Spoutin' Off: Windows open for Macintosh
By Michael Rau
April 17 2006
A while back - when Apple announced that they were going to release a Windows version of iTunes, they did so with the announcement: "Hell froze over."
I didn't see this development as being particularly dramatic. But then, I always saw iTunes as having been developed more to service the iPod than as a Mac OS jukebox application. And since the potential market for the iPod was obviously so much bigger than just Mac users, it would've been strategically moronic not to reach out to the broader base represented by Windows owners, too.
Apple should have saved that catch-phrase for this week's release of "Boot Camp", their new application designed to facilitate the installation of Windows on the newer Intel-powered Macs.
In a word, "wow". Methodology to accomplish this objective was obviously going to emerge. I just didn't expect it from the folks at Apple themselves.
First, let's take a look at just what Boot Camp is, and isn't.
It's a small helper application which walks you through the steps necessary to partition your hard drive and install Windows on the new section. It's a free download, but is classified as beta software and thus has no support available from Apple. In other words, use it at your own risk.
You will also need to buy a full licensed copy of Windows XP, either the home or professional version ($199 and $299 MSRP respectively), with Service Pack 2. You cannot use a copy designed to upgrade an older version of Windows. Also, while I've found no specific reference, I'm guessing that you similarly can't use the so-called "educators" lite version.
And if you're thinking of getting one of the many bootlegs available through spam ads or peer-to-peer file sharing, I've read some blog entries that indicate some people have installed these and corrupted their hard drives as a result. In other words, don't be criminally stupid by trying this.
Before installation, you'll need to go to Apple Software Updates and make sure that you have the latest version of Mac OSX installed on your Intel-based Mac. It will include a "firmware" update. Then, you'll download and install Boot Camp, which will walk you through some simple steps.
First, it'll take you through the process of burning a CD which will contain specialized drivers that you'll install within Windows once that's up and running. Next, you'll go through a series of steps to partition your hard drive into two wholly segregated sections. Once that's done, you'll take your Windows disks and install that on your machine. Finally, you'll install the drivers from the CD which you previously burned.
Presto! Windows should now run almost perfectly (relatively speaking) on your Mac.
Keep these things in mind:
First, using Boot Camp, your Mac OS and your Windows OS will not run simultaneously. You can boot into one or the other, but have to restart to switch.
Next, all the inherent flaws which exist in Windows are right there within your new partition. Based on this, I would strongly suggest that, if you have to do this, you use the Windows side only for those apps which will run only in Windows. Use your Mac side for everything else. This is especially important for any Web-based activity. If you don't go online in Windows, you won't be affected by the viruses, worms, trojan horses, spyware, and other malware which infect the rest of the Windows-centric world.
Finally, don't expect Windows to run faster on your Mac - It won't. The Intel-powered Macs are as fast and well-engineered as any out there. But equivalent Intel-based systems from other manufacturers like Dell, HP, Lenova, and many others, are well-engineered, too.
If you crave a Mac because you want to use a vastly superior OS whenever possible, or have an appreciation for the Mac's superior form factor (such as the tiny size of the Mac Mini or the gorgeous all-in-one design of the iMac), and need to have Windows for one reason or another, then this may be the way for you to go.
There is, however, an emerging alternative that, while not free, may be a better choice than Boot Camp. It's from a Herndon-based software company called "Parallels", and it's called "Workstation 2.1".
Unlike Boot Camp, which for all intents and purposes, creates two completely different systems on one machine, Workstation creates what's called a "virtual machine" on your desktop. It allows you to run Windows from within Mac OSX, eliminating the need to reboot every time you want to switch to Windows. The manufacturer says that Windows will run in this mode at speeds close to a natively-installed OS.
Although Workstation 2.1 costs $49.95 ($39.95 intro price), if I wanted to run Windows on my Mac, I'd find Workstation's methodology to be much more convenient and thus worth the cost.
So now that the nether-regions have iced over, I'm going outside to look up in the sky for flying pigs.
Michael Rau is a mass-communications consultant in Virginia Beach. To send feedback of view past columns, visit http://dailypress.asoundidea.com.
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