New iMacs - Best App to Run Windows

  • Posted: 18 August 2007 11:35 AM

    I just ordered a new 24” iMac (won’t arrive ‘til mid Sep), and stumbled onto this TMO site… and yes, I’m very new to Macs (was forced to work in a windows environment for a long time… but recently got a “get-out-of-jail” pass smile.

    Can someone please give me an assessment of the various apps that emulate the windows environment. I’ve read a little on the following:

    1. Boot Camp,
    2. Cold Fusion, and
    3. VMware Fusion.

    Honest assessments, please?

    [ Edited: 21 November 2012 09:46 AM by Intruder ]      
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    Posted: 18 August 2007 12:14 PM #1

    Well, while I don’t use any of the products you have listed, I will provide a few comments.

    First, I’ve never heard of a product named Cold Fusion that would run Windows on a Mac.  The only software product I’ve heard of in relation to the name Cold Fusion is an Adobe product used for creating web sites.

    Boot Camp is Apple’s own product, but its significantly different from the other products in that it is a assistant that provides the drivers necessary to boot Windows directly on a Mac, resize the hardware partitions, and setup the boot loader.  This means that every time you want to switch between Windows and OS X, you will need to reboot the machine to load the OS you want to use.  This can slow you down some if you plan to switch between the environments frequently.  However, it does provide direct access to the hardware, which can be nice for very resource intensive apps, like games.  Also nice, Boot Camp is a free download from Apple, and is supposed to be incorporated into the OS X 10.5 release.

    I hadn’t heard of VMware Fusion previously, so I went and looked it up.  It sounds similar to Parallels Desktop, and if you are seriously considering VMware, you should look at Parallels.  They both normally sell for $79.99, though VMware’s indicates they are offering a $20 mail-in rebate for a limited time.  Both products are virtualization environments, meaning they each have the ability to allow you to run Windows inside the OS X environment, eliminating the need for a reboot.  They offer a different feature set, and some of the differences are outlined nicely on the wikipedia page for Vmware Fusion .  Since they don’t offer direct access to hardware, things might be a little slower, but for non-resource intensive apps, it should not be a problem.

    Unfortunately, I can’t give any specific advice on which might be the best, as I don’t use any of the products I’ve discussed so far.  Maybe someone else can give more specific commentary.  Hope that helps.

    smile

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  • Posted: 18 August 2007 12:28 PM #2

    If you do things that are very 3D intensive such as gaming (unlikely at work) you should use Boot Camp since it runs directly on hardware as the primary OS.

    If you want to run both systems simultaneously, I have had pretty good luck with Parallels. I’ve never tried any of the other programs you mention. One Parallels feature I like is that in Windows you can run a mode called “coherence.” This lets you mix your Windows windows in with your Mac windows rather than confining all your Windows windows insinde a Mac window. (Hope that didn’t sound too confusing. Haha. What I mean is you can run the programs side-by-side rather than having Windows in a separate environment the way you traditionally had to with Virtual PC.)

         
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    Posted: 18 August 2007 01:30 PM #3

    [quote author=“David Nelson”]One Parallels feature I like is that in Windows you can run a mode called “coherence.”

    I noticed when poking around the VMware website that they do this as well, only they call the feature “Unity”.

    CNet did an article comparing the performance of VMware Fusion and SWsoft Parallels Desktop 3.0.  The results favored Fusion a bit , mostly because Fusion can let the guest OS use up to two CPU cores, rather than just one.

    I will note that any of the products mentioned should do better than VirtualPC, because none of them need to do full out CPU emulation.  No translating x86 to PPC code.  I think virtualization is a little less tough to get working at good speeds than emulation environments, though that is my personal opinion.

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  • Posted: 18 August 2007 03:15 PM #4

    Thanks for Your Comments - Very Useful

    @FlatEric and DavidNelson:
    tnks for your useful commentary. The only 3D intensive work that I do in the Win environment on occasion is CAD stuff, but I don’t do it often. So I think I’ll just try the Apple app in the virtual environment (e.g. BootCamp) and see if it’s satisfactory.

    As a side note, with the introduction of the new iMacs, there’s a ton of reasons why Windows users should consider switching!

    I’ll have tons of other Q shortly, and will make new posts (e.g. Best apps for A/V, spyware, firewall, etc.; ease/or difficulty in exporting browser bookmarks from Firefox and address book info from Thunderbird).

         
  • Posted: 18 August 2007 04:52 PM #5

    Re: Thanks for Your Comments - Very Useful

    [quote author=“obewon86”]So I think I’ll just try the Apple app in the virtual environment (e.g. BootCamp) and see if it’s satisfactory.

