While Microsoft fiddled, Apple became the hottest company in America.
Al Fasoldt's reviews and commentaries, continuously available online since 1983

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Apple's Windows-on-a-Mac: Is it a Trojan Horse aimed at taking over Microsoft?

By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2006, Al Fasoldt

   What are we to make of Apple's decision to open its new Intel Macs to Windows?
   In one way, it's little more than a clever (and extremely effective) way for Apple cofounder Steve Jobs to embarrass Microsoft. Microsoft has been trying to get its next version of Windows finished for the last five years. In that same time, Apple has come up with four successive versions of its own operating system, OS X, and has humbled PC makers with a stunning redesign of its consumer-level iMac computers and has even established a new category of home computer with the dictionary-size Mac mini.
   While Microsoft fiddled, Apple burned like a furnace. It's the hottest company in America. It's sizzling.
   So Steve Jobs saw a chance to show the world how ineffective Microsoft is. It didn't hurt that he also had an opportunity to chump out his eternal nemesis, Bill Gates, cofounder of Microsoft.
   Here's the message: Look at Apple. We're flying. FLYING. Studies show consumers trust us more than any other major company. We're soaring. We can do anything we want. We're bigger than Windows. Bigger than Microsoft in all those ways that count. We can even make a Mac that runs Windows faster and better than any mere PC can run Windows. And as soon as you're tried of trying to hold back the flood of Windows viruses and spyware, you can reboot and get right back to OS X.
   That's all. Just a way to make Microsoft feel chumpy. Sure, Apple will sell more Macs now that all the new ones can run Windows. But I'd guess it was going to sell all the Macs it can make anyway, so this kind of Windows-on-Mac stuff just serves as a billboard. It brings people into the stores. (Reminder: Microsoft doesn't -- yet -- have any stores the way Apple does. Remember that I said "yet" when you hear that Bill's Boys are thinking of opening some of their own.)
   But I'm intrigued by one other possibility. Microsoft already embarrassed itself by being five years late with Windows Vista. In a properly run organization, those responsible would have been fired by now. Bill Gates would be gone, Steve Ballmer, his high-school buddy and longtime Microsoft pal, would be gone, and a half-dozen others would be fired, too.
   A company like Apple wouldn't let incompetents stay on like that.
   Is this ringing a bell? Steve Jobs would know how to turn Microsoft around. Microsoft's stockholders don't want failure and delays. They want results.
   So they ask Steve to take over as CEO. He retains his position at Apple. He ceases development of Windows Vista and instead unveils a version of Windows his own engineering team has designed, based, as is OS X, on Unix. It's compatible with all previous versions of Windows from Windows 95 to Windows XP, yet the compatibility is achieved through Rosetta Stone emulation. Rosetta, you might already know, is the emulation layer built into Apple's version of OS X for Intel Macs. Rosetta Stone will be its emulation layer for Windows Unix. (And, no, the name would not have been chosen for the condition you'd have to be in to run an operating system with 210,000 active viruses.)
   Oh well. You think I'm just dreaming, don't you. Nothing like that could ever happen.
   But consider this. If I told you in early spring of 2006 that Apple would soon come up with a way to turn Intel Macs into Windows PCs, you would have thought I was dreaming.
   Let's hear it for dreams.