Apple

WinOnX runs Windows applications on the Mac

Wil Limoges checks out a cheaper option to run Windows applications on Macs. If you don't need a full-fledged virtual environment, WinOnX might work for you.

WinOnX 1.31 is an application that you can purchase at the Mac App Store ($4.99) that is intended to run Windows applications on the Mac. WinOnX is built on top of Wine and, for those of you who are not familiar with Wine, it's an open source application designed originally to run Windows applications in Linux environments. It’s been around for quite a while and was eventually ported to the Mac. I’ve also had the opportunity to use Wine in other various forms such as CodeWeaver's CrossOver application with mixed results.

WinOnX attempts to make the process of installing and running Windows applications very easy by providing a drag-and-drop interface and keeping your applications organized in one clean window. As far as the design of the App, I was pleased with its simplicity and ease of use. The environment is well organized and offers few options to getting some of the complex settings out of the way that often make other Wine applications and installations difficult to use. I attempted to install several Windows applications to see how far Wine has come since I’ve last used it and, as expected, had mixed results. Many of the applications that I use are browsers and there is very limited support for the most important one, Internet Explorer. Though WinOnX was able to run IE6, 7, and 8, it was unstable and at times would crash, while IE9 wouldn’t run at all. I did, however, have some luck running an older version of Google Chrome only after scouring the Internet for previous versions.

If there are a few Windows applications that you are interested in running but don’t want to pay the cost of something like VMWare Fusion or Parallels, this may not be a bad option. I would first suggest that you take a trip over to the WinOnX website where you can search for the applications that you would like to run and see whether they are considered compatible or not before buying. As time passes, the Wine project continues to get better, but by no means is it a replacement for a solid virtual environment. If you would like to know more about the Wine project you can visit WineHQ to learn more.

About

Wil Limoges is a Louisville, KY freelance web designer and Digital Savant at the vimarc group. He has had the pleasure of working for Apple as a Genius, loves science, and aspires to make great things!

12 comments
ahc7
ahc7

I use Snow Leopard and found that QEMU with a legal copy of XP or ReactOS does pretty good.

PSmith1103
PSmith1103

When you get VMWare or Parallels for $50 or $80, bootcamp is free, and more than likely people have a spare copy of XP or other windows OSs lying around, I'm not getting the cost issue - particularly if stability and the ability to actually run things like IE are part of the requirement.

Htalk
Htalk

it's just a cheaper version of CrossOver? Or is it significantly better/worse?

Gisabun
Gisabun

But I thought Macs had everything - so you weouldn't need to run any Windows applications? :-)

steamIngenious
steamIngenious

While I agree with some of what you say, I think you're missing the point. Nobody is going to emulate a windows environment to run Chrome (or Firefox or Safari or Opera, etc etc) or any other browser that works natively in OS X. They will use it to run things that aren't available and front-end web designers (many of whom use Macs) need to be able to test their work for users who are on IE. I know tons of designers who use Parallels ($80 + the cost of Windows) or VirtualBox (free + cost of Windows) to run Windows virtually just to test MS browsers. CrossOver and now WinOnX ($4.99!!) are a steal compared to buying a full version of Windows. As they become compatible with more software, their value only increases. And FYI - AutoCAD has been available for Macs for some time now. A simple 'cad on mac' search in google could have shown you that.

anil_g
anil_g

A browser is the last app I'd use Wine for. There are multiple browsers available on all windowing platforms. Why would you worry about running Chrome on Wine? An OS X version is available! Usually, we move to OS X because we want to get away from Windows and are relieved when we manage to do so, but there are some particular apps that our organisation or workflow is embedded with that we have to carry with us, and they aren't available for OS X. The fact that these browsers don't run, is food for thought, and advises against evaluating WinOnX as reliable enough, but it would be really helpful to get some more thorough evaluation of how it performs. What about some apps that are just not there for OS X? I believe AutoCAD for instance, isn't. An AutoCAD die hard may want to try to run that on WinOnX? Anybody got some practical feedback on how reliable WinOnX is?

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

They now claim no need for separate productivity/gaming versions and that all Windows APIs are available for direct use in OS X. I'd be interested in trying it, but I'm not willing to spend $50 if I can't cleanly load and play any app including Paint Shop Pro Photo, ProShow Producer and a few other apps, both gaming and productive. I finally dropped BootCamp and both of my virtual PC apps since I don't go into Windows any more, but I would like to use some software that is Windows-only even now.

nobby57
nobby57

Have extensive experience with Wine and Crossover Office on several flavors of Linux. Although I gave Crossover, in particular, two very good tries on two different Linux platforms - using it to run Microsoft Office as well as some less common apps - in the end, I had to go with a VM. Faults included twitchiness and occasional crashes, also formatting glitches. I couldn't rely on the appearance of a doc I created in Windows, worked on in Crossover on Linux, and re-opened in Windows again. In the end I just felt that I had to have something better. Everything seems to run well on the Macs I've used, so maybe WinOnX on Mac works better than Crossover did on Linux. However, I've had experience using Office for Mac to edit docs later further edited under Office on Windows, and the formatting consistency has been excellent, so I think that would be a better solution if all I needed was Office interoperability. Glad to see someone addressing this, and I hope it works out well enough to be useful in situations - like enterprise - where reliability is key!

Michael_Spears
Michael_Spears

Good article with a fair assessment of WinOnX. Just doesn't seem appropriate in the "Apple in the Enterprise" category. There really isn't much that would run with the stability required for use in the enterprise. Fun tool to play with, but I would feel rather irresponsibile trying to sell a corporate user base on this one. I'd be interested if others in a medium to large size business have had a different experience.

kylehutson
kylehutson

All of these options to stay legal needs a full copy of Windows XP. Most likely that "spare copy" of XP is an OEM version, which means it can't legally be used on another machine. It's a legal limitation rather than a technical limitation. I'm not saying that it doesn't happen, but for those that are concerned with staying legal, it's not inexpensive.

PSmith1103
PSmith1103

Try running PM software from different vendors (or even MS Project at different version levels) and share the file. All of the different "interpretations" and defaults of schedule parameters create havoc. I've found it's way easier to just run exactly the same software version, which means in my case I have to run MS Project on my Mac because I work in the corporate world. Visio is another one, not as bad, but a diagram made on the Mac in OmniGraffle or other tool won't look the same in Visio. That said, I use Parallels since I need stability and vendor support if things don't go as expected. VMWare would be good too.

anil_g
anil_g

I thought that was my point? I realise IE is a thorn that needs the OS to test properly, but I thought that need was declining now that IE6 is more or less a thing of the past. I guess there may still be some enterprises that have not managed to extricate themselves from ActiveX, but otherwise I get the impression that IE is no longer mandated as the default browser, even in Enterprise, but maybe I'm out of touch. Re AutoCAD, that was an example. Maybe you or the author would know about a Windows app that doesn't have an OSX equivalent. I don't have any Windows apps that I need. In which case why do we need an Crossover?