This is a quick review of a piece of software that may change the way you work with a computer. It’s called virtualization software and allows you to run an additional operating system in a virtual window on your Macintosh computer. I did a test of the free beta version of the Vmware for Mac software, loading the Microsoft XP operating system on a MacBook-Pro laptop.
I didn’t have high hopes for a free beta version, but the installation was straightforward and only had one glitch along the way. I had to plug in an external USB keyboard during the installation of XP to have it see the keystrokes properly.
The rest of the install was just like a regular XP installation and the whole process took about 40 minutes. Once XP was loaded I installed anti-virus software, and loaded special VMware drivers. The result was XP running in a window on a MacBook.
I was amazed how well this worked and the number of applications this opens up to the average Mac user. Now you can easily run your PC specific programs while using your Mac in a normal fashion. This is really helpful in a Microsoft Active Directory environment, where Macs have had a notoriously hard time joining the Active Directory domain.
This software allows you to join the domain and login without a hitch. I can open my e-mail in Outlook on the PC side and edit a spectacular presentation in Keynote on the Mac side… all at the same time. When you add this functionality to a laptop you really have a portable creativity machine.
I can now edit graphics on the PC side in Photoshop and bring them into Imovie on the Mac side. My USB devices work well. It really brings out the best of both computing worlds. The software is still in beta and the list of known issues is long, but I was amazed at how well it works.
This may give many business people a compelling reason to buy a Mac. This software is much more convenient than the separate boot process of Apple’s Boot-Camp software, which allows you to boot either XP or Mac OS-X, but you can’t have both running at the same time.
If you have an Intel based Mac, you may want to give this beta version a try. You’ll need a full installation CD version of XP with service pack 2 installed and about an hour of your time. I would recommend at least a gig of memory. Once you get this running you can add a virtual Linux machine to the mix at the click of a button and you can even run Direct X, PC games…. WOW!