Windows on the Mac? Of Course. But Mac OS X on PCs? Possibly...

Windows on the Mac? Of Course. But Mac OS X on PCs? Possibly...

It may be inevitable: PCs running Mac OS X.

 

For years we've been able to run Windows on our Macs - painfully slowly in emulation, admittedly, but run it we did when we had to. However, now that Apple has switched to Intel processors, Windows performance on the Mac has skyrocketed. Today there are a minimum of four snappy ways to run Windows and/or Windows apps on your Mac that are either shipping or in beta: Apple's Boot Camp, which lets you boot into either Mac OS X or Windows, but not both; Parallels and VMware, which allow you to run Windows in a "virtual machine" (a windowed app in Mac OS X); and CrossOver Mac, which lets you run Windows apps without needing to install Windows itself.

 

But none of this is news - it's just background to an interesting story that ran yesterday on CNNMoney.com entitled "Windows on the Mac changes everything." Some of the revelations in that article are striking, indeed.

 

For one, the company that produces Parallels is not the little-engine-that-could that we all thought it was. It turns out that it was quietly purchased a couple of years back by enterprise-level virtualization specialist (and deep-pockets big boy) SWsoft. We all knew that VMware was a major player in the virtualization market - the big player, actually - but what's news is that there are now two major developers creating Intel-Mac virtualization software.

 

That in itself is interesting, as it indicates that big, smart businesses are sniffing big, smart money in running Windows on Macs. But what's even more interesting are comments in the CNNMoney.com article about virtualization that runs the other way - that is, running Mac OS X on garden-variety Intel-based PCs.

 

It seems - and this is grossly oversimplified, but hang with me for a moment - that when you get right down to it, virtualization is virtualization is virtualization, and the hardware-based virtualization built into Intel's chips doesn't, at core, really care what OS you're running on what computer. In fact, the article says that SWsoft's CEO "insists that [running Mac OS X on a non-Apple computer] is not deliberate, but just a consequence of the nature of the technology." Also, the CEO of VMware says that her company's "existing x86 desktop product is already being used by some to run Mac OS on computers from Dell, Hewlett-Packard, and others, though this is not intentional on VMware's part."

 

Now, of course, Apple will continue to throw up roadblocks to ensure that PCs can't simply be loaded with Mac OS X and boot up on their own merry way. But if virtualization becomes as easy and inevitable as it seems to be becoming, the cat's out of the bag, the ship has sailed, Katie bar the door, or whatever other cliche you'd like to use.

 

Steve Jobs has two choices: He can continue to keep Mac OS X Mac-only, and thereby keep tight control over the quality of the Mac OS X user experience on both an OS and a hardware level, or he can open it up to non-Apple PCs, thus spreading the Mac OS X experience to a wide - and lucrative - base.

 

This is going to be fun.

 

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Anonymous

dang, as far as i know you can already do this
there is a VMware like program emulator thing called Pear PC and all you need is a Mac OS 10.3 install disk

you cant be someone who doesn't know much about computers but i have seen screenshots of this working well

i have not acctually tried this yet but i think it should work (i don't have a CD)

http://pearpc.sourceforge.net/about.html

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Vlad

What a bizarre notion...

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Mike Parker

The current version of Max OSX sells for about $130 and will (supposedly) only run on Macs. Why not put out a PC-compatible version and sell it for a premium price --- say, $400 or so) --- to make up for what Apple is losing by not selling a Mac to go with it. Apple could institute Microsoft-like registration and validation to insure that the OS would only run on one PC under the EULA.

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Jim McDonald

There is one significant issue here that we all dance around and avoid. OSX is on Apple hardware because the applications that make OSX valuable to the enterprise are still being supported, developed, and sold by Microsoft.
Word, Excel, Power Puke, and Exchange are the key assets of most major companies, and with Microsoft having developed (And Bill Gates pledging to continue to develop) those software products for the OSX platform allow business America to justify the purchase of the Apple "Toys" for those people who use them.
Before everyone decides to bomb my Mailbox, realize that I am saying this from the perspective of a IT professional, and a business man.
Apple will NOT pose anything that could be seen as a threat to Microsoft's key income. That is the sale of OS. IF Apple decided to "Sell a PC OSX", it would be logical for Microsoft to discontinue development and sales of Word, Excel Power point and the exchange client. This would be a serious impact on Apple.

