... and most consumers will take price over quality any day. But the Mac offers something more; the Mac comes with OS X, with iLife (for making music in Garageband, movies in iMovie, DVDs in iDVD, photo books and slideshows, etc. in iPhoto), and with tons of other amazing features and applications Microsoft would wet its pants over if they had an opportunity to run them on Windows.

The other big factor here is Vista; Microsoft was supposed to ship in 2004. Then the date was pushed to 2005. Then early 2006. Then late 2006. Now we see it's being pushed back to 2007. And all the novel features in Vista are slowly disappearing—the system now will just have some 'pretty eye candy' and a few security improvements. I will call it 'Windows XP Service Pack 3,' but Microsoft will call it 'Vista' and charge you over $150 for something they should give away free.

On the other hand, Apple has had four major revisions to its OSX operating system, each one offering tons of expanded functionality, speed, and modern architecture (among features such as Spotlight, which Microsoft can't do to the extent Apple can, for various reasons), etc. And Apple will be releasing their next release of OS X, 10.5 (or 'Leopard'), almost at the same time Microsoft finally brings out Vista. However, Leopard will be leaps and bounds beyond where Vista will be, especially because Apple's OS X 10.4 (which I am currently using on my old iBook) is already leaps and bounds beyond where Vista will be.

The truth is, Apple has been working on running Mac OS X on Intel processors, and running Windows on Macs for many years now; Apple even has experimented with running Mac applications on Windows! Apple always keeps a full hand, and plays its cards when necessary. Apple saw an opportunity to gain mindshare and customers with the current Vista fiasco, so they are doing it. I personally know four people who would never have thought of buying a Mac six months ago, who have all purchased Macs—not simply because they run XP, but also because they can run OS X and not have to worry about paying $100 or more a year in security software, tech support, etc (check out this article on Total Cost of Ownership).