Windows 7 on Apple computers

By Grant Jacobs 29/10/2009

Owners or prospective buyers of Apple computers may want to know that two arch-rival virtualisation software companies are already offering support for Windows 7.

You have the choice of the latest versions of VMWare’s Fusion, or rival Parallels‘ virtualisation products.

Both can run Windows 7, which fellow scibling Peter Griffin recently reviewed, alongside Mac OS X. Demo downloads are available either product. Do back up your data first, as you should for any major update.

The main reason I’m writing actually is to point out that you can obtain a free 140+ page e-book Take Control of VMware Fusion 3 by Joe Kissell (free distribution sponsored by VMWare) that covers installing and most versions of Windows (XP, Vista or Windows 7, Windows 2000 and so on) and a host of details that can spare you a lot of time tracking down answers.

I would encourage prospective buyers to carefully check the details of what these virtualisation options offer if specific things matter to you, e.g. what level of graphics support is need for your favourite games or other graphics-intensive software. (Alternatively, simply download a demo and try both out. You’ll need good broadband access, these are large downloads.)

For example for graphics support, Parallels claims support for DirectX Pixel Shader 2.0 and OpenGL 2.0. Fusion claims support for Windows Aero “including Flip 3D and Aero Peek” for Vista and Windows 7 (not yet available through Parallels), DirectX 9.0c with Shader Model 3 for Windows (all versions I guess) and OpenGL 2.1 for Windows XP.

Other areas that might affect some are support for multiple cores CPUs (so all cores of a CPU can be used, rather than just one), working with Spaces (Apple’s screen virtualisation), or how files are shared between Windows and Mac OS X.

Apple should soon provide an update to allow users to run Windows 7 via Boot Camp, which effectively turns your Apple into a Windows machine for a while. Unlike the virtualisation options only one operating system can be running, either Mac OS X or Windows, not both concurrently. On the good side, this option won’t cost you anything and will run Windows (more-or-less) “natively”.

Those who are greedy can also use virtualisation to run Linux and have all three major OSes on one computer! 🙂 (You will need a fair amount of RAM to do this.)

Hat tips to MacSurfer and Tidbits for the link too the e-book.

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