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the best way in install and run Windows Vista on a Mac
December 11, 2006 1:42 PM   Subscribe

I want to take advantage of mf my new MacBook Pro's Intel chip: what's the best way in install and run Windows Vista on it?

I'm a web designer, and my primary reason for running Windows is to test for Windows browsers. I'd like Windows to have as little impact on my machine as possible. On the other hand, It'd be nice if I could run Windows like I use to run Classic -- as an application running while I run other OSX apps, instead of having reboot the computer to switch back and forst between OSX and Vista. Is this possible? Are there security risks? If so, how can I minimize/prevent them?
posted by eustacescrubb to Computers & Internet (22 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
You want Parallels.
posted by mikeh at 2:03 PM on December 11, 2006


Parallels is the way to go. Of course if you're running Windows, you'll need to be careful about viruses and all that fun stuff.
posted by deep_sea_diving_suit at 2:05 PM on December 11, 2006


I would run XP. That's what the majority of your users will have for a while now.
posted by smackfu at 2:20 PM on December 11, 2006


How can I express my firm approval for Parallels?

A+++++ highly recommend would buy again fast shipper!!!!!!!!!
posted by Mo Nickels at 2:45 PM on December 11, 2006


Parallels all the way.

And the new beta version allows you to use your Boot Camp partition from within Parallels. This will save you a lot of diskspace, since you don't have to keep two seperate installations of XP on one machine.
posted by melorama at 2:53 PM on December 11, 2006


The beta version of Parallels is, how do you say... fan-fucking-tastic.

It can run individual windows apps each on its own, instead of a big rectangular windows-glob.

It's worth a hell of a lot more than the 80 quid they ask for it.
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 3:03 PM on December 11, 2006


I'll dissent by noting that Parallels is slow and very buggy on our three test machines. Incapable of running DOS applications properly within XP environment.

I can't believe the good word of mouth it receives; people must really be starved for a good Windows-in-Mac solution after the dreadful Virtual PC for Mac.

Boot Camp is the way to go, definitely. Don't waste a dime on Parallels.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:46 PM on December 11, 2006


Sorry, but Blaze is wrong...at least when it comes to Parallels usage for "normal" people.

On the contrary, I've found Boot Camp to be FAR more buggy than Parallels (system lockups and poor mouse/trackpad/wacom tablet performance being the two biggies for me). So much so that I actully deleteed my Boot Camp partition a few weeks ago, because for me, Parallels seemed to "just work" far moreso than Boot Camp. I work with SoundForge and Photoshop CS2 on a regular basis in Parallels, and have no problems whatsoever.

Since the original poster's primary intention is for cross platform browser testing, Parallels fits the bill exactly. You won't be "wasting" any money on it Like Tacos said, for what it does, Parallels is an incredible deal, and each new release just gets better and better.
posted by melorama at 10:19 PM on December 11, 2006


actully deleteed

(picking my knuckles off the floor and wipes the drool off of my keyboard)
posted by melorama at 10:21 PM on December 11, 2006


As for minimizing/preventing security risks, one solution if you just need to test your sites locally is to install Windows in such a way that the internet components either aren't installed or are deactivated after installation. Safest way to run Windows is not to connect at all. Abstinence!
posted by allterrainbrain at 1:25 AM on December 12, 2006


Try Bootcamp first, since it's free, then decide whether you need to spend the money on Parallels.
posted by smackfu at 6:17 AM on December 12, 2006


Parallels is fantastic. I run xp and ubuntu for various dev needs, and its getting faster with every release.

I'm not sure why security would be a concern, especially if you are behind a router and not directly connected to the net. If you are just testing web sites, its not like you are opening suspect attachments or visiting dangerous sites. Don't do dumb stuff and you'll be fine.

Even if something does happen, just delete the winxp file (the "hard drive" windows sees is just a file parallels creates) and start fresh.
posted by rsanheim at 6:44 AM on December 12, 2006


Sorry, but Blaze is wrong...at least when it comes to Parallels usage for "normal" people.

Actually, no, I'm right, sorry. We've done pretty extensive testing for day-to-day use, i.e. alongside Mac OS X for certain Windows-only desktop applications.

Parallels is buggy and slow. It emulates a weak graphics card in software, and it doesn't provide USB 2.0 support. It even warns you not to use the Apple Menu while you run the program, because using the Apple Menu will slow Parallel down yet some more. DOS support is non-existant. I won't get into the poor technical support experience we've had on that matter.

