Running Windows on a Mac: Boot Camp, Parallels Desktop & VMware Fusion

Discussion in 'Apple and Mac OS X' started by Sam, Jul 24, 2007.

  1. Sam

    Sam Notebook Virtuoso

    Reputations:
    3,661
    Messages:
    9,249
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    205
    This sticky last updated on November 04, 2009 by Budding

    By Sammy L.

    [​IMG]

    The announcement of Apple's transition to Intel processors back in June of 2005 has allowed Macs to run Windows natively. Apple announced Boot Camp Beta on April 5, 2006, and the final version is found in Apple's latest operating system, Mac OS X Leopard (10.5), released on October 26th, 2007. Meanwhile, two third-party developers have also released applications that allow Mac users to run Windows virtually. Both methods have their advantages and disadvantages, and this thread will detail what each method is, their advantages/disadvantages, why one should choose one over another and little notes of interest.

    Boot Camp

    Apple's Boot Camp allows an Intel Mac user to run Windows like any other PC. It was available as a free beta download on Apple's website, and the final version of Boot Camp is featured in Mac OS X Leopard, released on October 26th, 2007. With Boot Camp, a user chooses which operating system to boot upon start-up. If the user boots into Windows, Mac OS X is not in operation, thus not consuming any system resources, and vice versa. To run the other operating system (not currently in use), the user has to restart the computer.
    To use Boot Camp with Mac OS X 10.5 you need the following:

    System Requirements for Boot Camp 2.1

    • An Intel-based Mac

    • A Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard installation disc. This can be either a Mac OS X Leopard disc included with a purchased copy of Leopard, or a Mac OS X Install Disc 1 from a Mac that had Leopard preinstalled

    • A USB keyboard and mouse, or a built-in keyboard and trackpad

    • At least 10 GB of free space on the disk you’re installing on (for Microsoft Windows and Windows-based applications)

    • 2 GB or more of memory (RAM) if using Windows Vista on a Mac Pro computer

    • Boot Camp Assistant, which is installed by Leopard in (/Applications/Utilities/).

    • An authentic, 32-bit Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition or Professional with Service Pack 2 (or later) disc or

    • An authentic, 32-bit Microsoft Windows Vista Home Basic, Home Premium, Business, or Ultimate disc or

    • An authentic, 64-bit Microsoft Windows Vista Home Basic, Home Premium, Business or Ultimate disc if you are using an early 2008 or later Macbook Pro or Mac Pro (more info here)

    For a Windows XP installation, your Microsoft Windows XP installation disc must include Service Pack 2 (SP2) or later.

    And of course, the Windows operating systems must be full versions, and not Upgrade discs.


    Important: Users who participated in the Boot Camp Beta program can update their Boot Camp in Leopard by following these instructions. Very easy.

    [​IMG]
    Boot Camp running on a MacBook Pro. Image courtesy of crazyguy.

    To learn more on how Boot Camp works and what you need to do, please read this PDF: Boot Camp Installation & Setup Guide as well as this <noparse>FAQ</noparse>: Boot Camp 2.0 FAQ

    Parallels Desktop for Mac/VMware Fusion

    Parallels Desktop for Mac and VMware Fusion offer an alternative to Boot Camp. Instead of having to restart every time you want to switch to the other operating system, Parallels/VMware allows you to run Windows virtually inside Mac OS X. With Parallels/VMware Fusion, Windows is run in a window on the Mac desktop, therefore both OSes run simultaneously. This allows the user to run Windows applications side-by-side with Mac applications.

    Resources
    Note that Parallels and VMWare Fusion will give you options when it comes to sharing resources between Windows and OS X. You will be able to assign the number of CPU cores to be shared with your Virtual Machine, as well as the amount of RAM and Video RAM to be taken away from OS X and used by your Virtual Machine. You also have the option to create a stand alone Virtual Machine with the ability to dynamically change the amount of HD storage it uses up, or one of fixed size.

    Features
    Parallels offers a feature known as Coherence which allows Windows applications to graphically integrate into the Mac desktop. VMware Fusion has a similar feature known as Unity. In Coherence and Unity, Windows applications running virtually are rid of the Mac window around them, so the Windows applications are running separate of another Windows applications. Both latest versions of Parallels 5 and VMWare Fusion 3 offer Expose support, in which Windows applications are displayed independent of each other in Expose mode.

    Using the Boot Camp partition
    Both Parallels and VMWare give you the option to use your existing Boot Camp partition as your Virtual Machine. The advantages of this are of course that all the changes you make to the Operating System in the Virtual Machine will be reflected in Boot Camp and vice versa. However, you do lose features such as mirrored folders in VMWare Fusion and dynamically changing disk size. Please be aware that a number of users have had their Windows OS deactivated whenever they switched between using Boot Camp and the Virtual Machine due to changes in hardware, resulting in them having to call the free Microsoft Windows activation hotline and spend five minutes on average re-activating their copy of Microsoft Windows.

