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Boot Camp: One Man's Opinion

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Episode 61
May 26th, 2006

There is a new 17-inch MacBook Pro on my desk and it's running Windows XP at full native speed, which is to say as fast as or possibly faster than a similarly equipped notebook from Dell, HP, or Lenovo. A year ago I'd have laughed hysterically if you told me that my next Mac would run Windows XP natively but today I believe Apple is brilliant for making it so.

Boot Camp, which Apple currently offers as a public beta and will include in Mac OS X Leopard, is what makes it work. With Boot Camp you can install and run Windows XP on any Intel-based Mac. Better still you can do so without touching your Mac data or reformatting your hard drive. All it takes is Boot Camp and a licensed copy of Microsoft Windows XP, Service Pack 2, Home or Professional edition. Just download Boot Camp, launch it, and follow the instructions.

It couldn't be easier. I know almost nothing about Windows XP yet I was able to install it and get it up and running in under an hour. Boot Camp has a wizard that helps you partition your drive and create a CD with installers for all of the required Windows drivers. You merely install Windows XP, install the drivers from the CD you just burned, and in a few minutes you'll have Windows XP running at full speed on your Mac.

Internet Explorer runs as fast under Windows XP as Safari runs under Mac OS X. And more than one of my less-fortunate friends (who are Windows users) have said that this MacBook Pro running Windows XP appears to be as fast as or faster than their PCs running Windows XP.

Switching back and forth between Windows XP and Mac OS X couldn't be easier. Just hold down the Option key at startup and choose one or the other. Or use the Startup Disk System Preference pane in Mac OS X or the Apple-installed Startup Disk control panel in Windows XP.

Windows XP on a Mac doesn't mean much to me personally. I don't have any Windows software I have to use nor is there a Windows game I'm lusting for. But I think Boot Camp is a stroke of genius on Apple's part. Apple is the only vendor that can offer you a computer capable of running both Mac OS X and Windows XP. Dell can't do it, HP can't do it, Lenovo can't do it, but Apple not only can, they have.

Users who wouldn't have considered an Apple computer before will now almost certainly consider a Mac. After all, it runs like a Windows box when you need it to, but is still a Mac through and through, with all of the wonderfulness of Mac OS X, the iLife suite, Final Cut, Logic, Aperture, Safari, Mail, iCal, and so on and so on.

I've heard some people say that Boot Camp is a very bad idea and it will mean the end of Mac OS X. I couldn't disagree more strongly. Their pitch is that Mac developers will stop coding for Mac OS X if Macs can run Windows. I don't see that happening at all. For one thing, the Mac installed base will grow because of Boot Camp, which means even more potential buyers for Mac software. And I imagine that many switchers will realize that the Mac versions of software also available for Windows-like Microsoft Office and Adobe Creative Suite-run better on the Mac, with less chance of viral infection or spyware.

Here's another thought… If the Mac is Windows-compatible, companies and schools that require computers that run Windows can now choose products from Apple. You've got to believe that some of them will.

I'm going to close with a little something written by Christopher Sanderson, that I saw recently on MacInTouch:

The last remaining substantive reason to not own a Mac just evaporated.

I am not a Windows fan or user but I agree wholeheartedly. I predict that Boot Camp will contribute to significant growth in Mac unit sales and Mac market share in the coming months.

What do you think?

And that's all he wrote...

Bob "Dr. Mac" LeVitus has been a Macintosh user for a long, long time and has written 49 computer books including Mac OS X Tiger For Dummies and GarageBand for Dummies. He also offers expert technical help and training to Mac users, in real time and at reasonable prices, via telephone, e-mail, and/or unique Internet-enabled remote control software. For more information on Bob and his services, visit www.boblevitus.com.

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