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Mac fans sign up for Boot Camp

Going against type, the Apple faithful are optimistic about bringing Windows XP to Intel-based Macs.

Perhaps hell has frozen over.

That could explain the Macintosh community's surprisingly upbeat reaction to Apple Computer's announcement of software enabling the running of Windows on Macs.

Normally, of course, Mac addicts are as likely to sneer at anything having to do with Microsoft's operating system as they are to breathe.

But on Wednesday, when Apple announced Boot Camp--software currently in beta that will make it possible to run Windows XP on Intel-based Macs and will be incorporated in the next major upgrade to Mac OS X--the Mac community went against type, filling Mac forums with optimistic praise for the new software.

"As a Macintosh user for more than two decades, (I find) the announcement about Boot Camp...reassuring," Ishan Bhattacharya, a doctor in Timonium, Md., told CNET News.com. "I do not like the Windows (graphical user interface), but there are applications available on that platform I would like to use at home without (having) to buy a dull beige box. Now I can do that, and so (I) have ordered an (Intel-based) iMac."

Others who already have Intel-based Macs want to wait no longer, particularly because they think that by bringing Windows video drivers to their Macs, they will be able to run graphics-intensive, Windows-only games on them.

"I love the way (Boot Camp) is so simple to use," Jamie Harris of London said. "I also like the idea of proper video drivers--as this opens up a whole catalog of games."

To Colin Cornaby, a Seattle student who develops OS X software, Boot Camp provides a bridge for people who have been scared to migrate to Macs after years of using Windows.

"Apple hasn't really provided much of a migration path to get from Mac OS X to Windows," Cornaby said. "Now they have provided a way (for people) to run existing software and work in a familiar environment while they get to know OS X."

Of course, not all Mac fans are so sure Apple's move is smart. Some worry that Boot Camp might discourage makers of software like Adobe Systems' Photoshop from developing Mac-only software.

"If consumers can run Windows on Apple products, where's the incentive for developers to port their applications to OS X?" asked Bryan Kennedy, a Mac fan from Dallas. "I know I wouldn't want to waste my money rewriting my software to run on OS X when my software runs natively on Windows, running on the world's best hardware."

In any case, on its Boot Camp Web page, Apple makes a point to contrast the Mac's reputation for being secure with Windows' well-publicized problems.

"Sadly, Windows XP and even the upcoming Vista are stuck in the 1980s with old-fashioned BIOS," Apple's site says. "But with Boot Camp, the Mac can operate smoothly in both centuries. Windows running on a Mac is like Windows running on a PC. That means it'll be subject to the same attacks that plague the Windows world."

And some Mac fans are enjoying Apple's snarky references to Windows security holes.

"The little sarcastic comments on Apple's Boot Camp Web page directed toward Windows XP are just an added bonus," Bhattacharya said.