    Pricing
    Both Parallels Desktop for Mac 5 as well as VMWare Fusion 3 are sold for $79.99 US.
    Owners of previous versions of VMWare Fusion can upgrade to VMWare Fusion 3 for $39.99, as well as purchase Parallels 5 at the discounted price of $49.99. Owners of previous versions of Parallels can upgrade to Parallels 5 for $49.99.

    Both Parallels and VMWare come with Internet Security suites, Kaspersky for Parallels, and McAfee for VMWare.

    Parallels Screenshots

    [​IMG]
    Parallels Desktop in action.

    [​IMG]
    Parallels Desktop playing Crysis. Note how one can drag Windows applications to the Dock where they can launch them via Parallels. This feature is also supported in VMware Fusion.

    VMWare Fusion Screenshots

    [​IMG]
    VMware Fusion in action.

    [​IMG]
    VMware Fusion playing Gears of War.

    [​IMG]
    VMware Fusion running Microsoft Office Word 2007.

    To learn more on how Parallels works and what you need to do, please read this PDF: Parallels Desktop for Mac User Guide

    To learn more on how VMware Fusion works and what you need to do, please read this PDF: Getting Started With VMware Fusion as well as this FAQ: VMware Fusion FAQ

    Advantages of Boot Camp

    Boot Camp basically allows the user to use their Mac as a PC without anything to pay attention to or worry about. System requirements are minimal and installation is simple. Boot Camp has an advantage over Parallels/VMware Fusion because there is only one Operating System running, so it does not share any system resources with another Operating System, resulting in much better Windows performance. Running Windows through Parallels/VMware Fusion will require the sharing of resources to run than Boot Camp, since both Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows have to run on the same computer simultaneously. Gaming, especially games with support for the latest in 3D graphics, will be more enjoyable in Boot Camp as more computer and graphics resources will be available, whereas in Parallels or VMWare Fusion, some of those resources would be used in the running of Mac OS X.

    Advantages of Parallels Desktop/VMware Fusion


    The disadvantage of Boot Camp is Parallels and VMware Fusion's advantage. Since Parallels/VMware Fusion can quickly launch Windows in a window, users can quickly access Windows and return to Mac OS X. In Boot Camp, the user would have to restart the computer to boot Windows and restart again to return into Mac OS X.

    Also, for many users, some applications are only available on Windows currently, for example Microsoft Office 2007 or PC-only games. With Parallels/VMWare Fusion, one can run Photoshop CS3 on the Mac while running Office 2007 side-by-side in another window on the Mac desktop.

    Should I get Boot Camp or Parallels/VMware Fusion?

    This is probably the most coveted question of all :D.

    It will depend on what your tasks need. If you like or need to run a Windows application alongside a Mac application (such as Photoshop on the Mac while running Office 2007 on Windows), Parallels & VMware is for you. But to run Parallels/VMware Fusion, you also have to think about the cost of more RAM (unless you already have 2 GB of RAM for Windows XP or 4GB for Windows Vista, in which you'll be fine) as well as the price of Parallels & VMware Fusion (both retail at $79.99 US) on top of the price of a Windows license.

    If you want to play the latest 3D games in all its glory, then Boot Camp should be your choice since both VMWare 3 and Parallels 5 currently only support DirectX 9.0, DirectX Pixel Shader 3.0 and OpenGL 2.1. This means that even with a zillion GB of your RAM and VRAM as well as all your CPU cores assigned to your Virtual Machine, you will not be able to take advantage of the latest 3D graphics engines, handicapping the amount of enjoyment you might experience from your game.

    If your work needs you to run Windows and you prefer to run Mac OS X at home you may be enjoy Boot Camp where you have a PC at work and a Mac at home without the need for more RAM or to purchase the Parallels/VMware software. But you will lose the flexibility of running Windows programs alongside Mac programs as well as the ability to quickly launch Windows and return to Mac OS X. In Boot Camp, if you decide you need to boot into Windows, you will have to restart the computer to boot into Windows, and restart again to return to Mac OS X.

    I won't be using Boot Camp. Should I use Parallels Desktop or VMware Fusion?

    For many who have decided they will run Windows virtually as opposed to using Boot Camp, the next question will be Parallels Desktop or VMware Fusion.

    VMWare Fusion 3 has been reported to be more stable than Parallels when running Microsoft Windows. VMWare Fusion Virtual Machine Images are also compatible with other VMWare products, such as VMWare Fusion Server.

    Parallels 5 has more features than VMWare Fusion, including automatic file-type association for both Windows & Mac Software; Windows System Tray notifications on the Mac Menu Bar; built in screen capture tool; iPhone app for remote control; etc. Parallels is also much better at rendering OpenGL than VMWare and supports up to 8 CPU cores dedicated to the Virtual Machine as opposed to 4 CPU cores currently supported by VMWare 2.


