Boot Camp, CrossOver, Parallels, VMware Fusion in three bullet points each!

Discussion in 'Windows, Linux & Others on the Mac' started by Mr. Zarniwoop, Feb 21, 2008.

  1. Mr. Zarniwoop macrumors demi-god

    Mr. Zarniwoop

    Jun 9, 2005
    I'm a avid Windows-on-Mac user, and have often explained the differences between the different ways to run Windows applications on Intel-based Macs with three bullet points for each. Because I see the question asked over and over, I thought I'd post those bullets here in the hopes it provides the quick answer to the differences between them. If people find this useful, I can keep it up-to-date as new features and versions are available.

    "Which is best?" is a question I'm not trying to answer below, as that depends on too many other variables. Due to their similar approaches, it's hardest to answer that question for Parallels vs. VMware Fusion, but there's a good comprehensive comparison of VMware Fusion and Parallels Desktop on Wikipedia.

    Boot Camp: part of Mac OS X v10.5 Leopard ($130 if it didn't come with your Mac), but you supply Windows
    • "Run Windows on your Mac." You can boot OS X normally, or boot Windows, and need to reboot when you want to switch. Almost all Windows applications, including games, work.
    • Windows XP 32-bit or Vista 32-bit are limited to 2GB of RAM on a Mac under Boot Camp. Sorry.
    • Driver support rocks on XP 32-bit or Vista 32-bit. The "early 2008" Mac Pros and MacBook Pros also ship with Vista 64-bit drivers (Boot Camp 2.0.1+), although no XP Professional x64 Edition support.

    CrossOver Mac: $40 for standard or games versions, $60 for pro version with both and better support (+$10 for CD), no Windows needed
    • Runs some 32-bit Windows applications natively under OS X, seamlessly, typically at native speed, including a few 3D games. CrossOver maps Windows API calls to OS X.
    • The list of applications officially supported is short, notably most Microsoft Office-related applications, Internet Explorer 6 (not 7), some games (like Team Fortress 2, Half Life 2, Prey, etc.), Quicken, and Lotus Notes.
    • Other Windows programs may work acceptably (like µTorrent) or may not (like most games, Internet Explorer 7, etc.) so it can be tough to rely on CrossOver exclusively if your Windows needs are broad.

    Parallels Desktop for Mac: $80 (+$15 for CD), but you supply Windows
    • Runs most 32-bit Windows applications in a virtual machine (VM) under OS X, seamlessly ("Coherence"), typically with a minor speed penalty due to virtualization, including some 3D games.
    • High file integration with OS X, with files from the Windows VMs available to OS X ("Complete Shared Folders" and "Parallels Explorer"), and auto-launching Windows applications from OS X or vice-versa ("SmartSelect"). But, limited to 2GB of RAM per VM, with 4GB total across VMs and one CPU core.
    • Multiple suspended snapshots of a VM supported ("Snapshot Manager").

    VMware Fusion: $80 (not including $20-$30 rebate available), but you supply Windows
    • Runs most 32-bit and 64-bit Windows applications in a virtual machine under OS X, seamlessly ("Unity"), typically with a minor speed penalty due to virtualization, including some 3D games.
    • High access to memory and multiple CPU cores, with per VM access to 1-2 CPU cores and 8GB of RAM, and automatically shares memory that is common across VMs. But, limited to one suspended snapshot per VM.
    • Compatible with VMware Virtual Appliances and Virtual Machines that are popular in Enterprise IT environments, including over 60 different operating systems.
  2. Brianna macrumors regular

    Feb 8, 2008
    That is not very a good description of any of those apps or their features. If someone was coming in here wondering which to buy you would think that Crossover Mac is equal to VMware, or Parallels, but it's useless.

