Apple enabling native Windows compatibility...in Leopard?

Is Apple working feverishly to co-opt Windows?

If what The Register writes is even remotely true, the writing is on the wall for Microsoft's desktop dominance. What does it say? "Game over."

The Register is reporting that Apple may be coding Leopard to run Windows applications natively (meaning, no need for Parallels, Boot Camp, etc.). It's a wild guess at this point, but the clues are there:

Leopard's PE (Portable Executable--a way of encoding executable files) support was uncovered by one Stephen Edwards, who'd been working with Wine, the open source version of the Windows application programming interface (API). He found that Leopard's Dynamic Linker (Dyld) will try to load a PE file. Soon after, Leopard's hunt for DLLs referenced by the PE file appeared as further evidence that the presence of PE support may not simply be a hang over from Apple's use of the Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI).

This probably means nothing, as The Register suggests. It could simply mean that Apple is working on the OS to enable things like VMware and Parallels to run better.

Besides, as some of the commentary to The Register's article suggests, Apple might hurt itself more than it would help with this sort of move:

(Karl Lattimer writes...) Sounds to me like this is part of some dastardly scheme. Apple wouldn't re-implement Win32 API into OSX, as the WINE project have already proven that takes a lot of time, a lot of effort and a whole hell of a lot of developers and testers.

So, unlikely, perhaps, but think of how cool it would be to have Mac OS X as your operating system and get to use some of those Windows-only applications (and yes, there are some really good ones):

(Saul Dobney writes...) If OSX can allow bits of Windows to run in a sandboxed environment using native DLLs, for instance streaming apps from a server while for all other purposes being a Mac, then Apple may be able to create a migration path for businesses, whilst dangling the prize of a supposedly more secure, more robust and easier to use and easier to support system in front of IT Directors. If it can't it will remain the glossy consumer electronics company it's always been.

I think it's more than that, of course, but I also believe that a Mac that can run Windows applications would be one heck of a value proposition for those who can't seem to leave their Windows machines behind. At that point, why buy a PC at all?

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About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.

     

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