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Summary:

As you will now doubtless be aware, Apple are officially supporting booting Windows XP (and, by implication, Windows Vista, if it ever surfaces) on Intel-based Macs, by providing users with a tool to create a driver CD and partition their hard disk. It also provides a […]

As you will now doubtless be aware, Apple are officially supporting booting Windows XP (and, by implication, Windows Vista, if it ever surfaces) on Intel-based Macs, by providing users with a tool to create a driver CD and partition their hard disk. It also provides a pretty bootloader.

This is good. This is really good. Most obvious, from Apple’s point of view, is the effect on hardware sales, but I do not intend to much dwell on this as it has already been discussed on this very blog. More significant, I feel, is the increase in mindshare for Mac OS X. Here’s why…


Even in these heady days of marketshare heading for the lofty heights of 5%, those who genuinely espouse the Mac are still relatively few. Outside of a few core areas – graphic design, film, the media, publishing, music, academia, etc. – Windows still reigns supreme. Indeed, for many, there is nothing beyond Windows – that is all there is. And while there are many reasons for this, but they do not really bear repeating here, for they should be self-evident to most

One of the key figures in Windows’ dominance is the techie. The bloke in the IT department at your organisation. Maybe he is one of many. He probably isn’t that bright, has rather poor hygiene and doesn’t have a girlfriend. He has an MCSE and probably little else, and for him, operating systems started with Windows 95. Maybe he’s heard of UNIX, probably he hasn’t. In his world, there is no Novell, Linux is for weirdos, Firefox sucks because Internet Explorer is the best web browser in existence, and the Mac…the Mac is just some lame computer for arty types.

But they do make nice hardware. If only Macs ran Windows…

Oh, wait. Now they do.

A few have bragged about this on Slashdot. They believe that they are going to convince their finance departments to pay extra for a laptop (and then a Windows XP licence on top of that) because…because it looks good. And so they can check out Mac OS X at home.

Whilst I doubt that many of their colleagues in accounts are going to be particularly convinced by the merits of a Mac running Windows XP over, say, some run-of-the-mill HP or Dell box, especially seeing as the major benefit – Mac OS X – will only be enjoyed by the user outside work, I really do hope they succeed. It matters.

Consider this:

Our aforementioned techie gets clearance to replace his aging Dell Latitude with a MacBook Pro PowerBook Core. Perhaps he orders it online, or perhaps he goes straight down to one of the shiny Apple Stores. This is nice, this is good. Alien though the environment is to him, it is kinda nice. He’s feeling the Apple love a bit.

So he gets the machine back to work, or perhaps he’s just buying one himself, so he takes it home, and opens it up. Somewhere, something profound clicks. Nice packaging. Very…oh, very good. He switches the machine on; a warm fuzzy feeling. It starts up quicky and soon he is working his way through the welcome wizard.

That done, he loads up Safari – with some difficulty, as he spent some time looking for the Internet Explorer icon – and heads for the Boot Camp web site. He’s burning a driver CD in no time.

Then he comes to partition his hard disk. It’s the most beautiful disk partitioning tool he’s ever seen. (For some, it may be the first they’ve ever used, so this may not be valid, but…) F**k me, this is f**king beautiful. His appreciation deepens.

He inserts the Windows XP SP2 install CD and reboots. Ah, the familiar blue screens of the Windows XP installer – such soothing colours. He is happy, he feels safe. Even more so after the machine reboots and that green field comes up. The one with the cloudy blue sky. We’ve all seen it a million times.

So he’s happy. Windows XP is on and working, he’s just installed Half Life 2…strictly for performance evaluation purposes only of course, because this is a work machine, and it is instanely fast. And the hardware is so, so sexy. This is good.

But wait. There is something lingering. A feeling. He can’t quite put his finger on it. Something missing. Maybe the feeling doesn’t come straight away. Maybe it comes after the taskbar crashes, or fails to list all his open applications, or Windows starts running sluggishly because it is clogged with spyware…

He reboots. It is nice, Mac OS X, isn’t it. Minimising windows, magnification of icons on the Dock, Exposé…Oh my lord!…fast user switching. It’s…beautiful. It’s so…elegant.

He restarts in Windows XP. Hmm. That WIndows 95 feeling. Not good. What was he doing? Oh dear, the taskbar has crashed again…

I could go on, but I think you get the picture. Pretty soon, our Windows devotee is soon hooked on the Mac. He successfully logs Mac OS X on to the corporate network. These days he doesn’t reboot very often…

This matters. I cannot emphasise this enough. Whilst, as my snide tone should indicate, I generally have very little respect for these types, I do acknowledge that they are responsible for an awful lot of decisions to purchase Windows out there, be it in the corporate or the home environment. Newly skilled on the Mac, these types will wholeheartedly recommend Macs to their friends and family. It may even spark something in the business world (although I doubt it).

This is a clever move. With Microsoft’s situation of late veering distinctly towards the tragic of late (the EU seem to be suggesting that they won’t even let Microsoft ship Windows Vista until they have completely OKed it), the market is Apple’s to gain.

