Picking the right Windows 8 for your Mac

Picking the right Windows 8 for your Mac

Summary: Which Windows 8 version and flavor is right for your Mac workflow? It's not a simple choice.


With the introduction of Windows 8, Microsoft may have reduced the number of retail SKUs, but there are still many options compared with the single OS X installation. Selecting the correct version for running in Boot Camp or other virtualization solution is important.

John Rizzo at MacWindows says that the wrong version of Microsoft Windows 8 may not install in Apple's Boot Camp or in Parallels Desktop or VMware Fusion solutions. Or the version may be more software (and cost) than you need.

There are two primary SKUS: plain old Windows 8 Upgrade and Windows 8 Pro Upgrade.  However, there's also the OEM System Builder License for Windows 8

Windows 8 Upgrade will not work if you're creating a brand new installation of Windows 8 in Boot Camp, or are creating new virtual machine with Parallels Desktop, VMWare Fusion, or Oracle VirtualBox. For these situations, you need a Windows 8 System Builder OEM version. The term "System Builder" refers to people who build their own PC from parts. Creating a new virtual machine or a Boot Camp partition is the equivalent of building your own system.

Check out the full MacWindows article for pricing, feature and compatibility issues.

Rizzo also raises another excellent point: there's no reason not to keep your previous virtual machines installed (except I would add for disk space on a machine with solid-state disks). This is an easy way to make sure of compatibility when transitioning your workflow. As Rizzo says, "having multiple OS's installed at the same time is one advantage of virtual machines over Boot Camp."

Speaking of virtualization, Codeweavers earlier in the month released an update to CrossOver 12 for both Mac and Linux versions. Version 12.2 improves Quicken stability as well as CrossOver's "Mac Driver" integration technology that was introduced in Version 12. It allows CrossOver to work without the X Window System required with previous versions.

On the Mac OS, we have continued to improve our new Mac Driver technology. This release includes support for drag and drop in the Mac Driver, as well as changes which should improve the visual experience and reduce window flicker. The Mac Driver is maturing rapidly and will be the default option in our next major release. All experienced CrossOver users are invited to turn it on and see how it works.

Topics: Apple, Operating Systems, Virtualization, VMware, Windows, Windows 8

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  • What version of osx is best for my Dell?

    I've been reading about how unfair it is that MS claims Windows 8 tablets have the Office advantage since MS won't make Office available for ipad (partially untrue, OneNote is available).

    We also hear how great macs are since they can run Windows, Linux, and osx. So what is the best version of osx for me to buy from apple for my Dell?
    • Worried

      You okay? Amnesia? Stroke? Your account hijacked?

      Because you've forgotten your oft-repeated dismissal of OS X and championing of Windows. You've also forgotten that it's the applications, not the os, that allows you to get your work done.

      Regarding your first quibble with what you've been reading. People will whine about all sorts of things. If someone really says it's unfair, well, they're wrong. Microsoft can choose its customers as it will. I think they're leaving money on the table, but they don't need my advice.
    • Is that you Amanda?

      You know the day destroys the night
      Night divides the day
      Tried to run
      Tried to hide
      Break on through to the other side
      Break on through to the other side
      Break on through to the other side, yeah
      Arm A. Geddon
  • This article could be shortened like this...

    Picking the right Windows 8 for your Mac

    • Except that

      there has been more than enough research that shows that the best computer for Windows is a Mac.
      • Except that

        No. From my practical experience with Windows 8, it works better with a touchscreen than without. Macs don't have touchscreens.

        Are you by any chance referring to that ridiculous report by soluto which claims macs are the best windows machines because there are not as many windows crashes per week on a dual boot machine than on an average dedicated windows machine? In case you didn't notice, that was click baiting advertisement by and for soluto, not research.
        • Now about this touch screen monitor.


          I would agree that Windows 8 is basically unusable without a touch screen.

          On the other hand there are plenty of touch screen monitors that will work just as well on a Mac as on a Generic PC.

