28 thoughts on “Best of Both Worlds, PC on a Mac”

  1. Parallels is by far one of the most used applications I have in the dock. Moving between multiple operating systems for various reasons couldn’t be any easier. The only improvement I would like to see is having the option to move my cursor in and out of Linux without the need to press ctrl+alt. WIndows has the extra VMTools. Linux definitely needs similar functionality.

  2. Om,
    I have not used Parallels but have heard a lot of good things about it. I currently use VMware and am not very happy. But it works. I will try out parallels and see how the performance is. The only question is whether the native Windows XP/2003 version is as good as the Mac OSX version or not. Don’t know if you have any comments based on experience.


  3. Ah, not so quick everyone. If you need special drivers that expect things to be plugged into the physical machine, be sure that Parallels can handle this for Windows running under Parallels, for example ensuring that the MacBook Pro’s next generation PCMCIA slot can be accommidate EVDO cards plugged into it and running under both Mac OS X and Windows XP!

    Eddie Munster

  4. Hey Om, how does the audio work? Lets say you there is a latest and greatest VOIP software client that is only available on Windows XP to start with (such as Skype 4.0). So what if you have a USB-connected headset and microphone on the MacBook Pro but you’re running the VOIP client on XP in Parallels. How smoothly does the audio pipe back through Parallels into XP on the MBP? I tried this once with VirtualPC a few years ago and audio running under XP Pro as a virtual machine was atrocious.

  5. I too have Parallels Workstation installed on my Mac (MacBook Pro). I’ve only used it for limited purposes so far (mostly viewing Websites and web apps that are Windows only, such as GoToMeeting conferences). Windows recognizes my external 300GB HD, and I’ll be trying TechSmith Morae software this week.

    My question is this: what about memory? Parallels seems to require a dedicated amount of memory when running. So I allocated 512 to Windows XP, and it takes that much whether it needs it or not, leaving only 512 for the Mac. I’d rather just launch Windows, keep it open and jump to it when needed. Perhaps I need another 1G of memory?

  6. Audio under Parallels is great. I’ve watched a DVD on Windows XP via Parallels on a Mac Book Pro, and an iMac Core Duo. It was great, the latest beta is even better. Not a single drop out of sound or video.

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  8. Clearly, the sweet spot here is laptops and mobile users, because buying Parallels + Windows XP is going to set you back most of the cost of buying a dedicated (albiet used or very low-end) PC to run XP.

    I know it’s blasphemous, but shouldn’t Apple just port iLife to Vista and abbandon the proprietary OS (keeping buying a Mac the only way to get iLife)? I think more people are buying Macs for iLife than for OS X. That way, they can keep much of the uniqueness of the MAC without the sillyness of forcing people to run multiple operating systems just to access all the applications they want.

  9. Why would you waste time installing XP and then Outlook when MacOS has the much superior Entourage? I just don’t get it.

  10. Jesse,

    I’m guessing you haven’t used OS X. OS X is a stable OS with a great user experience. Windows is buggy, unstable and barely usable. The dozens of Mac users I know don’t buy Macs for iLife, they buy Macs for the great hardware and OS X. As for applications, the only time I ever “need” Windows is when I have to edit Microsoft Project files (I’m not a gamer). So far I have found everything I’ve wanted or needed for OS X. In most cases there may be dozens of software titles in a given category for WIndows, but only 1 or 2 are worth considering and the rest are junk. OS X simply has the 1 or 2 decent titles per category without all the junk. And in the vast majority of cases, Mac software is much nicer than equivalent Windows software. The Mac with OS X is just a much more elegent system altogether.

    It would be a sad day for computer users if Apple stopped developing OS X and became nothing more than “a better Dell with a suite of software products.” On the contrary, I believe that Windows users who buy Macs for the nicer hardware or to try out OS X without risk will end up using OS X as their primary OS, and OS X will thrive.

    Besides, if Apple got out of the OS business, where would Microsoft get it’s ideas? :^)

  11. @Herbert Kleinfeld:
    “Why would you waste time installing XP and then Outlook when MacOS has the much superior Entourage?”

    Because Entourage sucks as an Exchange client, that’s why. It doesn’t support all the features Outlook 2001 did, and it has to download copies of everything instead of just working off the server. All too frequently IME, Entourage gets discombobulated and the local copy of your inbox gets out of sync with the server. The solution? Kill the local copy and let Entourage re-download everything. There’s also no built-in archiving or a facility to make anything like a .PST, so people tend to just keep everything in their inbox. And of course, that magnifies all the problems because it takes FOREVER to do a sync when you first create an Entourage identity on a particular machine or nuke someone’s local inbox cache to fix sync issues.

    Of course, if you’ve ever used the Lotus Notes client for the Mac, it makes Entourage’s Exchange connectivity seem wonderful by comparison. It seems like the Mac gets short shrift as a client on most of the popular groupware systems.

    Hopefully Leopard Server’s new features will prove to be an Exchange killer in the small-to-medium sized business market that comprises most of my client base.


