Mac Users:Remembering Windows

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People who consider switching from the PC to the Mac are often concerned about losing access to their favorite, or most important, applications. In this page, we briefly describe a range of options that are available to you. This is more geared towards Intel Mac users.

Use the same software on the Mac

A lot of software, especially Microsoft software, is available in a Mac version. For example, Office is all available in a Mac version. Files created in Mac Office are compatible with PC versions of Office, and vice versa. You can find out more about Microsoft's Mac offerings at MacTopia. Note that if you want to play Windows Media Player files, you can try Flip4Mac.

In general, you want to stay from Virtual PC and Internet Explorer as Microsoft no longer supports them. MSN Messenger and MS Remote Desktop are mostly supported but they run very slowly on Intel machines.

Many of the other big companies (Adobe, Mathworks, Wolfram, etc) have Mac versions of their software, and will offer you a reasonable upgrade path.

Use functionally equivalent, but different software on the Mac

Instead of using the same application on the Mac, you could look at getting the same job done using native Mac software. As a bonus, many of these applications are free and open sourced. For example

Other offerings are covered in Mac software.

You may also check with MacUpdate and VersionTracker.

Run the software you need remotely via RDC

If there is a PC somewhere in your midst that runs the application you need, RDC is a good solution. PowerPC users should try Microsoft RDC. Intel Users should try CoRD.

If you want to brave, you can also install Xcode, X11, Darwinports in that order. You can then compile and install rdesktop.

Run the software you need "inside" a PC

Intel users can choose from virtualization (Parallels, VMWare), natively (BootCamp) or with a hybrid (CrossOver). If you do a lot of hardware or graphics intensive work, you want to use Windows natively. If you need a full fledged Windows install try virtualization. If you only have one app and it's supported by Crossover, then use that.

If you want know the real differences, try this Guide for Choosing Boot Camp or Parallels to Run Windows on an Apple MacBook. The article states, "With Boot Camp, Windows will be running "natively", this means it will be running on the machine as if it was running on any regular PC from any manufacturer. This means full access to the CPU, Graphics and all other aspects. With Parallels Windows XP will be running on a "Virtual Machine", this means that OS X will be running like normal with Windows XP running inside a separate application, in effect two operating systems running at once."

PowerPC users only have one option: emulation. Virtual PC for Mac creates a full fledged PC environment in which you can run any PC operating system, including Linux, Windows XP, and Windows 98. It allows access to those few PC applications (Office, Outlook, etc) that only work "properly 100% of the time" on the PC. In general, on my 1GHz Titanium G4, software on the emulator runs at about the speed it would run native on a 500Mhz PC. It's a little cranky at times, but certainly usable. When possible, use Windows 98 rather than XP since it provides a much lighter version of the Windows API and hence tends to run applications and the UI a bit faster.