Can I switch to a Mac from PC?

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by Iphone4sinwhite, Feb 13, 2012.

  1. Iphone4sinwhite macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2011
    #1
    My current PC laptop is getting ready for replacement and I’m considering switching to a MacBook laptop. Before making the plunge, I have a few questions:

    1. I have a lot of school work, music, etc. on an external hard drive that is formatted for windows. Can I plug this into a Mac via usb and still access/edit the data?

    2. Some of the software that I use (MathCAD, etc.) is only available for PC. Is there a way to reliably run this software on a Mac? Is there special software that would have to be purchased to do this? Would I still be able to use basic software functions such as printing etc?

    3. I do have some time before making my purchase. Will the MacBook line be updated fairly soon with faster hardware/software that is worth waiting for?

    Thank you very much for any suggestions you all might have.
     
  2. SandboxGeneral Moderator

    SandboxGeneral

    Staff Member

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    #2
    Yes you can do that easily. Your data, likely is in Microsoft Office format or PDF right? iWork for OS X is compatible with MS Office, there is also a free version called OpenOffice or NeoOffice. Plus you can also buy MS Office for the Mac too. PDF's are easily opened with default OS X software called Preview, no need for Adobe.

    If you have a program that is Windows only, and no OS X equivalent is available, you can run Windows natively on the Mac using BootCamp or you can run Windows in a virtual machine like Parallels or VMWare Fusion.

    The Macbook's were discontinued, leaving you with a choice of the MacBook Pro or the MacBook Air. You can still get the regular Macbook used or possibly through your school before they run out of stock on the educational MacBook's.
     
  3. AcesHigh87 macrumors 6502a

    AcesHigh87

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    Jan 11, 2009
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    New Brunswick, Canada
    #3
    What is the drive formatted to (listed under the properties on the PC)? If it’s NTFS or MS-DOS your mac should be able to read it but not write to it. It would be best to trasnfer the files off, format the drive, and then move them back (so that you can save things to it). You’ll be fine for accessing it though and as mentioned above there’s no file type really that a windows can read and a mac can’t so you’ll be fine.

    Bootcamp or a virtual machine (Parallel’s or VMWare Fusion) can load up a windows partition on your drive for any windows programs you need to run if there isn’t a mac version. There’s also the wineskin option which ports programs to the mac but it’s rather complex for a new user so I’d suggest one of the above.

    The macbook Pro and air are both mid-product cycle so no real point in waiting unless you really have the time to wait. As far as which one is better, it’s personal choice. I do heavy work so the better power and GPU in the macbook pro would be better for me but a lot of people love the SSD in the air (makes it VERY fast) as well as how light it is. As mentioned though these are the only two options for a new macbook. The simply macbook line has been dropped leaving the air and pro.
     
  4. Iphone4sinwhite thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Oct 24, 2011
    #4
    Is it possible to run a windows program in one of these emulators in a window while simultaneously running apple programs such as itunes on the desktop?
     
  5. Skyrim macrumors member

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    Dec 13, 2011
    #5
    Virtual machines can help you achieve that goal.
     
  6. blevins321 macrumors 68030

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    Dec 24, 2010
    Location:
    Winnipeg, MB
    #6
    Yep - Parallels and VMWare are two commercial ones you can get for $40-80 - check with your school for volume licensing. VirtualBox is an open-source one that does pretty much the same thing. Note that for any of these, you'll have to get a Windows license. Check with your school for this definitely.
     
  7. cocacolakid macrumors 65816

    cocacolakid

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    Dec 18, 2010
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    Chicago
    #7
    Yes, Parallels and VMWare are just Mac apps that run like any other program, it's just that Windows in installed inside those apps, so you have Windows in a window inside the Mac OS. Most people prefer that to Bootcamp, which requires you to restart the Mac to go into Windows mode, then restart it to go back into Mac mode.

    Bootcamp is free and built into the Mac OS, while Parallels and VMWare are paid apps that cost $50-70 or so. Less if you don't require the latest version, which is 7 for Parallels, not sure what VMWare is on, I don't use it.

    http://www.parallels.com/

    Check Amazon's prices on Parallels. They had nice prices just a couple of months ago on Parallels 6, while 7 was also cheaper than most other places.
     
  8. velocityg4 macrumors 68040

    velocityg4

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2004
    Location:
    Georgia
    #8
    1. I have a lot of school work, music, etc. on an external hard drive that is formatted for windows. Can I plug this into a Mac via usb and still access/edit the data?

    If the drive is NTFS you will need to purchase software to read/write NTFS. Mac OS X can only read NTFS natively. Although you can just move the data to the Mac then reformat the drive to HFS+ then transfer the data back. For Word and Excel files I would get MS Office or Openoffice. I would avoid iWork it is a more limited product and the versions I tried had a clunky interface for saving XLS and DOC files (you had to export them). Openoffice is pretty darn good but lacks some advanced Excel functions.

    3. I do have some time before making my purchase. Will the MacBook line be updated fairly soon with faster hardware/software that is worth waiting for?

    Intel is expected to release their Ivy Bridge CPU's on April 8th. Apple usually gets advanced engineering samples of these products so I would expect laptops from Apple to have these fairly soon afterward if not on the same day (which has happened before sometimes they even get a few weeks head start on others). Ivy bridge is moderately faster, supports USB 3.0 and more energy efficient (longer battery life). If you're in no rush you may as well wait.

    ATI has also started rolling out the Radeon HD 7000 series. They are moderately faster and more energy efficient that the current 6000 series. As to when they will release their mobile variants I would think they are not too far off but do not know.

    2. Some of the software that I use (MathCAD, etc.) is only available for PC. Is there a way to reliably run this software on a Mac? Is there special software that would have to be purchased to do this? Would I still be able to use basic software functions such as printing etc?

    Is it possible to run a windows program in one of these emulators in a window while simultaneously running apple programs such as itunes on the desktop?


    As mentioned you can run Windows in a virtual machine. There are a few caveats. Running two OSes side by side eats up resources and slows a computer down. So you will not have the full amount of RAM available with a VM. Plus as both OSes are constantly reading the hard drive and writing to the page file disk access speeds diminish appreciably. The CPU also has to work harder affecting battery life and CPU performance. Boot camp is definitely faster but then you have to reboot. I would try to find Mac alternatives

    Since you mentioned MathCAD specifically there are alternatives.
     
  9. satcomer macrumors 603

    satcomer

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    The Finger Lakes Region

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