Enterprise Software

If you want Windows, buy a PC, not a Mac

As I have said in the past, the dual boot story on Macs just is simply not very compelling.

There is tons of buzz out there about Boot Camp. A lot of people are saying that this is the best thing for Apple since OSX. Others are saying that this is the worst thing for Apple since the Newton. Personally, I think this is a non-story.

Dual booting simply is not very useful! Both Mac OSX and Windows XP tie an extraordinary amount of their functionality to the file system. To dual boot, and have your data be usable on both platforms would mean that you are going to be putting your data on a monster FAT32 partition, and giving up the advantages of NTFS for the Windows XP installation, and HFC+ for the Mac OSX installation.

Furthermore, dual booting is a huge pain in the butt. Do you really want to interrupt your workflow, shut everything down, reboot, wait until that special moment to hold a button (to tell it to boot to the alternate OS), and re-login, just to start one application? Neither do I.

The one thing I see as being a Good Thing with Boot Camp would be to have a small XP partition used for gaming. This would finally allow someone to own a Mac and actually play a game. Not only that, but when starting a game, it is common practice to shut down every possible application in order to provide the game with the maximum possible system resources. Not many people multitask with a game either. The idea of giving Mac OSX the ability to play Windows XP games is a good one, as this is a major reason why many people will not go with a Mac.

On the other hand, do you really want to spend $100 on a Windows XP license just to play games? It is one thing to spend $100 on a piece of hardware to make your gaming experience better. It is another thing entirely to spend $100 to gain the ability to play games on a hardware platform that pound for pound is already significantly more expensive than a Windows PC to begin with. I can put together a decent gaming PC for around $800. That is only a tad bit more expensive than the cost of a Mac mini. And a Mac mini, even with the new Intel infrastructure, is hardly a gaming machine. Its graphics capabilities are not outstanding, its sound capabilities are not outstanding, it is only 1 GB of RAM for that price, and so on and so on. If you are talking about taking the Intel version of a PowerMac and playing a game on it, fine. But for the price of a PowerMac, you could be putting together The Ultimate Gaming PC (assuming you are not being stupid and convincing yourself that you need 500 watts of power supply to drive your computer). And even then, you would probably be better served by buying a Mac mini, a decent gaming PC, and a KVM switch.

Unless someone has a lot of money to burn in the quest to play Windows XP games on a Mac, there really is no reason to be dual booting into Windows XP from Mac OSX anyways. When the Mac mini first appeared, I investigated the possibility of switch to the Mac platform for my day-to-computing. What I discovered was that every single application I used my Windows XP computer for either had a Macintosh version, or an equivalent that is just as good. The only reason why I have not made the switch yet is for financial reasons. My at-home computer usage simply is not very complex or dependent upon a PC-only application. Indeed, with Mac OSX being able to run FreeBSD software quite easily, there is a large pool of free, open source software that often does the same thing as PC software, and often just as good. Outside of games, business environments, and software development for Windows XP, I just cannot find any reason why anyone needs to boot into Windows XP versus Mac OSX. And even then, the drawbacks are miserable. In fact, in a business environment, you effectively would not be able to use Mac OSX at all. So the Boot Camp software really does not help Apple penetrate businesses, and only a few people will be able to productively make use of dual booting.


About Justin James

Justin James is the Lead Architect for Conigent.

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