How compatible is Windows on a Mac?

slapple

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Jul 25, 2008
442
13
I'm considering getting my first Mac (probably a MacBook Pro), and will probably try to boot camp Windows on it, or run Windows in a VM.

I'm wondering what level of compatibility is there with Windows on Mac hardware? Is there any functionality in Windows on PC hardware that can't be done on Mac hardware? Do 100% of Windows programs run on a Mac, or is it more like 90-99%? And is it true that Boot Camp will provide a higher level of compatibility than running Windows in a VM?

Also, is there a difference between Windows XP and 7? Could XP be more compatible on a Mac than Windows 7? I haven't decided which version of Windows I will run.

I also wonder if the existence of this forum and the tens of thousands of posts indicates that Windows is not fully compatible with Mac hardware?
 

Rhalliwell1

macrumors 6502a
May 22, 2008
588
1
I'm considering getting my first Mac (probably a MacBook Pro), and will probably try to boot camp Windows on it, or run Windows in a VM.

I'm wondering what level of compatibility is there with Windows on Mac hardware? Is there any functionality in Windows on PC hardware that can't be done on Mac hardware? Do 100% of Windows programs run on a Mac, or is it more like 90-99%? And is it true that Boot Camp will provide a higher level of compatibility than running Windows in a VM?

Also, is there a difference between Windows XP and 7? Could XP be more compatible on a Mac than Windows 7? I haven't decided which version of Windows I will run.

I also wonder if the existence of this forum and the tens of thousands of posts indicates that Windows is not fully compatible with Mac hardware?
Under bootcamp windows is running directly on the hardware. In a VM windows is running in an application which is running on Mac OS X. Bootcamp = 100% compatibility & performance.
VMs: 90-95% compatibility & 80% performance. (guesstimates)
 
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Ice Cream Man

macrumors member
Jan 1, 2003
83
0
Earth
Boot Camp is only a tool for creating an NTFS Partition, and loading the driver for the Apple hardware.

Hardware, which is just like any other PC build, intel CPU, Nvidea or ATI GPU, it's just a personal computer.

Windows will run 100% natively on it, just like it would on any other computer. It's not emulation, it not a virtual machine. You either boot into Windows or OSX, it's just like dual booting on any PC. Moreover, benchmarks show that Windows performs best on Apple hardware. I get desktop level user experience marks on my MacBook Pro 13" in Windows Vista.

In any event it's not a question of Apple hardware, BootCamp takes care up driver updates and things inside Windows with the Apple Software Updater, just like when you load iTunes on a PC. It also makes it posible to read both File Systems from the other. OSX will read NTFS natively, and Window will read HFS natively. :)

I however wouldn't load Vista, it's junk, Win7 is way better.
 
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Eric S.

macrumors 68040
Feb 1, 2008
3,599
0
Santa Cruz Mountains, California
I have run XP for two years on Macbooks, no problems except very rare BSODs, which might be the case on any Windows system. My only real complaint is that the trackpad operation on my unibody MB is still clunky despite driver updates from Apple (way better than it was originally though).
 
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balamw

Moderator
Staff member
Aug 16, 2005
19,366
978
New England
Boot Camp is only a tool for creating an NTFS Partition, and loading the driver for the Apple hardware.
That's Boot Camp Assistant. Boot Camp also consists of the Windows drivers and the firmware extensions that allow EFI based Macs to boot "legacy" BIOS/MBR OSes.

B
 
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panzer06

macrumors 68040
Sep 23, 2006
3,027
83
Kilrath
I'm considering getting my first Mac (probably a MacBook Pro), and will probably try to boot camp Windows on it, or run Windows in a VM.

I'm wondering what level of compatibility is there with Windows on Mac hardware? Is there any functionality in Windows on PC hardware that can't be done on Mac hardware? Do 100% of Windows programs run on a Mac, or is it more like 90-99%? And is it true that Boot Camp will provide a higher level of compatibility than running Windows in a VM?

Also, is there a difference between Windows XP and 7? Could XP be more compatible on a Mac than Windows 7? I haven't decided which version of Windows I will run.

