Apple Computer's switch to the Intel processor allows its Macintoshes to run other operating systems besides its native OS X and now many users are finding good reasons to run Windows on the Mac. There are some specialized applications for which there are no Apple counterparts, like certain professional tax preparation applications and business and scientific programs. Some PC switchers want to continue to use some of their favorite PC programs after the switch to the Macintosh hardware, and many gamers want to use their Macs to play games which are not compatible with Mac OS X; inpatient sorts want to play new games which haven't yet come out for the Macintosh.
The book, "Running Windows on your Mac," is a perfect resource for these people, especially those who like or need significant hand holding, in setting up their Macintosh machines to run multiple operating systems. The author, Dwight Silverman, is an experienced technical writer who clearly explains how to install and run Windows on the Macintosh. He also provides a primer in Part 1 of the book for Windows users on how to run Mac OS X; Part 2 is a primer on running Windows for Mac users. Although a variety of flavors of Microsoft's Windows can run on the Mac, the author focuses nearly exclusively on Windows Vista with a nod or two to Windows XP.
Mr. Silverman writes casually and assumes the reader is an average computer user who is willing to upgrade his or her computer skills but would like some patient guidance. Geeks and power users will be disappointed in the presentation and the book is unlikely to be of much use to them. But for many Mac users wanting to run Windows, and especially for the many PC switchers, "Running Windows" maybe all that is needed to get up and running with two operating systems.
The book is a fairly typical Peachpit Press product - simply and clearly written and laden with illustrations, screenshots, charts, and sidebar Notes, Tips, and Warnings making the presentation easy to follow. In this case, there are step-by-step instructions (supported by screenshots) of how to install and configure the three "helper" programs which allow the Mac to run Windows. The Apple-supplied Boot Camp application allows one to boot into either Mac or Windows systems but not both at the same time. The other two are virtualization programs, Parallels and VMware, which run the two operating systems simultaneously. There are nice comparison charts showing the positives and negatives of each approach.
The sections dealing with the Mac OS are more complete than those dealing with Windows. There is a section on how to configure the OS X System Preferences and an overview of the included Mac applications like the iLife suite of music, photo, iChat, calendar, etc, as well as utilities for backup, searching, and networking. For Windows, there are sections on the filesystem, desktop, security issues, and even how to install Windows drivers. There are comparisons of the Mac and Windows keyboard and mouse indicating the relatively minor but important differences.
Using any of the three helper applications is relatively easy but the guidance here can provide necessary confidence for some users. The primers on the Mac OS X and on Windows Vista are basic but enough to get unacquainted users up to speed quickly. For each of the approaches Silverman discusses some (not so very) advanced topics, helpful to non-geeks.
This is a modestly intended volume but one which satisfies its purpose well.
on May 28, 2008
I took a look at two books that offer plenty of guidance to run Windows as a guest OS on your Intel-based Mac. I have an aging G5 and it is getting time for an upgrade, and I am considering which of the four potential solutions to use when I get a new Mac: the Apple-supplied Boot Camp (requires 10.5 OS), Parallels, VMware Fusion, and Sun's Virtual Box. The two books that are worthy of purchasing are:
Dwight Silverman's book from Peachpit press ($35), which doesn't cover Virtual Box but does a great job showing you the tradeoffs and settings for the other three solutions. He goes into lots of details for new Mac 10.5 users, which is very helpful. He also does a better job about describing how to run Vista as the secondary OS.
Joe Kissell's Take Control book ($10 eBook download, paper $22), which includes the free open-source Virtual Box. He goes into more details about how to protect your Windows sessions from exploits (some of which are briefly mentioned in Dwight's book), and more details on the various Boot Camp options.
Both have step-by-step installation and lots of tweaking tips to get the most out of your mixed mode Mac. Some things that I learned include:
Fusion supports dual-core CPUs and has less load, making it more attractive for processing-intensive Windows apps
Neither Parallels or Fusion support Firewire connections, and not all USB ones either.
Parallels comes with a free install of Kaspersky Anti-virus and has a nifty P2V utility to make virtual copies of running Windows configurations
Boot Camp is better for Windows gamers, since it isn't running in a VM session
Both books are excellent resources, written by people who have experimented with the products and know what they are talking about, and filled with copious screen shots and practical advice.
on February 22, 2009
While "Running Windows on Your Mac" is well written, it has far too little coverage on how to run either Parallels Desktop or VMware Fusion. It does have a lot of coverage on an introduction to Windows and to the Macintosh -- but there are lots of other far more comprehensive books that cover both introductory and detailed information on using both Windows and Macintosh OS X.
What I was hoping to find was detailed help on how to run a virtual Windows system on the Macintosh. I discovered this book has more coverage (76 pages) on Parallels than on VMware Fusion (32 pages). The book then has about 90 pages on Macintosh basics for Windows users, followed by about 30 pages on using Windows for Macintosh users. Overall, the book provides more basic information on the use of Windows and Macintosh than on virtualization.
The book has only the slightest hints about more advanced features in Parallels and Fusion. The book seemed to think that snapshots, using Fusion with Boot Camp, and the VMware Importer were advanced. The book had only the slightest hint that it was possible to use USB devices connected to the Macintosh on virtual machines, and nothing on actually accomplishing the task, nor on the complications that might be expected with different USB devices. The about the same amount of coverage (a sentence) was devoted to sharing CD and DVD drives between the Mac and the virtual world. As for sharing documents, and recommended means for using data on both the Mac and Windows, there was a sentence on "Shared Folders".
Maybe the next edition of the book will actually about on running Windows on a Macintosh, and not about running Windows, and not about running Macintosh.
On the other hand, this book is an adequate introduction for a novice, expecially one that knows little of Macintosh OS X or of Microsoft Windows.