When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson

17 June 2006

Adventures in Mac/Windows Wonkery

Well, I must say I'm enjoying the new MacBook.

I still have a need to run a few Windows programs (Visio, Project), and so for the first few days this week I experimented with Apple's BootCamp. This is a perfectly satisfactory solution, as long as you don't mind shutting down and rebooting whenever you need to access something in Windows.

But when I ramped up the MacBook's RAM this week to 2GB (thanks, Small Dog Electronics -- $225 with shipping is a much better deal than the $500 that Apple charges for the identical sticks o' memory), I had enough overhead to play with virtual machines.

So I downloaded and installed Parallels Desktop (just formally released; on sale for $49 through July.) Parallels allows you to run Windows XP (or any Windows OS, or Linux, or pretty much anything that runs on an Intel chip) in a window on your Mac, while your other Mac software putters along happily.

Does it work?

Yes, it does:

Mac Desktop With Parallels Scaled
A new Outlook on Macintosh computing

That's Windows XP in a Mac window, with Windows Outlook downloading my company e-mail and showing my calendar for the week.

The performance is admittedly much less snappy than BootCamp, which is, after all, running Windows natively on a fast Intel processor. But it's perfectly adequate for occasionally starting up XP and tweaking a Visio document or a Project plan, and as I get a little better at adjusting the settings to find the configuration's "sweet spot," it is improving all the time.


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