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Windows on Mac: Virtualization Solutions

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If you’d prefer to join the ever-increasing ranks of Mac switchers—you traitor, you—you can still run Windows and, more important, Windows applications, from within Mac OS X. You do so via a virtualized environment such as VMware Fusion or Parallels Desktop, both of which fool Windows into running inside of a software-based PC that itself runs as an application under Mac OS X.

In the past, virtualized environments presented a number of huge issues, especially on the Mac. First, performance was abysmal, owing mostly to the underlying architectural differences between the PowerPC and Intel x86 platforms and the difficulty in translating running code between them. Second, virtualized environments have typically presented Windows and its applications as a sort of thing-in-a-thing, whereby the entire Windows environment would run inside a closed-off window that was quite separate and distinct from the Mac environment in which it was running. Moving back and forth between the Mac and Windows environments was jarring and difficult.

Modern virtualized environments—such as VMware Fusion and Parallels Desktop—have mostly overcome these issues, just as Windows Virtual PC has on the Windows side. Thanks to the underlying Intel x86 platform now used by the Mac, virtualization offers better performance because there’s no need to do on-the-fly code conversion. Yes, performance still suffers, but you might be surprised by how well Fusion and Parallels Desktop actually work.

More impressive, perhaps, both VMware Fusion and Parallels Desktop offer unique new usage modes that blur the line between the Mac and Windows desktops. VMware Fusion offers a feature called Unity that enables you to run a Windows application directly from the Mac Dock, switch between Windows and Mac applications using the Mac’s Exposé window switcher, and drag and drop files between both systems. Parallels Desktop offers a similar feature called Coherence, which also integrates Windows applications into the Mac desktop experience. Coherence even supports copy and paste between Mac and Windows applications, and many other integration features. VMware Fusion also offers an impressive bit of integration with Apple’s Boot Camp functionality. If you’ve already installed Windows 7 in a dual-boot setup with Mac OS X using Boot Camp, Fusion will detect that Windows install and automatically enable you to access it as a virtualized environment from within Mac OS X. This, truly, is the best of both worlds, as you can choose to access Windows 7 natively via Boot Camp or virtualized from within Mac OS X using Fusion, all on the same machine. You can find out more about VMware Fusion from the VMware Web site at www.vmware.com/products/fusion. Likewise, you can find out more about Parallels Fusion online at www.parallels.com/products/desktop.

Source of Information : Wiley Windows 7 Secrets (2009)

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