Feeds

Windows on Mac: BootCamp vs Parallels Desktop

How to run the 'other' operating system...

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

With XP running, I tried installing ATI's Radeon Mobility X1600 drivers, but when the installer inspected the hardware configuration as presented by the VM, it decided my machine was not one supported by ATI. As it stands, Parallels' own video driver will not do 3D acceleration. The 3DMark 06 benchmark would not run, and neither would the 3D components of PCMark 05 so I couldn't get a full PCMark rating. For what it's worth, the CPU test yielded a score of 2,891 while the HDD benchmark results was 4,943 points.

You'd want to install the latest ATI drivers to maximise your machine's graphics performance under XP. But there are other limits. Even though XP correctly identifies the host processor, PD limits the guest OS to one of the Core Duo's two cores. In practice, XP and OS X both throttle back apps that are running but sitting in the background, so this is unlikely to hit mainstream applications hard, but it will hinder processor-hungry tools like Photoshop.

You can assign as much memory to the VM as you have physical memory on board, but PD suggests you leave enough for the host OS to run smoothly, and provides a recommendation. My MacBook Pro has 1.5GB, and I assigned the recommended maximum of 1.1GB to the VM, and there was a marked impact on Mac OS X performance. Even running the VM at 768MB, allocated all but 16MB of the physical RAM to other tasks, and that's with just Mac OS X, a handful of dashboard widgets, Activity Monitor and text editor, Text Wrangler, running alongside PD. Switch off PD, and the free memory shot up to 970MB.

Depending on what you plan to run under PD, then a memory upgrade may be in order, which adds to the product's overall cost, of course.

windows on mac - parallels desktop operation
Click for full-size image

There are other issues. Parallels' routines for changing to full-screen mode needs some work. Out of the box, it messes around with the two OS' resolutions too much. Fortunately, you can tell PD not to change the Mac OS X screen resolution, and you can turn off the transition effects, but I repeatedly saw graphical oddities in XP - missing UI elements, wrong resolution messages and so on. There's no way, it seems, to flip seamlessly from full-screen Windows to full-screen Mac OS X as if you were sharing a monitor between two machines.

Even in full-screen mode, the VM essentially runs in a Window. That's handy in some ways - Apple's volume and brightness controls continue to work as before - but irritating on others, primarily the way Exposé's hot corners are retained. Push your mouse too far and suddenly Windows disappears entirely.

windows on mac - parallels desktop options

These are minor irritations and easily avoided. And they're a small price to pay for the flexibility of not having to reboot your Mac to change operating systems, or to be able to run multiple operating systems without having to re-partition your hard drive, with the risks that entails. Equally important is PD's ability to with other operating systems than Windows XP - which is all Apple's BootCamp officially supports. That makes PD the only choice for legacy operating systems, such as Windows 3.11. It also provides an easy way to trial Linux.

Parallels Desktop for Mac costs $80, but you may need to add some extra memory too and the cost of a copy of Windows. Fortunately, Parallels lets you try the software out for 15 days, which should give you a sense of the performance limitations and/or expanded memory requirements your chosen guest operating system(s) will require if you choose to stick with PD.

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

Next page: BootCamp

More from The Register

next story
So, Apple won't sell cheap kit? Prepare the iOS garden wall WRECKING BALL
It can throw the low cost race if it looks to the cloud
Reg man looks through a Glass, darkly: Google's toy ploy or killer tech specs?
Tip: Put the shades on and you'll look less of a spanner
Apple promises to lift Curse of the Drained iPhone 5 Battery
Have you tried turning it off and...? Never mind, here's a replacement
Now that's FIRE WIRE: HP recalls 6 MILLION burn-risk laptop cables
Right in the middle of Burning Mains Man week
Apple's iWatch? They cannae do it ... they don't have the POWER
Analyst predicts fanbois will have to wait until next year
HUGE iPAD? Maybe. HUGE ADVERTS? That's for SURE
Noo! Hand not big enough! Don't look at meee!
Samsung Gear S: Quick, LAUNCH IT – before Apple straps on iWatch
Full specs for wrist-mounted device here ... but who'll buy it?
AMD unveils 'single purpose' graphics card for PC gamers and NO ONE else
Chip maker claims the Radeon R9 285 is 'best in its class'
One step closer to ROBOT BUTLERS: Dyson flashes vid of VACUUM SUCKER bot
Latest cleaner available for world+dog in September
prev story

Whitepapers

Best practices for enterprise data
Discussing how technology providers have innovated in order to solve new challenges, creating a new framework for enterprise data.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?