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Windows XP and iMac a cool combination

Boots faster, runs faster -- but there are a couple of thorny issues

EDMONTON - Should we trash our Dell, HP, Lenovo and every other Windows computer made today, in favour of Apple's newest Intel chip computers? After all, now that the new Macs also runWindows XP, why bother with boxy-looking computers when you can have the best of both worlds in one slick designer computer like the iMac?

The Journal walked the walk with Apple's free Boot Camp program, available off their website, www.apple.ca.

DOES IT WORK?

Does it work? Yes it does, but before slapping a Windows XP CD into your new Intel iMac, mini or MacBook Pro, like I did, read this first.

Sure, it's relatively easy, but it takes several preparation stages before the actual Windows XP installation. The whole affair takes about one hour.

Beginners should print the Boot Camp manual first for easy reference.

And, like all computer manuals say, back up your important files.

Once installed, my first reaction was ... amazement.

How cool to be able to run the David and Goliath of operating systems in one computer.

BOOTS FASTER ON IMAC

I found Windows XP boots faster on the iMac than it does on comparable IBM clone PCs and runs most Windows programs faster, thanks to the latest Intel Core Duo chip, actually two chips that can work simultaneously.

Some programs, like Photoshop, ran a surprising 50 per cent faster on Windows than on the Mac OS X emulation mode -- older programs for Intel Apple computers are being rewritten to run fast on any Apple.

Everything I threw at the iMac Windows XP -- Microsoft Office 2003, SlingBox Internet-based TV, serious Windows test gaming programs like 3D Mark 03/05, Quake 4, Microsoft Flight Simulator -- ran flawlessly.

In fact, I was able to run all the above programs simultaneously during testing, something Apple can't do as well.

Ripping and burning audio CDs was a tad faster in Windows Media Player compared to Apple's iTunes, and wireless Bluetooth worked well with my Logitech diNovo cordless keyboard and mouse.

I managed to crash Windows once, by trying to access the built-in but unsupported iSight video camera. Apple has decided to make that available only for its own Mac OS X. Pity.

And Quake 4 for Windows XP does not support the faster dual-core functionality on the Apple computer, as it does on Windows-based PCs.

But with gaming benchmarks between 4,000 and 6,000 measured with 3DMark03, thanks to ATI's 1600 peppy video card, games looked good enough to please everyone but hard-core gamers.

Switching between the two systems requires rebooting and takes a minute or two.

One hint: Choosing NTFS format for the Windows partition installation, instead of Fat 32, keeps you from sharing Windows files when your iMac is running in Apple mode. Otherwise, save and share files between the two systems with USB memory sticks or CD and DVD disks.

The Apple keyboard worked well, but Windows keyboards were more familiar and worked as well.

IS IT FOR YOU?

"With the fact there is no support for Boot Camp, it won't be something the average consumer will be getting into," said Tim Abott, general sales manager with CompuSmart WestEnd.



Windows XP and iMac a cool combination - Monday, April 10, 2006 -

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