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Cherry OS Sweetens Mac on Windows

For years, Macintosh users have been resigned to using virtualization products to run Windows applications.

Now, a startup in Hawaii has joined the short list of companies turning the tables.

MXS (which stands for Maui X-Stream) officially launched its CherryOS for Windows 98, 2000 or XP. The software translator lets users install Apple's Mac OS X "Panther" on a computer running on x86 chips. Apple's own computers run on either Motorola or IBM processors. The software follows in the footsteps of other emulators like MacWindows, Emulators.com and PearPC.

Cherry's OS is available as a download for USD$49.95 but you have to find your own Mac software. The virtual machine also has complete access to the computer's hardware resources including, hard drive, CPU, RAM, FireWire, USB, PCI, PCMIA BUS and RJ45/Ethernet and modem. The company said 3D acceleration is currently under development.

Inventor and developer Arben Kryeziu said he came up with the idea for Cherry OS because he was tired of carrying around two laptops to do his work.

"If PC users would use Mac software to get e-mail, perhaps they would avoid viruses, Trojans and spyware," Kryeziu said in a statement. "You can build and test applications for a Mac on your development PC, test Web site design for Mac Web browsers without having to buy the hardware, run OS X and use your favorite Mac apps on a PC."

Kryeziu told internetnews.com he has been overwhelmed with the response already.

"I am in the middle of interviews, setting up our license server, reconfiguring the CherryOS server and shopping cart. I am crazy busy," he said.

But what Cherry gains in ability, it loses in performance. The company said its users should expect to get about 80 percent of the x86 processor's power when working in the Apple Environment. For example a 3.2GHz Pentium 4 would run as fast as an 800 MHz G4 machine, the company said.

"Emulating modern operating systems is slow," Ben Gross, an analyst with Ferris Research told internetnews.com. "I used to use VMware to run Windows under Linux and Linux under Windows. Now I have Virtual PC to run Windows on my Mac. In almost all cases, it's useful for when I really need to try something, but slow enough where it would not be worth it to me to run it on a daily basis."

Gross also points out that the project may have a high geek publicity value, but most IT shops will pass on it since OS X costs $130, bringing the total to run OS X under Windows to be at least $180.

"It seems more likely that someone with a Mac might be required to run a piece of Windows software (say Outlook, Visio, Project, some specialized application for employee tracking) than someone with a Windows machine would be required to run Mac software," Gross said. "We are a ways off from something like Final Cut Pro running at a non-maddening speed."

Gross said the other loophole that might deter enterprise from downloading en masse may be Apple's "Use and Restrictions" agreement. The license allows a user to install and use one copy of the Apple software on a "single Apple-labeled computer" at a time.

"This means it is technically illegal to use the CherryOS software -- although I can't imagine the license holding up to a legal challenge," Gross said. "I wonder if I could just pull the sticker off my Mac and put it on my PC and then run the software on a 'labeled' computer."