Leopard Recognizes Windows Executable Format, Virtualization in the Works?

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An interesting observation was noted on the Wine mailing list. As it turns out, new in Leopard is the ability to load and understand Windows Portable Executable (PE) files which is the common format for Windows applications and libaries. Understandably, the author raises a number of questions about the discovery:
So this leads to the question. Whats going on? Is this a hold over from EFI which is PE by default? Why would the OS need to load the EFI files? Maybe just for easy of development and testing? Or is something else going on? Is Apple going to be adding a win32 compatibility layer to OS X? Is having a loader of any use to us?
This, of course, leads some people to the most dramatic conclusion: that Apple may be integrating Windows virtualization into Mac OS X itself. Of course, rumors of this possibility had been circulating for the months prior to Leopard's official release.

One developer we contacted about this thought it was very unlikely and felt that this parsing of PE files may simply be the product of Apple's ongoing work with Safari and iTunes for Windows. He also noted that simply parsing PE files is a far step from being able to actually run Windows applications.

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xUKHCx

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Jan 15, 2006
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The Kop
This sounds interesting, the iTunes excuse doesn't seem to fly after all iTunes for Windows was around hell of a long time before Leopard. Wonder what it could mean, probably nothing.
 

Geek 2.0

macrumors member
Mar 28, 2007
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so what does this mean? does it mean i can install windows apps on leopard??? i doubt it does, but i sure hope so, b/c then i can run games w00t (maybe not, but still i'm excited)
 

diamond.g

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Mar 20, 2007
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Sounds like OS/2 to me...

I don't think it is a good idea for Apple to go down that route at all. The idea is to get people away from Windows not invite UI problems.
 

0racle

macrumors regular
Jun 20, 2007
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This sounds interesting, the iTunes excuse doesn't seem to fly after all iTunes for Windows was around hell of a long time before Leopard. Wonder what it could mean, probably nothing.
That iTunes on windows was around long before Leopard adds to the suggestion it is related to that work. It could simply be that now they are working off of a more unified code base and Leopard was where that unification became apparent.

I also agree that it means nothing. `file` on a ia32 UNIX/Linux can tell you a file is a PPC or ia64 executable but that doesn't mean someone is working on something in the kernel to let a ia32 execute a PPC or ia64 binary.

EDIT: hit a tab when I didn't mean to.
 

goosnarrggh

macrumors 68000
May 16, 2006
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Wild speculation:
Could be the first step toward introducing native support for the supposedly platform-independent .NET runtime (or the open-source Mono equivalent).

While not strictly speaking Win32 binaries (or even i386 binaries of any sort for that matter), applications built for .NET are also wrapped up using the PE file format by default .
 

xUKHCx

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Jan 15, 2006
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That iTunes on windows was around long before Leopard adds to the suggestion it is related to that work. It could simply be that now they are working off of a more unified code base and Leopard was where that unification became apparent.

I also agree that it means nothing. `file.


Windows support was added 16/10/2003, Tiger was released 29/04/2005. Why didn't they unify the code based back with Tiger. Not saying you are wrong but it seems a little out but then again this is Apple.
 

sunfast

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Oct 14, 2005
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Whilst I'm keen not to read too much into this, I would certainly be concerned about the future of mac apps if this becamwe a reality.
 

JC4

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Apr 19, 2006
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No way. Think of the support headaches if you claim windows app compatibility. Better VM support sure, but Apple wont directly support Windows apps in OS X.

JohnC
 

DrMoray

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Jun 20, 2007
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North Carolina
I would love to see Windows apps run right in OSX. I'm sure Apple could do it if they wanted to, but they have to have a reason. Leopard with Bootcamp is having it's effect. People are buying Macs. When the bootcamp luster starts to fade a bit, because rebooting or even virtualization have their limits, it could prompt Apple to release such a feature in 10.6 or whatever.

Technically possible, but I'm still left thinking "Why would Apple do this?"
 

tkidBOSTON

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Aug 14, 2005
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Sweet, I can't wait til I can launch a windows virus in OS X!


...Okay fine, so maybe this news doesn't lead us down that road just yet. I'm not quite there on the technical knowledge to be able to come to a rational conclusion so this is the one I drew. Hopefully I'm way off base.
 

williedigital

macrumors 6502
Oct 4, 2005
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No way. Think of the support headaches if you claim windows app compatibility. Better VM support sure, but Apple wont directly support Windows apps in OS X.

JohnC
Couldn't they limit it to only windows apps that they "approve" kinda like how they approve dashboard widgets? They could release an xcode-like software package that would allow developers to convert their windows apps to a format that by and large fits the osx interface design guidelines. Couldn't they?
 

