Running mac programs on windows

Join , subscribers and get a daily digest of news, geek trivia, and our feature articles. Macs have a thriving ecosystem of software, but some programs still only support Windows. Whether you want to use business software or play Windows PC games, there are many ways to run Windows programs on your Mac. Some of these methods are similar to the ways you can install Windows software on Linux or run Windows programs on a Chromebook.

Virtual machines, dual-booting, the Wine compatibility layer, and remote desktop solutions are all included here. They allow you to install Windows and other operating systems in a window on your Mac desktop. In the long run, the price is well worth it.

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Many games, especially newer ones, will be unplayable. Installing Windows as a real operating system on your Mac is the best idea if you want to play Windows games or use demanding applications that need all the performance they can get. Your Mac will perform as well as a Windows PC with the same specifications.


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If you just want to run a Windows desktop application alongside your Mac applications, a virtual machine will probably be ideal. On the other hand, if you want to play the latest Windows games on your Mac, Boot Camp will be ideal. Essentially, Wine is an attempt to rewrite the Windows code that applications depend on so they can run on other operating systems.

Virtual Machines

This means that Wine is nowhere near perfect. Nevertheless, Wine is one way to try running Windows applications on a Mac.


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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.

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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. CodeWeavers released the first version of CrossOver Mac in early , providing a Windows compatibility layer based on the Wine open-source project.

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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.

Run Windows or Windows programs on your Mac

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. 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. VirtualBox is the odd duck in this list, in a way.


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And it has some of the pros and cons of each. VirtualBox can do almost anything the commercial products can do, and the price for the core package is right. 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. Parallels may be the most intuitive and easy-to-use Windows-to-Mac virtualization product.

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It feels the most Mac-like. Installation of a new VM is easy and quick. 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. Here are the latest Insider stories. More Insider Sign Out. Sign In Register.

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