Running Windows on your Mac
If exchanging files and drives with your Windows friends doesn’t serve all your needs, you can always run Windows and Windows apps on your Mac. These days, you’ve got all kinds of options for doing so.
On Intel-based Macs, Apple’s Boot Camp lets you boot into Windows or OS X, but not both: to switch between operating systems, you must do a full reboot. Parallels Desktop lets you run Windows from within OS X. In either case, because Windows is running on Intel chips, it can feel as snappy on a Mac as it does on a PC.
If you have a PowerPC Mac, Windows will run slower. Microsoft’s Virtual PC ( ), Lismore Software Systems’ Guest PC 1.2 ( ), and iEmulator.com’s iEmulator trick Windows into thinking your Mac is an Intel-based PC; this takes some processing power. Virtual PC is top dog in terms of speed and features, followed by Guest PC. iEmulator is less expensive but also less advanced.
Mike Kronenberg’s Q and OpenOSX’s WinTel emulators come in both Intel and PowerPC versions. Naturally, the Intel versions run faster than their PowerPC counterparts—but on each platform, Q and WinTel are slower than their competitors.
Virtual PC is the only product you can buy with Windows preinstalled. The others all require that you also own a copy of Windows. Virtual PC gives you the most options for interacting between Windows and OS X; it even puts a Start menu in the Dock.
DarWine is in a class of its own: it lets you run Windows applications in OS X without actually running Windows. Unfortunately, it’s still in the early stages of development and, as its Web site warns, “is not yet suited for mass distribution or gen-eral user use.”
Lastly, Northstar takes an entirely new approach: Like the Internet remote control service GoToMyPC, it lets you run Windows apps on a remote PC. But unlike GoToMyPC, Northstar supplies the hardware: Windows applications run on Northstar servers and appear on your Mac in the X11 windowing environment (included with Mac OS X 10.3 and later). The $100 annual subscription gives you access to a library of Windows software; for an extra fee, you can supply your own.
Emulation, virtualization, and dual-booting
|Product||Company||Price||OS Compatibility||Processor Compatibility||Pros||Cons|
|Boot Camp (beta)||Apple Computer||free||N/A||Intel||Fast; easy installation.||Can’t run OS X and Windows at the same time; can’t access Mac disk partition from Windows; some keys don’t work.|
|DarWine 0.9.12||OpenDarWin||free||10.3, 10.4||Universal||No need to buy or run Windows.||Still in early stages of development; no tech support.|
|Guest PC 1.9||Lismore Software Systems||$70||10.3, 10.4||PowerPC||Relatively inexpensive; allows copy and pasting or dragging of files between OS X and Windows; supports USB peripherals.||Slower than Virtual PC.|
|iEmulator 1.7.8||iEmulator.com||$24||10.3, 10.4||PowerPC||Can import PC profiles from Virtual PC 7.||Slower than Virtual PC and Guest PC.|
|Northstar||True North Technology||$100 annually||10.3, 10.4||Universal||An Internet subscription service; runs Windows apps on PowerPC and Intel Macs.||Need connection to Internet to run Windows apps.|
|Parallels Desktop (beta)||Parallels||$80||10.4||Intel||Fast, simultaneous access to OS X and Windows; easy installation; runs Linux.||Can’t drag items between OSes; some keys don’t work.|
|Q (beta)||Mike Kronenberg||free||10.3, 10.4||Universal||Runs Linux and Windows.||Slow; emulates some hardware; no tech support.|
|Virtual PC 7||Microsoft||$219 (with Windows XP Home); $249 (with Windows XP Pro); $129 (without Windows)||10.2, 10.3, 10.4||PowerPC||Best integration with OS X of any product on either processor; good peripheral support; includes a copy of Windows.||Expensive; won’t run Linux.|
|WinTel||OpenOSX||$25||10.4||Universal||Comes with ten open-source operating systems.||Slow; emulates some hardware; doesn’t integrate with OS X as well as Virtual PC or Guest PC.|
N/A = not applicable.
[ John Rizzo is the publisher of MacWindows.com.]