April 1st, 2006, Apple’s 30th birthday, has come and gone. Although many expected Apple to somehow participate in its own birthday bash with some juicy product announcements, nothing earth-shattering happened at all. No announcement of a “30th Anniversary Macintosh”, no new intel-based iBooks, nothing. Only one small tremor was felt, coming in the form of a “point release” update to the Mac operating system. It was just another “business-as-usual” weekend for Apple.
Or, was it?
This week Apple announced new software that sent shockwaves through the computing industry. And I guess I’ll have to tell you about it, although I was really looking forward to continuing our history lesson from last week. I was going to tell you about how Microsoft copied Apple’s graphical user interface (or, just enough of it to convince a judge they didn’t steal it completely). I was also going to chronicle Microsoft’s licensing of Windows to anyone who could throw two circuit boards together, and how they built a global monopolistic empire based on two guiding principles: “less expensive” and “good enough for most people”. But, I guess we’ll have to get to that later.
You’ll remember that two weeks ago in this space I described for you the substantial reward given to the first intrepid software hackers, er, engineers, that got Windows XP to run on one of the new Intel-based Macintosh computers. I described the process they came up with as “not for the faint of heart”.
Well, this week, for those with any kind of heart, Apple released the free, downloadable public beta of an application they call “Boot Camp”. Boot Camp lets you (fairly easily) install and run Windows XP on your Intel-based Mac. Boot Camp (or whatever the final version is called) will be a feature of Mac OS 10.5 “Leopard”, which we’ll learn a lot more about when Apple’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference convenes in August.
All you need besides the Boot Camp application is a blank, recordable CD or DVD (onto which Boot Camp burns the drivers Windows needs to recognize Mac-specific hardware), and a single-disc, full-install version of Windows XP Home or Professional with Service Pack 2. You cannot use an upgrade, multi-disk, or Media Center Edition version of Windows, nor the one you downloaded with Kazaa.
Early reports are the procedure takes about an hour. Boot Camp creates the driver CD, then a partition on your hard drive (at least 10 GB) for Windows to live on, without affecting the Mac data already on your drive. You then follow the normal Windows installation procedure, update the drivers, reboot, and you’re ready to receive your first spyware, adware, virus, or worm.
I’m not being facetious (at least not too much) here. Apple points out that your newly-created Windows Nirvana is susceptible to the same attacks that plague any other Windows installations, so plan accordingly. However, there’s no need to worry about any of that nasty stuff getting into your Mac partition.
Anyway, you can choose which computer you want to boot into at each startup with a simple keystroke. Early reports are that Windows runs “flawlessly” and quite speedily on the Mac. At this point (remember this is a beta release), Boot Camp drivers give Windows full access to the Mac’s graphics, networking, audio (through the computer’s speakers), AirPort wireless networking, Bluetooth, the Eject key, and brightness control for built-in displays. Lacking are drivers for Apple’s wireless keyboard and mouse, IR remote control, USB modem, and the built-in iSight camera.
Wow. Apple “endorsing” Windows on a Mac. Did I just see Lucifer drive by on a snowmobile?
© 2006 Peter F. Zimowski