HolidayBuyer's Guide

Week in review: Apple shapes up with Boot Camp

As the Mac maker gets its XP-on-Mac app up and running, Microsoft makes nice with open source.

It seemed a bit like a belated April Fools' Day hoax: Apple welcomed Windows, while Microsoft cozied up with Linux.

Apple Computer released this week a public beta version of software that enables Microsoft Windows XP to run natively on Intel-based Macs. Boot Camp, which will be included in Mac OS X 10.5, called Leopard, is available for download now.

Apple didn't specifically mention plans to support running Vista, the long-delayed update to the Windows operating system now expected early next year. Microsoft wouldn't comment on whether the Apple software will work with Vista.

Also unclear is what the Mac maker's move will mean for sales of Windows-based PCs. Market researcher IDC has already scaled back PC sales forecasts for the year, due in part to the Vista delay. And some analysts expect Apple sales to rise as a result of the holdup of Vista.

Judging from the response Apple received to the announcement, there is a lot of interest in Boot Camp. But there are hardware requirements and security issues that need to considered before installing the software. CNET News.com has prepared an FAQ to address those concerns.

Apple's announcement was met with mixed reaction from CNET News.com readers.

"After years of having two computers to be creative and business-like, now we will have both (in) one machine," wrote Dennis O'Connor in News.com's TalkBack forum.

Not everyone's outlook is as rosy.

"If Apple considers itself so greatly better than anything else in the universe, what is the need to get their hands (and products) dirty with a full install of Windows?" wrote Nicola Ferralis.

Meanwhile, Microsoft was busy trying to make friends with the open-source community. The software titan plans to launch a Web site to share the activities of its internal Linux laboratories, an effort to sample feedback from customers who combine Microsoft and open-source software. Microsoft revealed its plans at the LinuxWorld Conference and Expo in Boston.

The software giant--and fierce Linux foe--runs a 300-server Linux installation at its Redmond, Wash., headquarters to do competitive analysis and test how open-source products, including Linux, work with Microsoft software. The goal of Port 25--named for the router port number that corporations use for Internet e-mail--is to foster more communication with Microsoft customers who use open-source software.

Ad games
General Motors wasn't laughing after a do-it-yourself ad campaign for a GM SUV was hijacked by critics of the company and thousands of negative ads flooded the Web. As part of a partnership with the TV show "The Apprentice," GM launched a contest last month to promote the Chevy Tahoe SUV. The contest challenges viewers to create their own digital commercial about the SUV at Chevyapprentice.com. Entrants must choose from a range of video clips and soundtracks and write their own text to create their ad.

Over the weekend, hundreds of people used the Internet to circulate thousands of videos that charged GM with contributing to global warming, protested the war in Iraq or just demeaned the Tahoe's quality. Some videos also contained profanity or sexually explicit messages.

Of course, not all consumer-generated marketing is negative. Perhaps the best Sony "ad" last year was created by an 18-year-old customer. The slick video features a stereo system that shape-shifts its way into different electronics devices courtesy of mind-bending "Matrix"-like special effects.

In a world where blogs are as common as bumper stickers and YouTube.com has made viral videos as hot as Napster downloads were in their heyday, it's no wonder marketers are looking to John Q. Public for ideas. Corporations are jumping on the viral bandwagon in an attempt to appeal to a population for which disparaging advertising has become a rallying cry.

Meanwhile, inexpensive digital cameras, more-powerful computers, easy-to-use editing and publishing software, and the proliferation of broadband makes it easy for anyone with a laptop and some imagination to express himself or herself in hitherto out-of-reach ways.

Certainly, advertising is getting more personal--or at least it seems that way for Google. From the looks of a new Web page on its Google Base site, Google must be . A visit to the main page of Google Base shows among the numerous categories--ranging now from coupons and clinical trials to events, jobs, cars and housing--is an area called "People Profiles." Clicking on People Profiles brings up a page with seemingly recent submissions. So maybe Google's April Fools' Day prank about launching the Google Romance dating service wasn't a joke after all.

Going mobile
San Francisco has selected a joint bid by EarthLink and Google to provide San Francisco with a wireless network. Under the proposal, which the two companies submitted to the city in February, free and paid wireless service will be available throughout the city.

Chris Vein, executive director of the Department of Telecommunications and Information Services for San Francisco, said he expects that negotiations with Google and EarthLink will go smoothly and that work on building out the network could begin this year and be completed within a few months. Privacy was one of the issues considered by San Francisco TechConnect, the committee that selected the EarthLink proposal, Vein said, adding that the panel "felt comfortable enough with the total package of the deal that we should negotiate with EarthLink and Google on issues like privacy and security going forward."

Microsoft has won its biggest contract to date for the use of its Windows Mobile operating system, in a deal with the U.S. Census Bureau. The agency has signed up for 500,000 smart phones made by handset manufacturer HTC. They will run Windows Mobile 5.0 and be used to take the 2010 census.

It is a high-tech move for the agency. The bureau had previously used paper and pen to record details about U.S. citizens that were then digitized by data-entry staff. The deal is not only the largest Microsoft has ever received for mobile devices but also one of the biggest public deals for smart phones in the industry.

Social networking Web sites such as MySpace.com, which will soon go mobile, could become key applications driving data usage on new 3G wireless networks. For years, mobile operators, which have spent billions of dollars to upgrade their networks to 3G wireless technologies, have tried to get customers to do more than talk on their cell phones. Despite their efforts, the vast majority of revenue still comes from voice calling.

In the past, people using social networking services could access them only from their desktops or laptops. But now social networking is going mobile, allowing people to use their cell phones to upload pictures or send updates to blogs.

In March, MySpace announced a deal with the soon-to-be-launched wireless reseller Helio. And earlier this week, Facebook announced deals with Cingular Wireless, Sprint Nextel and Verizon Wireless to enable people to post messages to their Facebook profiles via SMS text messaging. Flickr also lets people post and view photos from their handsets. Sprint Nextel has created its own photo-sharing site, called PCS Picture mail. It's expected to launch this spring.

Also of note
A Republican-controlled House Energy and Commerce subcommittee defeated a proposal that would have imposed extensive regulations on broadband providers and prevented them from offering higher-speed video services to partners or affiliates...Microsoft released an upgraded version of a wireless optical mouse intended for laptop users and plans to introduce two new desktop mice--one laser and one optical--by this summer...A consulting firm with a background in lightning warning systems has come up with a fabric that takes the powerful sting out of being hit with a stun gun or a cattle prod.

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