Before anybody became too excited by the potential of multiple-OS Macs, they should remember that the issue of support is a critical one, Kusnetzky said. One benefit of having a computer that runs multiple OSes was that it removed the need for corporate users to install two machines on their desks, in order to run both Mac and Windows applications. But enterprise users tended to shy away from running an OS on a machine without some kind of vendor support.
"That begs the question of who will support it once [Windows] is running," Kesnetzky said.
According to Microsoft, there's nothing that precludes Apple from certifying and supporting Windows on the Mac now that it is an industry standard-based hardware company.
"Just like all of Microsoft's OEMs, Apple can build industry-standard hardware that is compatible with Windows; Microsoft has an open specification and a process for certifying the hardware," a company spokesperson said in a statement.
Apple spokesperson, Teresa Weaver, confirmed that Apple had no plans to sell or support Windows, but said the company was doing nothing in its hardware design to preclude their systems from running the OS.
Mac users have been able to run Windows applications on Macs for some time through emulation software, including a Microsoft product called Virtual PC. Microsoft plans to update that product to run on the new Intel-based Apple machines, but has not disclosed when.
The problem with running Mac applications on Windows through emulation had been performance, president of Canada-based IEmulator.com, John Czlonka, said. His company makes software that enables Windows applications to run alongside Mac ones on Apple hardware, and will have a new version for the Intel-based machines by the end of February.
"The biggest bottleneck to performance has been in translating code meant for PCs to the PowerPC processor on the Mac," he said. "Every emulation solution has run at a fraction of the speed of native code because of this."
The introduction of Intel-based Mac hardware should make the emulation of Windows applications a lot easier and faster, he said. With Mac moving to Intel processors, translating code can be skipped and native PC code can run at the speed it is meant to run, Czlonka said.
Robert McMillan contributed to this article