Evidence of Windows Vista beta running on Intel-based iMac

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Evidence of Windows Vista beta running on Intel-based iMac

Ireland – This morning, multiple members of the independent group The OSX86 Project posted notices, complete with screen shots, showing recent-model, Intel-based iMac computers running a late beta of Microsoft Windows Vista, with the aid of Apple’s newly released public beta of Boot Camp.

While initial attempts this morning resulted in a less-than-optimum running circumstance, as the afternoon progressed, members helped each other to solve what Microsoft might have wished were more daunting situations. Boot Camp was originally designed to enable iMac users to create a bootable Windows XP partition, separate from the partition reserved for Mac OS X 10.4. But Apple relies on users to supply their own copies of Windows XP on CD-ROM; once the XP partition is set up, Apple steps completely out of the way, almost as though users were setting up the operating system on a bare-bones PC. So the temptation to try Vista Build 5342 was probably far too great.

In first reports, one OSX86 project member stated he’d solved the problem of being able to create a proper Vista partition in the first place, with the bad news being that he had to delete the Mac OS X partition in so doing. Nonetheless, he managed to get Vista running, albeit without the dual-boot option, without a working ATI Radeon graphics driver (the one Apple supplies with Boot Camp is an XP driver), and without the “Aero” 3D-rendered front end. But another user, later in the afternoon, reported success in getting Aero to run, either with a Registry tweak, or by downloading and installing ATI’s Catalyst Control Center for Vista.

A screen shot from this user clearly shows Vista Build 5342, reporting itself as “Vista Ultimate 6.0,” running on a processor listed as “Genuine Intel,” with a BIOS whose manufacturer reports itself as “Apple Computer Inc.” Being able to report this is a feat unto itself, since the iMac doesn’t actually have a BIOS per se.

A few hours prior to this posting, the same user revealed another screen shot showing Vista’s “Flip” program-changing feature, where all open windows are rendered in 3D perspective. He reports that the device currently does not recognize the iMac’s built-in speakers, although external speakers can be attached. The likely reason is because the drivers Apple supplied for Windows XP compatibility do not use the new Vista Device Driver Model (VDDM), and probably won’t do so for at least some time to come.

With evening falling over Ireland, it appears the only way to make Vista run on an iMac at present involves deleting the Mac OS X partition – which some might say defeats the purpose of having an iMac in the first place. Apple already has had a history of not being too pleased with the OSX86 project. In February, the company served a DMCA order on the group, ordering it to cease and desist its efforts to reveal how its Mac OS X 10.4.4 could be patched to run on ordinary PC hardware. The group never actually reported success in this attempt, though after having being taken down for a few days, OSX86’s site currently claims it’s in full compliance with terms of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Companies have recently relied on the terms of this act – which some say leverages anti-terrorism provisions in an effort to defeat software piracy – to prevent others from making copies or alterations to their software or architecture.