updated 3/17/2006 9:54:29 PM ET 2006-03-18T02:54:29

As expected, hackers have found a way to run Microsoft Corp.'s Windows XP operating system on new Macintosh computers, winning an ad hoc contest and a $13,854 cash prize to boot.

Or, make that dual-boot — the way to make a computer switch between two operating systems.

Some users of Apple Computer Inc.'s Macs have clamored for such a solution since Apple said it would be switching its computers to Intel Corp.'s chips, putting the feat within reach.

Their reasons vary, but a common denominator is that they would like to run Windows-based programs on their Macs. (Microsoft is a partner in the MSNBC.com joint venture.)

Colin Nederkoorn, a shipping broker in Houston, says he just wants to streamline his work: instead of using his Apple PowerBook computer for some programs and a Windows PC for other tasks, he'd like to just use one machine.

That's why Nederkoorn, 23, started a contest back in January to goad programmers, soliciting donations for a cash prize for anyone who came up with a hack.

‘The tech community will benefit’
Late Thursday, the prize went to two San Francisco Bay Area software developers, Jesus Lopez, 33, of Alameda, and Eric Wasserman, 41, of Berkeley.

Lopez said he did most of the technical work — spending late nights and weekends on the challenge — while Wasserman, a devoted Mac user, introduced him to the contest in February and supported him in the process.

Lopez, who never even owned a Mac computer until he had to get one to assume the challenge, said in an interview Friday that his previous tinkering projects were all personal. "But this is something that I feel a lot of people could use, and that the tech community will benefit from this," he said.

Developers continue work
On Friday, Nederkoorn's Web site was busy with collaboration between developers working to improve upon Lopez' work. Nederkoorn said the so-called "Windows on Mac" project is open-sourced, meaning anyone can build on it.

The hack, which is downloadable from the Web site, still takes some tedious labor and technical know-how, but Nederkoorn predicts an easier version for mainstream computer users might be available within a year.

"It should be as easy as two clicks at some stage," he said.

When Apple introduced its first Intel-based computer in January, company officials said Apple has no intention of selling or supporting Windows on its machines, though it has not done anything to preclude people from doing it themselves.

"If there are people who love our hardware but are forced to put up with a Windows world, then that's OK," Senior Vice President Phil Schiller said at the time.

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