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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 April 2006, 12:25 GMT 13:25 UK
Windows on Macs provokes a stir
By Mark Ward
Technology Correspondent, BBC News website

Man looking at Mac computers, Getty
Boot Camp could bump up interest in Mac machine
Apple's release of software that lets its Intel-based machines run Windows XP has set the hi-tech world buzzing.

The release of the Boot Camp software has prompted mixed reactions from computer industry pundits and bloggers.

The popular Boing Boing blog said comments by readers ranged from "appalled" to "awesome".

On the Flickr photo-sharing site, some keen Mac users posted screenshots of what happens when they installed Boot Camp and got Windows running.

Share surge

The news definitely impressed the financial markets and Apple shares leapt 9.8% in trading after the announcement.

The release of Boot Camp is significant because it could convince far more people to buy Apple computers rather than plump for a PC.

"Apple has removed another barrier to switching," said Joe Wilcox, a Jupiter Research analyst.

By making XP run on Apple hardware, users will be able to get access to all those Windows programs they were previously denied.

Apple has a very small share of the world desktop computer market, less than 5%, and far fewer developers make programs for its machines than for Windows.

However, the main switchers initially may not be businesses but consumers who are keen to keep playing all the games made for PCs. Though there still remain some technical questions, particularly over video cards, about how straight-forward this will be.

Some people may also be keen to switch because, as commentators point out, there are also far fewer security problems with the OS X e-mail and web browsing programs.

Mac owners, though, must still contend with the spam and phishing e-mails that plague everyone.

Cost counting

Ted Schadler from Forrester Research said that the Windows version of the iTunes online music store gave a huge boost to the market for iPods. He said Apple's move was "smart" and could open up a huge part of the computer-using market that would otherwise never consider using Macs.

If Boot Camp does convince a lot of people to buy Apple machines, it could mean increased fortunes for the company.

Each additional percentage point of PC market share that Apple could win would give it an extra $2bn (1.14bn) in revenue, estimated Chris Shope from broker JP Morgan.

For its part Apple believes that each switcher would soon see the benefits of using OS X over Windows.

Bill Gates, AP
What? Let Microsoft get a foothold on my lovely Mac? Never
Jon, St Austell

"Most of them will switch and find they never need to run Windows," said Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide product marketing.

Analysts point out that using an Intel-based Mac could be an expensive option.

Joe Wilcox from Jupiter noted that Macintosh machines tend to be more expensive than PCs and users will have to buy a copy of Windows to run on the machine.

"Consumers would pay a premium, as much as $200 for Windows XP Home, as installation would require full version, not the upgrade," said Mr Wilcox.

The trial version of Boot Camp released by Apple only lets owners use one operating system at a time. Switching from one to the other is, currently, a process that takes a while to complete.

Many expect that once the dual start-up software is built in to the next version of OS X, expected in late 2006 or early 2007, the switch between the operating systems will be much smoother.

At that time Intel-based Macs may also support Vista - the next version of Microsoft's operating system. By the end of 2007, all Apple's computers are expected to be Intel-based.

However, there were some that remained stubbornly unimpressed. For instance one caustic comment on the Slashdot website read: "You get the stability of Windows with the value-of-money of Apple hardware. Sign me up."

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