Why running Windows 8 on a Mac is better than running it on a PC

Why running Windows 8 on a Mac is better than running it on a PC

Summary: How running Windows 8 on OS X Mavericks gives me the best of both worlds, and brings back a Windows feature that I've sorely missed.


I've made no secret of the fact that OS X has replaced Windows as my primary platform to do day-to-day work on. The reasons are many and varied (and of you want the long story I suggest you check out this post) but the TL;DR version of it is that with Windows 8 Microsoft took the platform in a direction that wasn't compatible with what I wanted from an operating system.

Note: For the purposes of this piece I'll be referring to Windows 8, but everything applies equally to Windows 8.1.

However, this doesn't mean that I've managed to purge the PC Doc HQ of Windows.

Far from it.

While OS X Mavericks does an admirable job of handling what I want from a platform, I still need Windows, and have a variety of versions installed on machines, both physical and virtual.

I also have Windows 8 installed on my Mac, running through the excellent Parallels Desktop 9 application. There are a number of products on offer that will allow you to do this (not to mention Apple's own Boot Camp software), but I've gone with Parallels Desktop 9 because it gives me the best performance and battery life. On top of that I've got Windows isolated inside a virtual machine, and have the ability to take system snapshots and roll back to earlier configuration when things go wrong.

Now so far running Windows on OS X doesn't given me any more than running Windows on Windows would give me (other than the different host OS) but there's another feature of Parallels Desktop 9 which, in my opinion, makes running Windows 8 on OS X much than running it on a PC.

Let me show you what it is:

A Windows Start menu on OS X

Yes, that's a Start menu, built into the OS X Dock, along the same lines as the Start menu that Microsoft decided to remove from Windows 8. And while it looks and feels much like the Start menu that I grieve for, it has an added super power – the ability to fire up my Windows virtual machine and load the application up in a matter of seconds.

The whole experience has also been a very seamless one. Not once have I had to futz about with drivers, and not once have I had everything come crashing down around me when an application decides to misbehave.

So I get OS X and Windows, I have the comforting feeling of having Windows isolated from everything else, and I get an adequate replacement for the Start menu.


Topic: Operating Systems

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  • Nice catch, Adrian. .

    I guess that's one way to get your Start menu back. If you run your Windows apps in "seamless" mode, you can even do away with most of the Win8 interface, if you would rather not see it.

    FWIW VMware does something similar when in "Unity" mode as well.
    • As usual

      As usual Adrian is an Apple shill - he mentions Windows solely for click bait - this is a useless comparison - it's probably of minor use to Mac users who hypocritically run Windows via Parallels but is a meaningless "you SHOULD run Windows on a Mac because of this" - sure, pay an unnecessary premium when (if you really can't adjust) you can very easily configure your Windows 8 machine to go straight to the desktop and have a start menu - you can even run Metro apps in windows on the desktop if you want - all for a lot less than a Mac kludge
      • Spot on

        I completely agree. The primary reason for running Win8 on OSX is to get the start menu back? That is utterly ridiculous to me, when there are a host of programs that can do the same (or better) as the original Win7 start menu. As you have many and varied reasons to run OSX instead of Windows, I (and many others) have many and varied reasons for running Windows and never going near OSX. I am not going to turn this into a Mac vs PC debate, as these kinds of topics usually devolve into, merely stating that Mac users proudly proclaim that they are able to run Windows, yet I have yet to see a Windows user ever stand up and proudly state that they can run OSX.
  • That is a nice catch

    Though I've never found that the "expanding folders" thing on the Mac is as nice as the original Start Menu, or spotlight.
    • To each his own. I love

      the hierarchical list view for folders in the dock. It points to real programs and files and isn't just a list of links. You can make as many as you want rooted at any location. It's cake to open subfolders in the finder if you want. It's perfect for the way I work.
      • Dangerous

        I think it's bad practice to be directly working on folders containing application files.
        super dangerous if running as priviledged user.
  • Why not just buy Start8?

    Much less expensive than going your route.
    • If you've followed Adrian, you'll already know that

      he is now primarily a Mac user, who secondarily uses Windows. He's not just using Mac as a glorified app launcher.

      So no, Start8 doesn't really solve anything in his particular case, nice as it is.
      • Not about solving a problem for him...

