Mac OS-X is a very versatile and intuitive operating system that is good for most computing needs. However, there are certain things that it cannot do. A common problem that some computer users run into is incompatibility of their operating system with particular software that they want or need to use. For instance, there are many programs and games that are made to run on Windows, but that can’t be installed or used on a Mac’s native operating system. Luckily, there are some easy options to bridge the gap.
One option is to actually create a separate partition on the computer’s hard drive where Windows can then be fully installed, which is made easy by a utility that comes built into Mac computers called Boot Camp Assistant. This allows the user to choose between booting to Windows or OS-X when starting the computer. The other option is to use hardware virtualization software to run Windows programs directly on a Mac without having to reboot and change the operating system.
First, let us discuss Boot Camp. Tucked in the Utilities folder in Applications, Mac users can find Boot Camp Assistant, which allows users to install Windows by partitioning the hard drive. This method allows Windows to run at native speed, as the operating system has access to all the processors, cores, graphics, etc. This process requires that the Mac is intel-based and that the computer is running OS X version 10.5 or later, as well as the roughly 10 GB of space needed for the new operating system. Also of importance to note, Mac’s newest versions, Mountain Lion and Lion, currently only support Windows 7 as a new installation. Apple provides a “Boot Camp Installation & Setup Guide” for each version of OS X. Users can find this on Apple’s website (http://support.apple.com/manuals/#macos) and choose the correct one for their version of OS X, then simply follow the step-by-step instructions to create the partition and install Windows. Once it is installed, users can switch between operating systems by holding down Option (alt) during boot up.
The alternative option to Boot Camp Assistant for running Windows applications on a Mac is to use hardware virtualization software, the most popular of which is Parallels. Programs such as Parallels work by creating a virtual hard drive within OS X, on which a Windows operating system is installed. The benefit of this is that it allows users to run Windows apps without rebooting, side by side with Mac apps. The downside to it is that it costs extra money, unlike Boot Camp Assistant, and also does not quite run Windows at native speed. There are some free programs that can be found on the Internet, however users who choose those run the risk of even worse speeds and graphics on their Windows programs.
Both of these options for enabling use of Windows applications on a Mac have their advantages as well as their disadvantages. Which one is best is really just dependent on the needs of the user, although either will easily rid any computer user of the problems of incompatibility between programs and operating systems .