Before I discuss why I think that Parallels is better than Bootcamp, I need to offer my apologies for my long-term absence from Windows to Mac. Things have been busy, and, sadly, I have to prioritize paying work!
Anyway. As I can see that many people arrive at this site looking for information about running Windows on a Mac, I thought I would include some basic, helpful information, staring with this article.
There are various reasons why you may want to run Windows on your Mac. I personally still have a couple of Windows programs that are not available on Mac, and I work in IT and therefore need access to both operating systems.
Regardless of your reason, you have to make a choice – whether to use Apple’s Bootcamp, or to use a virtual machine style program like Parallels that allows you to Run Windows on Mac OS X without rebooting!
Bootcamp is a free program, supplied with Mac OS X, that allows you to set aside an area of your hard disk for the installation of Microsoft Windows. Having installed Windows, you can choose to shut down your computer and restart it in Windows mode. This essentially gives you the ability to switch, at will, between Mac and Windows.
Parallels takes this a step further. Instead of requiring you to choose whether to run in Mac or Windows mode, it runs Windows as a virtual machine within the OS X operating system. Your whole Windows environment, including its own programs, just works like any other Mac application. So if you want to do something in Windows, you don’t even need to shut down and restart – you have both operating systems instantly available.
There are a couple of disadvantages to be aware of. As you have both operating systems in use at once, there is an impact on your computer’s performance in terms of memory and processor power. Parallels allows you to choose how much RAM you dedicate to Windows. If you are likely to make heavy use of Windows, you may wish to upgrade your RAM to assume that the memory you dedicate to it doesn’t have an impact on the performance of Mac OS.
This site will help you find the right memory for your Mac.
The other disadvantage is that a virtual environment doesn’t lend itself well to being a gaming environment. If you are a hardcore gamer, Bootcamp is probably better for you. In fact, a PC is probably a better idea than a Mac, but that’s a whole other story!
Other than these considerations, Parallels is better than Bootcamp if you need ongoing access to both operating systems. I have Parallels configured so that it operates in its own full screen “space” in Mac OS. A simple four-fingered swipe on the trackpad switches me instantly to Windows and back.
There is also no limit to how many Parallels virtual machines you have set up, assuming of course that you have the resources available. I have a VM containing the preview of Windows 8, as well as my main Windows 7 “machine.”
If you decide to go down this virtual machine route, there are other solutions available including VM Ware. I don’t mean to ignore these, I simply found Parallels and was very happy with it. Magazine group tests generally find little to choose between the solutions.
If you like the idea of Parallels, click the link below to find out more.