In a stunning official April Fool’s joke, Apple announced that . . . Wait. Scratch that. Apple actually is running Windows XP on its Intel Macs. Just in case this is the only site on the Interweb you read, Apple’s new Boot Camp technology is available for download as a public beta and will be fully integrated with the next version of Mac OS X. The installer automatically partitions the hard drive for you and lets you dual-boot on startup to pick your OS.

Here’s the next question: will you be able to run music applications? Believe it or not, signs point to yes.


Check out the excellent hands-on from the Wall Street Journal, and an installation video linked from Gizmodo. But what we want to test is real-time audio performance and drivers; more impressions after the jump.

Apple has included all the necessary drivers for their hardware, so you can even run the built-in audio card — not a bad option, given that could incorporate digital ins and outs. Unfortunately, while I do have an Intel Mac on loan, I don’t have a bona fide full XP install disc (just an upgrade disc), so I can’t try this myself. It’d be fun to boot into XP to work on cross-platform Max/MSP development, or load up SONAR, or a number of Windows-only instruments.

Will this actually be of use to anyone? Apple’s hope is likely that would-be Windows-to-Mac switchers will try Apple hardware for a smoother transition. And it certainly lets you squeeze more value out of Apple hardware if you’re a cross-platform type longing for an Intel Mac.

To me, this isn’t terribly exciting news, because it gives Mac users the worst part of the PC experience (namely, Windows) while leaving out the best part (namely, PC hardware choice and DIY systems). I still dream of building my own Mac hardware, though I think it’s highly unlikely given that Apple was burned in the 90s when they opened up the platform to clones. Their business is hardware profits; this move reflects that again. What I would like to see next is the ability to dual-boot Linux on Mac hardware; the PowerPC Macs have been left out of some of the nicest distros.

In the meantime, I’m grabbing my binoculars and doing some flying pig watching. You don’t see that every day.

  • reflex

    The ability to dual-boot XP/OS X virtually guarantees that my next work machine will be a Mac.

    However, dual boot doesn't do me much good in the music world. Nearly all of my software is available on both platforms, and it's not like I can run both OSes at once on the same machine – I still have to choose. 🙂

  • kloosterj

    Hope this leads to the availability of OSX on PC hardware. Or even better: the re-availability of Logic Audio for Windows! As a former Logic user, i'm dying to upgrade my 5.5 version (and AMT8, and the so-called BigBox apps) to the latest versions. I invested in Apple, obviously, so why not give something back?

  • macha

    ha max msp on a mac book pro. For the time being under XP. Then when Max UB is released , i ll get rid of XP asap.

  • m15a

    i think this marketing idea could work for the intended market. it'd help if the site didn't make windows users feel like idiots. (although the statements are subtle.)

    anyway, the real issue is how well it runs. when someone gets it up and running, i'd like to hear how well it works with a variety of applications. if it only works "kinda", there won't be much point for the people that want to install wondows to play the latest games or run powerful music software.

  • admin

    Well, leave it to Apple to try to convince people to switch while sending a strong message that they're better than them, yes. Though, then again, I think the diss was at Windows, not necessarily Windows users. Not that average people care about (or know, or NEED to know, really) what BIOS is.

    Trash-talking BIOS. It's come to this.

    But yes, I'd like to know how it goes. Mossberg from the Wall Street Journal was happy. Other than that, I just need to rustle up a full install XP disc and try the thing for myself before I have to send back my MacBook. The only real issue should be internal Apple drivers, if I understand correctly; once you're out in external hardware land (USB and whatnot), I think your Windows drivers will actually work. So Apple has solved a lot of the major stumbling blocks here. And we're still just in beta until OS X 10.5.

  • bucky

    soon enough they'll introduce virtual engines for running windows and linux concurrent with OS X.

    macha, dream on. apple will never enable os x on competitors machines, though you may run a hacked version.

    and sheesh, you windows guys ought to stop worrying about what apple "thinks" of you.

  • jhalstead

    Installed XP on our office test iMac yesterday. Was up and running on our wireless network pretty painlessly.

    Then installed drivers for TranzPort, installed Sonar 5, and the US-122. Bottom line: everything worked. It's a test/development machine and I'm not using it to create music so I can't tell you if all of the plugins worked or how performance is.

    I experimented with another usb device (alpha hardware/software) and managed to crash windows a couple of times, so there might still be a few kinks to work out. Overall it's pretty impressive.

  • tom

    i am having problems installing sony sound is telling me that i need an extra bit of software to install it.