Is Windows On a Mac Really Drawing in New Users?

by Aaron Wright May 24, 2006

In the past few days, I’ve read of a few stories of people switching to a Mac for their next computer system, and I’ve even had a couple of friends who have decided, or at least contemplated switching over to a Mac.  Their chief reason why? It can run Windows! After years of Mac bashing with long moans of “there’s hardly any applications available for it,” and “you can’t play games,” or even the rather unimaginative argument of “it’s rubbish next to XP,” more and more people are finally realizing what a truly awesome operating system Tiger is.

In an article on, writer Dave Caolo has posted a story about his recent experience of being able to convince two people to buy a Macintosh, and he doesn’t even work for Apple.

Two of the employees at his work came up to him recently asking for some advice on a new computer. He, being the avid Mac user I assume he is, suggested they purchase a Mac. He showed them around the operating system and although they appeared to be pleased with what they saw, he struggled to sway them into buying one—at least until he “dropped the bomb”.

“These things can run Windows you know”, Dave said. “WHAT!?” Their eyes lit up

Since then, they’ve both gone on to purchase Macs and he says his experience leads him to believe Apple will be selling a lot of computers this year, and I for one agree. Because I too have swayed a couple of friends into purchasing a Mac, although truth be told, one of them was already half-way there.

Friend One came to me and said he was looking for a replacement for his four-year old PC. He’s well aware, as most of my friends are by now, that I’m a huge Mac lover/geek and would always recommend buying one. I suppose he came to me in order to get the thumbs up on buying a new computer. We all know how undecided friends do that, right? But before he decided to purchase anything, he asked me a few questions about the whole Mac experience. I told him first off about the cool applications that come bundled with the system, including iLife - iPhoto and iMovie appealing to him the most. I then mentioned the way most popular peripherals, such as cameras, printers, scanners and USB sticks, for example, don’t require any additional drivers to be installed, as there’s already hoards built into the system—it quite literally is plug-n-play.

However, as with Dave Caolo, he wasn’t entirely sold until I mentioned he could use his XP system on the new Macintosh if he ever wanted to. His facial expressions and voice pattern changed to that of excitement, followed quickly by, “I want one of those Mac Mini’s!”

Friend Two, who is a long-time PC user, much like I was, had recently purchased an iPod somewhat hypercritically after all the Apple bashing he had done over the years. He loved the design of the iMac G5 too. (Probably because it reminded him of his iPod.) Yet he never thought of investing in one due to the cost involved. However, after seeing the new black MacBook, his passion for Apple hardware began to grow again, and although the money is something that is a question for him, he is after a new computer. Still in doubt, it took just this sentence to sway him completely.

“It can run Windows you know, mate.”

And again, the key sentence in selling a Macintosh has struck gold, another Mac sold.

So in the space of about a week, there’s four clear cases of long-time PC users making a switch to the Mac platform. And for all four of them, the selling point wasn’t the beautiful architecture or aesthetic appeal, nor was it the world’s most advanced operating system that tickled them, oh no. The selling point was that these new Mac systems can all run Windows - easily and effectively.

So there’s one reason why I believe Apple will be selling well this year. The other reason, however, isn’t one that Apple have created, rather, one that Microsoft has created.

Microsoft this week announced the specifications required for Windows Vista, Microsoft’s much-doubted, up-coming operating system due for public release in the first quarter of 2007.

The basic system can run on most modern PC’s with at least 800Mhz processor and 512MB of RAM. A lot of Windows zealots will have you believe this is more than fine, but it’s not. The operating system may be able to run on that power, but what about using applications such as Dreamweaver and the heavy handed Adobe Photoshop? My opinion, no chance, especially as Windows XP struggles to do that. So in order to get all the fancy shenanigans running on Vista, as well as actually opening up an application, users will require the following (according to Microsoft):

  • 1Ghz CPU minimum - at least 2.5Ghz minimum is going to be needed for a smooth operation

  • 128MB graphics memory - The onboard (shared) memory won’t do you any good, so a graphics card purchase will be needed, although they are relatively cheap these days

  • 40GB of Hard Drive space with at least 15GB free - although 250GB is the ‘norm’ for most modern PC’s, 55GB’s on a hard-drive just to install an operating system is ridiculous. How much rubbish have they included with it?

