Chalk up another first to the hacker universe. According to the " Windows XP on Mac" Web site, a hacker known only as "narf" has managed to load Windows XP on an unmodified Intel-based Apple Macintosh computer.
It is a feat that Apple engineers, as recently as last Thursday, said was impossible.
"I don't think so," said Cameron Esfahani, a senior software architect at Apple, in response to a question at the Intel Developer Forum about Intel Macs running Vista, Microsoft's next major operating system.
Windows XP for Mac
The contest began online shortly after Apple released its new line of Macintosh computers that contain Intel chips. Contest organizers collected donations for the prize money, raising nearly $14,000 altogether.
Mac enthusiasts' blogs have been filled with posts debating the legitimacy of the video submitted by "narf" and another man. However, it was not until the solution was verified independently that "narf" was judged to be the winner.
The official announcement of the successful installation came at the end of last week when a message on the contest's Web site read: "Contest has been won -- updates to follow shortly."
The video of the Windows XP Mac and the do-it-yourself software patches -- which are available for download at the www.WinXPonMac.com Web site -- are more than likely authentic, said Yankee Group analyst Nitin Gupta.
Vista for Mac?
With the "fairly complicated" installation instructions now available online, Gupta said, it is likely that Mac users who have been waiting anxiously for a Windows OS that is Mac compatible now will begin loading XP on their machines.
The installation process requires creating a Windows XP disc with a few extra files loaded on it. It also requires partitioning the Mac's hard drive. Once the installation is finished, both Mac OS X and Windows XP reside on the Mac hardware.
"It was going to happen eventually," Gupta said, "It just happened sooner rather than later."
Gupta speculated that the successful installation of Windows on a Mac will put increased pressure on Microsoft to develop an OS for Mac hardware.
Creating a version of Windows for the Mac could be a win for Apple, he said, because many more people would be willing to give the Mac a chance if it could run their favorite Windows applications natively.
Increased pressure or no, said Gupta, Mac users probably will have to wait a long time before they see any software coming from the Redmond developer because a version of Windows for Macs would be an insignificant revenue stream for Microsoft.