CrossOver Mac runs Windows apps without Microsoft Windows on Apple Macs

“Forget Boot Camp. Booting Windows on Apple hardware is an interesting sleight of hand, but this is different. What CodeWeavers is offering is the ability to actually run Windows applications from within Mac OS X. CodeWeavers’ commercial product, CrossOver Office, is based on the open-source Wine project — technology that has made it possible to run many Windows applications on Linux systems for almost ten years. By early next month, it will do the same for Mac OS X with CrossOver Mac,” Neil McAllister writes for Computerworld.

“Earlier Macs could run Windows software only with the help of Virtual PC, a Microsoft product that completely emulates the x86 platform environment on Apple’s PowerPC hardware. Wine works differently. Because it runs on Intel hardware it doesn’t have to virtualise the environment the way Virtual PC does — which means it doesn’t have Virtual PC’s overhead. Instead, Wine merely offers a custom implementation of the Windows APIs that translate Windows system calls into native ones. From the application’s point of view, Wine makes the underlying OS look like Windows,” McAllister writes.

“This is an incredible piece of engineering, representing years of hard work on the part of the Wine developers. And, believe me, there’s no love lost between Microsoft and the Wine project. Microsoft no more wants Wine to work on the Mac OS than it wanted it to work on Linux,” McAllister writes. “That’s the real shame of it. Although it’s great that Mac owners will soon be able to work with Microsoft Access databases and lay plans with Microsoft Project without having to install a full-blown copy of Windows, I can’t imagine a worse scenario than having to use a translation layer to run Microsoft’s proprietary software on Apple’s proprietary OS. CrossOver Office outperforms Virtual PC and allows users to forego the cost of a Windows licence. In other respects, however, it’s a step down, if you look at it from an open source perspective.”

Full article here.

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29 Comments

  1. Hmm… the thought of running Windows apps without seemingly having some sort of “protection layer” makes me nervous. I wonder how the performance compares to running apps in Parallels?

  2. The rapid development of software which enables the seamless running of Windows programmes on OS X is quite amazing.

    But running Windows’ programmes on OS X without Windows – if it proves to be stable – is going to be a great blow to MS.

    More and more nails are being hammered into MS’s coffin with heart-warming regularity

  3. This is not necessarily a good thing. If Wine really takes off, then why would 3rd party developers ever develop a Mac-specific version of their software? And that’s bad bad bad for OS X. Because, really, how much do you actually do with the OS beyond running applications? And if all of the applications are really just Windows apps, then the argument is “you can run apps on their native OS, or you can run apps on a non-native OS”. Most people will pick the native OS.

  4. “I’d love to see AutoCAD added to the list of compatible programs…”

    I know, I have been wanting to run Autocad nativley on my mac since I switched 4 years ago. I have a buisness I started athat relies on Autocad 100%. It is the only reason I run windows. I do it now on my PC laptop. It is about dead though so I am looking to get something new and I want to wait for all this to pan out before getting a new apple.

  5. CrossOver Office worked really great on Linux when I used it (3 years ago). Unsupported apps are problematical. Wine translates Windows API calls into their analog in the host OS. Each application seems to implement these system calls differently, and so CXO has to tweak the application so that it runs properly. The supported applications have been tweaked to ensure smooth operation. Unsupported apps may work or not depending on how closely they conform to the published Windows API.

    I was able to run Linux and run all the business-critical Windows apps I needed in a Windows-only environment using CXO, it’s a great product.

  6. If you want to run AutoCad, get Parallels – that is one program I didn’t have much luck with on Linux/CXO.

    The list of Windows apps I would potentially run on my Macs:

    AutoCad
    GPS Mapping/Navigation (Delorme & Garmin)
    MS Project
    MiniTab

    Of the above, only Project is a CXO supported application. So for me, the choice would be Parallels.

  7. Yes…I am so there having AutoCAD Architectural Desktop 2007 or even Revit running on OSX. It would be fun to use a high powered drafting program on the Mac again. After doing some drafting by hand (way back in the late 80’s), was able to use Versa Cad on Mac OS. Eventually upgraded to Microstation on Mac OS. Sadly Microstation did not continue their product support and allowed the program to die. Currently using AutoCAD Architectural Desktop 2007 on WinXP. It would be nice to have a choice again.

  8. Could this help Mac gaming?

    They’re supposed to be working on Half Life 2 to run in this WINE-like layer.

    I wonder if it would be cheaper for games developers to licence the technology from CodeWeavers, rather than do a port to the Mac?

    I’m sure games wouldn’t cost any more this way, the licence from CodeWeavers being offset by the shorter development time.

    Don’t forget, this effectively runs under X11, so although being fine for the odd app and games, I don’t think we’ll see Adobe abandoning the Mac any time soon.

  9. People who worry that things like this might mean that developers won’t make Mac OS X-specific versions of their applications don’t understand what makes Mac OS X unique or why developers write for Mac OS X or, for that matter, why people choose Mac OS X.

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