Apple Offering Lets Users Choose Their Operating System



  Free preview of Gartner research


The Boot Camp program will offer a safety net for consumers running Windows XP on Intel-based Macs. But dual boot is not the experience most users want. A hypervisor-based Windows offering would be more useful.

News Analysis


On 5 April 2006, Apple Computer announced that it will support the installation of Microsoft's Windows XP operating system on Intel-based Macs through a program called Boot Camp. The program is available as a beta software download from . It will be included as a feature within the Mac OS X "Leopard" release, which will be previewed in August 2006 at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference.


By providing a safety net that will allow users to run Windows applications, Apple hopes to attract more buyers for Macs. The Boot Camp program will enable users to install Windows XP on a Mac in a dual boot environment. On boot, the user must decide whether he or she wants to run Mac OS X or Windows for that session. This should meet the needs of users who are occasionally required to run Windows applications. Users who often need to run both Windows and Mac OS X applications would have to reboot repeatedly to switch between the two operating systems. Gartner believes this is not the experience that most users seek, and that they are more likely to want to run the Windows applications natively on the Mac OS X.

In addition, to enable the dual boot environment, users need to acquire a full copy of Windows XP. Reusing a disk from a Windows PC that they already own would violate the terms of their license. Also, most new PCs currently ship with rescue media, rather than Windows disks. No volume licensing is available for a full version of Windows, only upgrades; full packages must be bought at retail, with list prices of $200 for Windows XP Home and $300 for Windows XP Professional. Enterprises and midsize businesses without a particular business need to fulfill are unlikely to pay a premium price for Mac hardware or support an extra operating system. Thus, Gartner does not believe that Boot Camp will make Macs significantly more attractive to enterprises outside of Apple's traditional strongholds in the graphic arts, video production, scientific research and education.

We believe that the real significance of Boot Camp is that it demonstrates that Apple is serious about allowing Windows to run on Mac hardware. It also paves the way for Apple to support a hypervisor, which would run Mac OS and Windows side by side on a virtual machine.


  • Companies experimenting with requiring users to purchase their own PCs (see "Policies Must Enable Workers to Use Own PC" ) should expect more Macs to enter their environments.

  • Small businesses, consumers and freelance contractors may find it useful to run their Windows applications on the Mac at work while also running the Mac OS for personal use.

  • All users should ignore any hype about the possibility of exposing the Mac OS to more viruses or worms. The Mac software will be located on another partition within a different file system; thus, running Windows on a Mac will not expose the Mac software to more "malware." However, if Mac sales and Apple's market share increase, the Mac OS could potentially become a more attractive target for malware.

Analytical Source: Mike Silver, Gartner Research

Recommended Reading and Related Research

  • "Apple Jumps to Intel" — Apple's move to Intel's x86 architecture gets the Mac OS on the Intel platform while raising tantalizing prospects for future products. By Van Baker and Mike McGuire

  • "Vista Slip, Enterprise Testing, Make 2007 Deployment Unlikely" — The latest Windows Vista delay affects consumers more than businesses, most of which wouldn't have been able to deploy it until 2008 anyway. By Stephen Kleynhans, David Smith, Neil MacDonald and Michael Silver

(You may need to sign in or be a Gartner client to access the documents referenced in this First Take.)

© 2006 Gartner, Inc. and/or its Affiliates. All Rights Reserved. Reproduction and distribution of this publication in any form without prior written permission is forbidden. The information contained herein has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. Gartner disclaims all warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of such information. Although Gartners research may discuss legal issues related to the information technology business, Gartner does not provide legal advice or services and its research should not be construed or used as such. Gartner shall have no liability for errors, omissions or inadequacies in the information contained herein or for interpretations thereof. The opinions expressed herein are subject to change without notice.

Not a Gartner Client?

Want more research like this?
Learn the benefits of becoming a Gartner client.

Contact us online

Why Gartner

Gartner delivers the technology-related insight you need to make the right decisions, every day.

Find out more