Installing Windows 7 on a Mac

When Apple switched its desirable Macintosh computers from the aging Power PC architecture to Intel’s PC-compatible x86 platform in 2006, the computing landscape was changed forever. No longer were PCs and Macs incompatible at a very low level. Indeed, Macs are now simply PCs running a different operating system. This fascinating change opened up the possibility of Mac users running Windows software natively on their machines, either in a dual-boot scenario or, perhaps, in a virtualized environment that would offer much better performance than the Power PC–based virtualized environments of the past.

These dreams quickly became reality. Apple created software called Boot Camp that now enables Mac users to dual-boot between Mac OS X (Leopard or higher) and Windows XP, Vista, or 7. And enterprising tech pioneers such as VMware and Parallels have created seamless virtualization environments for Mac OS X that enable Mac users to run popular Windows applications alongside Mac-only software such as iLife.

Now consumers can choose a best-of-both-worlds solution that combines Apple’s highly regarded (if expensive) hardware with the compatibility and software-library depth of Windows. Indeed, Paul has been using an Apple notebook running Windows 7 ever since Microsoft’s latest operating system shipped in early beta form.

The differences between these two types of Windows-on-Mac solutions are important to understand. If you choose to dual-boot between Mac OS X and Windows using Boot Camp, you have the advantage of running each system with the complete power of the underlying hardware. However, you can access only one OS at a time, and you need to reboot the Mac in order to access the other.

With a virtualized environment running under Mac OS X, you have the advantage of running Mac OS X and Windows applications side by side, but with a performance penalty. In this situation, Mac OS X is considered the host OS, and Windows is a guest OS running on top of Mac OS X. (This works much like Windows Virtual PC and XP Mode, which we document in Chapter 3.) Thus, Windows applications won’t run at full speed. With enough RAM, you won’t notice any huge performance issues while utilizing productivity applications, but you can’t run Windows games effectively with such a setup. Note, too, that the Windows 7 Aero user experience is not available in today’s virtualized environments, so you would have to settle for Windows 7 Basic instead. Regardless of which method you use to install Windows 7, be aware of a final limitation: you need to purchase a copy of Windows 7, as no Mac ships with Microsoft’s operating system. This is a not-so-fine point that Apple never seems to mention in their advertising.

Source of Information : Wiley Windows 7 Secrets (2009)

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