Your Windows to the World
Victoria L. Herring practices in Des Moines, Iowa, in an office that has used only Apple/Macs since the early 1980s. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Back in December, I wrote about the new opportunity to run Windows programs on an Intel-based Apple Macintosh computer. This experiment has now been going on for half a year, and there are new entrants into the market. There are also some reports as to how these options are working in the real world. Thus, I thought it might be worthwhile to revisit the topic and update the information provided. Of course, all this can change with the release of Apple’s new OS 10.5 (“Leopard”) operating system, but probably not dramatically and not for several months—OS 10.5 has been delayed to the fall of this year.
A Door Closes, a Window Opens
Apple’s Macintosh computers have switched from Power-PC to Intel chips, which allow the hardware to run not only Apple’s Macintosh operating systems but also Windows (and other) operating systems. In fact, there have even been reports that Windows runs faster on a Mac with Intel chips, although I can’t personally report that from my own experience (not having tried it).
Once the Intel chip architecture was adopted, the next question was how would Mac users get their machines to run Windows and its programs? It’s not an academic question because many lawyers use programs that are built to run solely on the Windows operating system. The question is whether those programs can run sufficiently well for lawyers to buy Mac desktop and portable computers to run the best software available to both systems.
According to my count, there are now six different methods for running Windows applications on your Mac computer. This is up from the three reported in my earlier article, and we also now have a track record for this experiment in running dual or multiple-operating systems on one piece of hardware.
Shortly after releasing its Intel-powered laptops, Apple released a free beta version of a new program it called Boot Camp; it is now at version 1.2 beta, and development is continuing. (The official version of Boot Camp will be part of OS 10.5 when it is released in the fall.) Most reports about Boot Camp are positive—it apparently will run almost every Windows-based program—and the most recent version has support for Vista (32-bit) as well. The main downside to Boot Camp is that you need to reboot your machine in order to alternate between the Windows and Mac operating systems. Obviously, you also must purchase a licensed copy of Windows to run the system. Another downside is that when you are running Windows on your Mac, it’s as open to viruses and attacks as it would be on a traditional Windows PC. For that reason, you should either keep the machine unconnected to the Internet when you are running Windows programs, or maintain a good anti-virus and security package. When your Mac is running Windows, it is a Windows machine and has to be treated like one. Boot Camp is a free program, however, and if you have a licensed version of Windows, it may be the easiest and cheapest option for you at present.
Another previously mentioned program that has had more time to develop is CrossOver by Codeweavers. This software is based on the Open Source Wine project and yet is less geeky than either the Wine project itself or another project termed Darwine, which will also enable you to run Windows on the Mac OS. The upside of CrossOver is that you don’t need to install Windows at all. It provides everything needed to run your Windows-based programs. The downside is that CrossOver won’t run them all. There is a chart at the Codeweavers website that shows which programs will run on CrossOver (e.g., E-Transcript Viewer) and which won’t (e.g., LexisNexis HotDocs). Since CrossOver’s initial release, the number of programs it will run has grown. (For a full review of CrossOver, see my Mac User column in the December 2006 issue of GPSolo.)
A new entrant to the field is VMwareFusion. A friend of mine uses this program, and I asked him about his experience. Evidently, he has used it on other machines and was already running some VMware virtual machines on those computers, so it was not difficult to test it with his Mac. He reports that it seems to work fine. With VMware-Fusion you can run both Windows and OS X at the same time, without the rebooting required by Boot Camp. And according to the official VMwareFusion website, it will run the most powerful, 64-bit version of Vista (so far, Boot Camp will not). Reading the website was far too technical and challenging for me, but for those with knowledge of operating systems, open source, UNIX, Linux, Solaris, and the like, this might well be a good entrant into the list.
A program called iEmulator is now out, but I haven’t found anyone using it yet nor anything written about it (other than promotional material from the software’s creators). The information at the website indicates that it is a PC emulator for either PowerPC or Intel Macs, which would broaden its coverage to pre-Intel Macs, as long as they are running OS X 10.3. The program includes a DOS operating system (the “old” Windows), which might be fine for some users, but getting a licensed version of a later, more user-friendly Windows operating system might be best.
So far, Parallels has created the most buzz. That may be because its marketing has been so effective; but marketing will carry a program only so far. More importantly, reports from people who have actually used Parallels to run Windows applications on their Macs have been glowing. Like VMwareFusion, Parallels will run Windows along with the Mac OS at the same time, without the need to reboot. Until the new feature called “Coherence” was introduced, you needed to switch between systems; however, Coherence evidently allows you to run Windows applications from within your Mac desktops. Of course, the cautions as to anti-virus and security protections noted above apply here, as well. According to reports I have read, Parallels will successfully run such Windows-based programs as Amicus Attorney, Timeslips 10, WordPerfect 12, Legal Solutions, Real Legal, ATX tax software, and Time Matters Enterprise. Dragon NaturallySpeaking apparently runs too slowly, and some users have reported USB-related problems—for example, Blackberrys cannot synch to Outlook in Windows XP. (For more information about Parallels, see the article “A Parallels Reality” in this issue.)
Just recently, a public beta version of a program called VirtualBox was released; it is billed as a free, open source counterpart to Parallels. For now, it appears that most “non-geeky” lawyers are sticking with Parallels rather than exploring this option, but perhaps it will be fine for the more technically adept.
Improve Your View
The benefit of all these choices for lawyers cannot be stressed enough. Many lawyers work in specific areas of practice that are tied to Windows-only applications. Others are using Mac programs that date from before OS X and are no longer supported. For instance, users of Timeslips on a Mac know it is “long in the tooth” and increasingly unstable. If you are working in the world of the Mac OS, it might be time to consider switching to one of the fine Mac-native applications such as OmniPlan and OmniOutliner from the Omni Group (www.omnigroup.com), Daylite3 from MarketCircle, Merlin, and TrialSmart and DepoSmart for litigators from Clarity Legal Software. But what if you really love Timeslips and don’t want to learn a new program or transfer all your data? Well, now you have the option of simply using the more recent Windows version of Timeslips.
Likewise, practitioners of family law (where child support programs frequently are not usable on a pre-Intel Mac), bankruptcy law, and patent law have all sung hosannas to the creators of these various methods of accessing Windows-based programs while using a Mac computer.
An extensive, documented comparison of the various Windows-on-Mac options is available in the May 2007 issue of MacWorld. If you’re thinking of outfitting your Mac to run Windows, it would be worthwhile to check it out.