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

    • Due to the Intel Move, TPM, and IMHO; the awful handling of the Quad’s (and other Powermac G5 power supply problems, I own 3, I have actually moved away from the Mac platform and to AMD. For the price and performance of AMD and Solaris 10, Apple just can’t compete. It made me very sad to move, as I have been a Mac user for 20+ years, but I really believe Jobs & Co. are holding true to his statement, “I’m going to milk the Mac for all it’s worth, and than move on to the next big thing”. I really believe that Apple no longer has my (as an end-user), interests at heart.

      turandota had this to say on May 24, 2006 Posts: 7
    • Oh, sorry… To actually answer the question if I’ve swayed my friends and family to move to Mac because of Boot Camp, I’ve actually swayed them to drop Mac and move to AMD and other open source software with the frontend GUIs like KDE and GNOME.

      turandota had this to say on May 24, 2006 Posts: 7
    • I agree.  Just being capable of running Windows is enough - it makes buying a Mac a safe decision.  And its amazing how many people have seen the Macs and lusted after them but just felt that they were too “different” to be useful.  When you tell them they can run Windows if they want to, you are giving them permission to go and buy the coolest computers on the market.  I have converted two friends to Mac already.  The Mac is the best home computer now - by a huge margin.  And although Windows can be loaded, it won’t be in most cases.

      sydneystephen had this to say on May 24, 2006 Posts: 124
    • The funny/sad thing about Macs being able to run WIndows is that it’s lost on many people.

      My daughter just graduated from college and had to give up her ThinkPad.  At home, she needed to register for a job interview online, and we couldn’t get any browser on our G5 (Safari, Firefox, or IE) to work with the site.  Suspecting that this was an IE-on-Windows-only problem, I booted up XP under Parallels Desktop on my MacBook Pro, fired up IE, and we were in business.

      When I turned the MBPro over to my daughter to complete here registration, she was completely unmoved by the fact that she was using XP on a Mac (under OS X): her only observation was that she missed the force-stick on the ThinkPad.


      RetiredMidn had this to say on May 24, 2006 Posts: 2
    • Of course, you yourself didn’t need that pull of ‘doze yourself now, did you? wink

      (I’m the one who converted a certain Mr. Wright to buy his first Mac… after a good six months of him slating them at the computer store we both worked in.)

      I do see this as a big advantage though, and if you read, he has the best explanation available- sure, you CAN run Windows on it, but once they’ve had a play with OS X and gotten used to it, going to Windows for those few unconverted apps they need will be done whilst holding their nose.

      Even my most recent converts at work (2 MacBook Pros) find the idea of using Windows on them disgusting now, and one’s been a Mac user for less than a month.

      I kind of like the way this isn’t heavily marketed either. Who better to give the honest advice than your friends? An advert saying ‘Macs do Windows’ will just confuse people, but hearing your techy friend explain it eases people’s concerns.

      Best article you’ve written yet by the way.

      Kyle Marriott had this to say on May 24, 2006 Posts: 4
    • Should be “His facial expressions and voice pattern changed to that of excitement, followed quickly by, ‘I want one of those Mac Minis!’”

      To answer your question, I got someone to buy a MacBook because of Boot Camp. She wanted a Mac anyways, but she still wanted the “security blanket,” as Dave Caolo put it. When she heard that they run Windows now, she was completely sold.

      shrimpdesign had this to say on May 24, 2006 Posts: 16
    • -You Got It All Wrong-

      You are confusing Microsofts “Vista Capable” specs for manufacturers with minimum system requirements.

      You’re saying vista will take tens of gigabytes to install.  Hah it will arrive on one DVD it will only be moderately bigger then a WinXP install.  There’s not a lot more that they’ve added.

      They are arbitrarily setting minimum hardware for manufacturers, to label their machines as “Vista Capable” or “Premium”.  To ensure a minimum level of performance quality.

      When they say you need 1 GB of ram, what that means is you should have that much to run Vista AND Photoshop(or other apps) comfortably.

      Only a fool would think that Vista’s actually supposed to be using all that memory itself.

      They want people to have a better experience using windows so they are trying to encourage people to get better hardware.

      The thing is if your going to game or use windows, you buy a PC.  Nobody wants to pay 2-3 times as much for the equivilant Apple hardware.

      If you’re someone that only does what Apple currently provides, like use an IPOD, websurf, and edit video, etc. Then you can reasonably get by with a mac.

      Im no Windows fanboy, Im actually waiting for Linux XGL to come full circle.  The new 3D Linux desktops blow both mac and vista out of the water.

      MacSuxWindozSux had this to say on May 24, 2006 Posts: 2
    • I made the mistake of buying a MacBook Pro because I could run both Mac OS X with my somewhat heavy investment into PowerPC software and Windows on the same laptop.

