Computer buyers will no longer have to choose between the sleek designs of Apple Macs and the greater utility of computers that run Microsoft's dominant Windows operating system.
Apple surprised the industry yesterday by revealing new software that enables Windows to run on its computers. Until now its Macs and Powerbook laptops have used Apple's in-house operating system, Mac OS.
Apple shares surged in the hope it will be able to lure millions of potential buyers who would otherwise have plumped for a Windows PC because they have got used to Windows and do not want to convert documents. Most importantly, it will dramatically widen the number of business-related programmes that can run on Apple hardware, giving the company an opportunity to boost its share of the corporate market and break out of its niche in design and media companies.
The move, which Apple insisted was not a major change in strategy, does represent a gentle softening of the 30-year rivalry between Apple and Microsoft. Industry observers say if Apple had licensed Windows for its computers instead of insisting on its own operating systems, it may not have squandered the lead it built up with the launch of the Macintosh in 1984.
The conversion software, known as a "patch", is called Boot Camp and will work on the new Apple computers that use Intel chips. Steve Jobs, the chief executive, promised that all Apple ranges will switch to Intel chips by the end of next year.
The launch of Boot Camp comes weeks after Microsoft delayed the consumer launch of its new version of Windows into 2007. Analysts have fretted that consumers will delay new PC purchases until next year, giving Apple an opportunity to win market share in the crucial Christmas sales period. "This makes the Mac even more appealing to Windows users considering making the switch," Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice-president of worldwide product marketing, said.Reuse content