The Bifocals Guide to Running Windows on Your Mac

| Computing with Bifocals

I have a number of good friends who are fortunate enough to have one of the Macs with an Intel processor.  I hope you are among that group yourself.  Several of these individuals, for one reason or another, have elected to try and install the recently released Microsoft Vista on their machines.  It has not been pretty.

Those with the Intel based Macs can run both a Microsoft operating system and a Mac operating system.? Our most current operating system is OS 10.4.x, more commonly knows as Tiger.? Microsoft Vista is the recently released Microsoft operating system, the first major update to the operating system since 2002.? There are 6 versions of Vista. The price for a full version ranges from US$200 to $400 so folks tend to get a bit testy when it takes over a hour to install and it still doesnit work well.? The price for Tiger and each of the Mac? OS X operating systems that preceded it is $130.

On the other hand, letis be honest here, the people I know who have rushed out to purchase Vista and installed it on their Macs have done so because they are the ones who always have to have the most toys.  Chances are pretty good that whatever application they had that required a Microsoft operating system was running just fine on the Microsoft operating system they were using the day before Vista came out.

I didnit quite understand how this whole "PC side of the Mac" thing worked.  Thanks to our local Macintosh Users Group, CapMac, I have a better understanding of and can pass on my 5 cents worth.

Your Intel based Mac comes loaded with the most current Mac operating system.  Currently that is system is Tiger.  The PC abilities are there, but you can think of them as an unplanted garden.  There is nothing there to use.  To make use of the PC side requires the installation of two piece of software. 

The first application will be something that allows the creation of a virtual machine (Parallels Desktop for example) or a separate partition (Boot camp for example).?? There are several other applications available as well.? The second application will be the operating system of choice.? For most of us that will be Microsoft Windows XP or Microsoft Vista.? Whatever your personal choices, you are looking at an expenditure of a few hundred (U.S.) dollars.? However, with both kinds of applications successfully installed you can run almost any application that can be run on any PC within the limitations set by how much memory you have on your Mac.?

By the way, any viruses that you might download while using the Windows operating systems will not transfer to the Mac side of your machine and cause trouble.

So what should you do if you really want or need to take advantage of the PC option?  This may be one of those times when it will be worth your while to get a competent friend or paid consultant to help you successfully decide which applications best meet your needs and then help you successfully install them.  Iim telling you, I have seen grown men cry.

Those of us who donit have Macs with Intel processors can still have a virtual PC experience if we so desire.  I have a sometimes job that requires me to enter reports via the Internet.  Their system is not very sophisticated and I can only enter them from a PC environment.  To do that I use an application made by Microsoft called Virtual PC for Mac.? Versions are available for U.S. $249, and U.S. $219, with both prices including the Windows license.? This application will not (yet) work on the Intel based Macs.? The specs are:

Hardware:  PowerPC G3, G4 or G5 processor
Operating system: Mac OS X Version 10.2.8; Mac OS X Version 10.3; Mac OS X Version 10.4.1 or later.
Free Hard Disk Space: 3 GB
RAM: 512 MB

In my case I only want to use Internet Explorer through the PC side so I did not have to install any additional software.? A friend who recently switched to the Mac wants to continue to use an application called QuickBooks that she has used for years in the PC environment (even though QuickBooks is available on the Mac).? To do so she will have to install Virtual PC for Mac.? Once it is installed and open, she can then install her copy of QuickBooks and go from there.? She will not have to repurchase QuickBooks (assuming she has a legal, registered copy in the first place.)? I keep Virtual PC for Mac in my Dock and just access it when I need it.

One thing to keep in mind - it definitely slows down my computer and I never leave it as an active application when not in use even though it seems to take it forever to get revved up and going.

When (and you will) you get irritated at having to deal with all things Microsoft and/or PC keep in mind that Appleis market share has been growing in leaps and bounds in recent years.? Maybe we can come up with some kind of secret signal to identify ourselves to each other when we meet in public - you know when one has their Mac out and the other one doesnit.? Itis just a thought.

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