    There are articles all over reviewing VMware, vs Parallels. I would suggest googling them and reading most, if not all, of them before making a decision.
  3. Mr. Zarniwoop thread starter macrumors demi-god

    Mr. Zarniwoop

    Jun 9, 2005
    It's not useless for me, and some others as well. I use it to run Word 2003, Excel 2003, PowerPoint 2003, Exchange 2003, uTorrent, Half-Life 2, and check compatibility using Internet Explorer 6. They're all pretty much perfect for CrossOver, and hardly useless, as CrossOver runs them far better than VMware or Parallels.

    I still use all of the other three, although I admit I very rarely run Parallels Desktop for Mac anymore.

    I also like the Wikipedia article I linked a bit better, as it's generally kept up-to-date but your link was comparing shipping GA product to a pre-public internal development build.
  4. stainlessliquid macrumors 68000

    Sep 22, 2006
    I think crossover is WAY better than the virtualization ones. I use it for emule+ and it works just fine with very little ram impact (unlike running 2 operating systems at the same time just for one program). It also gives access to the other drives you might have connected regardless of their formats, I tried Paralells and it could only access the default C: drive which is completely useless for me. It doesnt have the same compatibility as the VM's but its so much faster and lighter when the program works.

    What sucks is that nobody uses it so it took me over a year before I realized it even existed.
  5. teknikal90 macrumors 68030


    Jan 28, 2008
    Vancouver, BC
    wouldnt fusion be better cause it takes advantage of SMP?
  6. Brianna macrumors regular

    Feb 8, 2008
    You can use any drive in parallels also. I don't see how that would be an issue. And if those 5 year old versions of Office are your thing whoop whoop for you, but I like fact that I can install any windows app the day it comes out in any of the other virtualization apps, and I don't have to wait a few years for $10,000 in donations to get the Crossover camp to get an app I need working.
  7. Mindflux macrumors 68000


    Oct 20, 2007
    Virtualbox ought to be in this list, as well as Q.
  8. Mr. Zarniwoop thread starter macrumors demi-god

    Mr. Zarniwoop

    Jun 9, 2005
    I have found them not really functional or usable for running any mainstream Windows applications. But if you want to write up some bullets for them I'll include them.
  9. stainlessliquid macrumors 68000

    Sep 22, 2006
    luckilly for me I only need to use small programs that work fine. I wouldnt run anything major in virtualization anyways, I really really hated parallels when I tried to make it use a native windows install, it was simply terrible and really messed up my windows install (like changing the hpet to a single core processor instead of dualcore, wtf). It ended up breaking and I couldnt uninstall the stupid "tools" since when I tried to run it in OSX it would crash and its impossible to uninstall the parallels crap inside windows.
  10. newbie2mac12345 macrumors newbie

    Mar 8, 2008
    Question Regarding Switching between Mac OS X and Windows XP


    I'm new to mac and would like to know which of these i can use to "switch" between Mac OS X and Windows XP without rebooting my mac.

    I have used Boot Camp which came with Leopard to partition my harddrive and can use XP if I boot it up at startup.

    The reason I ask this is because i would like to use mail/safari on my mac, and then be able to "switch" over to windows XP to carry on using MS Access and then when required, switch back to mail/safari (without loosing my data on MS Access).

    Thanks in advance.
  11. Mr. Zarniwoop thread starter macrumors demi-god

    Mr. Zarniwoop

    Jun 9, 2005
    If you can get by with Access 2000, CrossOver Mac is the best performing choice by far. But, if it's Access 2003 or 2007, then VMware Fusion or Parallels Desktop for Mac plus a Windows XP license will do what you need.

    Choosing between those two (VMware vs. Parallels) tends to spark quasi-religious debate. ;)
  12. Brianna macrumors regular

    Feb 8, 2008
    I am assuming you were either using the boot camp partition, or this was an earlier version of Parallels because I have not heard of these issues after the finalization.

