The curse of an incestuous online media

It’s been a fascinating few days since the launch of the Intel-based Macs to watch the way the online media feeds off each other.

Someone posted a story based on some bad presumptions, saying that Intel Macs couldn’t boot Windows because Apple is using the new EFI rather than BIOS (and Windows XP can’t boot on an EFI machine).

Then everyone copied it without questioning the presumptions. The story ripped across the web like gas in a crowded office, making top spot on Slashdot, BetaNews, Arstechnica, OSNews etc. But none of the stories quoted any sources from Microsoft or Intel confirming the facts.

The original article was presumably based on some key facts that can be turned up quickly when searching Google for “EFI” and “Windows”: that Windows XP does not support EFI natively and cannot boot on an EFI system, and that EFI is primarily used for 64-bit Itanium servers.

It’s not hard to see why the story ‘caught’ so quickly. From a News Editor’s perspective, it has great appeal, because it’s a major a ‘downer’ that will affect a lot of readers. Plenty of people have been looking forward to the prospect of a Mac that can be dual-booted to Windows (or Linux, or any other x86 operating system).

I wondered whether anyone had done any basic journalistic research and bothered to pick up the phone to ask a few basic questions.

I did, and the answer from Intel’s Australian PR guy was unexpected: Intel has had EFI on all its 945-chipset motherboards for a while now, and they boot Windows just fine.

I thought it had been weird that Apple’s Vice President of Worldwide Marketing would have said that Apple didn’t mind if people ran Windows on their MacIntel … if it wasn’t possible from the get-go.

It’s certainly not as simple as “XP can boot on EFI” – further research revealed that Apple would have needed to have implemented something called an EFI “Compatibility Support Module (CSM)” which effectively makes the EFI look like a standard BIOS to legacy operating systems. There’s no guarantee that Apple has done that, and it’s impossible to confirm right now since Apple hasn’t given anyone access to a MacIntel machine to confirm it.

But I still reckon it’s rank that so many high profile tech sites reported something as a certainty when at best it’s very unsure at this stage.

My full report on it for ACPMag.com is here: Intel Macs may boot XP after all

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2 thoughts on “The curse of an incestuous online media

  1. Rob Irwin

    Right on, but the more interesting tale, which we stuck on the cover of last week’s ARN, is that people aren’t too jazzed about running their apps through Rosetta, and consequently local pre-orders on the Macbook Pro are down on what they were for the G4.

  2. Rob Irwin

    Right on, but the more interesting tale, which we stuck on the cover of last week’s ARN, is that people aren’t too jazzed about running their apps through Rosetta, and consequently local pre-orders on the Macbook Pro are down on what they were for the G4.

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