Apple’s Boot Camp vs. Parallels Workstation for running Windows on Intel-based Macs

“For years, my desk has been cluttered by two computers — one Macintosh and one PC. It’s been an arrangement of necessity, as I prefer the Mac but sometimes need a Windows machine for work,” Robert Weston writes for The Associated Press. “So it was with great interest that I read about Apple Computer’s launch last week of a program allowing newer Intel-based Macs to boot Microsoft’s Windows operating system . A day later, another company unveiled software that runs Windows in Mac OS X at nearly full speed.”

“In both cases, software emulation isn’t required, because the new Macs share the same hardware brains as Windows PCs . Unlike Microsoft’s Virtual PC program that lets some Windows programs run on my old PowerPC-based Mac, there’s no significant performance hit. The major difference between Apple’s Boot Camp and Parallels Software International’s Parallels Workstation is that the latter allows the user to seamlessly switch back and forth between the systems without restarting. Boot Camp requires a decision at startup — if you want to run the other OS after that, you need to reboot,” Weston writes. “To see which approach — Apple’s dual booting or Parallels’ Windows-in-a-window — works best, I installed them on a borrowed 20-inch iMac with a 2-gigahertz Intel Core Duo processor.”

“Parallels Workstation’s most obvious advantage is its ability to run both operating systems simultaneously [with no need to reboot, but it] doesn’t yet provide the native graphics drivers needed to make the display hardware run at full speed. That may explain the fairly significant drop-off in speed from a regular PC… Apple’s Boot Camp, which is available as a free download, feels much more like a finished product, despite its beta label,” Weston writes. ” Performance is what you would expect running Windows XP on a similarly configured PC… Windows games installed and played at top speed without a hitch.”

“For hardcore gamers, there really is no option. Boot Camp is the best way to run Windows games on a Mac,” Weston writes. “For computer users who today need to use a few PC-only Windows applications, Parallels Workstation bears watching. If the company can develop graphics drivers and work out the kinks in the product, it could become the coveted all-in-one solution of the computer world.”

Full article here.

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Related articles:
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Apple’s Boot Camp is first step towards Mac OS X Leopard’s inevitable support for virtualization – April 11, 2006
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Video of Parallels running Windows XP on Mac OS X – April 07, 2006
Parallels releases first virtualization solution for Intel-powered Apple Intel-based Macs – April 06, 2006
Ed Bott on Apple’s new Boot Camp: virtualization would be better – April 06, 2006
Dude, you got a Dell? What are you, stupid? Only Apple Macs run both Mac OS X and Windows! – April 05, 2006
Apple introduces Boot Camp: public beta software enables Intel-based Macs to run Windows XP – April 05, 2006
Parallels to intro virtualization software for Intel-based Macs – April 04, 2006
Apple Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard likely to feature Windows support, drivers for Intel Macs – March 28, 2006
RUMOR: Apple’s Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard to include VMWare-like ‘Chameleon’ virtualization software – March 24, 2006
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  1. Wintel/Q/OpenOSX is nothing more than emulation software. It’s slow as hell and isn’t really very stable at all either.

    Parallels on the other hand is virtualization software and it runs Windows at about 90% of native speed. It’s only real drawback is that it doesn’t support 3D graphics acceleration (which isn’t their fault because ATI and NVIDIA don’t support hardware graphics virtualization).

    Basically, if you want to play games or do heavy 3D graphics work in Windows, go with Boot Camp. For everything else, Parallels Workstation is a far better solution than dual booting.

  2. My question, WHY DOESN’T ONE OF THESE TESTERS LOAD THE DRIVERS THAT COME WITH BOOT CAMP INTO PARALLELS? The solution seems just a little obvious to me. Also if I installed Windows using Boot Camp onto a FAT32 partition, can Parallels use that system? Or does it need an image like VirtualPC to run.

  3. The Boot Camp drivers in Parallels Workstation won’t work because as Rob mentioned, today’s graphics cards do not yet support virtualization. Only CPU virtualization is currently supported. You can’t have 3D acceleration in any virtualization solution until the graphics cards themselves support it. Allegedly that is something that ATI is working on for sometime in the next couple of years.

  4. Question:

    Can one computer system utilize the same Windows install for both Boot Camp and the Parallels Virtualization?

    It seems to me that it would be great to have both installed on a single machine, so you can Boot Camp over to play a game, and then be able to run Parallels in OSX to do any work type stuff, but without having two complete installs of Windows eating up your drive space… I suppose if there were specific drivers that one needed that the other didn’t, you could have two user profiles within Windows that either set-up could start with.


  5. izod. No. But you can have both installed and have the option obviously.

    After I installed Boot Camp and Windows I had to repair my Mac HD with Disk Utility. So if your Mac does not boot back into OS X don’t freak out! Just boot from another disk or from the OS X install CD and run Disk Utility.

  6. @ Tommy Boy

    The solution seems a little obvious to you for a bloody good reason…its not a good idea.

    Parallels ‘virtualizes’ the hardware. That is the whole hardware stack is something OTHER than the REAL hardware. For example, the network adapter is NOT the physical network adapter in the machine it a vitual respresentation of it that redrects all the network calls to the physical device and hence uses a different driver. THATS why you can’t just load the drivers from the Boot Camp CD – IT WONT WORK!

    Parallels additionally, doesn’t support booting from a ‘real’ disk partition as yet. It may be something they’ll add. VMware ESX does it in conjunction with SAN hardware but I’m not sure their workstation product supprts it either!


  7. This is kind of a stupid question but i have XP installed using bootcamp. How do I install XP using parallels. When i try to install it only shows 1 partiton and i do not want to erase my Mac information. However bootcamp does not support multiple partitions so i making another partition wouldnt help. I want to use them both not one or the other does anyone have any ideas-Kariim

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