I usually like a lot of what Robert X. Cringely has to say but this week he’s off the mark with his speculation on what Boot Camp signifies.
Readers and pundits alike seem to think that Boot Camp is a surprise for Microsoft, which I guarantee you it is not. I’ll get to explaining why that is in a minute, but for the moment just realize with me that the only company that truly benefits from Boot Camp is Microsoft, because they’ll get to sell a retail copy of Windows XP for every copy of Boot Camp and retail XP makes Microsoft about three times as much money as the OEM version. (emphasis mine)
Yeah, right. No way are people going to grab retail copies of Windows in such a case! No. Way. At least not for a good little while. The people purchasing MacbookPros because of Boot Camp in the next few months are the higher end of the market, the enthusiasts, they’ve already got Windows boxes and are simply migrating to a better box with OS X to try it out, they’ll just use the disks they have or, lets be honest here, download a copy. Maybe in a little while, when the market broadens a bit, you’ll have people buying a Mac as a first machine and who want to install Windows and actually go out and buy it but don’t expect too many of those.
He also completely ignores the whole virtualization issue that most everyone agrees on; the next major release of OS X will do better than Boot Camp and allow you to run Windows apps alongside Mac apps. I’m not sayind it’s a sure thing or that it affects the purchases (or not) of Windows licences but I find it a bit weird that he analyses the OS X situation without mentioning it.
He then goes on with the OS X on anything thread:
I predict that Apple will settle on 64-bit Intel processors ASAP (with FireWire 800 please), and at that time will announce a product similar to Boot Camp to allow OS X to run on bog-standard 32-bit PC hardware, turning the Boot Camp relationship on its head and trying to sell $99 copies of OS X to 100 million or so Windows owners.
It could happen but I don’t think it will. One of the big things with OS X is that it just works. It’s impossible and/or very expensive/difficult to have OS X work perfectly on any hardware, too many devices and parts. If Apple gets into that, they’re bound to lose some shine when OS X doesn’t just work anymore. Could it still work well enough to bring people to buying a Mac? Maybe. Wouldn’t be my choice of strategy though.