Will Jobs let Mac OS run on Intel boxes?

by Mathew on January 22, 2007 · 20 comments

An interesting development, tucked away in an article at Fortune magazine about the company behind the Parallels software program, which allows Mac users to run Windows in a virtual machine and switch back and forth (relatively) seamlessly. For all the hiccups and lag that some users have reported, it is still an amazing feat — and I would wager it is making MacIntel boxes more appealing for people who still need to use Windows. No rebooting, no emulation. Two OSes side by side.

Now, it seems that the company that makes Parallels is working on an upgrade to the software that will let Windows users theoretically run Mac OS X side-by-side with Windows on their cheapo Dell boxes, which Dell would be happy to do. Heresy! The only problem with that, as the article and others are more than happy to point out, is that Steve Jobs likes that idea about as much as Bill Gates likes the idea of open-sourcing Windows code.

parallels2.jpg

According to Engadget, “VMware’s own upcoming virtualization software for the Mac has been hamstrung by the trouble VMware has gone through trying to get Apple’s blessing, and SWsoft’s Parallels has been “crippled” in particular ways to make it more difficult to get Mac OS onto a non-Apple machine.” But as the site points out, the pressure on Steve Jobs to set the Mac OS free is only likely to increase. It will likely happen thanks to hackers anyway, but will he eventually allow it? I for one hope that he does.

Obviously, as more than one person has pointed out during the whole “iPhone/closed system” debate of a week or so ago, part of the Mac OS experience comes from the fact that software and hardware are all one harmonious whole, working flawlessly together, etc., etc. But why not let people who can’t afford those gleaming white boxes get a taste of the Mac magic?

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  • person

    just pointing out that it was (and maybe still is?) possible to install os x on pcs natively when it was first released for intel, so the ‘hackers’ already have done it ;-)

  • swissfondue

    Can you imagine Steve Jobs using a Dell to run Mac OS X? No? Then there will be no port to PCs.

  • Mathew Ingram

    Thanks, er… person. Good point :-) I guess I meant for people without the l33t haxorz sk11lz…

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  • elder norm

    Hmmmm, Interesting idea but it totally ignores the hardware side.

    Yep, I want to run everything on my super cheap Dell box, 256 meg cheapest memory, 40 gig hard drive, slow anemic processor minimal graphics card, paid for by a zillion copies of “buy me” software on the drive.

    OH wait, the base line Apple ships with a much higher configuration, dual processor, etc. In fact if you buy an equal Dell, you will pay more (give or take). OH yes and you would still have to buy OSX, iLife, etc, etc. :-)

    So, just why do you think that, even if you can boot Mac OS X on a cheap Dell, it will run worth a hoot??? OH yea, you want to run Virualization on top of all that too??? Yep, save a nickel, spend and spend and spend either time or money or both trying to make it work. Or just buy the Mac, get it all on once for one low price. ?????

    YEA, that is right, I remember that you need to buy a Dell so you have choice. Choice of piece parts and speeds etc. Hey, if you like playing and playing with your machine just to make it work, buy Vista, a cheap Dell and lots of free shareware and have fun. LOL :-)

    JMHO,
    Norm

  • dggraphics

    NO. Just drop it already.

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  • Value Driven

    You need to check your facts regarding cheap dell boxes and expensive white mac boxes. There have been numerous price comparisons between the two and Macs are now cheaper in price than similarly configured dells. I’m surprised that you would not know this yet you continue to spread the myth that Macs are more expensive – Who did you say you worked for?? Now granted Dell’s are cheap when it comes to the components they use and Dell’s support service is rated at the bottom of the industry while Apple consistently rates at or near the top. If people want to run mac OS they will find it cheaper just to buy a mac – and cough cough no malware.

  • dingosatemybaby

    Your post states: “…part of the Mac OS experience comes from the fact that software and hardware are all one harmonious whole, working flawlessly together, etc., etc. But why not let people who can’t afford those gleaming white boxes get a taste of the Mac magic?”

    Your first sentance in that blrb says it all: I think part of the “magic” is precisely that the hardware and the OS are designed to work together.

    As for Parallels I run it on my MacBookPro and it works beautifully. I would be a bit apprehensive if they released a similar port (Mac OS running on Win) for Windows. I am not sure I would trust Mac OSX to be as rock solid running on an open hardware list.

    ./D

  • MatheX

    Is that possible. I thought to run a full featured Mac OS X you had to have the physical Apple ROM. At least that seems to be the case for Mac OS 9. That is the main reason why Mac OS 9 does not run on Mac OS X, even with hackers tryinng it to work.