I also wonder if the existence of this forum and the tens of thousands of posts indicates that Windows is not fully compatible with Mac hardware?
Bootcamp is the way to go if you want to play games. I've also used it to access some Windows only work programs. No problems at all.

Cheers,
 
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balamw

Moderator
Staff member
Aug 16, 2005
19,366
978
New England
I also wonder if the existence of this forum and the tens of thousands of posts indicates that Windows is not fully compatible with Mac hardware?
I think it is more a reflection that Windows is a pain to deal with on any hardware. Including generic "PC" hardware that it is designed for/are designed for it.

I recently built a cheap desktop for W7/Ubuntu use and have had to repair my Windows install 3 times already due to start-up issues, and I bought a pre-configured Dell for work that somehow decided to wipe my entire profile from the HDD and assign me a temp profile losing a week's worth of work.

That said, I would definitely recommend W7 over XP on any hardware that will support it.

B
 
Comment

vistadude

macrumors 65816
Jan 3, 2010
1,423
1
That's not normal, you might have gotten a bad hard disk in your "cheap desktop."

I think it is more a reflection that Windows is a pain to deal with on any hardware. Including generic "PC" hardware that it is designed for/are designed for it.

I recently built a cheap desktop for W7/Ubuntu use and have had to repair my Windows install 3 times already due to start-up issues, and I bought a pre-configured Dell for work that somehow decided to wipe my entire profile from the HDD and assign me a temp profile losing a week's worth of work.

That said, I would definitely recommend W7 over XP on any hardware that will support it.

B
 
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slapple

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Jul 25, 2008
442
13
Thanks for the replies everyone.

I have one more question:

Would running Windows 7 in a Parallels/Fusion VM be slower than running XP, or would there not be much of a difference?
 
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Hmac

macrumors 68020
May 30, 2007
2,130
4
Midwest USA
Thanks for the replies everyone.

I have one more question:

Would running Windows 7 in a Parallels/Fusion VM be slower than running XP, or would there not be much of a difference?
Not much. I'll bet you wouldn't notice it in most applications. The biggest incompatibility, probably the only one I ever encounter, is that the virtual machine won't run Direct X worth a damn, therefore it won't run the games I play. Booting Windows 7 natively, no problem.

As mentioned above, Bootcamp actually does set the stage for running Windows without BIOS. Otherwise, it's basically the same Intel hardware as a PC.
 
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slapple

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Jul 25, 2008
442
13
Oops I shouldn't have said "one more question", because I have another one. :eek:

I found this Apple article http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1220 that shows keyboard mappings for Windows keys to Mac keyboard combinations (like for Print Screen, Scroll Lock, etc.). The article says it is for Windows running from Boot Camp, but I want to make sure the mappings also work for Windows running in a VM?
 
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balamw

Moderator
Staff member
Aug 16, 2005
19,366
978
New England
That's not normal, you might have gotten a bad hard disk in your "cheap desktop."
Not the problem unfortunately. The HDD was a NIB Maxtor 300 GB drive I've had sitting around for a long time now. I would have preferred one of my SATA drives, but was trying to do this on the cheap.

Had more to do with the fact that I was experimenting with dual and triple booting other OSes (including DOS), and despite not touching the Windows 7 partition the BCD kept getting corrupted and it would stop me from booting both Windows and Ubuntu since I installed it via WUBI.

And the brand new Dell? It had joined my work domain and was working fine for a week until it decided it could only give me a "temporary profile" and the folder where my work had completely disappeared.

EDIT: I'm not saying it's "normal", but problems are not limited to running Windows on Macs. As with the Dell even pre-installed Windows can be funky.

B
 
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ARF900

macrumors 65816
Oct 30, 2009
1,119
0
Its exactly like using a PC. Macs run on PC hardware, so windows can run completely natively on the mac.
 
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Ice Cream Man

macrumors member
Jan 1, 2003
83
0
Earth
Again, it's not precisely PC hardware. Macs require BIOS emulation via firmware EFI.
I don't think it makes a big diff if the bios is emulated anyway because once Windows starts those functions are all handed off to the OS. So as far as Windows running, it shouldn't make any tangible difference.
 
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Ice Cream Man

macrumors member
Jan 1, 2003
83
0
Earth
That's Boot Camp Assistant. Boot Camp also consists of the Windows drivers and the firmware extensions that allow EFI based Macs to boot "legacy" BIOS/MBR OSes.

