General Question

kfingerman's avatar

I want to run Windows software on a Mac. What to use? Parallels? VM Ware? Boot Camp?

Asked by kfingerman (992points) July 31st, 2008

I’m new at this and have no idea what I’m doing. How easy are they to install and how seamless to run? I’m a PC guy…finally making the switch but with some windows software needs.

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22 Answers

PupnTaco's avatar

I’ve had good experiences with Parallels. Boot Camp is a pain (restart to use PC software).

Which Windows apps do you need to hang on to? Maybe there are Mac equivalents…

lapilofu's avatar

I love using Parallels. It has been very handy for testing websites on windows browsers, and as long as you set the memory use to reasonable amounts, doesn’t slow down your computer very much.

xxporkxsodaxx's avatar

I remember getting into a huge argument over this a few months ago and this guy hasn’t came back to Fluther for a long time I think. I said that Parallels was the best but he argued that VM Ware was best, I’d go with the first two people and say Parallels is the way to go.

paulc's avatar

I like VMWare simply because its useful for any operating system and great for setting up builds of operating systems you want to deploy on another VMWare system.

If all you’re using is Windows, though, I’d venture that Parallels might be better since its designed just for that and likely has a lot of fine tuning and extra options that would be useful for Windows-specific tasks.

chaosrob's avatar

I set up Boot Camp, but then used that partition in VMware. I started out using Parallels, but the networking problems finally got to me. VMware appears to be much more stable.

woodlandanimals's avatar

I started out with Parallels but i also had networking pains, so moved over to VMware and it has been awesome.

btko's avatar

I don’t mind BootCamp at all.. depends what your goals are. I just wanted an environment to play some windows games I have. If I want to play one I boot up in Windows… otherwise I go OSX.

If it’s for testing I would use one of the others.

iwamoto's avatar

Vmware fusion is my weapon of choice into the lair of worlds most horrible OS, just try the beta for fusion 2, with a lot more usability…get it here

Lovelocke's avatar

As far as I knew, you could dual-boot your system to run MAC OS (whatever) and Windows XP/Vista. You have to create a 2nd partition on your hard drive, one big enough to house Windows and whatever software you believe you’ll use (some people do a 40GB Partition to run Windows and their Games).

If you don’t want to take it that far, I wouldn’t try to emulate another operating system in anything except VMware… but even then, it’s typically just to navigate the operating system and not really to run applications inside an emulated environment.

jballou's avatar

It really depends on what your needs are. Boot Camp is a great way to run windows as if you had a PC. I like Paralells which allows me to run Windows apps alongside Mac apps, which is great for me as a web developer. However, if I was more into gaming (for example), I might lean more towards Boot Camp instead. It’s about picking what’s right for your needs.

P.S. Someone earlier said something about emulation- just to let you know none of the 3 choices emulate windows, they allow your Mac to run it natively if you’re on a Intel-based Mac. Emulation is only necesary for PowerPC-based Macs, and if that’s the case your choices are pretty much limited to Virtual PC.

chromaBYTE's avatar

Whether you go for boot camp or VMware/parallels all depends on how intensive the windows software you’re going to run. I’m surprised no one has mentioned this yet.

If you’re going for more intensive programs such as games or anything Adobe (for example), then you’ll want to go Boot Camp so that you can run everything natively and you’re not wasting memory and processes on running 2 operating systems at the same time.

If you’re going for lower end programs and would like the functionality of swapping in between windows and mac instantly, go with VMware or parallels.

I personally would go for VMware over parallels. They’re both easy to use and integrated into OSX, but VMware has a more solid network structure and is less buggy.

Traveosa's avatar

I prefer Boot Camp. Vmware and Parallels are a pain because it runs in a separate window.

knight's avatar

I tried many different virtual machines. I loved the vmware and parallels. If you like some visual effects, you better choose parallels. But vmware is pretty good too.

kfingerman's avatar

So, say I go with Parallels…Do then have to purchase an entire copy of Windows simply to run the one PC program (ArcMap – GIS) I want to have?

xxporkxsodaxx's avatar

The OS does not come with the program, so that would mean you have have to add an extra $270 or so to the cost of Parallels, $270 was what I paid, and you have to buy the full install, not the upgrade.

jballou's avatar

@kfingerman you’d have to buy a copy of windows for any of the solutions (VMWare, Paralells, Boot Camp, etc). Nothing will let you run Windows programs without Windows.

lapilofu's avatar

You might check if your program works under Crossover. Interestingly Crossover does let you run Windows programs without Windows. But it doesn’t work consistently well, so try it for a while with your program, and see how it works. They have a list of supported programs.

Barring that, you might check out “VirtualBox.” It’s not unlike VMWare or Parallels. It still requires a copy of Windows, and probably takes a little more technical know-how to configure, but doesn’t cost anything itself. That could cut back a bit on price.

lapilofu's avatar

Forgot to link VirtualBox.

shadling21's avatar

Depends what you want to do with it. My friend needed AutoCAD for school, and since she was worried about overwhelming the computer with VMWare (remember, you’re opening a Windows program within Windows OS within a Mac program within Mac OS), she partitioned the drive and installed Windows with Boot Camp. She’d prefer to switch fluidly back and forth within the Mac OS, but she took this route instead.

Just curious… have you installed it yet?

kfingerman's avatar

I need to use some modeling and mapping software – notably ArcMap and other ESRI GIS tools. They’re pretty computation-heavy, so I think I want as much power as possible to run them. Haven’t done it yet. Haven’t even bought the machine.

dkenneth's avatar

Ask your neighbor who has a tap into your internet connection and has made your machine a client of his server.

CsC's avatar

Boot Camp is definitely the most smoothest, and it runs both platforms awesomely, and i haven’t had any problems with it ever.

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