Newsletter Issue #345 Preview: What’s the Best Way to Run Windows on a Mac?

July 9th, 2006

My friends, although it’s gotten a lot of press of late, the truth is that you’ve been able to run Windows on your Mac for years. It wasn’t always a pleasant solution, however, not because Microsoft builds a mediocre operating system, which is largely true. But there were other reasons why you would find the task to be an unbearable chore.

Back in 1995, for example, I was asked to write a Windows 95 version of one of my books. As a Mac user, this presented a dilemma that was addressed by an emulator, known as SoftWindows. The application has since passed to the great software graveyard in the sky, but it got the job done, sort of. While I had the speediest Mac of that era, with as much memory as I could afford, every single function moved slowly, stuck in quicksand it seemed.

I suppose I could have bitten the bullet and bought a real Windows PC, but the cost would have been too high considering the modest advance I received for that particular title. And, besides, after the book was completed, I’d end up with another wasted piece of hardware to put in the closet or sell.

But you have to understand that it wasn’t bad programming that made SoftWindows or Virtual PC so slow. The process of duplicating the functions of another processor in software entailed a huge overhead, so that it worked at all seemed almost a miracle.

Story continued in this week’s Tech Night Owl Newsletter.

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2 Responses to “Newsletter Issue #345 Preview: What’s the Best Way to Run Windows on a Mac?”

  1. Andrew says:

    I remember SoftWindows and use Virtual PC in the office (version 6 on a Mac Mini). Virtual PC 6 also used to have a place on my PowerBooks, and was just the thing for those pesky IE-only websites or when nothing but Windows Solitaire( (perhaps the greatest computer game of all time) would do. I also used VPC for a program called Form Flow that is hard to avoid as a member of the Army Reserve, and for that it was also adequate.

    Today we have Parellels and Boot Camp on the Intel Macs which are both worlds better than the old Virtual PC, but for the limited use of IE websites, Solitaire or Form Flow I never really had any complaints. The only thing that was really missing back then were Windows games, which I’ve wanted for years and used to deal with by owning a separate high-end laptop PC. I know, laptops aren’t the best game machines but space is tight and I usually play games at places other than my house or office, so a laptop it had to be.

    I use a MacBook now and it is actually a very good Windows PC, once a small modification called “Input Remapper” was installed to address the lack of right click, delete key and keyboard control for the screen and sound. With that one addition, I was able let my high-end ThinkPad go and replace it entire with my primary Mac. Despite the integrated graphics the MacBook does a great job on the games that I actually like to play (roleplaying and strategy) and for those Windows-only applications, well, its real Windows.

    Parallels is a m,uch better option for non-gaming WIndows requirements, but those are fairly infrequent and Parallels requires its own WIndows install and resulting hard drive space, so I make do exclusively with Boot Camp. The inconvenience is minimal for the benefits in speed and the addition of games when I travel.

    Windows on a mac has come a long way.

  2. sam williams says:

    Hey Gene,

    What’s the best way to eat a carp?

    1. Put the carp on wooden board.
    2. Apply pepper, lemon juice and paprika.
    3. Bake at 380 for 20 minutes.
    4. Remove the carp, and eat the board.

    Hopefully that will shed some light on your question.

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