Thursday, March 16, 2006

Dual-booting Mac

As some of you may have heard, Apple is phasing out the long-toothed Motorola G-series of processors in favor of Intel chips. For the first time, Mac and Windows machines will be running on similar, if not identical, chips.

Of course, the operating systems are as divergent as ever, if not more so. The Apple machines are based on the UNIX operating system, and Windows is running--well, Windows.

But the hardware commonalities between the two systems, including not just the chips, but the hard-drives, RAM, CD and DVD drives, external devices and connectivity and networking, present some interesting opportunities, the coolest of which is the idea of a single computer that can boot up from either operating system. This has long been a quest of many Mac users who must co-exist in a world where Windows operating systems constitute 90+ percent of the personal computer market. Emulation software, while popular, just doesn't cut it.

The big news is that just yesterday March 15, 2006), a winner was announced in a coding contest for the first person/group to successfully boot up an Intel Mac into either Windows XP or OS X. To win the nearly $14,000 pool (all of which was contributed by interested individuals and small businesses), the code was independently verified to:

--Boot Windows XP natively (no virtualization) on an Intel Mac
--Allow Windows XP to coexist with Mac OS X with neither OS interfering with the other
--Upon starting the computer, user must be offered a choice of which OS to boot

Undoubtedly the workaround will not be endorsed by either Microsoft or Apple, but the winning code has just been posted on the Internet and is available for enthusiasts to play with. More information, including a link to the winning code, is HERE. The implications of such a versatile operating environment are enormous, if the licensing details can be worked out, and will be discussed in a future posting when more details become available.

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