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12 Days of Gifts - Day 11

December 21, 2011 - Dave Hecei
Windows. The reason I use a Mac is a preference for the Mac OS and Mac hardware. That doesn’t mean that I don’t own a Dell and run Windows. I believe the Mac OS has fewer security holes, though it does have them, and it is unlikely to be affected by ‘Malware’ or ‘high-jacking’. But there are times when you need to have Windows to run special software that is not available for the Mac. The good news is that any Intel Mac can run the Windows operating system.

There are two ways to run the Windows OS on a Mac. The easiest way to do it is with virtualization. There are three virtual programs out there. There is the free Virtual Box from Oracle and commercial Apps called Parallels Desktop 7 and VMWare Fusion 4. Virtualization allows you to create a ‘virtual’ PC machine where you can install practically any PC OS you’d ever want – Windows XP, Vista, 7, or even the free various Linux versions out there.

The other way is to use Apple’s technology called Boot Camp. This is included in all new Macs, it actually started back with a beta version for OS X Tiger (10.4). Boot Camp will set aside a portion of your Mac’s hard drive to install Windows Vista or 7 (some versions of Boot Camp can install XP). There are drivers for your Mac on the reinstallation discs included with your Mac.

Once you have Windows installed using Boot Camp you will now have another start up selection in the System Preferences panel. This is where you select what drive to boot from. On my Mac I have Mac OS set as the default startup drive. If I want to run Windows all I have to do is hold down the Option key while I turn on my Mac. This will bring up the ‘startup disk selection’ screen. I just select the Windows disk and it will then boot fully into Windows 7.

Since this is not virtualization, my Mac is no longer a Mac it is a full Windows PC. This method of running Windows is great when you need a full speed PC, since it doesn’t have to share resources like screen memory, RAM memory, etc. Booting fully into Windows also means that video, sound, networking, etc. is really there and not a simulation, which virtualization sort of has to do. Playing PC video games is another reason to use Boot Camp for running Windows.

No matter which method you decide to use, you will have to purchase a full copy of Windows (Windows 7 Home Premium street price around $190 but versions can be found for much less). Boot Camp is included with all new Macs. Virtual Box is a free download from VMWare Fusion 4 and Parallels 7 can be found as low as $40 and $50 respectively.


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