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Think brilliant

Apple’s has released Boot Camp, which basically allows installation of Windows XP on any Intel-based Macintosh computer. This means that Windows XP will now run natively on any Intel Mac at no extra charge (bootcamp, unlike Virtual PC, is free). This isn’t emulation, this isn’t virtualization, this is plain old installing Windows on a machine with an Intel processor. And Bootcamp, or an equivalent, will be bundled with the next version of OS X, Leopard, which probably means the upcoming Windows Vista will also run on the Mac.

Mac fans, of course, couldn’t care less. To them, Windows is the very antithesis of Mac OS X and if anything, they’ll be slightly uncomfortable at the possibility that their shiny new Intel Mac could run Windows.

For the PC industry, though, this is equivalent to a “great disturbance in the Force”. One imagines the powers at Dell, HP and Lenovo quivering in their shoes. Apple has entered their market. For now, Apple becomes a PC vendor.

I’ve tried to convince a lot of people to buy a Mac, and here’s the major response. “Yeah, I know its cool, and never crashes, and I love Expose and the Ken Burns effect, but it just can’t run [insert Windows-only software product], and I can’t live without that.” Games, AutoCAD, VPN software, Microsoft .NET, whatever. With Boot Camp, these arguments vanish into thin air.

Need to buy a computer? You can buy a Windows-only machine, or buy a machine that runs both Windows and OS X, and has all the coolness of a Macintosh. Sure, use it only for Windows if you want. In your spare time, you can give OS X a try – it’s a pretty decent operating system [aside: evil smirk].

What about Microsoft? On the surface, their market has just expanded, they can now sell Windows to many more customers (though of course the Mac market share remains pretty small). In the long run though, they’re going to have it much, much tougher. OS X will now be much more directly compared with Windows.

I can assure you, most people – once they’re used to OS X, are going to dislike Windows (I refer to XP) – which in comparison is slow, clunky and prone to all sorts of nasty stuff from blue screens of death to viruses to spyware. I know some Windows users who stare at my Mac and go – “OS X seems OK, but nothing great” but I haven’t met a single person who’s used a Mac and preferred Windows. And there are plenty who stare at OS X and just wish they had a Mac. What I’m getting at is, you keep OS X and Windows on the same computer and let the same person use it, and he’s going to begin to hate Windows. Apple’s market share is likely to expand because their computers can run Windows, and OS X’s market share is likely to expand because people will finally see OS X vs Windows without having to make a commitment to switch to OS X. That’s why this move is brilliant.

Way to go, Apple.

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