Apple Computer has released beta software that lets Mac users run Microsoft’s Windows XP operating system on Intel-based Macintosh computers, it announced Wednesday.
Called Boot Camp, the software creates a hard drive partition for Windows XP and lets users choose between the two operating systems at start-up time. It’s available now as a free trial beta that works only for a limited time, and will be included as a feature of the next major Mac OS release, Leopard, Apple said.
The move comes a few months after Apple introduced its first computers based on Intel’s x86-type processors. The company has expressed little enthusiasm in the past for running Windows on its Macs—and even now doesn’t sound entirely happy about it.
“Apple has no desire or plan to sell or support Windows, but many customers have expressed their interest to run Windows on Apple’s superior hardware now that we use Intel processors,” Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide product marketing, said in a statement.
The company thinks Boot Camp will make its Macs more appealing to Windows PC users who might be considering a switch, he said.
Some Apple users had been keen to run Windows ever since the company said it would switch to Intel processors. Only a few weeks ago, some hackers announced they had managed to get Windows XP running on Apple’s machines.
The 83MB download is available online. To use it, customers need the latest Mac OS X Tiger v10.4.6 release, an Intel-based Mac, 10GB of free hard disk space, a blank CD and a “bona fide” installation disc for Microsoft Windows XP, Service Pack 2, Home or Professional edition.
Boot Camp burns a CD with all the required Mac-specific drivers for Windows. It also walks users through creating a partition on the hard drive and installs a Startup Disk control panel for Windows. Users then hold down the “option” key at start-up to choose between the two operating systems, and the machine runs Windows “completely natively,” Apple said.
The company couldn’t resist a few digs at Microsoft on its Boot Camp website. “Word to the Wise,” it said: “Windows running on a Mac is like Windows running on a PC. That means it’ll be subject to the same attacks that plague the Windows world. So be sure to keep it updated with the latest Microsoft Windows security fixes.”
Some Mac features won’t work because of hardware incompatibilities, Apple said, including its remote control, wireless keyboard and mouse, and the USB modem.
-James Niccolai, IDG News Service
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