  12. Thanks for the informative post. I am a fairly new Mac User and just got a MacBook Pro. I am a network engineer who performs consulting for some of the countries largest Education and manufacturing enviroments. Those who are asking why install Windows on a Mac clearly dont live in the network support world. We as network engineers find ourselves daily limited to Windows Only applications for our jobs. And while OSX has quite a few inbedded applications that can replace some of my favorite windows applications for my job, none of them are nearly as feature rich or useful. I can say I am no longer a big Windows fan but I will have to rely on some of the apps I use day in and out on a parrallels partition to do my job and remain productive.

  13. Chris, great summary of why I, and most users I know, prefer Macs… iLife is more of a symptom than cause, and there’s so much to like in the Mac world, I think more and more the question of “why” should be reversed. Great response.

  14. Chris, have you used Windows XP? I’m not saying it is superior to Mac or even Linux, but it is pretty damn stable and no more buggy than either of the those other OS’. Vista, if not initially then within a patch or two, will be even better. Once you have that stability, the real test of an OS is whether the applications you want are available. Rarely does that test not come out in Windows’ favor. Prior to XP, arguments that changing to another OS was a huge step up made sense, now they just don’t cut it.

    P.S. I have no love of Microsoft. If they were gone tomorrow I would be happy. If OS X had 95% of the market share I would be advocating abandoning it’s closest, non-free, competitor.

  15. Oh dear, the thought of having to use Windows XP full-time (ie. at home and not just on the work PC) instead of OS X literally made me feel ill.

  16. Parallels doesn’t work on the new Mac Pro (crashes your machine when you try to run a desktop – http://forum.parallels.com/thread3659.html). I believe they are going to release a production version (2.2) sometime next week to fix the issue. I was told to install their most current beta, but it still crashed my machine… I must… resist… betas…

    Oh, and I got it to run Linux. I keep my Windows box in the corner where it belongs.

  17. Jesse said:

    “P.S. I have no love of Microsoft. If they were gone tomorrow I would be happy. If OS X had 95% of the market share I would be advocating abandoning it’s closest, non-free, competitor.”

    To which I reply:

    Uh, what? So, basically you’re a marketshare whore? Whoever has the most marketshare is entitled to exist and everyone else should just pack it in and go away?

    Talk about putting an end to innovation… who would Microsoft copy if Apple were to stop making OS X?

  18. I am happy to announce my mac is on it’s way. I have been a windows user for a long time. With parallels, I’m more comfortable with the idea of switching to mac. It’s because of parallels that pushed me to make the jump. Thanks!

  19. “So, basically you’re a marketshare whore?”

    In a roundabout way, yes. What I really am is a guy who wants to run all my software without paying for two operating systems. The point of a computer is to run applications, not a specific operating system. If this were not the case, no one would even consider a nearly $200 solution like Parallels ($80 for Parallels + $100 for XP). If you are convinced that OS X is $180 better than XP, good for you, but I have better things to spend that money on.

  20. I think its no secret anymore more end users are switching to macs more companies are switching to macs and more programmers are switching to macs. With the stability, presence and functionality what more can you want in an operating system.

    Hi my name is Rod and im a MAC USER!

  21. If I have to spend close to $200 to avoid buying a second machine (for XP) and to allow me to use a Mac in practically any given situation that’s fine with me.

    I agree that XP is relatively stable… but I just don’t think it offers the same user experience. Everytime I switch out of full screen in Parallels and see my OS X desktop again I feel a sense of relief and wonder why Windows with all it’s market share is so far behind in it’s UI.

  22. Hi all,

    I am a software developer, currently running SuSE with VMware for windows. I do like macs, and I am sure that mac do have both the better hardware and software than windows based dell pc’s.

    That is one of the reasons I cannot understand that companies like Borland don’t port their Delphi 2006 developer suite to mac os-x ! I think a lot of delphi and C++ Builder developers would love to swap their windows for os-x.. (like a lot liked it borland made a move to Linux with Kylix..)

  23. I teach at CMU in Pgh. We have a cluster of over 80 iMacs and ive used them to techand demonstrate with in class for 2 years now.

    This month – for the first time – I used my faculty computer upgrade allowance to buy a new Mac (Pro dual Xeon tower) and a 30″ HD cinema monitor. For me the verdict is still out as to whether I can just get all my work done w/out an XP box. So far ive been able to finds apps for most of my critical stuff but I still like Outlook and Outlook express for the way they handle sync with my mobile toys. Id also like to find a DVD player as good as winDVD with all the scren and clip capture stuff. My guess is that its all out there but it ay not be as cheap or easy to find.

    Time to join some MAc user groups and get the goodies.

  24. All sounds good and bad, but what about running more than just business stuff.
    Like Games or 3D Programs or even Sound Design Programs that are excellent on PC. Programs that require a heavy load of processing and ram. How do these fair with Parallels?

    Gamers and Creators would LOVE to know 🙂

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