March 04, 2011

FYI: Macintel


When Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced in 2005 that Apple would switch to an Intel processor, Computerworld’s Scot Finnie declared that now you can forget about having “to choose either the Mac for its superior design or Windows for its wealth of available software.” That’s because “you can have both operating systems on the same computer — the best of both worlds.” Two years later that ideal is closer at hand.

Following are four options to run Windows on an Intel Mac;

  1. Dual booting with Apple's Boot Camp
  2. Running Windows in a Virtual Machine
  3. Open Source Programs that run Windows apps on a Mac without Windows
  4. Running Windows Applications Remotely from the Internet

Depending on your needs, some options are better than others. All of them require an investment of time, money, and patience because each has its own unique challenges.

Dual booting with Apple's Boot Camp

With a dual-boot system, Windows can directly start up the Mac. You can choose to boot either from Windows or Mac OS X, but you don't have access to both at the same time. Requires a licensed copy of Microsoft Windows XP Home or Professional with Service Pack 2, Windows Vista Home Basic, Home Premium, Business, or Ultimate.

Running Windows in a virtual machine

This option lets you start the system with the Mac operating system then run your Windows applications in a Virtual Machine. A virtual machine (VM) is a self-contained operating environment that acts as if it is a separate computer. This allows you to share files and data between Mac and Windows. Parallels Desktop and VMware Fusion are two popular vendors that provide the software for the VM option. Note: PowerPC users familiar with Microsoft Virtual PC for Mac should know that Microsoft will not be developing Virtual PC for Mac to work with the Intel Macs.

Open Source programs that run Windows apps directly in Mac OS X--without Windows

Wine is an Open Source program that runs Windows programs on Linux and Unix systems without actually using Windows. Open Source programs are typically created by a collaboration of programmers that share the programs with the community at minimal or no cost. CrossOver from Code Weavers was developed using Wine to run Windows applications within the Unix based Macintosh OS. No Windows license is required because it doesn't use Windows. The drawback is the limited applications that CrossOver currently supports.

Running Windows apps remotely from the Internet

Subscription services that host Windows applications on an Internet server can be a great alternative. They require Internet access, licenses for the software you host with them, access fees and to ensure quality performance, a great deal of bandwidth. Northstar is a provider in this emerging field.


Macintosh Legal Resources