by July 4, 2012 0 comments

Even sans Steve Jobs, Apple’s done it again. It turned a developer conference, something the news media isn’t bothered about when it’s held by Intel or Microsoft or Oracle, into a media event that newspapers and TV channels waited for. Ever hear so much speculation for other events?

Between the hundreds of prophets, every possibility was “guessed” (including purple eggs and better sliced iBread), so not everything was a surprise. History said Apple would update the MacBook and iOS. They did. But what an update. While the big news should have been iOS 6 (200 new features), hardware stole the show. The MacBook Pro made the biggest splash. Retina display, thinner and lighter (closer to the Air, minus the wedge shape), the Pro also did away with “legacy” optical drives and Ethernet. Like the Air. The standard (non-Retina) models are fully revamped, too. But let’s get to the Air.

If you’ve ever gone to an Apple store (or a large computer store) you know the MacBook Air. It’s that super-sleek wedge-shaped silver sliver that people are crowding around. Like many Apple products, it makes you say: Wow.

The MacBook Air, born 2008 and refreshed July 2011 (barring minor changes and the Air 11 in 2010) remains the definitive, pathbreaking ultrabook.

Intel will say it’s not an UltraBook – that’s our brand. Ignore that. The Air created the category. Yes, there were thin-and-light sub-notes (I used a Toshiba Portege a decade ago, even dropping and breaking it in the frenzy of the iPod’s launch by Jobs at MacWorld), but the real, usable, cool ultrabook is the Air.

The Air hasn’t change dramatically in 2012, barring speed increases (1.7GHz Intel Core i5, or 1.8GHz on the 13”, and a dual-core 2GHz Core i7 option). And features like USB 3.0 on both ports, and more memory: 4 GB RAM and 64/128 GB SSD on the Air 11 and 128/256 GB on the Air 13, with upgrade options up to 512 GB. I’d have expected Apple to drop the 64 GB by now, but the base version is still great value at the price.

So why am I going on about the Air? Because it’s the most desirable ultrabook out there–for Windows. Maybe even the best (though as a decade-long ThinkPad user, I have to reserve judgment on that till I really get to using it.)

At CyberMedia Labs, we’ve been running Windows on Mac platforms. You can do that with a virtual environment like VMware Fusion or Parallels Desktop, but we prefer to run it natively, on the Mac hardware (it IS an Intel platform, even if the chipmaker can’t publicly leverage that, for its other compulsions). You could replace MacOS X altogether. Or run both natively, booting into whichever you need – using Apple’s Boot Camp. The 2006 software, introduced soon after the Mac moved to the Intel platform, works well with current Windows versions – we’ve tested it with Windows 8 (consumer preview) on a MacBook Pro.

Why both? While you’d be keen to run Windows for continuity and apps, you wouldn’t want to cut yourself off from the software experience of the Mac. OS X is stunning, and while it is not as intuitive as iOS (for a Windows user), it’s worth trying-and using.

As of mid-June, I’m still waiting for the new Air to come to India so I can buy one – and try out Windows 8 alongside Mac OS X in real life. Stay tuned.

No Comments so far

Jump into a conversation

No Comments Yet!

You can be the one to start a conversation.