    Benchmarks (Nov 22, 2008):

    Since Parallels 4 was only released very recently, none of the major technology websites have released benchmarks comparing Parallels 4 to VMWare 2. InformationWeek have released a review of Parallels 4 in which some benchmarks are quoted, but note that these benchmarks are not official and might not have been performed under rigorous conditions, and some benchmarks have been omitted since their results are highly arguable.

    Cinebench R10:
    --------------CB-CPU--------CB-GFX
    ------------(Rendering)----(Shading)
    Parallels 4:.....2105..............1171
    VMWare 2:.....2052................112


    Things to Note

    • Boot Camp is a feature of Mac OS X Leopard, released on October 26th, 2007. Users who participated in the Boot Camp Beta program can update their Boot Camp in Leopard by following these instructions.

    • The latest finalized version of Parallels Desktop for Mac is Parallels Desktop 5.0 (2009/11/04) (http://www.parallels.com/landingpage/dskd26/?gclid=CN39_ZTFh5cCFQmKMAodkRCw_A).

    • The latest finalized version of VMware Fusion is Fusion 3 (2009/11/04). Download the latest version here.

    • Boot Camp can only be run in Intel-based Macs. Older PowerPC Macs cannot run Windows natively.

    • Parallels and VMware Fusion can use the same partition that was created on Boot Camp to run Windows.

    • Running Windows on a Mac, whether by Boot Camp or by virtualization, is the same as running Windows on a PC. So viruses and spyware will be as likely to infect your Windows-running Mac as it would on any other PC. Use Windows on the Mac with the same security software and the same caution you would use on any other PC.

    • To run Parallels/VMware Fusion smoothly you will want to have 2 GB of RAM or more. Running Parallels/VMware Fusion with 1 GB of RAM will be sluggish (official stated minimum RAM is 512 MB).

    • Since the release of v3.0, Parallels has graphics support; in other words one can run graphics-intensive applications and games through Parallels.

    • With the release of VMware Fusion 1.1, Fusion now has DirectX 9.0 3D support, adding support for more graphics-intensive applications and games that previously were not supported. OpenGL performance is poor, however.

    External Links


    Boot Camp
    Boot Camp Installation & Setup Guide
    Boot Camp FAQ
    Apple Boot Camp Support
    Parallels Desktop for Mac
    Parallels Desktop for Mac User Guide
    Parallels Desktop <noparse>FAQ</noparse>
    VMware Fusion
    Getting Started with VMware Fusion

    This post will be edited as time passes for more updated information. If you would like to add anything or correct anything, let me or Budding know via PM!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 8, 2015
  2. jujube

    jujube Notebook Deity

    Reputations:
    181
    Messages:
    1,072
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    55
    Very nice comparison of the strengths and advantages vs. the cons of each platform, thanks Sam!
     
  3. HLdan

    HLdan Notebook Virtuoso

    Reputations:
    1,088
    Messages:
    2,142
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    55
    Good Stuff Sam! This should address a lot of questions for future Mac OS X switchers. :)
     
  4. taelrak

    taelrak Lost

    Reputations:
    860
    Messages:
    2,979
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    55
    Nice. How about a more indepth comparison of Parallels and VMWare Fusion too once they become more official?
     
  5. Sam

    Sam Notebook Virtuoso

    Reputations:
    3,661
    Messages:
    9,249
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    205
    Sure, I'll get into the differences between Parallels & VMware Fusion when the final version of VMware Fusion is released around August.
     
  6. M@lew

    M@lew Notebook Evangelist

    Reputations:
    38
    Messages:
    442
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    30
    Thanks a lot for the well written article. :) Will save a lot of hassle from replying to all the "Boot Camp vs XXXX" topics that seem to pop-up every 10 sec.
     
  7. Budding

    Budding Notebook Virtuoso

    Reputations:
    1,686
    Messages:
    3,982
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    105
    Someone needs to sticky this. Stop all those new mac switchers who don't know what 'search' means continuously asking the exact same questions over and over and over and over...
     
  8. M@lew

    M@lew Notebook Evangelist

    Reputations:
    38
    Messages:
    442
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    30
    Agreed. Same with the other topic about removing Mac OSX and touching crucial Mac files, such as the User Folder and iPhoto library. (Not so much crucial but modifying them can cause headaches)
     
  9. SupaManu

    SupaManu Notebook Enthusiast

    Reputations:
    0
    Messages:
    16
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    5
    Great post!!!
     
  10. Hesssu

    Hesssu Notebook Enthusiast

    Reputations:
    1
    Messages:
    49
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    15
    Nice post indeed. I would also like to see a bit more indepth comparison of Parallels and VMWare Fusion.:cool:
     
Loading...

Share This Page