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New Mac User: Where do I buy Windows 7 for installation on Mac under Parallels?

I just got my son a 27" iMac. I would like him to be able to run Windows 7 on it. I have a couple of questions.

1. It appears that I can run boot camp or parallels. It seems to me that I want to run parallels so I can run windows and osx side by side versus bootcamp which requires that I boot the machine to either win 7 or osx. Is this correct?

2. How stable is parallels for gaming? For example, can I run World of Warcraft, Visual Studio 2010 and MS Office under parallels and if so, is there a significant performance penalty?

3. Probably the most important question is: where do I get a copy of Windows 7? Can I simply go down to the nearest big-box computer / electronics store and buy a shrink-wrapped version of Win 7?

I'm an MSDN member with a Microsoft Action Pack subscription that comes with all sorts of MS tools and applications including Win 7 and Office. Can I install these under parallels?

Can I run Win 7 Ultimate on parallels? How about Win 2008 server R2?

Finaly, can I install both Win 7 and Windows 2008 Server R2 under parallels and have them all run (W7, 2008 and osx) at the same time? This is for testing purposes only so performance is not all that important as I will rarely run all at the same time.

Thanks!
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ou81aswell
Asked:
ou81aswell
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4 Solutions
 
andymacfCommented:
1.  I have been running parallels for a few years now and it works very well, it manages most of the processes automatically thus requiring limited intervention from a user.  Windows and Mac OS work in harmony alongside each other.

2. I have found parallels to be very stable, apart from the obvious updates from time to time where a reboot is required.

3.  You can buy a normal off the shelf copy of windows, it isn't a special version for use with Mac.

4. The Win 7 install works as a normal windows machine, whilst I have do not have direct experience of the extra items you are asking about, I would propose that these will work just as smoothly.
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andymacfCommented:
For you final question, you can run multiple operating systems under parallels.  This is an easy to use interface which I have found to be an excellent way of running both systems alongside each other
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BlueThundaCommented:
Parallels runs Windows or other third party OS installations by creating virtual machines, so you can run them within OSX using this method rather than multiple boot options. I hear that it runs well although bootcamp is reportedly a bit faster last time I checked?

It supports many newer games, depending on how taxing they are they perform well to not so well, I imagine WoW would run fairly good on parallels though I haven't done this myself. MS applications such as Office and Visual Studio should also run quite well. The base specs of your Mac are what determine the performance capabilities, but the virtual machines can be tweaked several ways, such as allocating more memory, or additional CPU cores.

As far as obtaining Windows, absolutely you can purchase one anywhere. What you're doing is creating a Virtual PC on your Mac, and you'll have to install the OS, including entering in the license key, just like on any other normal PC. It will run Win 7 Ultimate, as well as Server 2008 R2. Here's the readme PDF containing a list of all supported Operating Systems.
http://download.parallels.com/desktop/v6/docs/en/Readme_for_Parallels_Desktop.pdf
As far as I know, you can run any tools or applications compatible with the OS in question, so long as the system requirements are met within the virtual machine environment, like RAM and HD space.

You can run both at once, I'm not sure what kind of performance hit you'll encounter, but it should prove educational! Just be sure you allocate enough memory and CPU cores to the different virtual machines and they should hopefully run decent enough to play around with.

Hope this helps ;)
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BlueThundaCommented:
Another thought, I checked because I wondered whether 32 or 64 bit would run better and Parallels recommends 64 for better performance and future expandability. The PDF I linked to contains a list of both, just FYI.

Ironically, I run a Win 7 machine, but I have OSX Snow Leopard on VMware, lol.
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roylongCommented:
Yes to all your questions as already commented above.
However, I have found performance to increase with parallels quite profoundly by installing an SSD hard drive.  I run mine with 8GB ram and 256GB SSS hard drive and windows 7 boots faster than a new lenovo laptop I have.

Windows server 2008 R2 should work fine in a 64-bit VM.

One more thing.. ..run the macintosh version of world of Warcraft - don't encumber your virtual machine with it.. ..the mac version is faster than the windows version on mac OS.

Get yourself an SSD hard drive; run WoW on the mac; set parallels windows 7 to coherence mode and it looks like you are running the windows apps (e.g. visual studio) on the mac OS.  But only really good performance with SSD hard drive :)
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roylongCommented:
the SSS above should be SSD - iPhone typing :/
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Aaron TomoskyTechnology ConsultantCommented:
This is what we do at my office:
Run the bootcamp assistant, partition some space, install windows (we always use 64bit).
Then pop in the osx DVD and install the drivers. Update windows.
At this point you have a dual boot machine that can get full performance from windows for games, 3d max or whatever.
NOW you boot back into the osx side and install parallels. Parallels will let you use the bootcamp partition like a virtual machine! so from osx you can open the windows side like a vm without leaving osx. This is good for apps without much 3d stuff. If you need the full power of windows just reboot into the windows side. It's the best of both worlds.
We do this on iMacs and MacBook pros.
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ou81aswellAuthor Commented:
I think I'll go with the bootcamp + parallels. I'll use one of the Win 7 licenses that came with my MS Action Pack. I'd love to do the SSD thing but it's not in the budget right now. Pehaps SSDs will be common place and even built in to systems you can get at the big box computer stores.

Many thanks guys!
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