The lowest TCO, including maintenance and security Good usability End-user satisfaction How we tested running Windows on a Mac Apple test beds in our lab include a variety of Mac desktops and laptops and even a few Xserve servers , but most cross-product benchmark testing for this review was done using fully upgraded Mac Pro towers as a reference platform. Though getting a little long in the tooth, they are quite fast, rock-solid and standards-compliant, and unlike more recent Macs, the hardware can be swapped, modified and expanded as needed CPUs, RAM, storage, standard PCIe graphics and expansion cards, etc.
They vary in cost, complexity and feature sets, and my perceptions of their pros and cons might help you decide which will be best for your circumstances.
All of the products we tested are mature and stable, and aside from the natural differences between Boot Camp and the rest native hardware support vs. Virtualization always incurs processing overhead, and it will never be as fast as native, non-virtualized instances — which brings us to the first option, Boot Camp.
Boot Camp 6. A Mac running Windows via Boot Camp will perform at pretty much the same speed as a dedicated Windows machine with equivalent hardware specs — in fact, Macs have often made great higher-end Windows machines, and compatibility is usually not an issue as long as Apple supports the version of Windows you need; see below.
A big drawback with Boot Camp, however, is that every switch between Windows and macOS requires a complete reboot, which gets frustrating if you have to do it a lot. There can also be compatibility issues when accessing files on NTFS-formatted Windows drives from the Mac side — though third-party drivers are available, such as those from Paragon Software Group , that bridge that gap. Even an individual machine can be difficult to set up with Boot Camp, and of course a large, heterogeneous enterprise deployment will be more so.
Adding stand-alone, unmanaged copies of Windows to your environment via Boot Camp may not be advisable from a security or manageability perspective. Expert users and IT staff should have no problem, but those used to fairly seamless and simple Mac installations may find it far from intuitive. The current version of Boot Camp 6. If the combination of hardware and operating system you want is not officially supported, there is almost always a fairly simple workaround.
For instance, while Boot Camp 6. Furthermore, a number of the virtualization solutions either include or can be integrated with tools to help with the creation, migration and deployment of standardized VMs, greatly simplifying large-scale implementation and support.
That said, using Boot Camp to run Windows on Macs provides unmatched bare-metal performance and has the additional advantage of being free not including the cost of the Windows licenses. So for both speed and cost, Boot Camp is the baseline. At a glance Pros: Free Windows licenses are extra ; great performance Cons: Switching requires reboot; compatibility issues; non-intuitive setup Best fit: Basically, CrossOver Mac is a commercial version of Wine with a variety of enhancements and end-user support.
In short, you can run some Windows apps with CrossOver Mac without having to have a copy of Windows installed. The catch and you knew there had to be one is that CrossOver Mac does not support all Windows programs, and those it does support are not always supported perfectly. CodeWeavers shoots for supporting as many of the most popular Windows programs as possible, and it currently supports nearly 15, It maintains an online inventory of programs that have been tested and either do or do not work or work with bugs or workarounds , with a five-star system for ranking compatibility.
But of course there are a lot more than 15, Windows programs. For those programs that do work, however, performance can be very reasonable, especially on faster machines. This means that if you have a relatively small and defined set of Windows programs that you need to run on Macs, CrossOver Mac might be a good fit, but researching the compatibility database and doing thorough hands-on testing prior to implementation are essential.
CodeWeavers conveniently provides a day free trial to allow time for testing before deciding whether to commit to a purchase. Once running, the Windows app appears on the Mac desktop without the surrounding interface or overhead of the full Windows operating system.
Pricing for CrossOver Mac depends on several options: The standard one-year subscription is periodically substantially discounted, so watching for discounts or negotiating for volume licensing can provide cost savings.
The next version, CrossOver Mac 17, is due to be released this autumn and will be built on Wine 2. Simple; small footprint; low cost; no need for Windows licenses Cons: Supports only some Windows applications; minimal management tools Best use: For a relatively small number of users, using a fairly small and well-defined set of Windows apps that have been tested to install and run under CrossOver Mac VirtualBox 5.
And it has some of the pros and cons of each. It has an extensive list of supported operating systems and enthusiastic online forums. But compared to the offerings from VMware and Parallels, VirtualBox is less polished and less easy to use. From an enterprise perspective, unless you can devote significant resources to it, you may be better off with one of the other options.
Cheap or free ; active developer community; widely used Cons: Lags in ease of use, some performance measures and feature set Best for: Small, low-budget pilot projects, or large enterprises with strong development teams Parallels may be the most intuitive and easy-to-use Windows-to-Mac virtualization product.
It feels the most Mac-like. A nice touch aimed at cross-platform developers is support for Modern. IE test environments. Other developer-focused features include a network simulation module that can model degraded or minimal network connectivity scenarios within a VM.
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