Everything you need to know to get started and a little bit more….
Installing Windows on a partition of your HDD is not the only way to use Windows on a Mac. Here I will list the other tools that are available for running Windows on a virtual machine and discuss some of the positives and negatives they provide.
I won’t go in to too much detail as there are many comparisons of these software already available but from a beginners perspective I hope to shed some light on the other tools that are available.
The main benefit of running Windows in a virtual machine is there is no need to reboot your computer, Windows simply runs like any other application would. File transfers are a little simpler in this environment and if you do happen to catch a virus it’s almost impossible for it to have any impact on your OSX install.
The negatives are that there is a noticeable speed difference between running Windows virtually and running it natively on a partition. Gaming and other graphics intensive programs will suffer massively from being run virtually and certain programs will not work at all in a virtual environment.
Running Windows in a virtual machine still requires you to actually purchase a copy of the Operating System itself and it will still use up a large section of your HDD.
Parallels costs £64.99 to buy, however there is a trial available. If you already own a copy of Windows it is worth your while downloading the trial and giving this software a go. If it can meet your needs for running Windows sufficiently then it could be a better solution than partitioning your HDD and installing Windows natively.
If you already have a Bootcamp partition you can use Parallels to access that install to save you installing Windows again virtually.
Parallels is probably the best virtualisation software available for running graphics intensive programs and games. VMWare Fusion has made ground in catching Parallels in gaming performance now however Parallels still has the edge even if the difference is marginal now.
Parallels also does a great job of allowing mutli touch gestures in virtual Windows, small things like this help make the overall experience much better and feel like it is part of OSX rather than a whole other operating system.
VMWare Fusion (www.vmware.com/vmwarefusion5):
VMWare Fusion costs £39.99 and £68.69 for the professional version, there is also a trial available. As I mentioned above you still need a valid copy of Windows to run it legally in this virtual environment.
VMware comes very close to parallels in game performance as I previously mentioned, only being beaten by Parallels running in DX9 mode in gaming benchmarks.
The process of installing Windows is fairly simple although Parallels is a bit more user friendly and easier on the eye. All versions of Windows from Vista upwards seem to function at a fairly impressive speed in this software without sacrificing the performance of the host machine.
One of the main features that could attract more new users to VMWare over Parallels is that more favourable license terms allowing you to install the software on three macs for the base price rather than only once as Parallels allows (substantial upgrade cost for extra computer licenses).