Q&A: MAC USERS: I understand it can run Windows applications. How labor intensive is it to do that?

Windows Application

MAC USERS: I understand it can run Windows applications. How labor intensive is it to do that?

Can you just install a Windows application and just select it when you want to use it, or is it more involved then that? Can you just switch from a Windows application then a Mac application and go back and forth? Is it part of the Mac Operating System or do you have to buy additional stuff?

windows application best answer:

Answer by Andy
Run Windows virtually or dual boot. Google how to do either.

Windows Dock Icons
windows application
Image by Sören ‘chucker’ Kuklau
The 3094 build of Parallels Desktop allows you to see running Windows apps in the Dock; moreover, you can keep the apps in there even while the VM isn’t running, and launch the VM (and the app) this way. This works through little proxy apps that are created inside the new "Windows Applications" subfolder of your VM.

Of note, but not shown here: if the application has an 128×128 icon (which Windows XP does not yet fully support), Parallels actually copies that properly.

The build is labelled ‘beta’, but since it actually adds features over the previous ‘beta’ and also has some major reliability issues, ‘alpha’ would have been the more appropriate term. That said, Parallels’s development pace and results are generally quite impressive.

Crashed Windows applications in Yates in Central Station
windows application
Image by alistairmcmillan
The jukebox application that plays music videos on the monitors in Yates in Glasgow Central Station used to crash a lot. Every time it crashed the bar staff had to reboot the whole system.


  1. Boot Camp is software that helps users of Intel-based Macs install and use Windows XP on those systems. The Boot Camp Assistant helps you change the set-up of your hard drive so that it has two partitions—your existing Mac volume and a new Windows-compatible volume. The Assistant also burns a CD-ROM that contains drivers —files that Windows needs so that it can operate your Mac’s hardware efficiently.

    Once the Boot Camp Assistant does its job, your Mac reboots and—thanks to a recent firmware update—you can insert your Windows XP installation CD and it will be recognized as a bootable volume. When the lengthy Windows installation process concludes, you insert the CD-ROM that the Boot Camp Assistant burned, which installs the appropriate Windows drivers, as well as a Windows utility (much like the Startup Disk preference pane) that lets you choose your startup volume.

    Wait—I thought all I had to do was install Boot Camp and then I’d be running Windows.

    No, you need to have your own full version of Windows XP Service Pack 2. (And yes, we specifically mean SP2—when we tried installing SP1 during one of our tests, it didn’t work at all.) You can’t just copy the version of Windows that came with any old PC, because it can’t be installed on any system other than the one it came with. You can’t buy an “upgrade” copy, because you’re not upgrading from a previous version of Windows. A full version of Windows XP SP2. It’ll cost you $ 150 to $ 200.

    OK, I understand that Boot Camp requires a version of XP that includes Service Pack 2, but I only have an original XP disc. Is there a way to create a SP2 disc with what I have?

    Yes. You can use a process called slipstreaming. This tutorial explains exactly what you need to do. Note that you’ll need to have access to a PC for this process.

    Does Boot Camp provide all the drivers I need?

    Boot Camp provides the basic drivers for audio, video, Bluetooth, AirPort, Ethernet, and keyboard and mouse. If you have peripherals that require their own drivers in XP, you’ll have to download and install those yourself.

  2. In order to run Windows applications natively on a Mac, you will need to run the Windows OS as a Virtual Machine.

    There are two general ways to do this:
    As a virtual machine application launched from within the normal Mac OS As a virtual machine that is booted into, bypassing the normal Mac OS environment
    Option 1 is like opening up any other application in OS X. The Windows environment is contained within that application window. You can switch back and forth between your Windows world and your Mac world seamlessly.

    Option 2 is like normally running Windows; you simply boot into it and everything appears as it would on a normal Windows OS. You are limited to only Windows applications; you cannot open Mac stuff.

    For Option 1, I would recommend Parallels. I use it myself and it works perfectly. Anytime I need a Windows world, I simply run Parallels as I would any other application right alongside my other Mac applications; I get the best of both worlds. This option costs though, currently $ 79.99.

    For Option 2, I would recommend Apple’s Boot Camp. If you have Leopard, then Boot Camp is already available for free.

    In both cases, you will also need a copy the Windows OS disk which you’ll have to “install” as your virtual machine.

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