Running Windows on your Mac

I took a look at two books that offer plenty of guidance to run Windows as a guest OS on your Intel-based Mac. I have an aging G5 and it is getting time for an upgrade, and I am considering which of the four potential solutions to use when I get a new Mac: the Apple-supplied Boot Camp (requires 10.5 OS), Parallels, VMware Fusion, and Sun’s Virtual Box. The two books that are worthy of purchasing are:

  • Dwight Silverman’s book from Peachpit press ($35), which doesn’t cover Virtual Box but does a great job showing you the tradeoffs and settings for the other three solutions. He goes into lots of details for new Mac 10.5 users, which is very helpful. He also does a better job about describing how to run Vista as the secondary OS.
  • Joe Kissell’s Take Control book ($10 eBook download, paper $22), which includes the free open-source Virtual Box. He goes into more details about how to protect your Windows sessions from exploits (some of which are briefly mentioned in Dwight’s book), and more details on the various Boot Camp options.

Both have step-by-step installation and lots of tweaking tips to get the most out of your mixed mode Mac. Some things that I learned include:

  • Fusion supports dual-core CPUs and has less load, making it more attractive for processing-intensive Windows apps
  • Neither Parallels or Fusion support Firewire connections, and not all USB ones either.
  • Parallels comes with a free install of Kaspersky Anti-virus and has a nifty P2V utility to make virtual copies of running Windows configurations
  • Boot Camp is better for Windows gamers, since it isn’t running in a VM session

Both books are excellent resources, written by people who have experimented with the products and know what they are talking about, and filled with copious screen shots and practical advice.

0 thoughts on “Running Windows on your Mac

  1. VMware Fusion runs a copy Vista Business off the Boot Camp partition with better performance on my Macbook Pro than the file-based VM of Vista Business on my iMac (VM was converted from Parallels which was also a dog, performance-wise, on the iMac). I tried to “move” the file-based VM to a Boot Camp partition on the iMac using Vista’s Complete Backup and restore, after booting into the Windows install using Boot Camp, only to have Vista’s Restore completely trounce my Leopard partition. Thanks goodness I was able to recover using my Time Machine backup. I’d love to find some trick to getting the file-based VM into a Boot Camp partition on the iMac.

  2. I tried running Windows Vista on an iMac using Parallels Desktop 3.0; the system performance slowed to a crawl and it would hang on me. Finally bagged it and bought a new HP and deleted all traces of Windows from the Mac; now both machines perform just fine. I use the Mac for video/photo editing and the PC for business applications.

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