Virtualization the Key to Increasing Mac Market Share?

Writing in his blog for ZDNet, George Ou believes that Apple may have made the transition to Intel processors to take advantage of virtualization, which would enable Macs to run Windows applications without a performance hit.

He explained: "Both VMWare and Microsoft are promising Intel optimized virtualization software that will run any version of Windows, Linux, or BSD with minimal overhead. " However, the downside to that solution is the need for a licensed copy of Windows, as well as the fact that graphics are still emulated, which rules out gaming.

Mr. Ou noted that WINE or CrossOver, which enable running Windows software without requiring the OS, is an alternative, but application support is limited in that environment. However, he believes that "the final goal of Apple is to support true hardware partitioning through paravirtualization."

In that scenario, "Apple would have to implement a BIOS compatibility layer for EFI to support bare-metal installation of Windows that only support the conventional BIOS although this is currently just speculation." With that achieved, users could run not only Mac OS X and Windows but also Linux and BSD. "This of course assumes you have enough hard drive and RAM to support multiple operating systems," Mr. Ou noted.

Such a situation would enable only Mac users to run all the operating systems available for x86 processors, he explained, which "would open the possibility of using Macs for PC gaming or any other Windows application that traditionally wouldnit run at all or didnit run well on PowerPC Macintosh PC emulators. All the borderline cases where people arenit sure about a Macintosh because of their requirements for Windows applications and games will all of sudden be more willing to accept the Mac. "