    If you want to share files between Mac and XP I think you need to partition your Boot Camp Partition as Fat32. If you want to use your Boot Camp Partition for a virtualization app; so you don't have to reboot every time to use your windows apps; you can use Parallels, or VMware. Personally, I tried that, it worked, but later I had troubles with it. So I installed a virtual drive from my Virtualization app (Parallels) to use as my non rebooting version of windows, and use Boot Camp (reboot) for Games. Well One Game. :)
  13. hen5 macrumors newbie

    Mar 10, 2008

    Hello, this is my first post as I am new to the world of Apple computing. My first Apple computer (Blackbook) is arriving on Wednesday, with a 4gb Patriot RAM kit, a Zeroshock III case, and an Invisible Shield. I'm very excited. But, I digress.

    I need to find a solution for running Windows Office 2007 on OS X. I am a Finance major and I need VBA scripting in Excel.

    Brianna, can you elaborate on your "troubles" with reusing the same partition for Boot Camp and Parallels/VMWare?

    Also, should I use Vista Business 32-bit (Boot Camp and Parallels) or Vista Business 64-bit (Boot Camp and VMWare). I like the coherence/synthesis features of Parallels (running .docx/.xlsx files in Office on Windows, for example). Will VMWare run similarly? Also, will Vista 64-bit work better/faster than Vista 32-bit in any way? Lastly, will my Office 2007 (currently in use with a 32-bit version of Windows XP) work with 64-bit Windows if I do indeed install it?

    Thanks everyone... and this forum has been instrumental in convincing me to take the Mac plunge. You might have convinced me to order a 1TB Time Capsule, as well!
  14. Mr. Zarniwoop thread starter macrumors demi-god

    Mr. Zarniwoop

    Jun 9, 2005
    You'll probably be fine with either. Unless you need more than 4GB of RAM in the VM, you can stick with 32-bit XP or Vista using Parallels or VMware.

    Yes and no. Yes, in that VMware has "Unity", which is the same concept of running Windows applications seamlessly. No, in that making a Windows application launch and open a Mac OS X file from the OS X finder is simpler in Parallels.

    If you need it to access more than 4GB of RAM, yes, in that it can and 32-bit can't. Otherwise, for most users, it doesn't really make a difference.

    It will work, albeit as a 32-bit application. Some features such as the Office Clean Up wizard, OneNote 2007 print driver, Internet Fax, and Groove Folder Synchronization not available.
  15. crm114 macrumors member

    Feb 20, 2008
    thanks! this is a great breakdown -esp for us new users.

    My limited experience points to using bootcamp for any gaming that i do - its just more reliable (than others).

    If I need to use office products or other low-end software (from the memory/cpu usage viewpoint) I like parallels.
  16. realtime4d macrumors newbie

    Mar 12, 2008
    My company had licenses for Parallels, for use of Visio and IE specific apps. I'm a longtime VMware user for Windows, but willing to try something different (after all I was given a mac). Slowly bleeding in from the beginning, I had encountered many behavioral nuances or problems with Parallels for 2 months, while being sure to update often.

    Around 2 months, I had closed the lid of my macbook, it went to sleep (while Parallels was running). The next day, every single file Parallels was touching, not in the virtual environment, but on my mac's harddrive, corrupted, including the virtual machine files. Worse, files that were networked, like my Excel file (a big important one of course) that was saved locally to the mac but being updated on the windows vm, corrupted.

    During my time with Parallels I experienced multiple issues of instabilities, behavioral problems between OSX and the VM, crashes, and other frustrations. I was convinced by the end that the product was still beta, being pushed as production. I blew it away, completely reinstalled 10.4, installed VMware Fusion 1-month trial. Grabbed another license at the end of the month. By 2 months, I paid for a full copy. EVERYTHING works smoothly.

    I do wish Fusion had the same feature set as the Windows version (multiple stateful snapshots, etc), but for the stability, predictable behavior, cross-platform functionality, and of course library of VMs, I can't put any value into Parallels. A good handful of people here that have been slowly increasingly agitated with Parallels have installed the demo of Fusion, ALL report significant stability improvements (and in some cases higher performance, unsure if perceived or real).

