The Washington Post: ‘Windows, just another program to run on a Mac’

The Washington Post’s Rob Pegoraro looks at three programs for Intel-based Macs that run Windows at about the same speed as a regular PC (graphically-intensive applications excluded): Parallels’ Parallels Desktop 4, $79.99; VMware’s Fusion 2, $79.99; and Sun Microsystems’ VirtualBox 2, free for personal use.

Pegoraro reports, “I’d tried Parallels and Fusion before, so these versions didn’t offer any huge surprises… Fusion 2 did, however, seem to represent a bit more of an advance over the previous version. Parallels 4 may be a case of going too far to mesh the Windows and Mac environments — my guess is that most people running Windows programs on a Mac won’t be doing so all the time, and so they don’t need to have the two operating systems stitched so tightly together.”

“VirtualBox, however, was new to me. I can see why this application is free for home use; its performance, compatibility and user interface all need work,” Pegoraro. “And yet… I suspect that many Windows switchers don’t need to run more than a handful of Windows programs on a new Mac, and they’d gladly accept a limited, slower form of Windows emulation that saves them $80.”

“Or, of course, you could stick with the Boot Camp software built into Mac OS X, which provides total hardware compatibility — including Vista Aero graphics — but only accepts Windows XP or Vista and requires you to reboot the Mac to switch operating systems,” Pegoraro reports. “There’s yet another option for running Windows programs on a Mac, CodeWeavers’ CrossOver [which] doesn’t even require a copy of Windows — but it can only run a subset of Windows titles, sometimes with only some of their functions intact.”

Full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “PaKo” for the heads up.]


  1. if you want PC games, then you’ll need a new MacBook or MacBook Pro or an iMac. The graphics in the older MacBooks are not anywhere close up to gaming.

    Then you need to use BootCamp because the virtualizations don’t do graphics with very good performance.

  2. What I did was to purchase an inexpensive Windows computer (Medion) just for gaming. I have a bunch of older game titles in my library -which is why I didn’t purchase a next ten gaming platform. Well that and no HI Def TV.


  3. Someone mentioned Quicken for Mac. I found that intolerable also. A much better program with a very strange name is Moneydance. It is a Java program that runs on OS X, Linux, and Windows. It does electronic banking MUCH better than Quicken for Mac.

  4. I have only one ‘game’ worth getting my iMac contaminated with Windows. It is MS Flight Simulator X. Obvously, resource-intensive, I had to set it up on a BootCamp partition. When I want to play, I reboot into Bootcamp. The only problem I have with that is, there are at least three users logged in at any given time on my iMac (my wife, myself, our children). They always leave software open and we do user switching. For the kids, I don’t care much, but my wife doesn’t like when I close her browser windows. Long story short, I don’t get to go into BootCamp that often.

    I do have Fusion though, as well. I set it up to run off of the existing BootCamp partition; no need for another license of Windows XP for that (or taking up additional hard drive space for the image). When ran full screen, Flight Sim has quite decent graphic performance. Not nearly nominal as when in BootCamp, but reasonable.

    MBP (or the new MB) will probably work just as reasonable as my 1-year old Alu- iMac.

  5. Windows is an emulator on my Mac that expands my game chest. End of story for me.

    I have no use for any other software for the PC, other than games. And because my XP isn’t even allowed out of the yard, ( No internet for you! ) and yet I still have to blow off Steam, so my inner child has the biggest fuçking sandbox on the planet cause my Mac does Windows!

    Get that.

    In many respects XP is a superior alternative to my xbox and there is a helluva lot more software than I’ll ever need in this life. It’s too bad 80 percent of it, like the industry behind it, is redundant — done to death — like so much of the refuse that is choking our planet.


  6. Re the emulator choices Pegoraro lists, it’s taken me about 5 hours, but I’ve (almost) got WIndoze XP to run properly under VirtualBox 2 on my iMac. The tricky part was getting XP to find the VBox “Additions” iso file (I had to burn it to a CD).

    Once the Additions were installed, creating a Shared (Mac <–> PC) Folder was reasonably straightforward. But no luck so far getting XP to read a USB drive (XP searches in vain for a driver). That will have to await the input of my geeky son (a Windoze user; oh the humiliation).

    Others have praised VirtualBox on recent threads. My comment would be that it’s fast (sorry, “snappy”), but it’s not that easy to set up. Still, free counts for a lot, I guess.

  7. Just reading the title of this got me laughing.
    The only reason I used Windows XP on Parallels was to run QuickBooks Pro. However just the other day I switched to QuickBooks Pro for Mac which plays nicely with my finance department’s Windows version. I’m hoping that after many years of tainting my Mac with Windows I can run OSX in peace.

  8. like so many, I have to run Windows for a school grading package.

    I also use it to check my webpage. BTW: iWeb will produce a web page that runs just like it is supposed to on IE on Windows.

    Just to clear things up, the grading package works great on Mac/Safari, but there is a module for producing Individualized Educational Plans (IEP) that is produced and modified using some kind of Microsoft package, and that one just will not run correctly in anything but IE.

    No: spoofing by using the Safari Developer menu to pretend to be IE does not work in any IE produced web page of any size and complexity. Simple ones, maybe. I don’t even waste a minute or two trying.

    I run Parallels 4.0, certainly has no more issues (and runs faster) than the Windows desktop machine that my school supplies.

  9. >Windows on a Mac, why?

    Cross-platform browser and application testing, on one slim portable
    A few applications that are not available on the Mac

    Admittedly, fewer reasons every year, but the reasons are there.

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