It's tempting to present this review as a head-to-head, but while BootCamp and Parallels Desktop do the same thing - allow you to run Windows XP in addition to Mac OS X - they're sufficiently different to appeal to different types of user. Which you pick should depend on what kind of software you want to run.
PD first. This is ideal for anyone who wants to run one or two mainstream Windows apps, either because you can't get Mac OS X versions or because they're tools your business has been using for years and you've simply got too much data tied up in them to jump ship. PD has a minimal impact on your system, making it as easy to dispose of as any other Mac application. Mac OS X's inherent stability means Windows hiccups aren't going to affect you any more than a Safari crash might.
Yes, there are performance limitations, but I found them broadly acceptable. I hope Parallels works on fixing the hardware support for iSight, Bluetooth and a broader array of USB devices. A better graphics driver, to allow 3D acceleration would be nice, but isn't essential.
Chances are if you need 3D acceleration, you're going to want BootCamp rather than PD anyway. BootCamp delivers the full hardware to Windows - all the memory, primarily - and with a decent set of drivers - everything but the iSight camera, it seems. This is the solution for gamers, graphics professionals and anyone who expects Windows XP to run as if it were running on a second machine. Unlike PD, BootCamp is for folk who want to run XP or OS X at any given time, not XP and OS X. That largely means anyone who wants to dedicate as many processor cycles as possible to a specific task, or you expect to spend a significant time running just one OS.
The downside, for now, is that BootCamp isn't ready for mission-critical apps, so PD may make for a temporary solution until BootCamp 1.0 ships with Mac OS X 10.5. PD is also beholden to Mac OS X's power management system, so it's fine - performance and hard disk thrashing notwithstanding - to run on an untethered notebook. BootCamp's drivers are less sophisticated, and notebook users should expect shorter runtime on battery than they might get under Mac OS X - the graphics chip will probably run faster, for example.
BootCamp is free, of course, but PD's $80 price tag is extremely good value for such an easy to use, Mac OS X-friendly and - crucially - safe tool. Frankly, if after reading the above, you reckon PD is the best solution, you're better off buying the software than try to use BootCamp to save money.
PD has the most potential, however. BootCamp offers the best performance, for now. Apple needs to clarify its support for Intel's Virtualisation Technology (VT), which requires more than just a VT-enable processor and software like PD to run. Apple's firmware has to support it to, and at this stage it's not clear whether that's the case. PD can take advantage of VT if it's there, so it has the opportunity to become faster and still offer much better ease of use than BootCamp.
Which approach you take to running Windows on a Mac will depend on how you balance the performance you hope to get out of your system with your need to proceed safely and risk-free. BootCamp will always deliver the maximum performance to your Windows apps, but Parallels Desktop offers greater flexibility and an easier, safer installation process. It's also the better product for quickly dipping in and out of Windows - or any of the other x86-based operating systems it, unlike BootCamp, supports. ®
Parallels Desktop 1.0, Apple BootCamp 1.0.2
Sharing of Files?
Something I've been wondering for a while.. is it possible to share files (eg: Outlook mailbox, my documents, favourites, etc) across both operating systems?
What are the issues around such sharing of content? compatibility problems?
Being new to Mac, I dont know how shareable content is with Windows machines, and this is definitely somethign that is important to me should i make the switch to Mac (somethign i'm seriously considering now that i can still use Windows for development work.. i dont think you can get MS Visual Studio for Mac... or can u?)
Missing the Point
I really don't think the author of this article really understands the power of Parallels. As an IT specialist I routinely run multiple virtual machines simultaneously on my MacBook Pro. I've simulated/built LANs, compiled applications and tested on indiviual virtual machines or in groups of up to 4 simultaneously.
Yes host only networking is the default, but multiple host only machines can talk to each other when hosted on the same physical hardware. This is incredibly useful. I run a workstation dedicated to windows for things at work that OSX can't yet do, like run old crappy dos and win32 applications from the network (Darwine and Crossover are up and coming, but not there yet for me), and that one is set to "bridged". With bridged networking, the virtual machine appears to the outside as its own unique computer. And, yes, mulitple bridged machines can be run on the same physical hardware, visible to each other and the world.
As for boot camp, give me a UNIX kernel like OSX and parallels on top of it instead, for everything, anyday, always. The ONLY time I can foresee a need for bootcamp is for games, when 3D matters, and when a port isn't available yet for OSX natively. Given time, I see 3D added to Parallels as well. For now, the few games I care to play have been ported to OSX already. Ditto on high end graphics and video products.
As far as performance goes, think snappy. It is "near native", nothing at all like the Virtual PC days. The fact that the author discounts due to the fact 3D video isn't available has missed the boat entirely in my opinion. These macintel machines offer the best of everything when configured with Parallels desktop and sufficient RAM, and they are reasonably priced as well for the flexibility, performance, and security you get. I've stopped using my other PCs, Linux, BSD, and XP. I have access to as many as I want for free. The experience is that good.
Repair disk permissions
Quote from the article: "Reports from folk who've tried it already suggest that it's a good idea to verify your hard drive and repair file-access permissions before running BootCamp."
Of course they did. It's part of the Mac Voodoo, that. Anyone who wants to appear knowledgeable but has no clear idea of what they're talking about will recommend one or more of: repair permissions; clearing PRAM; installing software updaters via the combo rather than incremental package. It certainly wouldn't help in this situation and almost never does at any other time, but it's part and parcel of The Mac Experience ;-)