      Unfortunately, I’m having a problem with the screen which Apple is refusing to fix under warranty (for a little over a month old machine).  I spent a half hour on the phone with a rude customer service agent—someone I’d expect at Dell or HP, not Apple.

      Unless Apple fixes their customer service, I don’t think they will make inroads into the “Windows” crowd.

      The other mistake I made was forgetting how much Windows requires the “second mouse button”.  At least for the laptop, it is quite a pain to use.

      maxzac had this to say on May 24, 2006 Posts: 1
    • No converts yet but I’m working on it…

      That said, it seems funny to me that so many are talking about this as a competetive threat to Microsoft.  It is over the long term I guess, but stock pricing and quarterly reports being what they are, I’m sure MS will be quite happy to sell more licenses via Apple in the short term (yes, I’m sure there are smart people at MS that recognize both short and long term implications of Bootcamp).  Dell on the other hand better watch out.  Their value add is quickly fading.

      vinniem had this to say on May 24, 2006 Posts: 1
    • I converted in April of 2005.  I’m a network administrator and work on Windows servers/PC’s all day.  I couldnt stand coming home and having to troubleshoot my own Windows PC’s anytime I wanted to get something done.  So I decided to try a Mac, and I spend more time actually getting work done than I do troubleshooting.  In fact, I havent had to do any troubleshooting at all on my Mac since I’ve had it!!!

        And since then, I’ve converted 3 people to Mac’s and that was even before the Intel chips!  They are all loving the Mac experience, as am I.

      I’m currently converting my 4th soon to be Mac user.  They are actually ordering their new Imac this week.  Everyone I converted all say the same thing “It’s so easy, everything just does what its supposed to do.”

      And that’s exactly what a computer should do.


      Spidertrace had this to say on May 24, 2006 Posts: 1
    • Ok so I hear all of this about bootcamp making it possible for mac to run XP great, but what I would love is for it to be able to run Vista great when it arrives.  Then I would be sold.  My job requires windows and I like it, but I have found the ways of the mac good as well.  It I was assured that the MacBook Pro could run Vista with no problem I.E. running photoshop, dreamweaver etc. then I would be sold.  I found an article with it running the Beta for Vista, but what about the actual OS.  Please give me some information on this before I make a big mistake. Thanks.

      William E. Wallace had this to say on May 24, 2006 Posts: 2
    • It seems that I’ve switched the most people to the Mac platform compared to you guys. I switched over 20+ people in the period of a few months! And more and more of my friends are becoming interested in the Mac community.
      The reason for this mass switching is because I’m going to be a junior next year, and my school require juniors to have their own laptop computer. So my friends came to me, knowing that I know a lot about computers. And lemme tell you something, my friends are ignorant about Macs, they criticize the platform even when they know nothing about it! You know, Mac market share isn’t much in Asia because of this. So my friends came to me even though they know that I’m a Mac user (or cultist) asking for laptop recommendations. So waddaya think I’m gonna say? Get the MacBook Pro or a MacBook! I gave them the spec sheets and the prices. Some of my friends like the design of the computers, MOST of them like the fact that they get to boot Windows. But for me, Boot Camp wasn’t the bomb, and I didn’t expect it to be either. Some of my friends even suggested that they’d rather buy a much more expensive laptop (but with the same specs) that runs ONLY windows! Some of my friends are just not convinced. Some of my friends are very convinced but their parents won’t buy it for them since they don’t understand the Mac platform and think that it’s useless.
      So I decided to show them the ultimate side of the Mac: creativity! So I showed them the super cool apps that are available on the Mac. MacSaber, the app that turns your MacBook (Pro) into a Jedi lightsaber. I showed them iAlertU, the anti theft app. I showed them what Parallels and VirtueDesktops can do when put together. They were stunned by the fact that they can use several OSes at the same time, and pressing ‘Ctrl + Shift + arrow keys’ seamlessly switches between them. My friends were beyond words! And now the word is spreading faster than ever around campus. More friends come to me everyday for laptop advice. I’ve now counted to over twenty, and the number is rising fast.
      So I think it’s not just Boot Camp that switched most people over to the Mac. It’s both Boot Camp and the cool apps that are available only on the Mac. If I showed my friends the cool apps but didn’t tell them about Boot Camp, then they’d still be using Windows, and vice versa.

      wackybit had this to say on May 25, 2006 Posts: 16
    • That’s not a question anyone can answer with 100% certainty since the finished vista doesn’t exist yet.

      That said, the MacBook Pro is an absolutely top-of-the-line notebook and I would bet my dog’s life that it will be able to run Vista “great”.

      Benji had this to say on May 25, 2006 Posts: 927
    • (That in answer to William Wallace)

      Benji had this to say on May 25, 2006 Posts: 927
    • haha well for your dog’s sake I hope your right. lol.  thanks for the reply

      William E. Wallace had this to say on May 25, 2006 Posts: 2
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