          Personally the ONLY machine that I would run ANY version of Windows on is a Virtual Machine.

          Windows just isn't safe without a condom.
          Henry 3 Dogg
          • Hate much

            "I would agree that Windows 8 is basically unusable without a touch screen."

            This statement indicates (but does not guarantee) you lack personal experience with Windows 8. For my workflow Windows 8 definitely works better than Windows 7 even without a touchscreen.

            "Windows just isn't safe without a condom."

            In case you are not aware, Window 8 includes a very capable antivirus software.
        • OSX UI is Superior to Win8

          I hate Apple more than MS but will acquiesce that OSX has a superior UI.

          This is based on the opinion of an Apple Fan that has enough intelligence to be attending Harvard Law School (i.e. smarter than 99.6% of the population).

          She has an iMac (not used in years), iPhone, MacBook (no longer used), iPad (no longer used), and Surface Pro (in use since released).

          Even though her response to my question, last week, regarding how Win 8 compares to OSX she says OSX is 10 times better. But she prefers Surface Pro to all previous computers, and the iPad.

          That is an argument fairly hard to refute. Except that the girl is my daughter.
        • Windows 8. Fully functional desktop

          What many people are not aware of is that windows 8 has a fully functional desktop. This is easily overlooked as the modern user interface is so 'in your face' as you log in. Add start8 and you have the full windows 7 desktop but with improved performance as all the resource sapping aero nonsense has been removed.
      • Depends on the machine.

        The 13-inch MBP?

        Works fine and dandy.

        The 15-incher?

        Plagued with horrible battery life and driver issues.

        A decent Windows Machine > A MacBook running Windows
    • Right

      The article should in fact talk about which version of Windows 8 is good for visualization. Might be on Mac, might be on another OS.
  • Windows 8 Pro x64 runs perfectly on mid 2012 MacBook Air. However....

    I have Windows 8 Pro x64 running on my mid 2012 MacBook Air through Boot Camp. Overall I would say it performs better than any Windows Laptop I have used however there are things to consider.

    Battery life is a problem. When running on the Mac OS X Mountain Lion partition I can usually expect around 7 hours. When running Windows it is reduced to around 5 hours. This is significant.

    An absolute must once Windows has been installed and the Boot camp driver package has been run is to go straight to the Intel site and run the Intel driver Utility. This is essential to get the latest Intel HD 4000 Graphics Driver as the driver included in Boot camp is outdated and can be prone to crashing.

    Some baulk at running Windows on a Mac but it can have its advantages.
    • Interesting

      On my 17" MacBook Pro, I get the same 5-6 hours when running Windows 8 or OSX, primarily when doing actual work(writing code, writing docs, researching content online).

  • System Builder makes life much more difficult

    for people who want Windows on a Mac than the previous "full version" versions. Outside the US it is damned near impossible to buy.
  • Are Apple Macs Actually Microsoft Windows Certified?

    Without such certification, good luck trying to get help from Microsoft when something goes wrong.
    • Windows Certified

      A Mac is not, because it doesn't carry an OEM license. You can't legally put either upgrade SKU onto the hardware unless you have a previous full version of Windows that can be upgraded (I think the Windows 8 upgrade covers back to XP).

      You can legally put a OEM/Personal Use or System Builder copy onto the hardware. When you install it you either choose OEM (to transfer the hardware and license to one other person) or Personal Use. Once the license is installed on the hardware it cannot be legally transferred to any new hardware. If you buy a new Mac you have to buy a new System Builder copy, you can't just transfer the VM.
  • Re:Are Apple Macs Actually Microsoft Windows Certified?

    I am uncertain on this one however I needed to contact Microsoft because I was unable to activate Windows 8. I explained I had been installed Windows 8 on a MAC using Boot Camp and they were only too pleased to help. They ended up using a very unconventional activation method.

    All in all I was very impressed with Microsoft Support