New MacBooks- can they dual boot or not?


Apple surprised no one last week with the MacWorld announcement that the Intel Macs are coming. The news had leaked weeks before and the general reaction to the news was good, although many are voicing displeasure at the rather bland name- MacBook. What many consumers have been waiting for is the ability to dual-boot the new Macs between OS X and Windows XP to take advantage of the software available for both platforms. Shortly after the announcement word began to appear that the new Intel Macs might not dual-boot after all, at least until Windows Vista is released. Seems Apple decided not to go the traditional BIOS route and instead relies on the Intel Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI). EFI is the next generation replacement for the aging BIOS technology and trust Apple to push the envelope and choose EFI for all Intel Macs. Unfortunately, Windows XP will not run under EFI, instead it requires the old BIOS to handle the firmware at boot time. EFI support will be in Windows Vista when it is released late this year.

Today word comes from Intel Australia that if Apple has included a Compatibility Support Module (CSM) then the new Macs will indeed run Windows XP and support the BIOS it so needs. Intel developed the CSM to allow vendors to be backward compatible with legacy BIOS systems so if Apple includes one then dual boot is good to go. At this point no one at Apple has stated if that is the case or not so we are in a wait and see period. Let me be frank- Apple, you need dual-boot. You will sell a lot more hardware if you can get Windows XP owners to upgrade for the ability to dual-boot. You can increase your market share by penetrating the Windows XP segment with dual-boot systems, something that may not happen if consumers have to wait for Vista to appear.

Of course my reasons for wanting a dual-boot Mac are selfish. I think it will pave the way for a Mac Tablet that will dual-boot both OS X with pen support and Windows XP Tablet Edition. Now that would be an incredible Tablet PC.


alan wilensky

You can be sure that BIOS gurus annd that little company that does all the actual boot rom work for AMI etal, you know, the FORTH development shop that writes bootloaders for everybody????

They’re on it. And it’s no big thing. Im an old firmware man.

Tim McGuire

DUAL BOOT. I have to use Windows all day at work, but prefer Apple software for everything else. I want an Apple Laptop for both. My college kids have PowerBooks and use them 12+ hours a day. I love those things and want to use one at work.

Apple — this is your path into Dell, IBM, and HP’s hardware market share!

Will Farris

Dualing booting my several computers between Linux, Solaris, and WinXP has never been a problem. I share files and work between them seamlessly. You just have to have a good boot commander keeping things straight. At any rate, running XP and Vista natively will be an absolute killer on MAC hardware. But as for the laptop form factor sometime in the near future people will tire of the silver “powerbook” look and wish for other physical packages to be mobile with. But by then OSX will have gotten far more traction among users and the next step for Apple is to license OSX for the open Intel hardware market.

It is hard for me to conceive that there are a lot of folks out there who would not be interested in running OSX for a lot of things like media apps and even office apps once they play with it. Who can’t use widgets, for example? Why bother with computers at all if you can’t get lots of productive functionality and enhanced user experience out of it, and OSX is more functional that XP, even though I use XP far more at the moment than MAC in business. I just think we are on the brink of seeing Microsoft start a long slide down unless Jobs and company get too cockey.

Daniel Burdi

I agree with James; Apple would make some great headway in the market if they took the step to dual-boot their Intels. I have always been fond of the Mac OS and would most likely be one of the first to buy a MacBook if it was in fact dual bootable. The only thing that has held me back from buying an Apple is the inability to run a Windows OS on it as well.

Rick Lobrecht

I think VMWare on MacOSX/Intel would be fantastic. I’ve found a couple of rumours that its in the works, but no word from the EMC folks. MS hasn’t even announced a date as to when they will support Virtual PC on MacOSX/Intel.

Matt Brubeck

I disagree, based on many experiences with dual-boot systems. Dual-booting sounds good in theory, but in practice it’s too much of a pain to be useful unless you’re really desparate. You *really* don’t want to have to close all your files and shut down one system and boot up another every time you want to use a program for a different OS.

The real win is from programs like VMWare or WINE, which will let users run programs from both operating systems simultaneously. That’s a dual-use system that’s actually useful, and it will happen with or without Apple’s blessing.

(The one definite advantage of booting Windows on a MacBook would be for users who like Apple hardware but aren’t interested in Mac OS X.)

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