Is the business requirement due to MS Office/Outlook compatibility, or more involved (political) reasons? There is Office for Mac 2011.
You can still purchase Windows 7 from Microsoft, but with their fixation on W8, they have made it *VERY* difficult to find the W7 purchase links. Google will help. A software downloaded .iso file would be handy for the virtualization solutions.
Do you prefer to choose either Windows or OS X at boot time (e.g. Apple Bootcamp), or would you want a virtualization solution that allows concurrent access to Windows (in a container file) and Mac OS X? Parallels will allow a Windows App to be in the OS X dock.
- Windows 8 is not supported yet
- Windows 7 Support (64-bit only)
- Home premium
- Enterprise is not supported
The need for Windows is that I use an external OLAP database and this needs a Microsoft File to enable Excel to log on - this is not available for Excel for Windows - I already have Office for Mac and it grieves me that I cant do what I need without reverting to Windows. I have found a couple of versions of Windows 7 Professional but both were marked NOT SUITABLE FOR MAC. This is getting rather frustrating.
I should point out that support for Windows 8 is in its early stages for both Microsoft and the Virtualization vendors as well. You will need to review any caveats they state on Windows 8, and the versions of Windows 7 that they already support.
Parallels suggests 2 - 4 GB memory allocated to a Windows 7 virtual machine beyond OS X requirements. I use Win7 Home Premium with VirtualBox and have allocated 3GB. It works fine.
I use Win7 Pro on my Macs with Parallels Desktop 8 and
it functions quite well for engineering apps. As far as Windows8,
as far as I'm concerned, I'll be using 7 until I can't use any my Windows
software due to updates requiring Win 8. From a productivity standpoint,
Windows 8 is a joke. Even with most all my engineering apps, they
work well in virtualization with no need to go Bootcamp.
As far as getting Win7, Newegg still has both full retail versions of
Windows7and OEM versions. They also have OEM Windows 8 as
well (not upgrade). The difference between OEM and full retail versions
is that there is no Microsoft support available for the OEM versions.
The assuption being that if you are building PC's, you don't need Microsoft's
help. The other difference is that you need to select whether you want 32
or 64 bit in OEM, where full retail contains both.