How to run Windows Programs on MAC

exhuser used Ask the Experts™
Can anybody suggest what would be a preferred method of running Windows programs on MAC OS?
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Hi Exhuser,

It all depends on what you want to do with Windows. Most gamers will install it on BootCamp to get the most out of the Mac hardware. While most business users will run VMware Fusion or Parallels, so they can have their Mac and a Windows system running at the same time.

In short, if you are looking for speed and don't want both OSs running at the same time then BootCamp is the way to go. If you just need to run Windows applications at the same time you are running your Mac ones, then virtualizing is your answer.

Hope this helps,

Martin LissOlder than dirt
Most Valuable Expert 2017
Distinguished Expert 2018

I'm not a "gamer" so maybe I don't know what I'm talking about but as a programmer I've never noticed any slowdown when running Windows apps in a Parallels virtual machine. Also the interface between Parallels and OS X is pretty much seamless.
Alan HendersonRetired marine engineer
If you're on  tight budget, VirtualBox is an acceptable free alternative to Fusion or Parallels. Not quite as polished, but still good.

Windows runs very well in a virtual machine, and as long as you have enough system RAM to allocate an adequate  share to the virtual machine it works well in all but the most demanding of applications.

I find that Windows drivers for VM's work better than the drivers for Bootcamp and that there are fewer anomalies.  For instance, with Retina displays, Bootcamp suffers from Microsoft's poor scaling for some programs, not so in a VM. Small things, in Bootcamp, scrolling with the trackpad works in the reverse direction to what it does in OS X, in a VM that doesn't happen.

All-in-all, if you don't need the raw power, and have plenty of RAM, a VM is more convenient than Bootcamp.
Alan HendersonRetired marine engineer

If you settle for Parallels or Fusion. Be aware, if you have more than one Mac, a single Fusion licence allows multiple installs of the program, but Parallels just the one. Parallels also costs more and needs updates more often.

Another little known advantage of Fusion and Parallels. You can install Windows in Bootcamp, activate it, and THEN run the Bootcamp installation as a virtual machine from within OS X. Best of both worlds.

Both allow a 30 day free trial.

It really depends on what programs you need to run.  Bootcamp does run faster than Parallels, but it's mainly noticeable when you play graphics based games.

You could also install Homebrew to install wine.  This will allow Bootcamp speeds for many self contained programs.  It's more complex to set up for software that require multiple processes, but rather easy to use for simple programs.

I have Parallels running a Bootcamp VM, so that I can also go to Bootcamp if I need the speed, but I found it easier to just use Wine for some of the programs.  With Wine, I don't have to reboot or fully start up a Parallels VM and use so much RAM or reboot into Bootcamp.  It's also a much quicker start.  I found myself rarely rebooting into Bootcamp these days.  There are different issues with each method and I wish Macbooks supported 32 GB RAM instead of just 16 GB, especially with the way OSX uses swap or virtual memory and slows to a crawl when you go over.

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