Switching to Mac was made easier knowing that Boot Camp or Parallels were available so that Windows would never be far away for those 3 or 4 apps that do not exist on Mac that I need to run. However both take different approaches – which one to choose?
Parallels is virtualization software that creates a virtual machine into which you can install Windows XP – Windows 3.1, various flavours of Linux, Solaris and even RC1 of Vista. Once you select your guest O/S you then install the O/S using your own media as you would on a normal machine. It’s easy to have many virtual machines and makes backing up fairly trivial – all can be done fromm the Mac without the need to reboot. Installing XP and Vista worked well and installing the included Parallels Tools meant that it was easy to share files through a shared folder and also your mouse would move seamlessly from the different environments without having to press keyboard commands to kick out of each window.
- Good speed even though it’s a virtual machine
- Ease of use – starting up a virtual machine and using XP without a reboot saved a lot of time
- Multiple OS’s without much fuss
- No 3d support of graphics card
- Although performance is good it’s still running a virtual machine meaning it’s slower than it could be and is also taking resources away from OS X
- USB support – only 1.1 and to get devices to work meant hacking with the Apple library files
- Still in beta (well release candidate)
- Peripheral support – no guarantee of compatibility
- Cost – $80
Boot Camp takes a different approach, allowing you to install Windows XP SP2 using a drivers disk that is downloaded from Apple and allowing you to swap at boot between OS X and Windows XP. Only a Windows disk that has SP2 files on it is supported so you may have to slipstream an original disk to get a working cd. Once you’ve burned the Apple driver disk you create a partition using an easy to follow gui, insert your Windows disk and the Mac will reboot into the Windows install. Install XP as normal and after a couple of reboots you have a working Windows. Installing the drivers will give you a Windows that supports the iMac’s built in Bluetooth, iSight, graphics card and sound.
- Full driver support of your hardware including 3d acceleration
- Cost – it’s free and will be incorporated in Leopard.
- Compatibility with software is greatly increased
- Performance of Windows using Boot Camp is better than virtualization software
- Switching between OS’s requires a reboot
- Still in beta
- Hardware platform is different to normal PC so potential for driver issues
- Only supports Windows XP SP2
I loved Parallels. Having that much flexibility without having to reboot was a joy. Firing up Visio to finish off some work in XP while iTunes ran on the Mac with Flock running in the background was superb. I also had no crashes during my time with Parallels. I didn’t like hacking with USB files though and I would still consider USB unstable with the latest Parallels release candidate.
Boot Camp while not without issues has performed well. Fast, great XP support, all my hardware now supported and easy to swap between OS X and XP via a reboot. To be honest the reboot was always my issue with Boot Camp but I need access to XP probably at most once a week so I can live with the reboot. The other issue with Parallels is paying $80 now when in spring next year Leopard will have Boot Camp built in. As I’m unclear just what Leopard will offer I’m not prepared to buy Parallels now – I’ll stick with Boot Camp.
As a test I ran Company of Heroes under Boot Camp. One of the latest PC games it plays like a dream and on my iMac looked superb while keeping good speed (this was at 1920*1200 although I don’t think all the nice effects were on). If gaming is your thing Boot Camp is the only answer. If multiple OS’s are your thing then it’s Parallels. If it’s infrequent access to Windows XP then save money and download Boot Camp.
It took a long time to deliver but I’m finally there – I’ve moved to Mac. They say a picture is worth a thousand words…
I’ve posted a full Flickr set of the unboxing of the iMac and iPod – not too many pics as it’s been done already. It’s too early to feel settled with OS X although I’ve so far managed to do everything I’ve wanted to, including an almighty struggle to get my iTunes library over to the mac from the pc. I ended up hacking the library xml file to get it to work. However the iMac hardware is stunning. Quiet, fast and bright – in fact too bright much like when you view a TV in a store and it’s set to 100%. I ended up reducing the brightness to just over half to make it easy on the eyes. Even then it was brighter than my last LCD. Still can’t get used to using the Apple key for cut, copy, paste and there are obviously lots of oddities that will take time to understand. Expose is stunning though and makes managing multiple windows a painless task – windows could learn a lot and that still hasn’t been addressed in Vista which is an issue as more people move to larger and larger desktops.
The iPod is as impressive as ever. Screen is bright, video’s look sharp although I still think it’s too small to watch TV episodes and movies on. Most noticeable are the new earbuds – comfy and sound good. Gapless playback is also welcome…at last.
Downsides. Only one at the moment – the Mighty Mouse. It is OK but not a patch on my old Logitech which will be pressed back into service. The virtual right mouse button is awkward and the side buttons require a lot of pressure to activate. Not for me and it defies logic as to why Apple couldn’t design something better.
Seeing as I’ve spent only a day with the iMac I’m surprised how easy it is to perform basic tasks although I do feel vulnerable due to my lack of knowledge. If something went wrong I would probably struggle badly. With Windows I felt comfortable that no matter what I did I could rectify the situation – it will take a while to get that feeling with the Mac. Hardware has also worked like a dream, both new and old. Joy of joys – I don’t have any dead pixels (well none that are obvious and although I’ve scanned a few times and can’t see any I ain’t going hunting). Thoroughly delighted that I finally made the move. It will be interesting to see how the next few weeks go as I scratch beneath the surface. To be honest I can’t wait.
As expected there has been a lot of development on Windows Live writer. Microsoft have announced that plugins will have their own page on the Live Gallery – until then a blog has spawned to capture current plugin releases – Windows Live Writer Plugins.
Less than a day after launch Flickr and Tagging plugins are available here. Think how extensions make Firefox and you can see where Live Writer may end up.
Microsoft have just launched a new blog editing tool, Windows Live Writer. This is a desktop based tool that allows anyone to post to their blog using a rich GUI driven environment that offers spell checking and easy insertion of pictures and maps.
Once downloaded you insert your user details and Live Writer will then connect to your blog and download categories, check blog type and ensure a connection can be made. You then choose a title and start blogging. Inserting links and pictures was very easy but the key test will be the markup that is applied to the post on the real site.
One nice feature is that drafts can be saved to your website (unlike Flock) so that editing can take place at a later stage. Web Preview is also useful as it allows you to see how you post will look once it is uploaded to your site. The tool has full undo and redo and while it is GUI driven there are only options for common tasks like font weight, bulleted and numbered lists, blockquotes, hyperlinks and images.
Multiple categories can be selected as well as options to turn off comments and trackbacks. Spell checking isn’t live and has to be run at the end of you post.
This post was written in Live Writer so the real test will be how this looks on the site. Will it handle the publication of images and also the formatting? If so then this is an OK tool for some quick blogging but no different to whats available in Flock or Performancing. I’m sure it will appeal to some users especially as there is an SDK allowing plugins to be developed for the platform but for me I’ll stick to using the WordPress GUI as I feel more in control, know it works and can apply tags and other features with ease that aren’t supported in Live Writer.
*Update* – posted with no problems. Markup looks a bit ‘iffy’ but images got to the site once I’d setup FTP properly. More difficult to edit as the text is one big blurb rather than a nicely spaced out draft post but I can see this tool becoming quite popular. Ah – just spotted categories didn’t come through properly. Still – it’s only a beta.