        Title of article
        Why running Windows 8 on a Mac is better than running it on a PC
        and his example is replicating a Start Menu
        so yes Start8 is very relevant in response to this article
        • Um, no. ONE of his examples

          was running a start menu. He listed a bunch of other reasons, too.
          • Like running Windows.

            I continue to be amazed Mac fanbois continue to advocate the Macs ability to run Windows as a reason to leave Windows.
          • "best of both worlds"

            Only Mac hardware allow you to run both OS X and Windows (simatainlesly), and offers the best of both worlds. That right their is a BIG reason for leaving Windows-only hardware and buying Macs. Apple made one of the smartest discussions going Intel a few hears ago. Think that's why we see so many Macbooks everywhere, you can purchase a Mac hardware which can also run Windows OS when/if ever needed.
          • Newsflash: Macs are PCs

            They're no different than any other PC.
          • Exactly

            They just don't allow OSX to be run on any other hardware but there own
          • there is a significant difference between

            a Apple computer and a standard Windows computer... for a regular builder (HP, Dell, etc...).
            1) Have you ever tried to configure a Dell on the website? Yikes! Maybe it more efficient now? Way to many options - most of those options are no good at all (though some are nice).

            2) Have you even seen Dell's spec sheet - original config - for one of their computers? I mean I love the dell tag# but the original config/equipment list is dumb. There is simply way to much information about a random part number ... and not enough about say the video card in the computer - or the RAM, RAM speed, timing codes, etc...

            3) Apple hardware is generally better - quality wise - maybe not speed wise, but speed with Mac OS X on Apple's hardware can also be a factor.

            4) When you have a hardware issue - you call Apple or a certified repair shop. When you have an OS issue you call Apple or a certified shop ...

            5) You dont need to install Windows to get a halfway supported GUId OS.... also Darwin is free and open.

            --- I love Dell in theory - for the most part their higher end stuff tends to work better (more reliably)... HP, didnt they almost leave the PC biz? If you build your own system, well then more power to you!
            Bee Ryan
          • 20th Century OS

            MacOS is stuck in the 20th century. Windows is building out VDI awareness and optimizing itself to run concurrently with other Windows instances to minimize on memory useage. This ability is baked deep into the OS and comes from the synergy of Windows Server technology (a synergy missing from Apple). This not only allows Windows workstation to spin as a VDI in a VM farm but also enables it to run on a PC on top of a Hyper-V layer (another synergistic technology) which in turn allows snap shots of your whole OS on a scheduled basis to move between those snap shots. It allows bare metal provisioning in that you can stream bits of a second Windows VDI onto a running PC remotely and when completed use USMT to copy files and settings to the new OS and upon the next reboot the updated OS is there waiting for the user with zero loss productivity.

            No matter how much negative feedback Windows 8.1 gets, even its intro of Metro shows a clear innovation into fully touch enabled OS. This is more of an evolution than revolution and will take a few more major and minor updates to complete but at least its taking place. MacOS seems almost static in comparison as Apple concentrates on iOS and mobile and seems to neglect OSX.
            Rann Xeroxx
          • shrug. Each has their own modernity

            That the other doesn't work towards. Mavericks has the processes suspension technology that works with preemptive multitasking, giving it the advantages of cooperative multitasking without the power costs.

            They are both 21st-century operating systems. Each just focuses on different things, they're not better
          • wonderful power saving: APP NAP

            causes app to freeze here and there and VMs to completely lock up after sleep?
            Be HONEST fanboys, this is a problem with Mavericks.
          • Funny Rann...

            ... I remember Gill Bates complaining that all Apple got from NeXT was some weird GUI type 'unix' OS that nobody wanted...

            Looks like MS is desperately attempting to attain some class ... like Apple has ... but they do make things that work - fairly well - in the most obtuse manner possible, since it less code and/or less time to code - since they spend almost no time thinking about the UI... Xeroxxx.
            Bee Ryan
          • that maybe the most obtuse comment I've ever read

            If he's running windows, he obviously has no intention whatsoever of leaving windows.

            Just to be clear, so there's no further confusion: he's advocating for Macs as opposed to PCs manufactured by OEMs. Not an absence of windows.

            Oh, and one other thing. His role as ZDNet is writer and author not "fanboi" (meaningless term that it is anyway.)