Small White Car

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Aug 29, 2006
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Neither do I. Apple has already stated that Bootcamp could hurt Mac built apps. I doubt they would allow windows apps to run on OS X. That could doom the Mac app industry.
Exactly. Boot Camp and Parallels and Fusion are all ok because they present a slight barrier. Someone has to go out and spend money on Windows and then maintain 2 different OSes. It's great that this exists, but let's face it; the 'average' Mac user isn't going to mess with all that stuff.

But if you could just run Windows apps right in Leopard, a LOT of developers would stop writing Mac versions of their software and just tell you to buy the Windows version. That would suck because (1) performance would obviously not be optimized for the Mac and (2) it would look like s**t to have various Windows-themed software mixed in with Mac-looking software.

But if Apple did do this, that's what we'd be stuck with more and more. Macs would stop being "Computers that run any OS" and suddenly become "Computers that run software worse than Windows does."

So it's ok for SOME Mac users to run Windows software but it's not ok for ALL Mac users to run Windows software. I don't think you'll ever see Apple go beyond Boot Camp.
 

IJ Reilly

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Jul 16, 2002
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Lest we forget, virtualization is already possible. The real question is whether Apple would prefer to do have users virtualize Apple's way or somebody else's way. Given what we know about Apple's interest in controlling the user experience, I think it's only a matter of time before Apple provides users with a method for doing this. The more they see third-party solutions being used, the more likely this becomes. Remember the lesson of Boot Camp!
 

Darkroom

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Dec 15, 2006
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i'm not a PC gamer, so i can't remember the last time i wanted/needed to use windows for anything...

EDIT: ok, maybe it's nice to have the use of IE7 for web development testing... but seriously... i can't think of anything else.
 

flopticalcube

macrumors G4
I would be happy with fast OS switching alone. Seems much easier to implement than virtualization as most of the components are there already. Alternatively, Apple could be laying down a framework for VMware/Parallels to build on where you could install and run all your Windows apps from you HFS+ boot drive.
 

Mykbibby

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Jun 1, 2007
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Palm Springs, CA
Windows virtualization will never be included with an OS produced by Apple. It just doesn't make sense. Here's Apple, bragging to the world about how its OS is superior to Windows, and they don't ever have to deal with viruses, etc. and to include Windows virtualization support standard wouldn't make sense. Steve sums it up best... We'll offer Boot Camp, and if you wan't something more, there are some great virtualization products available.
 

tvon

macrumors newbie
Aug 17, 2006
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Listen to the voice of reason. Apple is not going to spend the time and money to bring the Windows experience to OSX. It would be a constant headache, and there are already companies out there willing to shoulder the burden.
 

SthrnCmfrtr

macrumors 6502
Aug 20, 2007
310
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I wouldn't fight with Apple purchasing Parallels.

But this? Way too many problems.

I had to use Boot Camp for a few days there, and it was nice. If it's not 3D, Parallels is fine the way it is.

I agree with what others have said about seriously harming OS X app development.
 

Krevnik

macrumors 68040
Sep 8, 2003
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Lest we forget, virtualization is already possible. The real question is whether Apple would prefer to do have users virtualize Apple's way or somebody else's way. Given what we know about Apple's interest in controlling the user experience, I think it's only a matter of time before Apple provides users with a method for doing this. The more they see third-party solutions being used, the more likely this becomes. Remember the lesson of Boot Camp!
The lesson of Boot Camp is that Apple and the hackers were both working to get Windows running on the Intel systems. As much as I would like to believe that Apple got the idea from hackers and pushed it out ASAP, the level of work provided with the first Boot Camp beta tells me that the project was going on for awhile internally, but they hadn't intended to release until Leopard. In that situation, it is a bit dangerous to let the hackers run free with their booting solution, and prompted Apple to release the beta. Companies (even Apple) just aren't as agile as the public assumes they are.

williedigital said:
Couldn't they limit it to only windows apps that they "approve" kinda like how they approve dashboard widgets? They could release an xcode-like software package that would allow developers to convert their windows apps to a format that by and large fits the osx interface design guidelines. Couldn't they?
Uhm, what? Widgets aren't 'approved' by Apple, and you don't need Dashcode to make them.

Plus, such technology would be a monster to create and maintain. Far far more complicated than WINE or a virtualization tool (which are complex on their own). It would actually just be easier to give devs better porting tools.
 

longofest

Editor emeritus
Jul 10, 2003
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I'm in 100% agreement with the developer that we talked to.

Parsing an executable is a LONG way from running it. If you had a progress chart, you'd be at about .5%. I'm being absolutely serious. There are just too many supporting libraries that would need to be RELIABLY reverse-engineered (or licensed) in order to have the apps run.
 
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