What version of Windows should I get to run on a new Macbook Air - 10.8?
March 27, 2013 9:36 AM   Subscribe

I would like to be able to run windows occasionally on my Macbook Air (probably via parallels), but find all the versions of windows a bit overwhelming. What would be the simplest and cheapest setup that would allow me to run the latest version of internet explorer for testing purposes, and maybe Microsoft Publisher for the random pub file I receive? I am guessing I could get by with Windows 7? Thank You.
posted by travis08 to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You can run IE/Windows inside Virtualbox for Free.
posted by vacapinta at 9:39 AM on March 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

Actually this is a better link.
posted by vacapinta at 9:43 AM on March 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

Win7. Win8 is a load of balls.
posted by Fnarf at 9:45 AM on March 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

Seconding vacapinta. That's the setup I use (not in a Macbook Air, though), but it works pretty well for testing purposes.
posted by clearlydemon at 9:49 AM on March 27, 2013

Windows 7 Professional Edition. If you are using it in a professional setting, there will be times that you want to do something that is crippled in the Home Edition. The difference in cost is pretty negligible.
posted by rockindata at 10:09 AM on March 27, 2013

It looks like vacapinta's link wills will only help you out if IE testing is the only thing you need to do in Windows. If you want to run Publisher as well, you'll need to actually install a full version of Windows either through Bootcamp or virtualization software.

I can't speak directly to which version of Windows you should use, but I do have some advice about how to run it. I don't know how much you know about your options, so let me explain the difference a little bit.

Bootcamp is software from Apple that's built into your Mac. It allows you to install Windows in a separate section of your drive, and restart in Windows. You can't quickly move back and forth between Mac and Windows with this setup, but it's more resource-efficient since you're only running one operating system at a time.

Virtualization will allow you to run Windows or other operating systems alongside Mac OS. There's a number of different application that let you do this: VirtualBox, Parallels, and VMWare Fusion are the main ones. Because you're running both operating systems at the same time, you can easily flip back and forth between the two, even copy-and-pasting between them. However, it also means your computer has to do a lot more work.

I have a MacBook Air (11" but with the higher specs for that model) and found running Windows in Parallels to be pretty laggy and frustrating. The Air isn't a machine with a lot of oomph, so it's pretty difficult for it to keep up with running both operating systems at once. I've now got Windows installed with Bootcamp instead, and it's much snappier. I have to restart to use it, but I'm not getting choppy audio and really long wait times to accomplish anything.
posted by duien at 10:28 AM on March 27, 2013

If you need to run publisher then you will have to buy a copy of windows 7. you cant just install it from a friends cd . while you can but legally you need to purchase your own copy.
posted by majortom1981 at 10:42 AM on March 27, 2013

You should be fine with Windows 7. It's pretty much corporate standard by now, and it has an announced end-of-mainstream-support of January 2015.

Should probably note, however, that the next Windows (9 probably) is expected summer this year.
posted by General Malaise at 11:37 AM on March 27, 2013

Windows 7 in Parallels works great for me. In "Coherence" mode it's completely seamless- Windows programs are just floating on the Mac desktop exactly as if they were native Mac programs.

I worked with a developer who had that Virtualbox thing and it always struck me as a total nightmare. He basically gave up even trying to test IE after a while, while my Parallels worked perfectly.
posted by drjimmy11 at 12:01 PM on March 27, 2013

(Keeping in mind I am using Macbook Pros with 8 or 16GB of RAM)
posted by drjimmy11 at 12:03 PM on March 27, 2013

You'll be fine with Windows 7 and Parallels or VMWare Fusion. Performance will be good enough. I did this on a Mac Mini that was slower than anything you can buy today and it was fine.
posted by cnc at 1:08 PM on March 27, 2013

Windows 7 will give you the best results.

I tried Windows 8 on my MacBook when it was RTM'd last August and... well, for the last 2-months I have been running ONLY MacOS, because of the driver issues. (While Win8 ran, the drivers were not the correct ones - try giving a presentation using a projector with a default video driver under Windows and... well, nothing happens...)

However, about a week ago - Apple updated MacOS and Bootcamp to officially support Windows 8 and therefore the driver problems should be a thing of the past - however, I have yet to try to "re-do" my machine.

But - all that being said - in my experience - using Windows 8 without a touch-screen just isn't "fun". (And I speak as someone who runs Win8 with a desktop touch-screen monitor and a recently purchased Surface Pro)
posted by jkaczor at 1:23 PM on March 27, 2013

Win 7 Pro. I vaguely recall that the home editions are not licensed for guest OS settings (running in a VM). Pro is.
posted by chairface at 1:40 PM on March 29, 2013

However, about a week ago - Apple updated MacOS and Bootcamp to officially support Windows 8 and therefore the driver problems should be a thing of the past - however, I have yet to try to "re-do" my machine.

So... I "re-did" my machine ("early 2011, 17" MacBook Pro") with the latest Bootcamp drivers and Windows 8...

Video drivers still not working, Audio not working...

...Other people report success... Always "the other people" with my MacBook experience to-date...
posted by jkaczor at 3:14 PM on May 24, 2013

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