April 06, 2006

Why I'm Not Excited about Running Windows On My Mac

Apple has dumbfounded quite a few Mac-pundits by releasing today Boot Camp, a new feature allowing you to load your own seperately licensed copy of Windows XP onto your Intel-chip-based Mac. It is made freely available for the latest version of OS X. The coolest aspect of this development is that Apple continues to look so ridiculously proactive on so many fronts, it's downright invigorating. Several folks have been prodding me, trying to get me to comment on this issue, so I'll share what may surprise you. I'm not excited about booting Windoze XP on my Mac.

  1. I hate working in Windows. I have to use a Windoze box in the office, and it almost always makes me feel dirty.
  2. While it is thrilling to imagine that I can run some Windows apps that I've always wanted access to, remember that to do that you are re-booting into a different OS. Our workflows today involve primarily inter-application productivity. I look-up something in my Bible software and paste it into my Word document. I browse for a snippet of text or an image online somewhere and I email that to my publicity person. While you're running that app new PC application, you can not run any of your Mac applications. In other words, you have to save and quit every single thing you have open and then reboot into Windows in order to run that nifty Windows appliation that you've been itching to run. A quick 'uptime' shows that I don't normally reboot more than once a month. I work with lots of documents open. I always seem to have many browser tabs open to different resources I'll be getting back to later today. All this "session setup" is lost on a reboot.
    This is acceptable perhaps with certain types of applications, ones that you would work in them and them alone for a long period of time. This largest segment this describes is the gaming community, who are excited about having access to many PC games now.
  3. If there's an application out there that you like to or would like to use and has toyed with beginning Mac development... this new functionality on Intel Macs very well might make it less likely that they will do so. At least, it seems it will delay such work.
I have a PC in my office, and I have to have it in order to run the RDS Church Management System that our whole church database is on. It is terrible in many ways. I do not recommend this system. It's intuitiveness and GUI and customizeability horribly lacks by todays standards. But I have to run it. I hope to get a Mac in my office this year, and will go ahead and get Windows loaded on it as well in order to run this application.
However, I'm not excited about it.
Give me better and better emulation, folks, so that I can run that PC app, but still be able work work happily in my beloved OS of choice.

Update: Rick Mansfield has similar thoughts.

Update: Here's a great article from TidBits on the issues of emulation/virtualization.

Look here at Parallels for an example of virtual emulation like I'm talking about. They have a free trial-beta available for a short period.


Smolk said...

Would the alternative not be to segment the HD, and have two OS's run on different parts of the machine - with the Unix core, is that not possible?

Emulation is not ideal either, after all, especially since much useful software (like the Bar-Ilan Responsa CD) does not run under emulation.

I agree that rebooting is not very good, but I'm hoping that this is the first step only.


R. Mansfield said...

Rebooting just to use a different program reminds me of the old days of using DOS, but at least then we didn't have to reboot. I occasionally use VirtualPC when I need to run a Windows program. It's slow, and Windows in VPC is the most crash prone program on my PowerBook--but hey it's Windows. I think VPC is a much better solution because I can run Windows programs at the same time as Mac programs, I can copy and paste between the environments and I can even drag files between them.

I wrote about this on my blog yesterday--"Even with Dual Boot, We Still Need VirtualPC"

Check it out if you're interested: http://homepage.mac.com/rmansfield/thislamp/index.html#unique-entry-id-255

Rod Decker said...

More useful to me would be the ability to run Accordance under WinXP--which I have to use at work. :) When virtualization gets to the point where I can either run OSX in a window on XP, or even just Accordance, my life will be simpler. As it is, I have to provide, feed, and maintain a Mac on my own budget to use decent software for bibilcal studies--and that also takes space in my study. At least I've now got a used G4 PwrBk that takes a lot less space than the 7500 I've kept there for using Accordance.