    Check out SheepShaver:

    http://gwenole.beauchesne.info/projects/sheepshaver/

    SheepShaver is an Open Source PowerPC MacOS run-time environment. That is, it enables you to run PowerPC Classic MacOS software on your computer, even if you are using a different operating system. However, you still need a copy of MacOS and a PowerMacintosh ROM image to use this program. SheepShaver is distributed under the terms of the GNU General Public License (GPL).

  • http://saviorodrigues.wordpress.com Savio Rodrigues

    I’m still not sure why this is such a big deal. I used to run Windows 3.1 on OS2 back in 1998. Two operating systems, side by side. No rebooting, no emulation. It worked really well.

    Okay, the only reason I did that was because we used OS2 at the time and some apps could on be run under Windows 3.1. But still, isn’t “bootcamp” old news technology?

    Savio
    http://saviorodrigues.wordpress.com

  • Edward Bilderback

    I was surprised when you justified your argument as to why Apple, Inc. should release OS X for use on PC\’s.:

    \”Obviously, as more than one person has pointed out during the whole \”iPhone/closed system\” debate of a week or so ago, part of the Mac OS experience comes from the fact that software and hardware are all one harmonious whole, working flawlessly together, etc., etc. But why not let people who can\’t afford those gleaming white boxes get a taste of the Mac magic?\”

    For many months now, there have been numerous articles about how inexpensive Apple\’s computers are when compared with equally equipped computers on the PC side: The savings can be in the hundreds of dollars. (Dell is frequently used as the benchmark.) So, people can afford Apple computers and should buy them. Therefore, the justification for your argument is null.

    Why should people purchase Mac\’s, other than the more competitive pricing? Because when you buy a Mac and are given a free, powerful PC; Because, as you said, \”part of the Mac OS experience comes from the fact that software and hardware are all one harmonious whole, working flawlessly together …\” ; Because Apple has the best support program in the industry; and, Because their computers are truly a joy to use.

  • Mathew Ingram

    Thanks, Edward. I guess in a nutshell, my response would be that people *may* be able to buy Macs for the same price (or even a lower price) as a regular Windows box, but why should they be forced to? What if they have a personal fondness for Dells or Acers or Toshibas? Obviously, Apple doesn’t have to license its operating system to anyone if it doesn’t want to, but I think it would be nice if it did.

  • Edward Bilderback

    > Matthew, I believe that Apple might release the OS, if it sees value in doing so, but as long as their market share continues to rise, I do not believe they will. Macs are selling very well to High School/College students; SOHO is finally getting the message; iPod users are switching to the Mac … and they are betting that MS VISTA will produce a generation of rage amongst PC users. (It sure did so for me.)

    > As for other PC users who prefer their brand of computer … Well, that\’s their choice. God Bless them all.

    > Apple is betting that the PC user will, because of his iPod and Vista, migrate to Mac and to OS X. I also believe that because of Vista, the Business Enterprise and SOHO will do the same. If Apple licenses its OS in the near future, it will lose a great deal of control over the OS, because the differences in architecture among the various computer manufacturers will force Apple to make changes in the OS that would be detrimental. I believe that Apple\’s near-term growth (four to five years) will be explosive, because they are at that point where sales will continue at very high, and increasing volumes.

    > I do believe that Apple will wait until their market share reaches between 15-20% before they consider licensing a PC version of OS X, if they will consider it at all. Why? They need to have hard data that there is a real trend away from MS OS to the Mac OS. Then, they might release the OS, if they do it at all.

  • dingosatemybaby

    @Edward
    You said: “I also believe that because of Vista, the Business Enterprise and SOHO will do the same….”

    I would soooo love for that to happen and even went so far as to have installed one Xserve in my Windows/Unix infrastructure. The problem there is the support for Enterprise users with Apple is almost nil unless you pay ridiculous support fees to them. By ridiculous I mean VERY VERY VERY high. I expect to pay an annual fee for anything I consider mission critical to get someone smarter than me on the phone when things go splat. I wish I still had the URL for Apple’s pricing matrix for Enterprise support. It really is a joke.

    Also they also haven’t put much focus in directly targeting the dealbreaker areas in the desktop that keep IT guys like me from making a valid argument for switching desktops over en masse. Our CEO and Sales/BizDev guys are married to Outlook and Exchange 200x, like it or not. Parallels mitigates much of this, but this is 3rd party, and you have to own the Windows license (more capital outlay).

    If Apple put effort into making the built in apps seamlessly integrate with Exchange (thats just one example) then virtually everything else my Windows users can do on the LAN can be taken care of by a Mac.

    ./D

  • Mathew Ingram

    That’s a good point, er… dingos :-)

  • http://twitter.com/AvaApollo/statuses/24114686797 AvaApollo (Ava Apollo)

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