B
I guess by driver, i was indicating all that junk you listed.

Also Mac will boot the CD without running bootcamp at all. I guess i don't really think of it as part of bootcamp because it's just built into the firmware already. Although, once Microshaft has completed joining the 21st century. They will be able to get rid of that part of bootcamp before long.

I'll tell you what though, they intentionally copied the look and feel of OSX, (again) for 7, trying to confuse consumers as to what the difference is.
 
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balamw

Moderator
Staff member
Aug 16, 2005
19,366
978
New England
I guess by driver, i was indicating all that junk you listed.
Which are part of Boot Camp. All I'm saying is: Boot Camp is more than just Boot Camp Assistant.

When they upgrade "Boot Camp", they tend to upgrade the drivers not BCA.

Keeping it straight is important so someone using Google to find answers as in your sig, will not be misled.

B
 
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yertle

macrumors member
Mar 13, 2010
32
0
I'm thinking about Bootcamp and Windows 7 on my new 15" MBP i7. All I need windows for is Quickbooks Pro and Office. That's it! No games or any extra things. Minimal minimal minimal.

So, how much space should I allow for the Windows partition?

Finally and most importantly does butting Windows 7 on the MBP via Bootcamp have any negative effects? Like, viruses getting in through windows 7 and wreaking havoc all over the machine, even OSX?

I don't love the idea of putting Windows 7 on the MBP, but if there are no negative effects, I guess I'll bite the bullet so I can have all my software on one laptop.

Please help me decide. This new MBP cost a fortune and I don't wanna screw it up!!
 
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balamw

Moderator
Staff member
Aug 16, 2005
19,366
978
New England
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yertle said:
I'm thinking about Bootcamp and Windows 7 on my new 15" MBP i7. All I need windows for is Quickbooks Pro and Office. That's it! No games or any extra things. Minimal minimal minimal.
Why Boot Camp for this? Your apps would probably work fine in a VM, and better in a dediated VM than a hybrid BC/VM install.

You can download a trial version of Parallels or VMWare Fusion and a W7 ISO (official from Microsoft) and try it out before you commit.

Adavntages of this are that you can access your Windows data and apps without rebooting and it will take up less space on your Mac.

B
 
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yertle

macrumors member
Mar 13, 2010
32
0
Thanks for the reply balamw. I wasn't aware of the VM solution, it does sound more efficient. So maybe I'll forget about bootcamp.
 
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Hmac

macrumors 68020
May 30, 2007
2,130
4
Midwest USA
I'm thinking about Bootcamp and Windows 7 on my new 15" MBP i7. All I need windows for is Quickbooks Pro and Office. That's it! No games or any extra things. Minimal minimal minimal.

So, how much space should I allow for the Windows partition?

Finally and most importantly does butting Windows 7 on the MBP via Bootcamp have any negative effects? Like, viruses getting in through windows 7 and wreaking havoc all over the machine, even OSX?

I don't love the idea of putting Windows 7 on the MBP, but if there are no negative effects, I guess I'll bite the bullet so I can have all my software on one laptop.

Please help me decide. This new MBP cost a fortune and I don't wanna screw it up!!
Both of those programs will run very well in a virtual machine via Parallels or VM Fusion. That's more convenient than BootCamp.

I'm sure you know that Quickbooks and Office have Mac versions and the data and files of both are interchangeable between the Mac and Windows versions.
 
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Saladsamurai

macrumors regular
Dec 8, 2009
152
0
So if we are going with the theme that Windows runs exactly the same as on a 'PC,' why does my battery life totally suck when I run it on my MBP? Is it because OSX requires less juice and therefore that battery was designed as such and is not used to the burden that is Windows?

Just curious about this.
 
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balamw

Moderator
Staff member
Aug 16, 2005
19,366
978
New England
why does my battery life totally suck
On the 9400+9600 MBPs a big part of this is that the 9400 is disabled and the 9600 is used exclusively in Windows. From my experience, battery life on a Mac with Windows is comparable to a similarly specced Windows machine, so we should really say that the battery life is better on OS X.

B
 
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