Windows XP on Intel Macs

Today's Shuffle Song:
rearviewmirror by pearl jam

The new Intel-based Macs, the MacBook Pro and the iMac, are different from most PCs in one critical way in terms of running Windows. Instead of using a BIOS, they use Intel's newer EFI. EFI is much more powerful and flexible than BIOS ever was. In many respects, EFI is even less arcane than Open Firmware, the power-on management system in "New World" Macs. This means the power-on system in the Intel Mac is very great for doing the cool kinds of startup tricks Macs are know for like NetBoot, Target Disk Mode and the Boot Manager.

The bad news is current versions of Windows do not recognize EFI. This means getting a Mac configured to dual-boot between Mac OS X and Windows XP will be a significant challenge. Hopefully some enterprising hacker is working on the issue as we speak, but I doubt it will have the elegance in implementation that most of the non-geek world needs to make use of it. Future versions of Windows will support EFI, so this is a temporary issue.

More recent information has emerged that says EFI can offer a mode that would allow Windows XP to boot. We'll for sure soon enough.

Dual-booting is exciting stuff for gamers that want to start using a Mac, but only want one computer. Even Vanderpool (a technology that allows you to run multiple Operating Systems on a single computer simultaneously) isn't good enough for gamers. They need to devote all the resources the computer has to a single task (the game) for maximum performance.

For everyone else, dual-booting is not very exciting. Who wants to reboot the computer to run Visio, GoToMeeting, or other PC-only applications? Far more exciting than dual-booting is the idea of running Mac OS X and Windows XP on a single computer at full speed simultaneously. Such a dream machine would allow you do take advantage of all the great things the Mac has to offer (fabulous interface, unique applications, easy administration, etc.) while still being able to access applications that are only available for Windows.

The news on MacWindows that iEmulator is shipping for Intel Macs in the near future is very exciting. For less than $24 you'll be able to get a piece of software that will enable you to achieve the dream of Mac and Windows on one box. If you're a current Windows user considering a switch to the Mac, this will allow you to make the switch to the Mac very easily. For Mac users that have trouble doing business with other companies because they can't access some critical piece of software, this means you'll be able to in the future.

I've ordered a copy of iEmulator. As soon as the Intel version ships, I'll try it out and share the experience.

This is an exciting time to be a Mac user.