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The best of both worlds - Apple Mac and Windows 7

Mar31

Written by:
2012/03/31 07:41 AM RssIcon

Win-7-Boot-Camp-on-iMac In the great debate between Mac and Windows, I will happily hold my hand up and say I prefer to use a Mac. Don’t ask me why... I can’t really explain it except to say that I had been a PC man all my life until one of my computers died. On a whim I decided to try a Mac and was instantly smitten.

The problem is, though, there are times when you’ve just got to use a PC. In my work, for instance, I spend a lot of time connected to a Windows 2003 Server virtual desktop and the software that makes the magic happen only works in Internet Explorer. If you’re a gamer, too, and want the widest range of choice in your gameplay, you’ll find that there are more games for Windows than Mac OS X.

 

What to do, then? Well, if you want to use multiple operating systems you could have multiple machines, but I want to tell you how I do it.

 

Boot Camp

Virtual Machine list on desktop. My Boot Camp

Apple switched to using Intel processors in their Macs in 2006, and soon after released a utility called Boot Camp. Boot Camp allows you to boot your Mac into Windows rather than Mac OS X. The advantage of this is that you end up with a purebred Windows machine that can make the most of all the Mac’s resources. This is great for gaming, when you really want to squeeze all the juice you can get out of the processor, memory, and GPU. Or for graphics intensive work... of course... ;)

 

I have a Boot Camp partition set up on my Mac with Windows 7 Ultimate, and it really is great for those times when I just need a Windows PC.

 

The disadvantage of Boot Camp is that you have to decide which Operating System to use at system start-up. If you realise after a while that you want to do something that you really need Mac OS X for, it’s a case of rebooting again. And then, once you’ve finished with that, you realise you need Windows and it’s yet another reboot.

 

Parallels

Windows 7 running in Parallels

A second option is to use virtualisation software like Parallels. Parallels lets you create virtual machines that run within Mac OS X. Rather nicely, it will also read a Boot Camp partition if you have one, and run that within Mac OS X.

 

My everyday work environment is this: boot the computer up in Mac OS X, which gives me access to my email program, Dreamweaver and iWork, but also run that Windows 7 partition in a virtual machine so that I can log on to my main client’s network and use Windows Live Writer to update personal and business blogs.

 

That’s where the title of this post came from... I get the best of both worlds. I get to use the Mac OS X environment I prefer, but also get to use the Windows programs I need.

 

But it actually gets better than this. With the Windows 8 Consumer Preview being released recently, I decided to try it out and the easiest way to do that was to create another Parallels VM and install it there. No partitioning, not multi-booting, just a few clicks of the mouse and I have a virtual Windows 8 machine up and running. And when I decided to evaluate Windows Server 2008 R2 that was another VM. You might think the performance of those VMs would suffer, but they are surprisingly nippy; I can use the Windows Server one to run SQL Server and SharePoint 2010 Foundation quite effectively.

 

Over to you

What do you do when you want to use multiple operating systems? Are you a Windows and Linux pro? Are you running multiple versions of Windows in something like Microsoft Virtual PC or another virtualisation package? Or is it dual-boot all the way?

 

Share your thoughts in the comments and tell us how you get the best of both worlds with your Operating Systems.

 

Chris Hinton is a freelance IT consultant from Scotland, and blogger at Geek-Speak.

 

 



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