Now is the time for the tiger to pounce…

  1. Oh my god I know what you’re saying. I can definitely see this happening. Those guys at Apple are clever.

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  2. Erm… regarding the part about Half Life 2 running fast… just as a point of technicality of course… the same system purchased with over the counter x86 hardware (without the Apple addon chip that says “I’m Apple!”) costs around 400$ less; and runs just as fast.

    Just a point to note, Apple’s Intel hardware is nothing special. In actuality, I’ve never thought anything good of Apple’s internal hardware – in fact, its failure ratio (as personally observed) is far higher than most ordinary Intel hardware; and comparable performance (hello unupgradable video cards and RAM?) inferior to the equivelantly priced x86 stuff.

    It’s their external design packaging, and operating system that make it a package worth buying – at least to me. Not the hardware. The OS architecture is far superior to XP, because it was designed from the ground up _without_ XP’s extra compatiblity baggage – so a lot could get overlooked, and new stuff added.

    As to the mac successfully logging onto the Windows network… I’ve never successfully gotten one onboard a Windows domain. Do they even have SMB domain logon capability? I’m pretty sure that they have zero support for 2k3 domains, as even the Samba project has trouble with it. Any confirmations about that?

    Just some random ranting.

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  3. Amen.

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  4. Oh now, that’s not an OS X Mac running on our network, printing to our printers and sharing files etc. Geez, some people need to get into the modern era.

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  5. “the same system purchased with over the counter x86 hardware (without the Apple addon chip that says “I’m Apple!”) costs around 400$ less; and runs just as fast.”

    Except, as you later in your post note, that it doesn’t run OSX which is worth far more than an extra $400.

    “As to the mac successfully logging onto the Windows network…”

    Never had a problem myself… I’ve got one of those brutally boring windows 2k3 admin classes and we need to login to the domain and I use my powerbook (not a MACBOOK PRO) to connect to the wireless and have no issues getting on the domain specific to my class.

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  6. it’s the same reason why you can use your ipod on a windows and a mac, but ONLY if you use your PC first (and from there, get so amazed by the beauty that is the ipod and end up switching to a mac).

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  7. “Just a point to note, Apple’s Intel hardware is nothing special.”

    Obviously you’ve never owned any.

    ” in fact, its failure ratio (as personally observed) is far higher than most ordinary Intel hardware;”

    Jordan, where do you get this figure? Why do people say stuff like this without any kind of verifiable source except personal oberservation so, what, 1 or 2 machines constitutes a trend? You’ve personally seems hundreds of failures of PC laptops and Mac Intel machines to be able form an accurate large picture? You supervise a large repair center to see this is true? I doubt it.

    This sounds more like an opinion than anything based on fact. Keep it to yourself. The world doesn’t need more moronic biased FUD that can’t back up it’s claims.

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  8. I use my Powerbook everyday on both Linux and Windows networks, and have no problem on the Windows network sharing files, printing to network printers, scanning to network scanners, etc. I bought the Powerbook over a year ago, after buying iPods for my kids the previous Christmas, and then later one for myself. I was so impressed by the Apple experience, and the experience my daughter had with the iBook I bought her in the 8th grade, that I was finally convinced that this was a better solution than the 2 Dell laptops I had been using (one set up to dual boot Linux or Windows 2000). I originally intended to use it as my “home” computer for music and photos, and have ended up using it for everything. I’m now phasing out the Dell laptops and going all Mac. Incidentally, I’ve found that the Powerbook logs onto a Windows network seamlessly and with less problems than the Dell laptops. I’ve also exchanged files with other Windows computers using Bluetooth and in one case on a peer-to-peer basis when the Windows machine couldn’t get on the network. Incidentally, the built-in Airport wireless access card works far better than any windows network card, either 3rd party or built-in. The last Dell laptop came with a built-in wireless access card that has been replaced twice and still doesn’t work consistently, dropping the connection frequently during large file transfers. Dell was never able to figure it out. I have to go to a wired connection if I am going to transfer any file larger than a megabyte. I have used my Powerbook in many remote offices and never had a problem logging on, as long as I am given the correct security settings.

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  9. “One of the key figures in Windows’ dominance is the techie. The bloke in the IT department at your organisation. Maybe he is one of many. He probably isn’t that bright, has rather poor hygiene and doesn’t have a girlfriend. He has an MCSE and probably little else, and for him, operating systems started with Windows 95. Maybe he’s heard of UNIX, probably he hasn’t. In his world, there is no Novell, Linux is for weirdos, Firefox sucks because Internet Explorer is the best web browser in existence, and the Mac…the Mac is just some lame computer for arty types.”

    This is one of the best paragraphs on “techies” in today’s corporate world that I have read in a very long time. Thank you.

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  10. “One of the key figures in Windows’ dominance is the techie. The bloke in the IT department at your organisation. Maybe he is one of many. He probably isn’t that bright, has rather poor hygiene and doesn’t have a girlfriend. He has an MCSE and probably little else, and for him, operating systems started with Windows 95. Maybe he’s heard of UNIX, probably he hasn’t. In his world, there is no Novell, Linux is for weirdos, Firefox sucks because Internet Explorer is the best web browser in existence, and the Mac…the Mac is just some lame computer for arty types.”

    Ok that really is a tad much!!! I hope it was implied sarcasm!!!

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