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Unraveling the Red Box Myth
According to proponents of the Red Box Myth, Mac OS X will supposedly soon run Windows software natively, perhaps as soon as Leopard 10.5. They're wrong; here's why.

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The Red Box Myth is based entirely on speculation circulated by rumor sites; Apple has never mentioned the Red Box as even a possibility, nor have they ever suggested even casual interest in natively running Windows software as part of the core feature set in Mac OS X. Where did the idea come from, why is it repeated so often, and how can it be disproved?

Why the Myth was Woven
The Red Box Myth began nearly ten years ago, when Apple started drawing pictures of colored boxes to convey a simplified view of Mac OS X development. The point of the diagrams was to show how the new OS would be able to run both programs designed for Cocoa/OpenStep, referred to as the "Yellow Box", and Carbon/Classic Mac software, called the "Blue Box."

Other boxes were drawn to represent conceptual API functions of the Core OS, the Java VM, QuickTime media layer, the BSD subsystem, and so on, but none of these were assigned a specific color.

People with no engineering background suddenly jumped to the conclusion that adding the capability to run new software in Mac OS X would merely require... adding another colored box to the diagram. The most obvious opportunity for a new colored box would be one to run Windows software, and thus began the myth of the Red Box.

Despite a complete lack of evidence or even any hint of interest within Apple, rumormongers started expressing, not just as a possibility but as a certainty, that at some future point, Apple would add a Red Box to their diagram and suddenly Mac OS X would fuse with the Windows platform in a holy union of bliss, and suddenly anyone with Mac OS X could just run anything ever, and it would work, and Nirvana would be attained.

This myth is of the wishful thinking type, making it more of an irritating distraction from reality than devious misinformation. The myth persists because it is a populist idea that meshes well with other myths, including the Utopian System that Runs All Software Imaginable Myth, the Copy/Paste OS Development Myth, and the Microsoft Invincibility Myth.

The Myth Weavers
Since the Red Box myth has straggled along for nearly a decade, it has achieved the near unquestionable status of apparent certainty. It occasionally rears its ugly face in the breathless commentary of teenagers on rumor websites, or on one of those two websites that represent the sad state of tech journalism in the United Kingdom. (Seriously, I'd like to Register an Inquiry: is the UK really that technically inept, or does the problem lie with British journalism?)

The most recent Red Box fantasy however, was nailed to the web by none other than the American Robert X Cringely, who confused Apple's new "BootCamp" firmware tool with... the initial step in a comprehensive Windows Strategy by Apple Computer that portends to the advent of Red Box and even a possible replacement of Mac OS X with Windows Vista.

In a recent flurry of articles, Cringely scribbles up a veritable epic of interrelated tech myths which take violent twists and turns and make random stabs in various directions. All together, it reads something like a soap opera and something like a upstart challenge to Sciencefictiontology. I hope Cringely intends to merely sell advertising with it, rather than start a new disinformation cult, but regardless of his motives, the ideas he's juggling are absurd and well, need to be put to rest.

In particular, the Red Box Myth is old, tired and stale. It's time to put it down for good. So, Mr. Cringely, I hope you can make time to read this.

Continued: Unraveled with Extreme Prejudice


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