Up till now, most of the hours I’ve spent in the Windows environment have been under the baggage of an emulator. Compared to the real thing, I’ve always regarded that as second-rate, not because of the quality of the operating system, but as a result of the performance drag when you’re not using a real PC.
Apple’s switch to Intel processors has changed the equation considerably. First it was Boot Camp, which is basically a programming trick that lets you run install Windows on a separate partition on your MacIntel, and then boot into that operating system. There’s no emulation; this is the genuine article. Performance and the overall user experience is, in every respect I can think of, identical to that of using a real PC.
Compared to double booting, the Parallels Desktop environment was pretty good overall, but you could tell you weren’t actually using the real thing, even though the impression was fleeting in most respects. Of course, when it came to running 3D games and rendering programs, you were left hanging. Performance was dreadful, if the application would even run.
Well, I’m writing this issue of our newsletter in Firefox version 2.0.4 for Windows, under Windows Vista. And, as far as I can determine, there are no noticeable trade-offs. Graphics performance in my brief testing is identical to a regular high-end PC desktop, which is what my 17-inch MacBook Pro is for the most part. Except, of course, when I look at the bottom of the screen, where Mac OS X Tiger’s desktop is situated.
Indeed, the brilliant programmers at Parallels have figured out how to support 3D graphics, and lots of other cool stuff in the late prerelease version of version 3.0 that I’m using.
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