January 13, 2006
Sheer Bliss? New MacBooks- can they dual boot or not?
Apple surprised no one last week with the MacWorld announcement that the Intel Macs are coming. The news had leaked weeks before and the general reaction to the news was good, although many are voicing displeasure at the rather bland name- MacBook. What many consumers have been waiting for is the ability to dual-boot the new Macs between OS X and Windows XP to take advantage of the software available for both platforms. Shortly after the announcement word began to appear that the new Intel Macs might not dual-boot after all, at least until Windows Vista is released. Seems Apple decided not to go the traditional BIOS route and instead relies on the Intel Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI). EFI is the next generation replacement for the aging BIOS technology and trust Apple to push the envelope and choose EFI for all Intel Macs. Unfortunately, Windows XP will not run under EFI, instead it requires the old BIOS to handle the firmware at boot time. EFI support will be in Windows Vista when it is released late this year.
Today word comes from Intel Australia that if Apple has included a Compatibility Support Module (CSM) then the new Macs will indeed run Windows XP and support the BIOS it so needs. Intel developed the CSM to allow vendors to be backward compatible with legacy BIOS systems so if Apple includes one then dual boot is good to go. At this point no one at Apple has stated if that is the case or not so we are in a wait and see period. Let me be frank- Apple, you need dual-boot. You will sell a lot more hardware if you can get Windows XP owners to upgrade for the ability to dual-boot. You can increase your market share by penetrating the Windows XP segment with dual-boot systems, something that may not happen if consumers have to wait for Vista to appear.
Of course my reasons for wanting a dual-boot Mac are selfish. I think it will pave the way for a Mac Tablet that will dual-boot both OS X with pen support and Windows XP Tablet Edition. Now that would be an incredible Tablet PC.