Time for Mac users to ditch Windows XP?

Time for Mac users to ditch Windows XP?

Summary: Whether Mac users are running Windows XP in Apple's Boot Camp solution or in a virtual machine, the latest exploit of Internet Explorer brings the PC question of the month front and center: Stay with XP or upgrade?


For many Mac users, their Windows version of choice is likely to be Windows XP. And with the conjunction of Microsoft this month orphaning XP (the XPocalypse), and the vulnerability announced by Redmond over the weekend, Mac users must decide whether to keep running the old, stale Windows, or upgrade.

Time for Mac users to ditch Windows XP?

Microsoft said the exploit was still being investigated and the company hasn't worked out a fix.

All versions of Internet Explorer from 6 through 11 are listed as vulnerable as well as all supported versions of Windows other than Server Core. Windows Server versions on which IE is run in the default Enhanced Security Configuration are not vulnerable unless an affected site is placed in the Internet Explorer Trusted sites zone.

But is this such a problem for Macs running Windows? Not so much.

The latest version of Boot Camp, Version 5.1, supports Windows 8.1 and also comes with drivers for 64-bit versions of Windows 7 and Windows 8. The previous Boot Camp 4 supported only Windows 7, including Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium, Microsoft Windows 7 Professional and Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate. Windows XP and Windows Vista are not supported with Boot Camp 4, however, older Macs running Mac OS X versions before Lion can run Windows XP and Vista.

The latest security issue announced this weekend concerns running Internet Explorer on any version of Windows. So, Boot Camp users should move to a more modern browser, such as Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox.

However, there are no XP restrictions in Parallels Desktop for Mac and VMware Fusion 6 lke there are in Boot Camp. Both can run any version of Windows from XP on up.  

At the same time, there are fewer security problems running XP in a virtual machine. And especially on a Mac. I was interested to find that one of the new features of Parallels 9 is its Security Center, which helps customers manage installations of security subscriptions for their Windows virtual machine and for the Mac itself.

Still, like the rest of the PC users in the world, Mac users face this choice about XP. The Mac preference for XP doesn't stem from a great love for old-fashioned software. But just as some 29 percent of current PC users still find, XP is inexpensive and readily available. So, their choices are the same.

Check Out: Sorry to say that Apple platforms are still more secure

The best way to avoid XP's Windows insecurity is to run Mac applications. I know that sounds ridiculous, but it's the best solution. Mac users want to run Mac software in OS X. Often, switchers from Windows believe they must run a specific Windows application and don't bother checking for Mac alternatives. If possible, seek a Mac alternative to a Windows solution. Often, one is available.

Another option is to avoid running Windows altogether and run individual Windows applications in CodeWeaver's CrossOver Mac environment. Interestingly, a number of PC developers are taking advantage of CrossOver Porting to provide support for Mac customers. I own one of these applications, DavkaWriter 7 Mac Edition. The result is ugly and unappealing to Mac customers, but it works — just like it does on the PC. I may not be happy with the Windows user experience, but I'm very happy to run this application outside of a virtualized Windows installation, which I had to do a couple of years ago. 

Topics: Apple, Operating Systems, Security, Windows

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  • Re: Time for Mac users to ditch Windows XP?....

    Unfortunately its not that straightforward Windows 8.1 will only run in Bootcamp on Macs produced from 2011 onwards with the Intel i5 Sandy Bridge chip. It will not run in Bootcamp on Macs produced before 2011 with the Intel Core 2 Duo chip although I believe Windows 7 will.

    Furthermore many users such as myself prefer where possible to run OS X Snow Leopard where Bootcamp drivers only exist for XP. I have got around this by installing Windows 8.1 on Parallels Desktop 9. Another option is VMWare Fusion 5 (VMWare Fusion 6 is not compatible with OS X Snow Leopard.
  • only an issue..

    This is really only an issue if you're running I.E. under XP. But why would you? You've got much more modern, more capable alternatives on or available to install on your native OS. I have to imagine that most Mac owners who are running XP on their machine are doing so to have access to some specialized application or game that isn't available naively. They'll probably be fine runing XP until the day they no longer have need for that piece of software.
  • A virtual machine is a condom

    I'll stick with XP

    There are a couple of PC applications that I still use

    But I never provide routing between the PC and the Internet.

    The only reason I would need to is to install updates of Windows.

    And the only reason to install them was for Internet security.
    Henry 3 Dogg
  • Why are you using Windows?

    Unless you're running some custom app built for Windows that you've heavily invested in, there's no real reason to use Windows.
    • For me it's Quicken

      Quicken Essentials for Mac is awful and should be named Quicken Missing Essentials. Codeweavers doesn't work well with Quicken, and so I run Windows 7 in a virtual machine on my MacBook Pro. My alternative is Intuit's Mint, but it doesn't synchronize with Quicken data very well, and I'm also not quite ready to trust the cloud with all my financial data.

      I also used to use IE in Windows to access my employer's remote access tools (written for IE only) when traveling, but do that less now that they have added more support for e-mail and services on BYOD mobile devices.