No Vista on Mac's horizon

Apple senior architect says the OSes' different ways of booting up is a big obstacle to running the next Windows on Macs.

Ina Fried Former Staff writer, CNET News
During her years at CNET News, Ina Fried changed beats several times, changed genders once, and covered both of the Pirates of Silicon Valley.
Ina Fried
2 min read
SAN FRANCISCO--Hoping your Intel Mac will easily run Windows Vista?

Don't bet on it, one Apple Computer engineer said Thursday.

One of the big obstacles is that although both the Macintosh OS and Windows now use Intel chips, the two operating systems have different ways of booting up.

Mac fans have held out considerable hope that the next version of Windows would be easier to load on Macs than Windows XP, because like Mac OS X, Vista will use Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI) to aid the boot process. Older versions of Windows have used Basic Input Output System (BIOS).

IDF Spring 2006

However, Apple Senior Software Architect Cameron Esfahani said that his understanding is that only 64-bit versions of Vista will support EFI. To this point, all of the Intel Macs have used 32-bit chips.

"I don't think so" he said, when asked whether Intel Macs should easily run Vista. Esfahani was speaking at the Intel Developer Forum here--to a packed room despite the session being the last of the conference.

In addition, while EFI has prospects for supporting many older types of software and hardware, Apple has not included much of that "legacy" code in its EFI implementation.

"Windows is a legacy OS," he said to laughter and applause from the crowd. "We don't have legacy support."

Ever since Apple released the first Intel Macs--and even before--enthusiasts have been trying to get both the Mac OS running on non-Apple machines and Windows booting on Intel Macs. Both tasks have proved thorny, with myriad issues both legal and technical that must be overcome.

Apple has said that it won't stop Mac owners from running, or trying to run, Windows on their Macs, but it has said it is not supporting such efforts, a point Esfahani's talk made all the more clear. On the other hand, Apple has taken steps to prohibit people running Mac OS X on anything other than Apple's own hardware.

Apple announced last June that it would move the entire Mac product line to Intel-based chips. The first Intel Macs, a revamped iMac and the MacBook Pro laptop debuted in January. Earlier this month, Apple added an Intel-based Mac Mini.

In more bad news for the Vista-on-Mac crowd, Microsoft reportedly told another IDF session on Thursday that the initial release of Vista won't be supporting EFI at all.

APCmag.com reported that a Microsoft panelist told IDF attendees that EFI support won't be coming until some later release of Vista.