Boot Camp and thoughts of the future…

30 04 2006

BootCamp LogoWell I know this isn’t exactly brand new stuff, but I thought it about time I got around to writing a little about Boot Camp. If you’ve not heard of Boot Camp, basically its an application that assists an Intel-Mac owner in preparing the ground work for a Windows XP SP2 installation.

It covers the basics such as performing a non-destructive dynamic repartition of your hard drive. In English that means it splits your disk into two parts, one bit for OS X and the other for XP. The amount of space for each part is up to you.

Next, Boot Camp burns a CD for you toBootCamp Screenshot use in Windows to get all the Apple hardware working, such as Video drivers, Airport drivers, Bluetooth drivers and even software so you can use the Eject key in XP.

Of course, Apple do not license a copy of Windows themselves; you must bring your own copy with you – and it must be a copy which includes the latest Service Pack 2.

If you have a version of Windows that came with your PC, the chances are it is an OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) version.

This means that your Microsoft EULA (End-User License Agreement) will prevent you from using this copy on any computer other than the one it came with. Even with the retail versions, there are restrictions on using it on multiple machines, so double check on the Microsoft website before you begin.

My own research on the matter turned up a very useful tutorial on the subject of merging older copies of XP with SP2 (Slipstreaming), on the Paul Thurrott SuperSite for Windows, for those of you with older SP1 and earlier discs.

Now I haven’t actually gone through the process myself, mainly because I really don’t need Windows for anything apart from gaming (I have a lot of games which I don’t want to re-purchase for the Mac) and also because of the problems I have seen reported on various forums and so on. Boot Camp is BETA software of a feature which Apple claim will be supported natively in their next release of OS X, so these sorts of problems are to be expected.

If I had a spare Intel based Mac lying around I may be more tempted, just to have a play with it and I am certainly interested to see how fast Windows XP is on my MacBook Pro, but I use it way too much to risk it being out of action due to a potential fault with the software.

BootCamp is certainly an interesting development as far as the whole “which platform?” debate. My opinion is that it is a good decision. I know a few people who would switch to a Mac in an instant if it were not for its inability to run Windows applications (such as games) natively. These people need a certain software product which has no Mac version or equivalent, end of story.

If Windows can be installed alongside OS X, the prospect of switching becomes much simpler. The tempted user can have his cake and eat it. They can make the transition much more confidently, knowing that should they need it, Windows is there in the background, ready to serve.

Will this be the end of OS X? I should think not. The Apple hardware is only one side of the equation and some may argue is only as good as it is because of the close connection between the hardware and the software, the sort of connection you can only get when the same company creates and supports both.

If anything I expect OS X to get a bit more visibility if more people are likely to the take the risk, knowing that they can always put Windows on if they don’t get on with OS X. Even hardcore Windows users may find themselves booting into OS X to have a look around if they bought a Mac. You never know, they might just like it and decide to stay.

What about if Apple decide to license OS X for all IBM compatible machines? I’m not sure myself on whether this is a good idea or not. It would certainly help with the spread of OS X if it were able to be installed on any PC, rather than just Apple hardware – but one benefit of the hardware maker writing the software is that they can make it work perfectly with said hardware.

Microsoft on the other hand has the laborious task of engineering Windows to work with all the possible combinations of hardware from every manufacturer all over the world. Obviously there are going to be problems with incompatibility every now and then, and there certainly are.

Apple have the disadvantage there, as Microsoft have always had to do this and have the experience and vendor support to do so. Would manufacturers be feel inclined to help Apple as well? It is difficult to say.

To sum up BootCamp is certainly a very good move for Apple and hopefully it will allow more people to experience the other side of the coin, in computer terms.





One response

26 05 2006
iBlog » Blog Archive » Why not Mac? - #1

[…] Fortunately, with the Beta of Boot Camp you can now install Windows natively on your Mac for those occasions where you just have to use it. This feature will be included with the next release of the Mac OS once the creases have been ironed out. […]

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