OS X and Windows, working together

OS X and Windows, working together

Summary: Being able to switch to a different operating system without having to sacrifice functionality and performance is a welcome rarity in the IT world.

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Over the years I have attempted to run other operating systems besides Windows on my primary workstation. I have run OS/2 in the past. I've tried running various flavors of Linux. I've also tried running OS X on my MacBook Air. Every time I tried, I found that there was always something lacking in the OS, or the applications, that resulted in my returning to Windows.

I suppose one question that comes up is, "If everything you need is under Windows, then why are you trying to switch away from it?" The truth is that while I like the capabilities of the applications, I actually prefer a Unix-like environment under the hood. Ubuntu can give me that, but there's a great deal of functionality missing that I get from Windows applications. The same situation exists under OS X.

This past month, however, fellow ZDNet columnist James Kendrick wrote an article covering the release of the latest version of Parallels Desktop for OS X. This latest version was written to support the new release of OS X, Lion, and has improved speed. Native Windows applications running in seamless mode are nearly as fast as native OS X applications.

There's no need for me to rehash reviews of Parallels Desktop 7. If you're familiar with the product, or with VMware Fusion 4, then you know what I'm referring to. Even VirtualBox has a seamless mode, although performance-wise it isn't as powerful as the other two. It is free, however.

I'm sure I will be told, "These programs existed before, why didn't you use them?" To be honest, I hadn't been impressed with the performance or seamless capabilities of the VM applications until now. I wanted the Windows applications to run in seamless mode as if they were native OS X applications. Having access to the Windows start menu from the OS X menu bar, along with Windows system tray icons, adds to the perfect convergence of the two operating systems.

Sometimes it's the little, inconsequential features that really impress me. For instance, you can have Windows use the native OS X user directories for documents and downloads instead of creating its own within the virtual machine. Copy and paste just works between environments, without any tricks required to get it to work. I can access the Windows control panel and other functions as if they were a native part of OS X.

My main argument against switching from Windows was always, "Why should I have to give up my applications? Why do I have to settle for reduced functionality?" Well, now the answer is that I don't have to settle. I have all of my apps, and they work. I have replaced a few of the programs I use with their OS X counterparts because they are fully functional native applications. The ones I didn't replace I simply installed under Windows in the Parallels VM, and added their icons to the OS X dock bar.

Convergence is a great thing when it works well. I'm not the kind of person to settle for passable, or reduced functionality. I felt the same way some years ago when I got my first smartphone that could be a phone, MP3 player and PDA, without making any sacrifices. Now I can do the same on my primary computer. I have Windows, OS X and Unix capability, all in one, without having to jump through hoops to do it.

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Topics: Operating Systems, Apple, Software, Windows

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37 comments
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  • RE: OS X and Windows, working together

    Now lets turn it the other way. When can I run OS X in a VM on my Microsoft Windows workstation? This way I only have to pay $120 for the OS instead of $1000 for the hardware and OS.
    LoverockDavidson_-24231404894599612871915491754222
    • RE: OS X and Windows, working together

      @LoverockDavidson_

      I too would like that being an IT Professional that supports both platforms in an educational environment. Shouldn't have to choose an iMac or a MacBook when a Business Level Desktop or Notebook works better for my environment and I occasionally need to access OS-X to support my users or test out software or troubleshoot a problem.

      I have a 5 - 6 year old MacBook that is becoming underperforming for my needs and my boss refuses to pay $1500+ (probably closer to $2000) for one that would suit my needs. He asked me why I just cannot install OS X on a nice Windows Notebook that costs 40% less for the same power and all I could say is because Apple makes that illegal.
      bobiroc
    • RE: OS X and Windows, working together

      @LoverockDavidson_ I do know that you can virtualize OS X in Parallels, but what you're looking for is a bit different:

      http://lifehacker.com/5583650/run-mac-os-x-in-virtualbox-on-windows

      http://lifehacker.com/5435481/run-snow-leopard-in-a-virtual-machine-in-windows

      I don't think the license agreement allows for running OSX on anything other than Apple hardware, however.
      Scott Raymond
      • RE: OS X and Windows, working together

        @Scott Raymond
        Thanks Scott! Those links will be most helpful. Licensing may not allow it but for educational purposes I'll bend the license a bit.
        LoverockDavidson_-24231404894599612871915491754222
      • RE: OS X and Windows, working together

        @Scott Raymond <br><br>Since Lion, Apple is allowing virtualization of the OSX client, but with one restriction, only on Apple hardware.<br><br>Yes you can run OSX Lion, SL or Leopard easily in VMware Workstation 7 or 8 running on Windows, but you still violating Apple's EULA.<br><br>As reaction to this article. I prefer running stuff with Windows under the hood, and certainly the upcoming client version of Windows 8 includes Hyper-V, allowing for a real type 1 hypervisor, that performance wise will blow any type 2 hypervisor (like Parallels or Fusion on OSX, or Virtual box or VMware workstation on Windows) completely out of the water. Especially when running more then one VM concurrently.

