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.