in Technology

Apple sticking in the “Boot”?

Apple – Boot Camp

So, in advance of the world’s hackers wrecking their lovely new MacIntel hardware, Apple has made a marketing plus out of the inevitable: dual-boot Apple hardware.

Boot Camp lets you install Windows XP without moving your Mac data, though you will need to bring your own copy to the table, as Apple Computer does not sell or support Microsoft Windows.(1) Boot Camp will burn a CD of all the required drivers for Windows so you don’t have to scrounge around the Internet looking for them.

How lovely. Nor, one assumes, will we need to pay for VirtualPC anymore (although having a Windows PC running ‘within’ OSX is more convenient than having to reboot of course).

People buy Macs for the consistent, integrated and reliable experience: by controlling the hardware Apple can ensure that each laptop isn’t a random munge of roughly-equivalent bits from the parts bin (Dell?) – this makes driver compatibility and interoperation easier to manage. For this privilege we pay through the proverbial nose.

I wonder how smug we Maccies will remain when, running XP natively, we find our machines out-run by PC hardware costing a third of the price? Heh – never mind, just admire that illuminated keyboard 🙂

This announcement though seem tactical to me. Apple is a bipolar company in many ways: it wants to be “an OS company” and a “hardware company”, yet also wants to be “the centre of our digital lives [tm]”. This move could on the one hand herald a split between the hardware and OS, or see the start of drawing the Windows world more firmly into the luxury grasp of Apple: hardware, iTunes, iPods and i-everything-else.

Maybe more than anything though it shows the need to ride many horses at once. “Straddigee” is all well and good, but having some tactical options in place (sort of a darwinian bet, I spose) never hurts. Sony showed with their Vaios that design and style could exact a premium in the market, while Toshiba and IBM showed that build quality and ease of maintenance could win friends in technical support and corporate procurement. Apple has managed to charge higher prices for (imho better) hardwear but refusing to unbundle the OS, disguising the price for each. If Boot Camp indicates unbundled prices then Apple could need to justify higher hardware costs at the same time as a higher software licence than MS Windows. Let’s hope that the Apple magic can draw in Windows users sooner than someone works out how to get the Mac OS experience on a $300 Dell machine!

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