        Furthermore, whilst performance on those type 2 hypervisors is adequate as long as you don't run multiple VM's concurrently, you still are missing some killer features, like the ability to run high demanding games, that simply cannot be run in a virtualized environment.
        sjaak327
    • When Apple decides you can. If you don't like the

      way they run their business, don't buy from them, but spare us your whining about it.
      baggins_z
      • RE: OS X and Windows, working together

        @baggins_z And you need to stop the trolling - the man asked a simple question would it have hurt you to STFU?
        athynz
      • @Pete

        The question was the troll. But you already knew that.
        baggins_z
      • RE: OS X and Windows, working together

        @baggins_z
        As a potential customer I must meet their requirements instead of them meeting mine. Yeah it doesn't work that way.
        LoverockDavidson_-24231404894599612871915491754222
    • RE: OS X and Windows, working together

      @LoverockDavidson_ <br>it's more likely you will need Windows in VM on a Mac for a few applications that you occasionally have to turn to and you can't get for Mac or certain web services that won't run in OS X. It's less likely that you will need to run OS X in VM on a Windows machine.
      (I am a Mac user with many years of Windows and Linux experience. I don't play games so I wouldn't know about that.)
      x233
      • RE: OS X and Windows, working together

        @x233
        I want OS X more for learning purposes than to run apps on.
        LoverockDavidson_-24231404894599612871915491754222
    • RE: OS X and Windows, working together

      @LoverockDavidson_ <br>When Apple licenses that use. Work real hard, accumulate control of 100 billion in capital, buy the company, and next day, boom, there it is and good luck.<br><br>Incidentally, my friend, seems to me that at the launch of Vista, Microsoft started out restricting which of the SKUs could be virtualized. Now they figured out in reasonably short order that they were hurting their bottom line or were being confusing or were setting an unenforceable policy or realized that they just undercut their purchase of Kinect, but, we should be clear, both Microsoft and Apple consider virtual operation of their os a privilege to be granted.<br><br>I won't disagree that to us bargain-seeking consumers Microsoft has the better position here (though... the OEM versions one gets with a new pc are not licensed for extraction and life after hardware death as a virtual image, so one has to go get a new license for virtual operations. Microsoft does asks that you pay for the privilege, they are about selling software, I'm told.) But, wait a few minutes and Microsoft will find a way to disappoint us tight wallets. And in a few minutes more, Apple will find a way, and.... Hey! It's recursion.
      DannyO_0x98
      • RE: OS X and Windows, working together

        @DannyO_0x98
        Nicely done but irrelevant to the question at hand.
        LoverockDavidson_-24231404894599612871915491754222
    • RE: OS X and Windows, working together

      @LoverockDavidson_
      Oh yes. It's been $30 for a couple of years.

      Such a better deal, if only....
      DannyO_0x98
      • RE: OS X and Windows, working together

        @DannyO_0x98
        Ok then its a better deal. I virtualize OS X for only $30 instead of $120. I save myself $90, thanks for the tip!
        LoverockDavidson_-24231404894599612871915491754222
    • Heretic!

      @LoverockDavidson_
      Since when is a OS just an OS? It is a religion! A cult! To be defended at all costs! (even if it doesn't do what you need done)!
      You should be banned to the punch card batch job days!
      ;-)
      kd5auq
    • Because Apple is the only hardware

      @LoverockDavidson_
      maker in the PC World, that makes their own OS. The operating system and the hardware are designed together by the same company. They make their money by selling hardware. It is pretty hard to sell a computer without an operating system. Therefore they decided to include their own operating system, which for practical purposes as just a means to an end of selling more hardware. They don't mind at all, in fact they are very happy to even help you, if you buy their hardware and then run whatever operating system you like. That is why they bother to make this thing called boot camp and why people like Parallels and others are able to make money selling you the VM software necessary to run Windows and its applications in addition to the normal OS X programs.
      arminw
    • RE: OS X and Windows, working together

      @LoverockDavidson_ If you believe a lot of the recent articles about the Windows8 release, then this whole argument will be moot if you switch or buy a new computer after its release. Microsoft will not only refuse access to ANY other OS's (no dual boots) but will also limit the HARDWARE you install in the machine. If it doesn't have Windows logo, the OS won't access it.
      Wait and see if you need to buy another computer entirely as M$ eventually cuts support for any version prior to Window8. Then where do you go? Continue with M$ controlling the computer YOU paid for or Apple controlling it for you?
      I think I'll be buying parts and building a computer under Linux, myself. Then I can dual boot whatever I want regardless of the hardware "logo authorization".
      xffcapt01
  • Non-Apple Hardware a must

    When I can run OSX on my AW I'll give it another shot..

    :|
    rhonin
  • Have you tried installing the Win 8 dev release using Parallels 7 yet?

    In a related post regarding that question, Jason Perlow indicated his belief that you were investigating that possibility.

    BTW, does the secure boot feature of Win 8 hinder it's installation in a VM environment?
    kenosha77a