Mac Newbie - Questions re Windows/Office

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by julesg88, Sep 9, 2013.

  1. julesg88 macrumors newbie

    Sep 9, 2013
    Hi there,

    I'm considering buying my first Mac (Macbook Air) and am wondering whether it is possible to set it up in a way that allows me to do the following:

    - Run Windows through virtualization software and use Microsoft Office (especially Excel) in it. I know this is possible, but how smooth and fast is the experience? Is there any time lag (e.g. when typing)? Is it possible to set up a shortcut in Mac OS that directly brings up the virtualized Windows Excel?

    - Use all the standard Windows keyboard shortcuts for Excel (Do all the Windows shortcuts work on the mac keyboard? I'm a Excel Poweruser and need them)

    - Have the virtualized windows software access all the files I have on my mac (is this a problem due to different hard drive formatting?)

    Configuration questions:
    - Should I go for 8GB or 4GB of RAM? (Mainly office work, sometimes foto editing)
    - How much space will be left for actual use when I choose the 128 GB drive? (After Mac OS plus Windows 7 virtualizied)

    Thanks a lot in advance!!
  2. saturnotaku macrumors 68000

    Mar 4, 2013
    Everything you're looking to do is possible through virtualization. You can even store your Windows files within the virtual machine itself; while they technically reside on your Mac's hard drive, there are no issues in terms of read/write capability. As far as the hardware goes, 8 GB of RAM is essential as you should dedicate at least 4 GB to Windows. As far as hard drive space goes, if you're not going to be doing too much else, you could get away with 128 GB. For later on down the road, though, the 256 GB model would be a wiser investment.

    At the same time, have you considered one of the newer high-resolution Windows-based ultrabooks? For roughly the same money as you would spend on the Air, there are several alternatives with screens that are better suited for what you're looking to do, such as the Asus UX31A.
  3. julesg88 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 9, 2013
    Thank you.

    I came to look at the 2013 MBA mainly due to its incredible battery life (hope it gets even better with Mavericks), and due to its "overall build quality".
    Not sure I can get something similar with a Windows based laptop at the moment...

  4. samh macrumors 6502

    Oct 29, 2009
    8 GB for running virtualization software is a must-have. Clarifying saturnotaku, the 4 GB "dedicated" to Windows is only while the Virtual Machine is running. All modern VM host software allows you to do as you want, including accessing files on your Mac.

    As far as the shortcut keys, yes this is fine as well while you're within the VM. The shortcuts for the Mac Office software may be different than the Windows equivalent, but you'll be running the standard Windows versions within the VM so no problem. The only slightly weird thing is this… On the Mac, the main shortcut key (i.e. for the things you usually use the Control key for on Windows) is the Command key. On a Mac keyboard, the Command key is directly next to the spacebar. The control key is toward the outside of the keyboard on that row, as it would be for a Windows keyboard. So that's technically not different for you. But it always takes me a moment to adjust when I go between Mac and Windows, because that shortcut key is just different. Most VM software I believe allows you to map the Command to Control key if you want.

    I use Parallels on my personal machine and for things like Office, I experience no noticeable lag (I have a mid-2009 MacBook Pro). I've also used Sun's VirtualBox, which is free, and didn't have problems with it, either. I believe Parallels will allow you to open Excel directly from a shortcut on the Mac side, although I've never used this feature.

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