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Louderback: With Boot Camp, Apple's Bobbing for Suckers

Don't get too excited about the whole Mac/Windows dual-boot thing.

Although a wide range of starry-eyed experts — including some in our very own lab — have lauded Boot Camp (aka BC) in tones not heard since the days of OS/2, it's really nothing to get excited about.

Here are my top reasons why — at least to real computer users — "Boot Chump" is a snore.

Design: The more effete among us have embraced BC because now they can run all their favorite Windows apps on a saucy, sexy Mac. The underlying assertion embraced here is that Apple machines are just so much cooler than their PC counterparts.

Hogwash. There are dozens of better-looking notebooks out there than those tired, industrial-looking iBooks and PowerBooks that dribble out of Infinite Loop.

Want silver? Toshiba's razor-thin Portégé looks better and won't give you a hernia if you carry it around the corner. Acer's Italian-inspired lineup ranges from testosterone-pumping Ferrari red to svelte and sweet. Even Dell now has discovered red.

Performance: Some idiot wrote recently that "Apple now makes the fastest Windows machines on the planet." What was I thinking?

Now that the meds have worn off, let's take a closer look at how fast these BC machines really are. Sure, they run a Photoshop benchmark test as fast as or faster than Windows dedicated machines.

But throw in anything needing fast graphics and you're SOL. The dual-core Mac mini uses shared memory for its anemic graphics, which will seriously eat into that default 512MB of RAM. Every time I see Boot Camp benchmark test scores, they come with caveats.

Apple apologists give their favorite company more latitude than any other PC company on the planet — I just don't understand it.

Substitute "Microsoft" or "Dell" for Apple in any of the recent reviews and a firestorm of bloggers would be criticizing the reviewer up and down the Web. Instead, the laurels just pile on higher and higher.

But I digress. This brings me to the next reason you don't want Boot Camp....

Expandability: Remember the bad old days of OS/2 and Windows NT, and MIPS- and Alpha-based computers? Fanatics tried to push these supposedly better systems on everyone, touting power, capability, and destiny.

It was all bunk, and each died from neglect. Neglect from a vast array of add-on hardware vendors that just didn't have the time or inclination to write drivers for all those "other" platforms.

Sure, a Mac that runs Windows looks good on paper. But how do you know that that expensive scanner, graphics card or sound device will actually work on a BC system?

To be fair, USB and FireWire devices that work in Windows ought to work under BC. But what about add-in cards? That legacy SCSI adapter that you just can't quit? Until we have an Intel-based Mac tower we have no clue what will work.

But I predict that legacy hardware — and even some existing boards — will be difficult to run in both environments.

Will the high-end video-digitizing Kona card work under Windows? What about M-Audio's multichannel audio input cards? I'll believe it when I see it.

Got more faith? Go ahead, buy a dual-core Mac. And have fun upgrading it.

Reliability: I don't know about you, but when I buy a computer I want everything to work right. I have some confidence that peripherals and software will work on my PCs, because I either built them myself or bought them outright from a vendor who knows how to make Windows PCs.

So what happens when that critical new part, new application, or new Web site fails to run? Who is going to help? Apple? Hardly.

Last I checked, Boot Camp is unsupported. So you're out of luck. And even when it ends up in OS X, it will probably receive marginal support at best. Don't expect your garden-variety tech at the Mac store to help out, for instance.

Flexibility: Speaking of building computers, if you like building your own computers, you are out of luck again. Apple's not interested in a DIY Mac, nor is it concerned with the case-mod culture of the PC.

Oh, I guess that doesn't matter; lemming-like Apple fans aren't interested in actually doing anything different with their cookie-cutter computers that aspire to "Think Different" but, like that old Pete Seeger song about little boxes, "all look just the same."

The really creative computer users are the case modders who build extravagant designs to house their systems. And that's just not possible if you aspire to run Windows and simultaneously "Think Different."

Price: And that leads me to the biggest reason of all to ignore this whole Windows and Macintosh mash-up. Apple's not really known as the low-cost or value leader when it comes to computers. There's a premium to pay for "Think Different" that has nothing to do with performance or capability.

After you've already been overcharged for a Mac, you need to spend another hundred dollars or so buying Windows, just for the privilege of tainting the Apple core with Microsoft's OS. You'll probably need more memory, too.

Is it really worth all that extra money? From where I sit, no — but a fool and his money have always been quickly parted.

All of this leaves me with just one thing to say: Would you buy a Windows computer from this man [insert picture of Steve Jobs]?

This is a guy who has been ripped off by Microsoft for 20 years: Do you think he's about to just up and join the enemy? I doubt it.

"Boot Chump" is just a Trojan horse, designed to get Windows users (aka chumps) to sample Macintosh hardware. Once you've laid out a few kilobucks on your BC system and been frustrated a few times with Windows limitations, what are you going to do?

Jobs's bet: You'll start spending more and more time in OS X, until you — too — become one of the pod people.

It's sad to see so many of my compatriots being turned into lemmings. Perhaps they'll wake up and smell the Apple pie in the sky — and realize they've been taken for a ride.

But I doubt it. Because I'm a firm believer that once you start using a Mac, your IQ begins to creep downwards, inversely proportional to an increase in your AAF (Apple Acceptance Factor).

In fact, I'm blaming the AAF for a wide-range of habits espoused by supposedly "creative people." I'll bet it's responsible for tattoos, piercings and the wide-spread adoption of the phrase "no worries."

In fact, I believe that most of today's societal ills can be either indirectly or directly attributed to Apple. Widespread hearing loss? Blame the iPod. Carpal tunnel? Blame the Newton. Upswing in hernias? That Infinite Loop idiot who decided to put a handle on the first iMac — and started the whole luggable trend.

No, Boot Camp is just the latest diabolical piece of Steve Jobs's grand plan to dumb us down and mangle our bodies. It's no coincidence that all this is happening just as Jobs has taken a seat on the board of Disney (which also owns ABC). Pretty soon we'll be good for nothing but sitting on our butts and watching TV.

So go ahead and Boot Camp if you must. But don't come running to me when your mind and body prematurely degenerate. I'll be smart, fit, and enjoying my real Windows computers, while you ooze slowly into the Pixar-Disney-ABC swamp of mindlessness. Chump.

Copyright © 2006 Ziff Davis Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Ziff Davis Media Inc. is prohibited.