Windows on Mac: meh

by Giles Turnbull

So, now you can put Windows XP on your Mac. But - do you really need to?

As our esteemed colleagues at TUAW point out: "it's about games, plain and simple."

If you really want to play Windows games on your Mac, I guess there might be some benefit from dual-booting the machine, but you should be aware that there might be hazards to deal with, such as self-cooking computers, not to mention blowing your warranty away.

I think the Joy of Tech strip sums everything up with this cartoon; is the time, effort and sweat involved in getting Windows working on your Mac actually worth it? Will you be able to do anything except celebrate, then wonder what to do next?

For those people for whom a working local version of Windows is vital, there's always Q, a free Cocoa port of QEMU, the open source x86 emulator. Here's an excellent how-to for emulator newbies. And if Q doesn't appeal, hold on tight for future releases of Virtual PC. Running on processors it's familiar with, Windows under a VPC Universal Binary ought to fly. Maybe even fast enough to play games on.


2006-03-21 04:04:06
From my perspective, getting XP to run on a MacBook Pro will mean that I will require one less computer in the house and can safely get rid of the old P4 system that I continue to maintain. The actual implementation that I use to get XP running on the Mac will typically depend on whether the implementation will be able to take full advantage of the hardware available to it. The current state of the "Windows on Mac" project means that this is a non-starter at the moment since a reasonable number of drivers are missing, no doubt contributing to the overheating problem cited, although I believe that not everyone has been suffering this problem.

A virtual implementation that allows both OS X and Windows to run at the same time and share resources would be very useful but the performance hit that this will no doubt deliver may make it impractical. An ability to "switch" between OSs would probably be most preferable but failing this a dual-boot configuration would be acceptable.

2006-03-21 04:17:32
Mmm, a nice concept though. If you had sufficient hardware to cope (and you'd need some seriously impressive stuff), wouldn't it be interesting to be able to switch from one OS to another, just as OS X can switch between user accounts? You could equate it to putting one (virtual) computer to sleep and waking up the other one each time...
2006-03-21 04:53:58
IMHO all you need on Mac Intel is a virtual machines (like VMWare).. X86 Emulator will become useless, and processors will have virtualization capabilities..

2006-03-21 05:27:18
Great post... I don't want Windows on my Mac! But for those that do, VMware seems like the right answer. If you haven't had experience with it, it's very fast and very complete (both unlike every other virtual machine/emulator I've tried). Remember that the bulk of the performance hit you see with emulators is in translating instructions from one CPU to another, so when your "guest" OS is already native on your CPU, you don't need to do that. What VMware does very well is set up a virtual environment for the guest OS, so that it can fully do networking, manipulate removable drives, print, and so on. Hopefully we'll see VMware for Mac on Intel.
Janak Parekh
2006-03-21 07:43:48
"Great post... I don't want Windows on my Mac! But for those that do, VMware seems like the right answer."

Not if you want native 3D performance for games. VMware is fine for productivity apps, but dual-booting still has its advantages.

2006-03-21 08:34:36
This is the second place (TUAW being the first) I've seen people bringing up the warranty issue. Why would installing XP void the warranty? Does installing Linux on a Mac void the warranty? Installing XP requires no physical modifications, so what's the big deal?
2006-03-21 10:39:51
Right now Windows is the ONLY platform where higher end 3D solids CAD/CAM applications run, and they are VERY processor and graphics intensive (can you say choppy video if you don't have speed, or VPC emulation where it can take 1 second per frame or more).

I run everything else on the Mac for its productivity. That means taking 2 laptops everywhere.

There are more reasons than Games.

2006-03-21 13:03:07
"Great post... I don't want Windows on my Mac! But for those that do, VMware seems like the right answer."

Except VMWare for OSX does NOT EXIST!, and even then, having the ability to dual boot - or at some point switch is the only option currently available.

2006-03-21 14:52:58
I would imagine doing anything that hacks the firmware / drivers invalidates your warrantee (installing Linux on a G5 iMac and burning it out because you've lost all the fan control software strikes me as the kind of thing that SHOULD invalidate the warrantee).
2006-03-21 16:09:25
I'll point out that you can't really play games on Virtual PC for Windows either. Performance is not the issue, the video card that Connectix/Microsoft emulates is the real issue. They emulate an S3 Trio 32/64 video card, a video card that has no 3d hardware support. This means any game that requires 3d capable hardware will not work.

If you want to play games on your Intel Mac, dual boot is likely your best solution.

2006-03-21 17:17:17
Actually, games are NOT the only reason!

Another good example is support for serial/usb adaptors, which a number of us need for things like dive computer data logging etc. Getting these working in virtual environments can be very hit and miss. The only reason I still have a PC at home is for this specific reason.

2006-03-21 23:51:32
The macs do not overheat -- period. They get no hotter under load than OSX does. Some people need a thermometer, or at least the ability to find research results by people who have them.

Small Paul
2006-03-22 00:12:36
Not just games. Us web developers need to test sites on Windows browsers (i.e. Internet Explorer) too.

I also find it useful to have Windows XP available via Virtual PC as I, like many other people with a passing knowledge of computers, have ended up being tech support for my family. As they're on Windows, and they won't be changing (they use it at work and primarily need the home practice), it helps if I have some sort of familiarty with it.

2006-03-22 02:57:12
The main reason to install windows on a Mac is to play current games. Running current (directx9) games under VMware is a sick joke, you may as well boot up a 486, the frame rate will be the same.
2006-06-20 18:55:26
Does anyone know where I can get an Windows to Mac os x emulator for free?
If so, Email me at
Thanks guys
2007-02-13 14:01:00
i know NOTHING!! and so i was wondering if i have VPC on a mac (g5). can i run a windows game on it. if so/if not how?? if you could help me out, that'd be great! you can email me at
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