I was shocked and excited when I read about Apple's decision not only allow Mac owners to install Windows on their machines, but also provide software to help them do it. This is certainly big news – so big it is the top story on the New York Times right now. Certainly this is a sign of the growing détente between Apple and Microsoft. Apple recognizes that Windows is the dominating desktop platform at this point and with the Intel chips they can give customers the choice.
I have to imagine all this is also about letting its customers do the Pepsi challenge with Windows and MacOs X. I think Apple will win this battle too. They operating system is much cleaner looking and relatively safer than Windows. I think the delay and shift to Windows Vista will help Apple too. Vista introduces a high end graphical interface and a lot of other features Apple has had for years, Microsoft's acknowledgement that Apple has out-innovated them on the desktop. To capitalize on all the features of Vista, graphically speaking at least, one will need to buy a newer, expensive computer. I expect that when we see the first real Vista-capable (not all "Vista-ready" ones will support the graphics) machines they will carry price tags that are not very different than what Apple is offering.
So next year the cost difference between getting a standard Windows Vista machine or a Mac will not be as significant. And with the power to still use Windows software on your Mac, the decision becomes a lot easier. Macs used to be viewed as an exclusive group of machine, but I think consumer views have changed a lot with the popularity of the iPod. Christmas should be very good for Apple, including its Mac unit.
So my next question is, if Macs can play with Windows, will we see iPods that play with Windows Media? Unlikely in the short term. The recent legislation in France may move things along though. And eventually to continue its dominance, Apple will probably have to adjust. They may not need to open up iTunes though, they just need to make a dual boot iPod or some way to play both file formats. Fight Microsoft on your home turf. Anyway, I am a closet Mac fan and this certainly has me considering buying one soon.