By now, I'm sure all of you have already discovered and absorbed all there is to know about today's new Boot Camp Public Beta — Apple's official solution for truly dual-booting native Windows XP on any Intel Mac.
Upon hearing about Boot Camp here at Panic Labs, we immediately and excitedly downloaded, installed, and documented, and by "we" I mean "me, while everybody else in the office did actual work". Here's what I found.
Boot Camp is basically comprised of three separate pieces, like so much delicious neopolitan ice cream. First, a friendly installer (dropped in Applications/Utilities/) that helps you easily repartition your hard drive without having to reformat (a feature I'm hoping will sneak into Leopard's Disk Utility). Second, a CD-ROM of native Windows drivers for Intel Mac hardware (burned by said installer). Third, a brand new firmware for all Intel machines that will now happily boot and run any legacy BIOS-based Intel boot CD. Take these three pieces, roll them together and sprinkle them with a little cardamom, and you have a declicious and amazing multi-platform pie. Yes, pie and ice cream. Mmm.
After you've made your driver disk and repartitioned your drive, you simply boot the Windows XP SP2 install CD, just like you would on a PC. This process isn't very noteworthy, and is in fact really soul-crushingly long, so instead I'll just drop in some pictures here, and we can all share a good chuckle about the "most secure version of Internet Explorer to date". (Technically correct, I suppose!)
Once installation is complete: you've got Windows.
What next? First, you'll need to install the many drivers from the Boot Camp-generated CD, which happens automatically. Windows gripes about the Mobility Radeon driver not being "logo tested", but, like any good Windows user, you'll hit continue anyway. Once that driver installation is complete — and after the obligatory reboot — you'll probably notice a whole lot of new tray icons. One of those — the display-looking one — is unique and actually from Apple, as it controls the brightness of the LCD display.
There are a few more surprises in Control Panels. First, Apple has created their own Windows port of the venerable Startup Disk, which makes it very easy to switch back to Mac OS X booting without having to use the ol' Option key. You might also notice a weird SigmaTel Audio control panel for the built-in audio hardware: I only point this out because it contains this stunning piece of user interface design that we all sat back and admired for a few minutes. Arctic Tundra Groupbox! Jack Needs Attention.
Other than these bits and pieces, it's basically just Windows on a Mac, y'know?
Wait — what am I saying? It's Windows, running on a Macintosh. Seriously: whoah. It's like taking a freaky-bus ride to surreal-town while wearing rainbow-dipped trip-o-glasses, but it's also genuinely exciting. Look at it this way: if I keep a crappy PC around the office for one or two tasks (checking websites in IE and MAME management, basically) — and I'm a Macintosh software developer — then I can only imagine there are a lot of people out there in the world with their one or two PC hang-ons that find this software as exciting as I do.
Basically, there will only be one brand of computer in the world that will run both Windows and Mac OS X: a Macintosh.
Anyway, this is all well and good, but I know you only care about one thing. And that's really the entire purpose of this post. So how about we both stop pretending to care about all this blah-blah and just get right to it?
"Cabel," you ask, "how well does Half Life 2 run on an Intel iMac?"
Shockingly well. And I bring video proof, filmed right off our Intel iMac screen!
(And here's a lower quality YouTube mirror for those of you with Quicktime trouble.)
It's in my nature to be generally Apple-excited, but still I must say: hooray, Apple. If this is but a sweet, sweet taste of Leopard — eww — then August can't come soon enough.