Today, it’s possible to take a small chunk of that Apple experience and use it on your own, outside the confines of the expensive ecosystem built specifically for it. The enjoyment won’t be the same, but the whole point is to expand users’ options and give them the choice. We’re referring, of course, to running Mac OS X on any ordinary PC, something that the Cupertino giant does not like, endorse or acknowledge in any way. Apple’s desktop OS is finely tuned to work with its own hardware, software and online services: an entire ecosystem.
Mac OS X has a lot of appeal: the graphics are rich, security is higher than Windows, it’s generally easier for beginners to get used to, and there’s some excellent software available for creative professionals. For most people though, just the “coolness” factor and thrill of getting it working without spending money on Apple hardware are reason enough to try. This is the “reality distortion field” effect that dozens of other companies have tried to emulate over the years, to varying degrees of success.
This has the disadvantage of limiting your choices (and budget range) when it comes to buying a new computer, but it has the advantage of eliminating the thousands of variables that tend to make Windows machines slow or unstable.
Apple has never expressly allowed other brands to sell machines with OS X preinstalled, so you’ll never find a Mac bogged down with “bloatware” added on by third-party manufacturers, and you won’t have to go hunting for a printer driver when you need one, because it’s already built in.
Be warned - Running OS X is a tricky proposition and it’s not endorsed by Apple in any way. You’ll be contravening their end-user license agreement and will not have access to any help or support from them. You also won’t have a Mac-specific keyboard, mouse or trackpad, which will make several shortcuts and gestures impossible to use. This process is not recommended for casual users, or anyone who isn’t familiar with the internal workings of a PC. You run the risk of erasing your hard drive and losing whatever’s on it, so make sure you have backups. Moreover, obtaining a legal copy of Lion, the latest version of OS X, is entirely your responsibility.
What you need
Installing an operating system on hardware not originally designed for it is a tricky process. Apple is famous for building experiences around tightly integrated hardware and software, so problems are bound to crop up when trying to run OS X on unfamiliar components. It's not impossible to run OS X on commodity PC hardware, but this isn't a project to undertake if you're not 100 percent comfortable with your computer's inner workings. As of now, OS X Lion is a bit more difficult to get running than previous versions, Leopard and Snow Leopard. With Lion only recently released, the driver database is understandably small, and it's quite likely that you'll run into compatibility issues and other odd problems. The most frustrating issue we faced was with an incompatible USB keyboard, which caused all sorts of input errors!
Before beginning any experiment, we must emphasize the importance of backing up everything on your computer. Make a list of all hardware and drivers and search online for known problems. Then, if you're sure you understand all the risks and liabilities, you're ready to proceed.