Macs have been Windows and DOS compatible since the very beginning. Most recently the following options are available for running Windows on the Mac:
- Apple Boot Camp support website and user to user Discussion forum, Oracle Virtualbox (see Oracle forums for 10.8.2 compatibility notes), Parallels, Crossover Mac (a form of WINE which requires no PC operating system installed), VMWare are all Intel compatible solutions for running Windows native applications on Intel Macs. Similar to WINE, Onlive provides cloud based application support for Intel Macs.
- Darwine (a form of WINE, which requires no PC operating system installed), iEmulator, Qemu are available for both PowerPC and Intel Macs. The website for Wintel for Mac OS X no longer exists, but was once an alternative.
- VirtualPC and Guest PC are options that will only run on PowerPC Macs.
As of April 8, 2014, Microsoft started charging Windows XP users a per seat license to maintain updates.
Upgrade to at least Windows Vista if you want to continue free security updates. Due to emulation (for PowerPC Macs) only offering XP or less, people with PowerPC are strongly discouraged from emulating, unless they want to pay Microsoft for security updates, or can maintain XP in an isolated from network environment.
Vista's lifecycle deadline for free updates is April 12, 2017.
Windows 7 is January 14, 2020.
Here is Microsoft's Office for Mac forum. It includes Outlook support an Office 2004 through 2011 support forums.
To find out if Boot Camp supports Windows Vista, 7, 8 on your Mac, read this article.
Note: Options that run on Intel Macs generally are known as Virtualization, whereas options that run on PowerPC Macs are generally known as emulation.
The difference is that Intel Macs do not need to imitate the Intel CPU hardware using software. Because of this, PowerPC Macs generally handle still graphics, and text only based applications, where Intel Macs have no trouble with video or audio. Some Intel Macs are better suited to some games simply because of the graphics chip on board the Mac. If you have a question about a particular game, please don't hesitate into ask in the https://discussions.apple.com/community/windows_software/windows_compatibility forum if a game has been tried with certain virtualization under certain Mac model/vintage Mac. Also check the third party virtualization websites for forums to find out if your game has been tested under your Mac model and version of their virtualization engine.
Except for CrossOver, and WINE solutions, any solution running Windows is subject to the same security risks as running Windows on a PC within the
stated Windows environment itself. The Mac OS X environment only has its own much less hazardous security risks limited to trojan horses,
passing viruses on to Windows users, peer 2 peer software sending you applications which may not be tested as well as tying up your network, third party firewall software tying up your network applications when redundant on top of the built-in Mac OS X firewall, and issues running root account (using the sudo command line, or enabling it via a security application) based functions.
Mac OS X Security updates are found on Apple Knowledgebase How To 1222 article. Backup your data before installing anything new.
Anti-virus software and firewall software if installed on Mac OS X should be known to work with your installed operating system, and any updates you perform before performing those updates. CrossOver and WINE based solutions only exhibit issues for the individual application, and don't pose an operating system wide risk. If uncertain if necessary for your situation, don't hesitate to ask in the forum.
For each of these options, if you have a PowerPC Mac, your Mac's hardware has been recommended to be at least the following:
G3 - Windows 95 or Windows 98, with 256 MB of RAM assigned to emulator and 2 GB assigned to swap file.
G4 - Windows 2000 or Windows ME, with 512 MB of RAM assigned to emulator, and 5 GB assigned to swapfile.
G5 - Windows XP, with 1 GB of RAM assigned to emulator, and 10 GB assigned to swapfile.
For Intel Macs - XP or Vista same as XP requirements for G5 on virtualization solutions.
The PowerPC G3-G5 suggestions came from VirtualPC's original specs, whereas the Intel has been arbitrarily found to be the case. Double check
the software engine in question to ensure the specs aren't more rigorous for newer versions of Windows.
In some cases connecting a Mac formatted hard drive that supports Mac booting to a Windows machine is needed: MediaFour's MacDrive supports that.
There are volume size limitations to connecting media on 10.2.3 and earlier that are fixed in Mac OS X 10.3.
Mac OS X 10.6.4 and later support ExFat. Further info on hard drive formatting you'll find useful on this other tip which I published.
Some DVDs are not Mac OS X compatible, are best read with the now defunct company Software Architects, software called ReadDVD. You may be able to find this at places that sell old software or online.. There is also Taffysoft's UDF Media Reader, which is available for 10.4 & 10.5 PowerPC, and 10.7 Intel and later, and has been tested on 10.9 in this forum. It is unknown if it works with 10.6 and together with VLC can read Video_TS files for playback.
64 bit Windows may not be supported unless you have the Macs in this article. Check with the author of the virtualization engine what limitations they have put in place on 64 bit Windows, which can also affect which applications you may be able to run in Windows.
Additional formatting tips can be found on this tip.
A third party resource for Mac Windows integration is the Macwindows website. Ignore advertising for MacKeeper on this website. Many
have considered this malware.
Apple has these two articles for networking Macs and Windows:
Another user tip from ds store has additional information about some of the aforementioned virtualization options.
Virtualization may also offer means of supporting Mac OS versions not otherwise supported by the Mac's hardware. See this tip on how that may be possible.