    This may seem very harsh towards Parallels, but my experience entailed patience until my files were nuked. I'm still a bit peeved about some of the docs I lost... Anyway there's "one users" experience of the two programs.
  17. hodgjy macrumors 6502

    Apr 15, 2005
    In the four years I've been using Macs after my Windows switch, the only kernel panics I've ever gotten came from Parallels. I downloaded the Fusion demo. I used their beta VM converter to make my Parallels VM compatible with Fusion. No crashes ever since. Love Fusion.

  18. Mr. Zarniwoop thread starter macrumors demi-god

    Mr. Zarniwoop

    Jun 9, 2005
  19. sushi Moderator emeritus


    Jul 19, 2002
    IMHO, CrossOver 7 is a limited solution. For those who want to run current Windows apps, I think that Parallels or VMware running Windows XP provides a much better and easier solution.

    Here are the CrossOver reliability levels:

    Gold. The gold is awarded to applications that install and run as you would expect them to in Microsoft Windows. We expect that our customers can use there applications on an everyday basis with good results, and only minor bugs.

    Silver. The silver is awarded to applications that install, and run well enough to be usable. However, in our testing, we find that these applications have significant bugs that prevent them from running flawlessly.

    Bronze. The bronze is awarded to applications that install and run, and that can accomplish some portion of their fundamental mission. However, bronze applications generally have enough bugs that we recommend that our customers not depend on their functionality.

    If you want to run Office Apps at the Gold level, then you are limited to:
    • Excel 2000
    • Word 2000
    • PowerPoint 2000
    • Access 2000

    If you are okay with the Silver level, then you can run the 2003 versions. However, the Silver level has bugs that will affect normal running of these apps. So it is a crap shoot.

    Of course if you want to run newer apps, you can always drop to the Bronze level. Which IMHO, is basically a waste of time due to the bugs that you will need to contend with.

    The CrossOver concept is fantastic. However, execution is way behind. Maybe that will change someday. But for now, CrossOver provides a very limited solution. I would avoid unless you are sure it will meet your needs.
  20. imws macrumors newbie

    Mar 13, 2008
    VMWare Fusion Corrupted my Hard Drive

    I'm still rebuilding my MacBook Pro after suffering a painful VMWare Fusion crash which not only corrupted the vmware guest operating systems including one that wasn't even running but it made my MacBook unbootable. I had to low level format the drive just to get things back in order. I can't believe this happened and I'm not sure I'll be running fusion in the future. So much for virtualization and isolation.:mad:
  21. Schtumple macrumors 601


    Jun 13, 2007
    I've found fusion to be very unstable, Happily run Parallels, considering my imac can't partition for boot camp apparently :rolleyes:
  22. 7on macrumors 601


    Nov 9, 2003
    Dress Rosa
    The "Apple" solution would be to erase and reinstall your Leopard. Though using Disk Warrior 4 and Defragging the disk will let you partition for Bootcamp.

    The problem is that your hibernation file is at the outer ring of your disk (and can't be moved because it's a system file). Defragging will move everything to the center of the disk leaving room for the Bootcamp partition. :)
  23. bretthatch macrumors newbie

    Sep 17, 2008
    Can I run Parallels and VM on my mac?

    I am a consultant, and would like to have VM running XP and Parallels running Vista to help clients. I currently am running VM with XP and Vista. So...can I run both programs (VM and Parallels) on my mac?
  24. realtime4d macrumors newbie

    Mar 12, 2008
    I HIGHLY do -NOT- recommend this action.

    Under the hood, I can only speculate that the way the VM's hook into the kernel causes internal conflict. I've personally tried this, and caused wild data corruption. If you want to try one hypervisor app, be absolutely sure to uninstall the other.

    It would be interesting to hear both VMware's and Parallel's official technical perspective on the situation.
  25. sushi Moderator emeritus


    Jul 19, 2002
    Either Parallels or VMWare will allow you to have multiple images.

    Say you use VMWare. When you start VMWare you will be shown a window that allows you to click on the image that you want to use to boot.

    Personally, I have Vista, Ubuntu and multiple versions of XP. Works fine.

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