How can IT deploy Macs that run Windows without multiplying the complexity and cost of deployment, maintenance and security by at least a factor of two? Windows on Mac works, and can work well.
The Easiest Way to Run Windows Programs on Mac
The most relevant question for enterprises is which Windows-on-Mac virtualization options offer:. They vary in cost, complexity and feature sets, and my perceptions of their pros and cons might help you decide which will be best for your circumstances. Using a basket of benchmarks covering CPU, graphics and sample workflow measurements, performance was simply not a key differentiator in these tests.
All of the products we tested are mature and stable, and aside from the natural differences between Boot Camp and the rest native hardware support vs. Virtualization always incurs processing overhead, and it will never be as fast as native, non-virtualized instances — which brings us to the first option, Boot Camp. A Mac running Windows via Boot Camp will perform at pretty much the same speed as a dedicated Windows machine with equivalent hardware specs — in fact, Macs have often made great higher-end Windows machines, and compatibility is usually not an issue as long as Apple supports the version of Windows you need; see below.
A big drawback with Boot Camp, however, is that every switch between Windows and macOS requires a complete reboot, which gets frustrating if you have to do it a lot. There can also be compatibility issues when accessing files on NTFS-formatted Windows drives from the Mac side — though third-party drivers are available, such as those from Paragon Software Group , that bridge that gap.
Even an individual machine can be difficult to set up with Boot Camp, and of course a large, heterogeneous enterprise deployment will be more so. Adding stand-alone, unmanaged copies of Windows to your environment via Boot Camp may not be advisable from a security or manageability perspective.
Expert users and IT staff should have no problem, but those used to fairly seamless and simple Mac installations may find it far from intuitive. The current version of Boot Camp 6. If the combination of hardware and operating system you want is not officially supported, there is almost always a fairly simple workaround.
My computer is no longer supported. What should I do?
For instance, while Boot Camp 6. Furthermore, a number of the virtualization solutions either include or can be integrated with tools to help with the creation, migration and deployment of standardized VMs, greatly simplifying large-scale implementation and support. That said, using Boot Camp to run Windows on Macs provides unmatched bare-metal performance and has the additional advantage of being free not including the cost of the Windows licenses. So for both speed and cost, Boot Camp is the baseline.
Fast, Powerful and Easy
CodeWeavers released the first version of CrossOver Mac in early , providing a Windows compatibility layer based on the Wine open-source project. Basically, CrossOver Mac is a commercial version of Wine with a variety of enhancements and end-user support. In short, you can run some Windows apps with CrossOver Mac without having to have a copy of Windows installed.
The catch and you knew there had to be one is that CrossOver Mac does not support all Windows programs, and those it does support are not always supported perfectly.
CodeWeavers shoots for supporting as many of the most popular Windows programs as possible, and it currently supports nearly 15, It maintains an online inventory of programs that have been tested and either do or do not work or work with bugs or workarounds , with a five-star system for ranking compatibility. But of course there are a lot more than 15, Windows programs. For those programs that do work, however, performance can be very reasonable, especially on faster machines.
This means that if you have a relatively small and defined set of Windows programs that you need to run on Macs, CrossOver Mac might be a good fit, but researching the compatibility database and doing thorough hands-on testing prior to implementation are essential. CodeWeavers conveniently provides a day free trial to allow time for testing before deciding whether to commit to a purchase.
Once running, the Windows app appears on the Mac desktop without the surrounding interface or overhead of the full Windows operating system. The standard one-year subscription is periodically substantially discounted, so watching for discounts or negotiating for volume licensing can provide cost savings.
- Easily Run Windows Applications on Mac OS X?
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The next version, CrossOver Mac 17, is due to be released this autumn and will be built on Wine 2. VirtualBox is the odd duck in this list, in a way.
2. Boot Camp
And it has some of the pros and cons of each. Your Mac will perform as well as a Windows PC with the same specifications. If you just want to run a Windows desktop application alongside your Mac applications, a virtual machine will probably be ideal. On the other hand, if you want to play the latest Windows games on your Mac, Boot Camp will be ideal.
Essentially, Wine is an attempt to rewrite the Windows code that applications depend on so they can run on other operating systems. This means that Wine is nowhere near perfect. Nevertheless, Wine is one way to try running Windows applications on a Mac. It uses the open-source Wine code to accomplish this, but CrossOver provides a nice graphical interface and focuses on officially supporting popular programs. CodeWeavers contributes their improvements back to the open-source Wine project, so paying for CrossOver Mac also helps the Wine project itself.
Most people will probably be happiest going for a virtual machine program and a Windows license.
Boot Camp may still be a better solution for that. Organizations with business software that runs on Windows can host Windows servers and make their applications available to Macs, Chromebooks, Linux PCs, iPads, Android tablet, and other devices.
How to Run Windows on a Mac
All these tricks obviously require more work than simply installing a Windows program on a Windows PC. If you have a Mac, you should focus on using Mac software when possible. The Best Tech Newsletter Anywhere. Join , subscribers and get a daily digest of news, comics, trivia, reviews, and more.