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Intel Mac Boots Windows XP

Posted by iNext - 2006-03-19

The Texas man who jumped-started the effort to get Windows XP to dual-boot on Intel-based Macs posted the winning solution on his site Thursday, and said the contest's cash prize of nearly $14,000 had been won by a pair of Californians.
 
In January, Colin Nederkoorn of Houston began taking donations for a prize to be awarded to the first developer who came up with a way to boot an Intel Mac into either Mac OS X or Windows XP. Within days, he had raised thousands.

Nederkoorn had a selfish reason for the contest: He wanted to downsize from two machines -- a PowerPC-based Mac and a PC running Windows -- that he was using at work to just one, an Intel MacBook Pro he'd ordered as soon as Apple debuted the new systems.

"I'm overwhelmed that a solution was found within the time limit," said Nederkoorn. "It's really been an emotional roller coaster. At one point I had no clue if anyone was even working on it, but then two weeks ago things started moving."

Nederkoorn had set a March 23 deadline -- later extended to March 30 -- for a dual-boot solution, and had promised that if no one came up with an answer, he would donate the money to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).

Seems that the EFF will be out $13,854, the prize total Nederkoorn's site showed as of Thursday.

Two men collaborated to come up with the solution, said Nederkoorn. Although he said they lived in California, he wouldn't disclose their names, saying that they wanted to remain anonymous for now.

Nederkoorn has also posted a ZIP file to his site and several mirror sites; the file contains a how-to document as well as numerous files needed for the custom bootloader.

"I'd say it's probably best left to advanced users at this stage," he said. "There's no hardware change to the computer, but some people tend not to follow instructions."

To produce a dual-boot Mac, users must customize a Windows XP installation CD by burning a new disc that includes the custom bootloader files. The Mac must also be partitioned -- a disk partitioning utility is included with the machine -- so that Mac OS X and Windows XP can co-exist on the same drive.

Nederkoorn was very satisfied with the solution. "The Mac runs Windows extremely well," he said.

And he's learned, he said, an important lesson. "One of the problems with open-source development is that people have a tough time getting momentum. You need very dedicated individuals to lay the groundwork. I think [the prize] was a good way to motivate people."

In fact, Nederkoorn's planning on keeping the project alive. "There are driver issues right now. There's not a good video driver for Windows XP," he said. "And the Mac crashes when you shut down Windows. People are going to need to talk to each other and share [information]." He hopes to move the dual-boot project to SourceForge, a popular open-source development and download repository.

Although Nederkoorn hasn't heard a whisper from Apple, he doesn't expect to. "I think they may have talked about this internally, but decided not to contact me because they wanted to remain impartial."

But while Apple has been aggressive in blocking efforts to run its Mac OS X on non-Mac hardware, in the past it's said it wouldn't prevent Mac owners from running Windows on their Intel-powered computers.

In fact, the dual-boot process, if streamlined and made usable by the masses, might boost Apple's bottom line. Last week, the investment banking firm Needham & Co. LLC said Apple could sell a million more Macs if the Intel-based systems could run Windows applications as fast as PCs.

"I think this could be a big boom for Apple," Nederkoorn agreed. "On a dual-boot, Windows is directly accessing [Intel's] Core Duo [processor]. I've never had a laptop this fast."

Nederkoorn's solution may be the only available for some time, since Microsoft recently confirmed that Windows Vista -- which some users had hoped would boot on Intel Macs -- won't contain technology that would have made it easier to run Windows applications on Macs.

The ZIP file needed to construct a dual-boot Mac is available from http://winxponmac.com/download/.



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