Why Boot Camp won’t make much difference

There’s several interesting posts appearing on Apple’s Boot Camp, which lets you dual-boot OS X and Windows XP. Kevin Briody, for example, posts a link to a TUAW post about how Boot Camp potentially gives a huge boost to educational establishments who can now buy one hardware platform to run both systems.

There’s a couple of potential issues with this rosy view. The first is summed up by Phil Schiller’s quote in Apple’s press release on Boot Camp:

"Apple has no desire or plan to sell or support Windows"

If you were awarding a contract for several hundred thousand dollars’ worth of computers, would you give the money over to a hardware maker that isn’t going to support the OS that you use at least 50% of the time? Of course not. And unless Apple starts to actively support the use of Windows on Macs, that’s not going to change. Plus, of course, each machine you buy will require a full, licensed copy of Windows – adding quite a bit to the cost of the machine.

The second issue is that Apple’s hardware isn’t actually all that great for running Windows on. It’s still more expensive on the consumer side, and it’s not particularly well-specced compared with dedicated Windows machines on the laptop side.

For home and business users who want a Mac and who occasionally need to run Windows, this is a great solution. But I doubt it will make much difference to businesses or education.

  • http://www.jonathanbaldwin.co.uk Jonathan

    (Have you got your tag out of kilter?)

    Mmm… not sure I agree here. I’ve been involved with IT purchasing decisions at school, FE and HE level and I could instantly see how Bootcamp offers a solution to a lot of debates.

    With so much of theschool curriculum focussing on media production these days (podcasts, videos, art projects etc) the Mac is getting much more of a profile and the only argument that ever gets trotted out is ‘but Windows is what is used in “the real world”‘ which is hardly compelling from an industrial point of view but tends to win the day.

    I’m not sure what specs that Windows on a Mac doesn’t offer would be missed in 99% of educational applications.

    As for ‘Apple doesn’t support Windows on a Mac’ doesn’t that just mean if you install Windows and it breaks, ring Microsoft not Apple? Seems logical to me…

  • http://profile.typekey.com/paulpod/ paulpod

    Plus, at the moment running it in Windows is the fastest way you are going to run Photoshop this side of Xmas – from all the shafted MacTel owning designers, thanks Adobe!

  • http://technovia.typepad.com Ian Betteridge

    “As for ‘Apple doesn’t support Windows on a Mac’ doesn’t that just mean if you install Windows and it breaks, ring Microsoft not Apple?”

    Nope, that’s just not going to wash. Apple is the one providing the ability to run Windows, so Apple should either support it or forget the idea – at least if it wants to get beyond the home or hobbyist.

  • Louis Wheeler

    As the name, Boot Camp, implies this just basic training; this is just the first step. Who knows what Apple will do next? If I were forced to run Windows software, I would rather use VMWare or Darwine on a Intel Mac, since Microsoft doesn’t get paid $140 to do that and it would run inside the more secure Mac OSX shell.

    The important thing is that Apple has just torn down another roadblock to it’s success. There are still other roadblocks in its way. Apple seems to be providing its customers with increased flexibility and options. Most likely, we will never need to use that flexibility, but we like to have it when it doesn’t cost more. Look at all the people who bought Mac’s with SuperDrives who had no intention of immediately burning a DVD.

    Options are good; flexibility and choice are good. Especially, when the competition doesn’t have it. It gives Apple a little buzz in an otherwise boring technical market. I can’t see that Boot Camp will cost Apple anything and will open doors to more mind share and market share. Boot Camp merely puts Apple’s stamp of approval on what hackers were already trying. The next step is what we need to look for. What will the hackers do that Apple can capitalize on?

    The only possible negative was that if Mac’s can run Windows programs, then why should a developer ever write a Macintosh version? Apple has probably covered that eventuality. What if Apple has dusted off the “Yellow Box concept” from fifteen years ago and will provide a premiere development system for both Windows and Mac software? That way, a developer would work on a program and can produce a single DVD that will run on either operating system. The customer wouldn’t even be able to tell the difference. Wouldn’t that open up more possibilities for Apple, knock down more road blocks and increase its market share?

    It keeps looking like Apple is the place where the action is. A Dell is just a boring old PC that costs about the same. Who would want something that old hat?

  • T.D. Shadow

    If I put Windows XP on a build-it-yourself beige box, Microsoft will support it. If I take a PC that came with an older version of Windows and upgrade it to XP, Microsoft would support it. If I buy VirtualPC and install XP on my PPC Mac, Microsoft will support it.

    Failure to support it on a machine that runs it by design (such as Boot Camp enabled Macs) simply because of who owns the company that commissioned it’s manufacture is silly, arguably anti-competitive, and most of all: a lost sale.

    Dell will be mad that they’re not your Windows XP middleman, but why should MS care who you bought your Windows-compatible hardware from? A sale of Windows is a sale of Windows.

  • mark

    TD is right. If I buy a boxed or licensed copy of Windows and the hardware meets the requirements listed on the box, I would expect Microsoft to support it’s OS. Otherwise, they’ll need to change the box to list specific mfrs supported and not supported.

    Apple would still support the Mac hardware; in the same way, that Dell, HP, etc support the PC hardware.

    I think this will make a huge difference in places where Windows is licensed and not purchased as boxed copies. I think on the consumer side, it’ll sell many more Macs, though only a small percentage of buyers will actually buy Windows to put on it, because for most, once they start using OS X and iLife, they won’t see any need to move their Windows apps over to the Mac. It’s “insurance” to the user who feels like he may need Windows for whatever reason in the future. The small number who do buy Windows will do so because they have very specific apps they want to use that don’t exist on the Mac (Autocad, Access, Project, Framemaker, games).

  • Ian

    What I’m looking forward to seeing is a Apple hardware dealer offering OEM versions of MS Win Xp with the Intel Mac. Ha!

    I think the one laptop hardware vendor that could get hit hard by recent developments is Sony. Hmm?

    Ian

  • http://technovia.typepad.com Ian Betteridge

    Jonathan says:

    “(Have you got your tag out of kilter?)”

    Whoops! Sorry, yes – no end of blockquote. Fixed now.

    TD says…

    “If I put Windows XP on a build-it-yourself beige box, Microsoft will support it. ”

    You’re right, of course. However, schools, colleges and businesses don’t buy OEM copies of Windows and build their own PCs – they buy from manufacturers who support the machines. Apple will not support a Mac running Windows. That means that, if your Macs spend 80% of their time running Windows, they’ll spend 80% of their time unsupported.

  • James Bailey

    Actually a lot of schools buy from a configuration specialist companies. Those companies could put a full version of Windows XP on Macs and Microsoft will support it. When you buy a non-OEM version of Windows, you can get Microsoft support on any platform that runs that software. Sure a non-OEM license is a bit more expensive but that would be factored into the per unit cost.

    It comes down to whether or not schools find the additional cost of Windows on Macs to be compelling enough. Your arguments that Microsoft won’t support their software doesn’t make much sense. Why does Microsoft employ thousands of people to man their tech support lines if they don’t support their own software?