Strong opinions, weakly held

The brilliance of Boot Camp

You know, Apple’s announcement of Boot Camp, a tool to make it easy to install Windows XP on Intel-based Macs, was a stroke of strategic genius. Not everyone is happy with it, but that doesn’t matter. None of the unhappy people are going to refuse to buy Macs because they don’t like it. They’re Mac users who will stick with just OS X or Windows users who aren’t going to switch. And there is a significant set of people who will like and who will buy Macs who otherwise wouldn’t. Here’s a short list:

  • People who love Apple hardware but want to run Windows. They can just use an iMac or a MacBook Pro as a Windows box.
  • People who want to use OS X for work but Windows for games. Dual booting doesn’t make much sense to get work done, but rebooting so you can play PC games is something many people will do.
  • People who wanted to switch to the Mac but can’t completely wean themselves from Windows software. Yes, some people need to run Windows apps all the time and will have to wait for virtualization, but for others this is an OK solution. If I use a Mac but have to debug a Visual Basic application once every few weeks, dual booting could be a perfectly acceptable solution.

Those are three examples that immediately come to mind. This project must have been very little work for Apple and will move a significant amount of hardware. Plus it puts them on the front page yet again. Well played.


  1. Agreed that it’s well-played. I need to use quite a few Windows apps that are not available on OS X, but I very much prefer that OS. Now that dual-booting is an option, I will definitely be getting a MacBook, and otherwise absolutely would not have.

    Probably a lot of people out there just like me.

  2. In a geek way, I love it. I’ll love it more when 10.5 supports running Win binaries from within OS X.

    But as others have mentioned elsewhere, I too have a fear of an “OS/2” situation. I can’t imagine the upside to anyone — from Microsoft to a game developer — continuing to develop Mac specific software. Why bother porting Civ IV to OS X now? Why would Adobe spend money and time on the next gen of Mac Photoshop? (What am I missing here?)

    A few months ago some pundit or other made some crazy claim that Apple would ditch OSX for Windows. Well, he’s half sorta right.

    This announcement today makes me think all the more that Apple wants to be mostly a consumer electronics company — an American Sony — instead of a computer/software company. I’d expect to finally see the rumored set-top box slash living room tablet pc slash iVideo player come next MacWorld.

  3. I think the percentage of Mac users who take advantage of this feature will be pretty small. Nobody who lives in Photoshop on the Mac would be happy with having to dual boot to use Photoshop or even to run it in a virtual instance of Windows running under OS X.

  4. I fall into your third category. I work in a Windows-only world, so I’ve remained Windows-only at home (well, with a Linux server). This would enable me to buy a Mac for home use but to still run Windows for work-related stuff when necessary.

  5. What a lot of people don’t know is that Apple is really penetrating the Windows market in the laptop arena. A LOT of people are buying Powerbooks and iBooks (and now Macbooks) who have never been Windows users before. This has been attributed to the iPod “halo effect”. I expect this trend to accelerate with 10.5 and Boot Camp.

    Apple wins in two ways: Selling hardware it otherwise wouldn’t have and getting them exposed to OS X. It is only a matter of time before many of these people prefer OS X and that’s a net gain for Apple.

  6. I should have said “never been MAC users before”. doh.

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