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Apple's New Cluefull Test: Parallels

This thread about, among the usual Scoble blogthink-pumping, buying a ThinkPad vs. a MackBookPro un-fogged a line of thinking I’ve had recently: how Apple “handles” Parallels will be a fantastic test of how cluefull they are vs. how much hubris they have.

A History of Biffing It

While I love my PowerBook and am a shameless Apple fan-boy, Apple is, without a doubt, one of the most clueless companies out there when it comes to embracing the grass-roots developers. Sure, they have winning over hipsters down pat. But when it comes to winning over their new market base — code-monkeys — their record is somewhat spotty.

Examples: DRM, their RSS misadventures in iPhoto, the lack of command-line freak package management, and it’s weird, parallel release train for Java.

Despite all that, once a geek gets his hands on an Apple laptop, they rarely feel the need to stop.

OS X Virtualization

At the moment, when it comes to virtualization, Apple-land is in what feels like a quite before the storm. Parallels is a virtualization engine for Intel based Macs that lets you run Windows, Linux, and OS X side-by side. No dual-booting crap; what the hell was that anyway? Lamest. Stop-gap. Ever.

Not being lucky enough to have a MacBookPro — I’m still on my beloved 12″ PowerBook — I haven’t tried it out myself. However, I’ve talked extensively with several people who have, including one of “my” most recent Apple-converts, who bought a copy of Parallels within hours of me IM’ing him about it.

In summary, Parallels works, and it works well. Sure, there aren’t drivers/adaptors for game-level video card whiz-doodles, but BootCamp needs some reason to exist, I guess.

Virtualization matters for the code-monkey crowd in a big way. I think it was Dick Wall on a recent Java Posse who I last heard articulating how great the tool of virtualization is in coding. In summary, being able to run multiple “machines” on one systems is a huge breakthrough in programming: spinning up a machine on demand is priceless, having multiple OS’s to test our your app is worth it’s weight in gold, and being able to have a virtual computer lab in your lap is speeds up software development.

So, in Parallels we have a working virtualization platform for Intel based OS X. At the same time, we have this nearly slam-dunked opportunity for Apple to capture the top 20-30% of the developer population.

The question is: will Apple h0rk it up?

Getting Konfabulated

Apple is notorious for screwing up it’s ecosystem in favor of trying to own and control the whole market. The most recent example that comes to mind is Konfabulator. Here was Konfabulator, a popular (if not the first, right?) widget platform that worked on Windows and OS X. Seeing a good idea, instead of embracing Konfabulator, Apple just clone-and-owned it with Dashboard.

Don’t get me wrong, Dashboard is great, I use it all the time. But, it’s quite rude to make a move like that and it certainly doesn’t win good will with the finicky developer market. Not to mention that it forks the dashboarding world, which is annoying as piss to a user.

The Pit of Bad-will

It just takes a few rude and/or bonehead moves like that to get people to start writing “ThinkPad4Life” in every slashdot post about Apple. So, dear readers, keep your peepers open for what Apple does in the virtualization space. Will they embrace and encourage Parallels, or will they Konfabulate it?

Either way, I’m such a mindless fan-boy that I’ll still keep telling everyone to get their butts on the Apple train. But my job will be a little harder when I have to admit that you have to watch out for the roaving rude-boys.

(My snark-fest against BootCamp isn’t against it technically: I’m sure it’s great and that the folks who worked on it did quality work. It’s against the product marketing idea that providing a dual-boot app for OS X would be even close to enough of a solution for the problem at hand.)

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6 Responses

  1. You might want to have a look at this little bit of Apple marketing: Seems like they are, for now, embracing Parallels….

  2. While Parallels looks good, I am hoping for VMWare to come out with a version of Workstation 5 for OSX. I have used VMWare on Windows and Linux for the last 3 years and have found it invaluable as a developer. The features added in versions 4 and 5 have taken the workstation product from simply a way to create a simple virtual machine into a proper tool for developers to build and test multitier and multi-OS systems. Looking at Parallels it looks to be lacking these features right now, but it is ahead of where VMWare was for its initial releases. These features I use all the time in VMWare:

    Snapshots: create a backup of a virtual machine with one click and roll back to it.
    Cloned VMs: Clone a clean install of an OS to create multiple VMs that take up less hd space.
    Virtualized Networking: The VM can share your network card, VMware has a built in NAT firewall. You can also isolate the machine or make a private network for a group of VMs
    VM Teams: Start, suspend, run a group of VMs all together. Useful for testing or developing multitiered apps.

    Great, I sound like a VMWare commercial. I have fell in love with VMWare and am not ashamed to admit it.

  3. For my uses, I don’t see BootCamp as a stop-gap solution.

    I see it as the end of the road. My computer time is seperated four ways: Browsing, programming, consuming media, and playing games.

    OS X pwns Windows for the first three (I got a beta version of the WMA decoder for Intel Macs), the only reason I’d ever want to touch the Doze again is to play the next Half-Life 2 expansion. This iMac is pretty beefy, but I doubt it’s beefy enough to run two OSes and a performance demanding game.

    DannoJune 21, 2006 @ 11:14 pm
  4. According to wikipedia you have the history of Konfabulator and Dashboard correct. Konfabulator apparently came out, for OSX initially and then WinXX.

  5. Mik: thanks for the heads-up. It's looking good on this front 😉

Continuing the Discussion

  1. deposit home no phone service