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Apple Joins Windows Benchmarking Group; Wild Speculation Ensues

Apple Joins Windows Benchmarking Group; Wild Speculation Ensues

by , 2:45 PM EST, March 29th, 2006

Apple has joined the Windows benchmarking organization BAPCo, which produces the SYSmark 2004SE and MobileMark benchmarking software used by PC Magazine and other media outlets, as well as many corporations and government agencies. The Gearlog blog, which is owned by PC Magazine publisher Ziff Davis, reported on the news Wednesday and speculated: "Apple will now developer Windows drivers for Intel Macs with Intel Core Duo processors ... This bodes well for native Windows support on Macs in the future."

While there has been much speculation that Mac OS X v10.5 "Leopard," which is due for release by the end of the year, will include virtualization technology for running Windows within the Mac OS, Gearlog felt that Wednesday's development foretells a different scenario. "Benchmarks like SYSmark and MobileMark don't work well in virtualized environments since they use utilities that call low level processes (like anti-virus)," they wrote.

As the blog noted, other BAPCo members include AMD, Intel, Transmeta, ATI, nVidia, Microsoft, Ziff Davis Media, CNET, Dell, HP, Toshiba, Seagate, VNU, Atheros, and ARCintuition.

Not everyone agreed with Gearlog's assessment, however. For example, Ars Technica's Eric Bangeman wrote: "Concluding that Apple is going to offer some sort of official support for Windows from the announcement that it's joining a Windows-focused benchmarking group requires a big leap of faith, one that isn't supported by the evidence.

"While Apple has said that it doesn't mind if people run Windows on their Intel-based Macs, they've done absolutely nothing to make it possible. The use of EFI (extensible firmware interface) instead of BIOS in the Macintels left Windows completely out in the cold on the platform until someone hacked together a working Windows XP install for the Mac."

While Mr. Bangeman acknowledged that Windows virtualization in Leopard could be a possibility, given Intel's plans to add virtualization technology in processors due for release in 2007, he said that Wednesday's news could simply mean that "Apple appears to be after a way to do apples-to-apples comparisons when it comes to benchmarking, instead of its treasured SpecInt and Photoshop bakeoffs."

He added: "Mac OS X is a major brand for Apple, and running advertisements showing off benchmark scores obtained by running Windows on Macs is inconceivable. The likely end product of Apple's decision to join BAPCo are Mac OS X versions of the consortium benchmarking apps."

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