Parallels is SLOW. If you want to run Vista, you'll need as much power as you computer can provide. You're better off with Boot Camp.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:38 AM on December 12, 2006


Blazecock Pileon: Would you mind telling me what kind of testing you're doing? When I test in Windows, I turn the PC on, open IE and Firefox, run my tests, debug, and then turn the PC off. I don't use Windows for anything except testing in non-Mac browsers. Do you think your criticisms still apply in my situation?
posted by eustacescrubb at 9:21 AM on December 12, 2006


Blazecock Pileon: Would you mind telling me what kind of testing you're doing?

Similar, except that we add certain Windows-only Office applications (Visio, Access) and DOS applications (key database management utility), and test access to flash drives and other hardware.

We don't turn the PC off since the testing environment is supposed to emulate using Parallels in a real-world setting, and shutting down/restarting Windows takes a very long time. We suspect most people would turn Parallels on at the beginning of the day and then shut it down at the end of the day (if at all).

Your usage may differ from this, but Parallels is slow nonetheless, and given its graphics card emulation, you'll never be running a true Vista experience anyway, if that is critical to your test environment.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:32 AM on December 12, 2006


eustace:

I'll stop trying to debate Blaze's experience, because there will always be people out there who have negative experiences with anything, despite the greater majority having positive experiences.

The bottom line is that Parallels is perfect for your needs. Yes, it's indeed slower than a "real" PC, as well as Boot Camp, but it's magnitudes faster than VirtualPC ever was. As I mentioned, I use it every day to edit audio, and if it was nearly as slow as Blazecock is making it out to be, I would not be using it. I'm not one for hanging on to Mac zealot gimmicky just for the sake of Mac zealotry (to this day I still don't see the appeal of Dashboard widgets). I use what works, and works well.

Parallels works well. Get it. You won't be disappointed.
posted by melorama at 2:35 PM on December 12, 2006


And by the way, just out of curiosity, I timed my Parallels startup sequence just now, on a 2.16 Ghz MBP, with 1.5 gigs of RAM in use (500 MB free...I have TONS of apps open at once), and it took only 23 seconds from the time I hit the "start" button on my Parallels VM, to the time the WinXP desktop appeared.

My REAL Windows machine doesn't even boot up that fast.

FWIW.
posted by melorama at 2:48 PM on December 12, 2006


Your usage may differ from this, but Parallels is slow nonetheless, and given its graphics card emulation, you'll never be running a true Vista experience anyway, if that is critical to your test environment.

Thanks, Blazecock. I don't actually need anything other than to be able to use the Windows browsers, and (thus far) the pages I make aren't running web apps or connecting to a database on the user's machine or anything like that.

Parallels is looking good; thanks everyone.
posted by eustacescrubb at 3:04 PM on December 12, 2006


2.16 Ghz MBP, with 1.5 gigs of RAM in use (500 MB free...I have TONS of apps open at once)

We have tested with:

• Mac Mini (Intel), dual-core 1.6 GHz, 1 GB (400 allocated to Parallels), Windows XP SP2
• MacBook, dual-core 1.8 GHz, 1 GB (400 allocated to Parallels), Windows XP SP2
• iMac (Intel), dual-core 1.8 GHz, 1.5 GB (512 allocated to Parallels), Windows 98 SE, Windows XP SP2

Windows XP SP2 takes approximately 4 minutes to start up and 3:30 to shut down on the Mac Mini. About 75% as long on the MacBook and iMac. Fairly slow, but stable.

A vanilla installation of Windows 98 SE on the iMac takes 1:20 and blue-screens on average once every three sessions. It's fast, but not all that useful because it's not stable.

We haven't tested Vista, but if we know anything about Vista, it will consume more resources than XP SP2. Being graphics-heavy, and given the lack of native graphics card support now and for the forseeable future, you might never run the full Vista "experience" under Parallels.

YMMV, but this is the sort of thing we needed to test before recommending Boot Camp for production settings.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:09 PM on December 12, 2006


blazecock: Parallels starts faster then bootcamp, as it is a virtual OS and has less to do. Windows XP takes under 30 secs on a macbook pro (first revision, not the core 2 duo) to start in _parallels_. I notice you use both terms in that last post, so I'm not sure which you are talking about.

Its obvious you have different needs then the OP - testing desktop apps is much more demanding then just having to test a web site in IE. Parallels is a god send for web developers.
posted by rsanheim at 9:39 PM on December 12, 2006


Parallels starts faster then (sic) bootcamp, as it is a virtual OS and has less to do.

This is incorrect.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:50 AM on December 13, 2006


This is way off topic now, but you must admit its quicker to just open an app (parallels) in mac osx versus restart osx - wait for the mac to restart, wait for boot camp to take over, then win xp loads, etc...

I keep win xp suspended in parallels so I hardly ever have to see the startup procedure at all,...it just resumes from the suspended state when I need it.
posted by rsanheim at 10:31 AM on December 13, 2006


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