3 Replies Latest reply: Aug 22, 2013 5:29 PM by C F McBlob
AgileBeacon Level 1 (0 points)

I am taking college courses that required using software that they only have available for Windows.  Is Parallels a worthwhile way to go or is there a better alternative?

iMac, OS X Mountain Lion (10.8.3)
  • Kappy Level 10 (263,335 points)

    Yes, it's arguably the best virtualization tool to use with the Mac. Others are:


         1. VM Fusion and Windows XP, Vista Business, Vista Ultimate,

             or Windows 7.  VM Fusion is software virtualization that

             enables running Windows concurrently with OS X.

         2. CrossOver which enables running many Windows

             applications without having to install Windows.  The

             Windows applications can run concurrently with OS X.

         3. VirtualBox is an Open Source freeware virtual machine such

             as VM Fusion and Parallels that was developed by Solaris.

             It is not as fully developed for the Mac as Parallels and VM



    Note that VirtualBox, Parallels, and VM Fusion can also run other operating systems such as Linux, Unix, OS/2, Solaris, etc.  There are performance differences between dual-boot systems and virtualization.  The latter tend to be a little slower (not much) and do not provide the video performance of the dual-boot system. See MacTech Labs- Virtualization Benchmarks, January 2013 | MacTech for comparisons of Boot Camp, Parallels, and VM Fusion. Boot Camp is only available with Leopard or Snow Leopard. Except for Crossover and a couple of similar alternatives like DarWine you must have a valid installer disc for Windows.


    You must also have an internal optical drive for installing Windows. Windows cannot be installed from an external optical drive.


    Boot Camp Help- Overview of Boot Camp setup

    Mac Basics- Using Windows on your Mac via Boot Camp

    Boot Camp- Installing Windows 7 Frequently Asked Questions

  • Allan Eckert Level 8 (49,660 points)

    Yes. Parallels works. There is also BootCamp which will allow you to boot into Windows instead of running as a virtual operating system. It all depends on exactly what you need to run in Windows.



  • C F McBlob Level 4 (2,865 points)

    I use Parallels with 10.8.4  (I'm a convert from VMWare Fusion) I have XP, Vista 7, 8 as well as Lion and three builds of Linux. It runs fine as long as you have enough RAM. (A minimum of 8GB if you don't want to have to shut other things down while running a VM - otherwise you have to set your VM RAM down so low that it lags). I'd rather have a VM running than go the boot camp route because you have to boot into one OS or the other with Boot Camp, and  since I'm doing Windows "testing" all day I really only need it for screencaps and I have to jump around bewteen OS's too much to be rebooting a dozen or more time an hour.

    It helps a lot to have a second display too.