Being one of two computer science majors on my freshman hall – the other being my roommate – I was often the recipient of panicked calls from friends who’s computers “broke.” Sometimes it was serious – a broken hard drive, failed motherboard or other hardware failures – but for the most part, it was an easily fixable though annoying problem such as spyware or a virus.

After cleaning off their computers and setting them up with a more secure browser such as Mozilla Firefox, everything usually worked fine. I would also half-jokingly suggest they get a new Mac, since they are less targeted for viruses and spyware.

I had never seriously considered a Mac for myself – although I am no fan of Windows, I was quite happy running Linux on my tiny IBM Thinkpad. This however, has all changed. My suitemate and long-time Linux using friend recently got a new MacBook Pro, and it is simply amazing. While I still detest the paucity of mouse buttons – my Thinkpad has three – most everything else is extremely well engineered. Not only are the new MacBook Pros one of the fastest laptops out there, each revision of Mac OS X adds amazing new features. So now, when I recommend someone get a Mac, it is with full sincerity.

The largest hurdle, however, for would-be Mac buyers is their old software. Some people need Windows for work, or have old projects they may want in a few years. However, the bright minds at Apple have come up with a solution for this problem – allow people to run Windows on a Mac. Just recently, Apple released Bootcamp, which while still in beta, allows owners of the new Intel-based Macs to run both Windows and OS X on the same machine.

Not yet having a chance to test Bootcamp myself, I cannot personally attest to its performance, but everything I have read says that Windows and its applications run as fast, if not faster as on comparable machines. This should come as no surprise to anyone, since the Macs are using the same chips as other machines. What did surprise many people is why Apple would do this.

While some critics argue that this foreshadows Apple dropping their software division and focusing solely on hardware, I disagree. I think releasing Bootcamp is a brilliant move on Apple’s part. Apple very much considers themselves a hardware company, and expanding the number of people who want to buy your machines is always a good thing.

Apple however, also creates software – very nice software at that. By allowing business users to run Windows and their custom business apps on Macs, Apple hopes those users get a chance to use OS X, and fall for it’s exquisite design as myself and many others have.

While I would hope that someone who buys a Mac does so for the operating system, and it would pain me to see someone running solely Windows, allowing users to run Windows is an excellent first step in winning them over the Apple side.

Freidman can be reached

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