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BobOki

Not matter how lucrative the mac-on-any-pc market is, one of Apple's largest selling points is "it just works".
If they were to open their software up to run on any hardware, then you would have another Microsoft. There would be errors, crashes, problems, etcetc. All the good reasons (save the gui) would cease to exist.
So, let me ask you a question. If you had to choose between Windows XP, with all its bugs, blue screens, crashes etcetc, or OS X with all the same problems introduced, plus the lack of software you know, plus the (small) learning curve, would it still be worth it to YOU to move over? I would think most people would say no. (and most people do say no, even with OS X working SO well on a real mac).

No matter how big the market is, if you take the good reasons for owning a mac away, our left with little more than a pretty face and a lot of frustration (Vista anyone?)

Now, there IS a project to load mac on pcs. Be it virtual with VMWare or the like, or native, its still a hack at best, and the software still runs much slower and unstably than a real mac. If Apple was smart, they would release some driver based source code so this project could create a more stable pc mac. Before you say thats the wrong way and they would be giving away their software, remember that no pc mac can be as fast as a real mac of the same hardware. mac uses a different bios for the main board, and special firmware for some of the peripherals. They are quite literally built to run better.
So what do you accomplish doing this? You allow people to load OS X on lower end machines (or even their high end machines) and get a real taste and feel of what OS X is all about. You start to use it more and more... slowly you convert and hate having to go back to Windows. In the back of your mind you know that its still not legal (like that pirated XP you have!) but it runs soooo well! You want to start using the bigger and bettre applications as your pc mac starts to take over as your prefered platform and then... you run into it. You cannot use the pc mac to do what you want anymore. Its just too slow emulating a real mac. Eventually you know its time to replace your pc anyways. So, what are you going to do? Spend $2000-2500 on a high end pc machine and load OS X back on it and get mediocre performance, or just go ahead and spend what will come out to $200-300 more for the real thing, get the same or better equipment, extras (such as a monitor and webcam), and everything runs full speed and your legal?
I think that $200-300 extra doesn't seem that much anymore.

The only thing that one could try and say mac really does not cover is the low end market. With Dell selling $300-400 machines, I would say YOU ARE DAMN RIGHT. That $300-400 POS you just got from Dell hardly runs Windows. Now Apple make a wonderful low end (not even that low end really) mac called the Mac Mini. Starting at $699 without monitor, thats not too bad! For $100 more you get a faster processor and a dual layer dvd burner. The only real downside is that it comes with a GMA 950.. which is about as fast as most laptop graphics cards. So we are not talking about this box being a gaming machine. I wish they would make a mac mini with a better card, because the rest of the hardware there is pretty decent. A dual core 1.86mhz processor, 512-2gig ram... 80-160 gig hard drive.
Thats where my real beef comes in. You either get low end graphics with the mac mini, or you spend $1000 more to get the next model up. Problem is, the next model up forces you to have a monitor (iMac). Maybe I want to use my 30" I already have?!?! Well then I gotta pay ANOTHER $1000 for the NEXT model up. *sigh*

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Chris

If Apple did release Mac OS X to the rest of the universe for all to buy, I'm sure, with all the good reviews of OS X, that Tiger(or soon to be Leopard) would sky rocket with sales. Most people do not buy macs because each peace of hardware is so expensive. But if you have a $300-$400 machine that could run Mac OS X, everyone would be all over it. Then once that would start, a new thing would start which us Mac owners are Oh So Verrrry Greatful haven't occured yet : Viruses. Then there would be techinical difficulties that mac would not have control over. Only people with a Macintosh Desktop or Laptop would be able to visit the Genius Bar (most likely), and then the other PC making companies would have to learn everything about OS X. It would be a real mess. If people truely wanted to know the magnificent things OS X can do, they should just buy a Mac and keep everyone safe within the loop.

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J

but I think allowing PC's to run Mac OSX would be a totally

IDIOTIC idea.....

I also doubt Steve would be up for it.