  • 1GB of memory (RAM) - Not going to cut it really, the system will be jaded when running applications such as Photoshop, at least 1.5 to 2GB of memory is going to be needed.

    Again, any Windows zealot will tell you I’m talking rubbish, but I’m really not. You’ll see comments flying about when Vista is released that a lot of people with the “minimum” specs struggle to run the system, and I do see Microsoft ‘upping’ these specifications nearer the time.

    So with that in mind, a lot of older computer users are going to need to upgrade. Upgrading isn’t always that simple though, the latest processors don’t always fit in the older motherboards, and some older motherboards only take up to 1GB of memory anyway.  So surely purchasing a Mac at this stage would be more beneficial? Especially as the next OS, Leopard, will be equal to or more advanced than Vista anyway. On top of that, you can run Windows XP if you ever require a Windows platform on the next generation of Macintosh, without having to download any extra software (Boot Camp will be a part of the operating system).

    Now back to my friends who are switching to a Mac, but still using Windows—The chances are, like so many other switchers, when they begin to use OS X for several weeks, they’ll begin to see why it’s so much better than Windows XP could ever be, and eventually end up, unintentionally, using OS X as their default operating system, only vacating to Windows when a gaming session or CAD development program is needed.

    A lot of people bashed Apple for making such a “silly decision” with introducing Boot Camp, and I agree that it was a risk, but I think the this year will prove to be a success for Apple, and more so for the guys that came up with the idea of Boot Camp. With so many people being tempted over to a Mac, based purely on the fact it can run Windows as well, surely Apple will begin putting a large foot in Microsoft’s arena.

    I’d be interested to know about any Apple Matters readers who’ve managed to sway a friend or work colleague in the past few weeks/months in switching to a Mac, especially those who’ve done it with the one-hit line “It can run Windows”.

  • Comments

    • Check out the parody video I did of Apple’s Mac + PC commercials.  It’s pretty funny

      elpepe had this to say on May 25, 2006 Posts: 3
    • Windows XP/Vista on Mac Intels is and will be a BIG insurance policy for current M$ drones looking for juicier nectars of the Mac forest.

      At work I have set up a couple of high-end Mac minis to run a hypervisor - Parallels Desktop RC1 - running standard XP as evaluation not a demo. But to my surprise most of the self-proclaimed Mac haters were astonished to see “little” Macs running XP as well, if not better than their current Pentium towers. As expected gush of questions came up such as, “What’s XP doin’ on a Mac?”, “Why’d you want to run Windows and Mac at the same time?”, to “Can I do that too if I buy a Mac?”. Questions from envious PC folks, indeed.

      All I had to do was demo the desktop “flip”, akin to OS X Server user desktop switch, from full-screen XP to full-screen glory of OSX to convince several into considering Macs in their next purchase. Running XP and OSX together, not one or the other (by way of Boot Camp), is such sweet redemption. Bwah, Hah, hah! Ugh, ... ahem, my apologies smile

      Robomac had this to say on May 26, 2006 Posts: 846
    • BTW elpepe, nice parody on Mac and PC dudes! Thanks for a few snickers and belly laughs.

      Robomac had this to say on May 26, 2006 Posts: 846
    • Thanks Robo!

      elpepe had this to say on May 26, 2006 Posts: 3
    • Boot Camp is DEFINITELY selling more Macs.  I’m a graphic designer at ESPN.  We’ve slowly been migrating to PC’s out of necessity for the past 3 years.  With the release of Boot Camp, our VP of Creative Technologies has said that we’ll be switching nearly 2000 computers to Macintel boxes over the next 2 years.  I, for one, am ecstatic.

      chyronct had this to say on May 26, 2006 Posts: 7
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