    Just to make sure things are clear to you, Boot Camp is not a virtual environment. It lets you boot Windows directly on the hardware, not virtualized. This offers the best performance overall but you must restart the computer every time you switch between systems—that is, assuming Apple doesn’t offer some sort of suspend-to-disk feature in the final version of Boot Camp to allow faster OS switching. I could see it happening at some point, but they have said nothing to imply this is in the pipeline either.

    [quote author=“obewon86”]I’ll have tons of other Q shortly, and will make new posts (e.g. Best apps for A/V, spyware, firewall, etc.; ease/or difficulty in exporting browser bookmarks from Firefox and address book info from Thunderbird).

    Please do! But I can answer your first few questions already:
    You don’t need to worry about antivirus and antispyware. There are a few you can use if you want (Norton on the commercial side, ClamAV on the free side) but I would go so far as to say they’re completely unnecessary. There currently is no Mac malware out in the wild, so there’s nothing against which you need protection. The only case in which I’d bother installing antivirus on Mac is if it were a server—to prevent Windows clients from spreading a virus to other Windows users that use email or file sharing services on that system.

    For your Firefox and Thunderbird data you’ll want to move your Profile Folder over to your Mac. You can either continue to use the Mac version of these apps if you prefer them, or we can help you learn to migrate your data over to Mail and Safari. http://kb.mozillazine.org/Profile_folder

         
  • Posted: 18 August 2007 05:18 PM #6

    Re: Thanks for Your Comments - Very Useful

    [quote author=“obewon86”]

    I’ll have tons of other Q shortly, ... spyware ....

    Heh, heh, spyware…

    /coaten sniggers

    OK, seriously, as a Boot Camp user running XP on a 24in iMac, I can recommend Boot Camp as an excellent solution for gaming. But that’s it. I boot into XP for no other reason.

    If you are not gaming, or running a specialised, Windows-only 3D app, then IMHO you really don’t need Boot Camp.

    By all means, though, try it. But from the sound of it, you need only to shift data between platforms, which means you may well be better served with a virtualisation technology that allows you to export/import, even drag/drop data, while running OS X.

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    Posted: 18 August 2007 05:29 PM #7

    Re: Thanks for Your Comments - Very Useful

    [quote author=“coaten”]If you are not gaming, or running a specialised, Windows-only 3D app, then IMHO you really don’t need Boot Camp.

    By all means, though, try it. But from the sound of it, you need only to shift data between platforms, which means you may well be better served with a virtualisation technology that allows you to export/import, even drag/drop data, while running OS X.

    You have to admit that free is a great price.  Yeah, VMware Fusion or SWsoft Parallels Desktop might be better solutions for the workload, but maybe it would be cheaper to try Boot Camp first, then buy one if you need it.  I think both solutions will allow you to use a Boot Camp partition as the source for the Windows OS.  It would make a nice progression if obewon86 needs to go that route.

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    According to statistics, half the world is below average intelligence
    "The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it."-George Bernard Shaw
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  • Posted: 18 August 2007 06:03 PM #8

    I don’t have significant experience with any of these (my primary machine is a PPC Mac, so I can’t use them), but I’d like to add that Parallels 3 has 3D hardware support. I don’t think it’s 100% complete, but my understanding is that it’s leaps and bounds better than anything else out there, and is good enough to play some games with.

    See http://www.parallels.com/en/products/desktop/features/3d/ (obviously they’re biased, but it’s still useful information).

    Another advantage to Parallels is that it can work with the same Windows installation as Boot Camp. So on the (probably rare) occasions you need to boot directly into Windows, you can, and the rest of the time you can run it inside OS X, all with just one Windows installation. I don’t think VMWare Fusion allows for that.

    There’s also another virtualizer (like Parallels and VMWare) called VirtualBox , which is free for personal use. I only recently learned about it, and I don’t know much about it. But hey, it’s free. smile

         
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    Posted: 18 August 2007 06:12 PM #9

    [quote author=“Mikuro”]Another advantage to Parallels is that it can work with the same Windows installation as Boot Camp. So on the (probably rare) occasions you need to boot directly into Windows, you can, and the rest of the time you can run it inside OS X, all with just one Windows installation. I don’t think VMWare Fusion allows for that.

    Bzzzzt.  Sorry, that is incorrect.  It clearly states on the VMware Fusion Features page:

    Already running Windows XP on your Mac using Apple Boot Camp? No problem. VMware Fusion automatically detects your Boot Camp partition and lets you access it as a virtual machine, giving you the flexibility to run Windows XP alone or side-by-side with Mac OS X.

    Like you, I have never tried it myself (running a PPC machine like you).  However, their feature list is what it is, making that particular feature the same between Parallels and Fusion.

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    According to statistics, half the world is below average intelligence
    "The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it."-George Bernard Shaw
    "You can’t change that by gettin’ all…bendy."