I just think it's a very bad idea.... Apple would have no control over hardware issues and thus... become Marginal like MS/Windows....I also think Rik is fawning for attention with this article as he knows it will tick us all off...LOL...

BTW.... MacLife kinda .... well.... lacks the edge that Mac Addict had.... Guess I'll have to buy a copy of the magazine... to see if it's the same or not... I Got it.... the look of the site already feels dated after a couple of weeks... and I think that's because it's so reminiscent of the second/third rev iMacs.... just my 2 cents. Change the background..

I still don't think Steve will license out the OS....

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K.C.

Is this really news ? I don't think so. The Apple business model is evolving quickly, with computer hardware less the focus than other broad market products. As they've progressed in this direction Apple has shown greater profit. Just as the switch to Intel was inevitable so may allowing the OS to run on Intel or other boxes not sold by Apple. That neither means that Apple would then no longer offer the best built and best value boxes, or have control over how the OS runs on other boxes. Just as virtualization evolves so will the OS and it's function within a given environment, be it hardware or virtual.

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Rik

You say, "Is this really news ? I don't think so." In one sense, you're quite right -- the fact that Apple continually adapts its business strategy isn't new, and neither is the fact that the line between PC hardware and Mac hardware is blurring. However, the fact that Parallels turns out to be an arm of SWsoft, and that running Mac OS X on PCs is "just a consequence of the nature of the technology" is, IMHO, newsworthy.

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Tony Di Giacomo

Repeat after me: "Apple is a Hardware Company. They make software so you will buy their hardware." Think: Mac OS X is to the Mac as iTunes is to the iPod. Pro apps are for Mac Pros. If they license out OS X they'll never be able to compete in the hardware business, unless it has to run on a high-end machine. We saw this in the "clone days" and thats why Jobs discontiued it when he took over again.

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Anonymous

Repeat after me: "Apple will never switch to Intel CPUs." Apple has done the once unthinkable before. Think: On the day that Leopard ships, Apple will have *two* world-beating operating systems that can run on generic hardware. Why can't Apple keep Leopard for genuine Macs, and sell Tiger to the masses?

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blacktea

people tend to forget with the whole intel story that the first processor chip apple ever used in a computer, the apple II to be precise (built by steve wozniak), was an intel chip. choosen for it's splendid performance at that time. then they switched to motorola for the mass produced macintosh. so they actually returned to intel, which makes this whole histeria obsolete. get a life, it's only a processor.

and... why should os x become the new millenium's windows? what about the driver support nightmare and many other issues which would evolve with os x on any crappy d.i.y. PC? the user experience is out of control. the (more or less) seamless use of hard- and software with an apple product is the key to their long term success.

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Anonymous

To reply to what blacktea wrote above... Apple never used and Intel chip before. In the Apple I, II, II+, IIe, IIc, and III, they used the MOS Technology 6502 chip which was a clone of the Motorola 6800 . So Apple was going to go with a Motorola chip no matter what. They just went with the cheaper Motorola clone. Apple had never used the Intel 8008, 8086, or 8088 in any of their computers in the past.

Go read www.apple-history.com or www.apple2history.org and see which processors Apple used in the past on all their computers.

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ELIAS

This means that Apple will have to lower hardware prices to meet demands!
Its all music to my ears! I will be happy if the macs were 500-700 dollars cheaper:) wouldn't you? ILL TAKE TWO PLEASE!

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Roger D

I agree that the "current" model for Apple is hardware. But remember when Apple was a computer company only. They adapted with the market and extended iPods to the bigger and more profitable Windows pool. Now they have acknowledged with their products and name change that they are more than just computers. I would not be at all suprised if they adapt once again to the market and become more software driven. I'm not saying that it WILL happen, only that Apple has changed course in the past.

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Anonymous

There is a definite market for an alternative to Microsoft. Linux has proven over the past few years that it is not yet that alternative - it is just too complicated for 99% of users to set up, etc. The Mac OS could be a genuine alternative now that Macs have switched to Intel. If people could install OSX on their PCs to compare to Windows, it's a pretty good bet that a lot of them would switch over. This might mean fewer Apple computer sales, but there would be a lot more OS software sales.

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