Saturday, June 24, 2006

Running Windows On A Mac!

Now that Apple have finally jumped on the Intel processor bandwagon, the possibilities for running Windows on Macintosh hardware start to look much more friendly. First let's get the previous solution out of the way…

Microsoft Virtual PC for Mac I've had cause to try and use Microsoft's Virtual PC for Mac several times over the years and it has never, ever managed to hit my expectations on usability. My last experience of trying it out was with a 1Ghz iMac G4, 1Gb RAM and version 7 of Virtual PC for Mac. I set up sessions for Windows 98 SE, Windows 2000 and Windows XP and only the Windows 98 setup came close to being acceptable. The others were simply painfully slow, so much so that they were absolutely unusable.

Virtual PC for Mac does not currently run on Intel based Macintosh systems and the company's latest quote on the subject is "We are working with Apple to determine the feasibility of developing Virtual PC for Mac for Intel-based Macs.". With their stated lag time for releasing new versions of Microsoft Office for Macintosh being every 2-3 years, that means we could be waiting until 2007 until a compatible version appears.

…and now onto the interesting stuff…

Apple Boot Camp With the arrival of Intel based Macs, Apple finally gave in to pressure and released the beta version of their own solution, which is due for inclusion in the upcoming new version of Mac OS X, Leopard. Apple Boot Camp provides a straightforward means of letting an Intel based Mac run Windows.

First, it creates a partition on the hard drive to allow you to install the Windows operating system and it also provides the necessary interface between the Apple hardware and Windows drivers. The major drawback is that you have to choose which operating system to run at startup time. You can't run one within the other, it's either Mac OS X or Windows XP and if you want to access the other then a rerstart is required.

The next contender in the ring is Parallels Desktop for Mac, another virtual solution that can run Windows, Linux or any other operating system and their critical applications at the same time as Mac OS X.

What's really interesting about this is that it looks like Apple are actually recommending it on their Get a Mac pages as the way to go for running Windows on the Mac. Will Apple Boot Camp ever make into Leopard or will they drop it in favour of third party solutions like Parallels Desktop or, god help us, Virtual PC? Anyway, I've ordered a couple of copies of Parallels Desktop to try it out so, as soon as our license keys arrive, I'll get it installed and then I'll let you know how it fares!

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