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Big virtualization win for Mac OS X: Kutz’s prediction comes true

On May 31, 2006, University of Texas-Austin IT systems analyst Andrew Kutz made a prediction: People will soon be running Windows side-by-side with Mac OS X with no difference in the application space.

“It came true this year with Parallels,” said Kutz (who just joined Burton Group as an analyst) to me recently.

Kutz’s prediction appeared in Virtualization, like string theory, can be saved from its hype, one of his first columns for SearchServerVirtualization.com.

Parallels isn’t the only supporter of Mac OS X virtualization in town. On his blog, Kimbro Staken — CTO of JumpBox Inc. — discussed the other players in this space, saying:

“VirtualBox is a new entry in the virtualization space and is particularly interesting because it has been Open Sourced under the GPL license. This makes the Mac OS X virtualization space a three way race with Parallels, VMWare Fusion and now VirtualBox all having offerings available. Parallels is still the clear leader thanks to its head start and solid Windows integration, but the competition is definitely heating up.”

Kutz scored on this prediction, but I think his call on the outcome of this development is off base. First, let’s look at what he wrote. The column starts out with a bang:

“This article will show that, just as Dr. Edward Witten saved string theory by condensing many efforts and ideas into one elegant theory, Mac OS X is poised to do the same for virtualization by fusing the many implementations of virtualization into one practical and marketable consumer product.”

He doesn’t finish with a whimper:

“Apple is in the best position to become the new leader in a world of consumer virtualization. And they will do so with style, simplicity and elegance.”

Like most Mac enthusiasts, I think Kutz is over-optimistic. I don’t think virtualization, even via an open source product like VirtualBox, will push Apple out of its niches in the consumer market. Some power users — particularly in the graphics, video and music fields — will take advantage of the opportunity to run Mac OS X on commodity hardware; but mainstream users aren’t going to bother.

On the business side, corporate graphics departments will like this development, and their IT managers will enjoy the cost savings of not having to buy separate boxes for those folks.

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