First Look: Macworld roundtable: Assessing Boot Camp

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Cyrus Farivar : Jason, will the number of Mac users increase, as Windows users see why the Mac OS is better? Will Windows users security concerns be alleviated when they try out Mac OS? Also, what about the possibility of running Mac OS on x86 generic hardware? Will that ever come?

Jason Snell : That’s a lot of questions. I do think the number of Mac users will increase.

Rob Griffiths : I agree.

Peter Cohen : Yep.

JS : I think that for many switchers, Windows compatibility is about fear, not about reality. Sort of like people who grouse when a new Mac doesn’t have an upgradeable processor or expansion slots. They would never actually upgrade, but they are afraid of the “what if” scenario.

RG : “Hey! This Mini you sent me doesn’t have any slots!”

JS : So I suspect many people will buy a Mac knowing that they can revert to Windows and never will. Others will install Windows for a couple of things and eventually realize they’re never using it.

RG : Here’s another thought: when the high-end Macs come out this fall. I think Apple will sell quite a few to Windows users who never intend to run OS X. Because the MacBook Pro is currently the fastest XP laptop around, I expect the high-end Macs to be powerhouses, with Apple’s typically excellent design. For many PC users, that will be irresistible.

JS : Whoa there, Hoss. I’ve yet to see any convincing data about the “fastest XP laptop around.”

RG : You didn’t see the bench test? It looked pretty conclusive to me.

JS : We’re running all of PC World’s tests here. Then I’ll be convinced.

PC : What I’ve been amazed with so far is just how good the iMac is as a gaming PC. It’s certainly not the fastest system out there—the Radeon x1600 hobbles at high resolutions—but I’m able to play games that are being released today, with decent resolutions and high levels of detail.

RG : Peter, I’ve been shocked at the Mini’s good game performance, limited RAM and all. I’m still at 512 MB.

JS : As for Mac OS X on generic PC hardware, that will never legitimately happen.

CF : Please elaborate.

JS : Apple won’t allow it, period. They will sue anyone into oblivion who tries. However, I wouldn’t be shocked if Apple did a licensing deal with someone eventually. Sort of like the HP iPod, except maybe it would actually work.

CF : But then wouldn’t that bring back the clone wars, and take away Apple’s profit from the Mac hardware? Or does Apple’s iPod division take care of that difference?

JS : I think Apple would only ever license it to companies making systems that don’t really compete with Apple. But it’s still an unlikely event, I have to say.

CF : How could you license the OS to a company that wouldn’t compete with Apple?

PC : For example, if someone were to come forth with a really killer tablet design—installed with Mac OS X. Now that could be cool. Limited enough in market share and general appeal.

JS : Yeah, exactly: markets Apple doesn’t want to be in. What if Apple decides it never, ever, ever wants to make a super-small-ultra-sub-notebook? Let Sony sell one. It could happen. But I still don’t think it will.

PC : Now if you’ll excuse me I’ve got a game of Half Life 2 paused on my iMac that I want to get back to.

[ Jason Snell weighed in with his thoughts on Boot Camp on the day Apple announced the software. Peter Cohen has looked at Boot Camp from the perspective of game developers. And Rob Griffiths has installed Windows XP on his Mac, both with the help of Boot Camp and the project hack. ]

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