Don’t give up your favourite apps when you move to Apple Mac – it can even run Windows
A Mac is a great alternative to a Windows PC. There are Mac versions of most popular Windows programs or alternatives from other software companies. But at times that is not the case and it may be expensive to buy new Mac versions of your software. That is no reason to give up on owning a Mac, though – there are ways of running Windows.
Since 2006, Apple has fitted Macs with the same Intel processors as those found in many Windows PCs, so anyone can install and run Windows programs on a Mac. There are three ways of doing so – Boot Camp, virtualisation and Crossover. We explore the advantages and disadvantages of all three, so you can work out the best way to use Windows software, even after you have moved to Mac.
This program from Apple comes with every Mac and guides you through creating a separate partition of your hard disk, then installing Windows on it. Boot Camp also downloads and installs the latest versions of the necessary drivers that Windows will need to work properly with the various components of your Mac such as the webcam and graphics card.
The main advantage of Boot Camp is speed. Once you have finished installing Windows, you have, in effect, two computers in one. Windows will run at roughly the same speed as it would on a PC with the same processor and amount of memory as your Mac. Other than the cost of a copy of Windows, Boot Camp is free and is included with your Mac.
Convenience is the main disadvantage to Boot Camp. Mac and Windows applications can’t be used simultaneously. To switch between the two operating systems, you must stop and restart your computer. This is fine occasionally, but can become intrusive if you need to use Windows software regularly.
It is also worth remembering that the version of Boot Camp included with versions 10.7 and 10.8 of MacOS X, (Lion and Mountain Lion), will only install Windows 7 (and will very likely be updated to work with the upcoming Windows 8 once that is released).
Boot Camp in older versions of MacOS X, such as 10.6 Snow Leopard, will install Windows XP or Vista as well as 7. Any existing Windows XP or Vista installations will be preserved if you upgrade from 10.6 to 10.7 or 10.8, but you will not be able to reinstall older versions of Windows – only Windows 7. So if you have old XP or Vista-only software, Boot Camp may not be a solution on a new Mac.
A flexible way to run Windows on a Mac is to use virtualisation software such as Parallels Desktop, VMWare Fusion or Virtualbox. These run Windows and Mac OS X together, with no need to restart your computer.
Virtualisation software allows the entire Windows operating system to run inside a separate window on your Mac desktop, or it can even take over a second monitor connected to your Mac. Parallels Desktop and VMWare Fusion also have an alternative mode (called Coherence in Parallels Desktop and Unity in VMWare) which lets Windows programs run alongside Mac software as if they were Mac applications too.
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