         
  • Posted: 18 August 2007 06:36 PM #10

    Re: Thanks for Your Comments - Very Useful

    [quote author=“FlatEric”]You have to admit that free is a great price.  Yeah, VMware Fusion or SWsoft Parallels Desktop might be better solutions for the workload, but maybe it would be cheaper to try Boot Camp first, then buy one if you need it.  I think both solutions will allow you to use a Boot Camp partition as the source for the Windows OS.  It would make a nice progression if obewon86 needs to go that route.

    Agreed.

    Should we point out, too, that Boot Camp users must have their own, licensed copy of whichever Windows OS they want to run?

    So, in a way, it’s not that free after all. But you’re right, FE, it’s a cheaper initial solution than the other options.

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    Posted: 18 August 2007 08:29 PM #11

    Re: Thanks for Your Comments - Very Useful

    [quote author=“coaten”]Should we point out, too, that Boot Camp users must have their own, licensed copy of whichever Windows OS they want to run?

    So, in a way, it’s not that free after all. But you’re right, FE, it’s a cheaper initial solution than the other options.

    Well, given that obewon86 is migrating from a Windows machine, I was making the assumption that he would have a license available.  It might be a bad assumption.  Either way, Boot Camp by itself is free, while Fusion and Parallels are not.

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    "The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it."-George Bernard Shaw
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  • Posted: 19 August 2007 09:04 AM #12

    Re: Thanks for Your Comments - Very Useful

    [quote author=“David Nelson”]Please do! But I can answer your first few questions already

    Thanks for your very informative post. Not having to worry about A/V, spyware, malware, etc. is very sweet!
    Regarding Firefox/Thunderbird data, it’s probably best to just migrate that stuff over. So I’m sure I’ll be back with more Q once I get my iMac.

    +++++
    [quote author=“Coaten”]Heh, heh, spyware…
    /coaten sniggers

    Wow! I guess I’m revealing what a “noob” I am when it comes to Mac stuff. I used to have a Mac PowerBook back in the mid 1990’s, but had to go to the “dark side” because that’s what my clients used.
    I’m a “believer” now, coaten.

    +++++
    [quote author=“FlatEric”]You have to admit that free is a great price

    You got a good point there! I think I’m gonna try BootCamp, then see if it’s sufficient.
    EDIT: FlatEric, I just re-read your first post regarding BootCamp (I only glanced at it the first time), and now have a better understanding of it.

    Tnks for all the helpful advice, guys.

    OB-1 will return!

         
  • Posted: 19 August 2007 09:33 AM #13

    Re: Thanks for Your Comments - Very Useful

    [quote author=“coaten”][quote author=“FlatEric”]You have to admit that free is a great price.  Yeah, VMware Fusion or SWsoft Parallels Desktop might be better solutions for the workload, but maybe it would be cheaper to try Boot Camp first, then buy one if you need it.  I think both solutions will allow you to use a Boot Camp partition as the source for the Windows OS.  It would make a nice progression if obewon86 needs to go that route.

    Agreed.

    Should we point out, too, that Boot Camp users must have their own, licensed copy of whichever Windows OS they want to run?

    So, in a way, it’s not that free after all. But you’re right, FE, it’s a cheaper initial solution than the other options.

    OK, guys, I’m baaacck. Sorry if my question here sounds academic.
    FE, your statement above (that I boldfaced): is this correct? And if I decided to go with VMWare Fusion from the onset, would I still need to buy a licensed copy of Win XP?

         
  • Posted: 19 August 2007 11:37 AM #14

    Re: Thanks for Your Comments - Very Useful

    [quote author=“obewon86”][quote author=“FlatEric”]I think both solutions will allow you to use a Boot Camp partition as the source for the Windows OS.  It would make a nice progression if obewon86 needs to go that route.

    [snip]

    OK, guys, I’m baaacck. Sorry if my question here sounds academic.
    FE, your statement above (that I boldfaced): is this correct? And if I decided to go with VMWare Fusion from the onset, would I still need to buy a licensed copy of Win XP?

    The VMware Fusion product page says so, and I’m sure if anyone knows it’s VMware themselves. As for Parallels, I know so firsthand because I’ve done it before.

    You would need a real copy of Windows XP regardless of whether you use Boot Camp, Parallels, or VMware Fusion. None of these solutions actually replace Windows itself, they just offer ways for you to run it on your Mac. Whether you need a brand new copy is a different question. If you have a generic copy of Windows XP SP2 (either Professional or Home) that is not going to be used on a different computer anymore, you could potentially use that on your Mac instead. However, you’ll probably have to jump through some hoops with Microsoft support to get it activated on a different computer than the one it was originally installed on.

         
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    Posted: 19 August 2007 02:47 PM #15

    At least with Parallels, there is a path to bring over everything from an existing PC using their Transporter software.

    Don’t know if VMWare does the same thing. BootCamp does not.

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