Which is better for running Windows programs on Macs, Boot Camp or Parallels Desktop?

“In deciding to release a public beta of Boot Camp, a dual-booting software manager, Apple was saying to the world, ‘We realize some of you need to run Windows programs occasionally, and here’s a way to do it on your Mac,'” Jim Rossman reports for The Dallas Morning News. “The Boot Camp installation process actually creates a separate hard drive partition to hold the Windows operating system. The fact that the partition is created without wiping the user’s hard drive (on-the-fly repartitioning) is a first for Apple. But just because Apple is allowing users to run Windows on their Macs, don’t expect any additional help.’Apple has no desire or plan to sell or support Windows, but many customers have expressed their interest to run Windows on Apple’s superior hardware now that we use Intel processors,’ said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide product marketing.”

“The Mac faithful had hardly caught their breath from the Boot Camp announcement when it was followed by another, equally startling software introduction called Parallels Desktop for Mac. Many years ago, a company called Connectix introduced a way to emulate a Windows PC inside a program on the Macintosh. Virtual PC was really slow, but it let users run most Windows programs on the Mac. Of course, it got better and faster with each release and with the introduction of faster Macs. In fact, Virtual PC became good enough that it caught the attention of Microsoft, which bought it,” Rossman reports. “Microsoft kept Virtual PC around for a while and actually did improve it, but stopped production when Apple introduced Macs running on Intel processors.
According to Microsoft’s Virtual PC Web site, ‘We are working with Apple to determine the feasibility of developing Virtual PC for Mac for Intel-based Macs. Virtual PC for Mac is highly dependent on the operating system and hardware, and will require additional development to run on Intel-based Macs.’ Parallels Desktop for Mac is almost identical to Virtual PC. It allows the user to run other operating systems virtually. This means the system can be running Windows XP, Linux and even Sun’s Solaris in separate windows.”

Rossman asks, “So in the course of a few days, users had two choices for running Windows on their Intel Macs. Which is the better choice?”

Full article here.

More info about Apple’s Boot Camp: http://www.apple.com/macosx/bootcamp/
More info about Parallels Desktop for Mac: http://www.parallels.com/en/products/desktop/

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Related articles:
Apple Boot Camp’s ‘Windows Insecurity Blanket’ helps buyers decide to switch to Macs – May 19, 2006
Research firm: Intel, Boot Camp powering huge Apple Mac sales surge – May 19, 2006
Computeractive Review: Apple Boot Camp – May 18, 2006
Cowen & Co survey shows strong Apple Mac sales prospects, Boot Camp impact ‘broadly positive’ – April 18, 2006
Apple’s Boot Camp vs. Parallels Workstation for running Windows on Intel-based Macs – April 14, 2006
Pre-Boot Camp report: Apple could double market share on Microsoft defections – April 13, 2006
Baig: Boot Camp works so well it reminds me why I prefer Mac OS X to Windows XP in the first place – April 13, 2006


  1. I’m using Parallels. Works great. And I’m not limited to just Windows XP. I’m actually running a copy of Win 2K for one application. I’m also planning on adding a VM for the next release of Ubuntu Linux.

  2. Parallels only virtualizes one core of your dual-core Intel Mac, so if you’re running Windows software that is significantly SMP-supportive (such as Adobe Photoshop or AfterEffects), you’ll get far better performance out of Boot Camp.

  3. I use both. For quick things I use Parallels. For real heavy work, I use Boot Camp. Parallel’s graphics are slow, so designing with web apps like Swish or Flash can be a little irritating. Having said that, Parallel is light years ahead of VPC. It really is near-native, speed-wise. Once they tweak the video support, it’ll be fantastic.

    Boot Camp if freaking flawless. Perfect. Of course, you have to reboot your machine to start a different OS, but the new Intel iMacs start up so quick it’s not a huge issue. The only feature I’d like to see addded to Boot Camp is running two operating systems at once, like Parallels, but natively. (C’mon Leopard!)

    Now I’m debating whether I should go ahead and purchase Parallels or wait for Leopard. Any suggestions?

  4. I work in IT as a Lotus Notes admin and developer. While there is a Lotus Notes version for Mac OS X, I also require a Designer and Admin client that only runs in MS WinCrap. So, I got a MacBook (2GHz) and install 2GB of RAM. I am now running Parallels with WinXP and my two required apps. It is seamless and fast. I am very impressed and very happy that I don’t have to carry a Dell (turned it back in today to my IT manager) just to run 2 applications when I travel. Parallels is awesome!

  5. article…In a few weeks or months when the beta is over, you’ll need to cough up $50 ($40 if you order before the beta expires).

    is that a fact or is this guy making it up?

    doesnt seem to make alot of sense, leopard will be out soon enough and it will come with bootcamp or whatever flavoured solution apple has deep in the heart of cupertino.

  6. Point of article was for newbies, a starting point only, be easy on the author.

    I’m waiting for August before I make any purchases, hopefully the show in August will resolve the dual run issue and a few more, M$ is propbably waiting for that too.
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  7. “Microsoft kept Virtual PC around for a while and actually did improve it, but stopped production when Apple introduced Macs running on Intel processors”

    Another smart Microsoft investment. Hope the Connectix boys got to retire rich.

  8. Correction:

    The non-M$ Virtual PC supported many other OS’s other than Windoze just like the author claims Parallel does. I had OS X on one screen and XP on another on my dual screen Quicksilver 4 years ago. But the author is correct VPC was/is dead slow. I have not fired it up in over a year ( and I think it was by mistake).

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