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Video: Run Windows Vista on your Mac with VMWare Fusion

If you're a Mac user who also needs to run Windows, like me, there's an easy way to get the best of both worlds. Bill Detwiler shows you how to run Windows Vista on Mac OS Ten using VMware Fusion.

If you're a Mac user who also needs to run Windows, like me, there's an easy way to get the best of both worlds. In this IT Dojo video, I'll show you how to run Windows Vista on Mac OS Ten using VMware Fusion.

For those of you who prefer text to video, you can click the Transcript link that appears below the video player window or you can also read Steven Warren's article, "It is easy to run Windows Vista on Mac OS X," on which this video is based.

You can also sign up to receive the latest IT Dojo lessons through one or more of the following methods:

About

Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop supp...

41 comments
avidtrober
avidtrober

Why does any shop run Vista on a Mac?

peter.mukerjee
peter.mukerjee

Bill, you have given us nice videos in the past but are you for real this time? Who in the world would want to run a piece of junk like Vista on a Mac?!@$%^&*

a0323022
a0323022

Anyone ran Vista using VirtualBox? It does not see the network devices (wireless on MB Pro). Did not have the problem running XP Home with VirtualBox. Any one seen this? Any fixes? Thanks.

rich.clark
rich.clark

I have tried using XP and Vista 64 bit in a VM and found that the VM Tools have conflicts with Vipre AV, MS Outlook 2K7, MS SQL Server, and Diskeeper. The apps also tend to overrun the Vdisk created in the VM and causes corruption over 3 month+ time periods in nearly 24-7 environments. VM Tech Support has been at a loss to assist. I would seek other options.

ghopkins
ghopkins

...... no comment.......

psquare11
psquare11

I happen to use Parallels to run Win XP Pro. I haven't tried VMW, so I cannot make a comparison nor state a preference; however, it seems to me that unless this article was a paid advertisement, it would have served your readers better had it included an objective comparison of the two competing products. As far as I know, pound for pound, feature by feature, Parallels and VMWare are essentially identical. Readers need to know this.

mcoker
mcoker

I have tried 3 of the methods in the video ..Boot camp runs Windows faster than a PC Virtual box is very stable and may not have the bells and whistles of Parellels but at least it doesn't crash!! I have also run various flavours of Linux under virtualization and they all work extremely well.. To sum up Parallels has lots of features but tends to crash on closing causing it not to re-open until you have repaired the permissions. Virtual Box just runs but some times has video problems BootCamp just works but is a pain if you need to swap between os's

ddines
ddines

I moved a while back and am now a Mac fan (but not a maniac - I see the pluses and minuses to both platforms). I installed Fusion with XP and had no real problems with it. Occasionally it would freeze, but it was manageable. I would prefer if companies like MSFT would support OS X better (Entourage specifically) and that certain banks and Quicken would support browsers other than IE. If that were the case then I would not have needed fusion at all.

rspitzer
rspitzer

I do alot of windows mobile development, it used to be that I did coding for 90 percent of the project and the other 10 percent was what the project looked like. I use VS2005, windows xp for the os, running on parallels on a macbook pro. I used to use nothing but Dell laptops. I got turned onto the mac for the video editing and graphic tools. In this new world, my coding now relies on the look and feel of the app. I needed to increase my graphic design skills, so I switched to the mac for the graphic design side and still do my mobile development under windows. This choice also gives me the flexibility to one day if so inclined to do mac dev. On a bright note the macbook has performed flawlessly, battery life is great especially on the plane and I have never had a crash under some rather strenuous windows code dev. Just some thoughts from the bunker. It really doesn't matter what OS you use anymore, just so you can make money, in todays times.

wizardb
wizardb

Vista on OSX a lose lose situation

sjvandenberg
sjvandenberg

I am really having problems getting VMware Fusion to run Windows XP. My computer is freezing and the windows side will not even run my Anti-virus. It always encounters a problem and needs to shut down. I am totally frustrated. Can you go from VMware to Parallels without losing all your data and applications? I really do not know what to do.

hyperalgesia
hyperalgesia

Running Windows from Fusion on a Boot Camp partition is by far the best way to go. Have installed about 20 machines with this configuration. Boot Camp returns control of all communications ports to Windows, which is necessary for some Windows only applications. The Mac partition can be accessed from Windows with HFS Explorer, a freeware program. Fusion is the best choice on the Mac side because it works well with Boot Camp Partitions. Dual use reduces HD space for the Windows install. There are a couple of tricks. Boot Camp partitions must be under 32 GB and FAT 32 formatted. Boot Camp Helper sometimes gets this wrong, so set the partition manually to something less than 32 GB. Finally, the Windows installer must reformat the Boot Camp partition during Windows install, and the Windows installer must be a valid XP Pro SP2 disk (don't use Vista because it requires NTFS).

Bill Detwiler
Bill Detwiler

In an IT Dojo video, I demonstrated how to run Windows Vista on Mac OS Ten using VMware Fusion. Original post: http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/itdojo/?p=568 If you support Mac users who run Windows through Boot Camp or a virtual machine, let us know what's worked and what hasn't. If you've tried both VMware Fusion and Parallels, tell us which one you prefer and why. Have you tried an open source solution like VirtualBox?

AlphaCentauri
AlphaCentauri

Some development activities are a bit easier on the mac. Notably php and RoR. I wanted to play with RoR while also continuing mainstream work with asp.net. Running XP under fusion on the mac worked well for me. I did try Vista, but found it awkward in terms of it wanting to help me far too much, I finally got fed up of the problems i kept running into and just use xp. I also tried Windows Server 2008 under fusion, now that *was* a good experience, and in fact I may end up using bootcamp to run that. (I'm not buying another laptop after spending $2k on one last year.. :) )

nww02
nww02

Yeah, seriously. Maybe he likes wasting money and time? *shrugs*

AlphaCentauri
AlphaCentauri

There's a lot of comparisons of these two products. Just use Google to find them. One thing I've noticed is that they just leapfrog each other in terms of features and performance. To me this is to be expected. I made my choice based on a). Performance at the time, and b). Did it have the features I wanted most (neither had them all), and c). was it stable. I ended up with vmware fusion 1.x. I have not upgraded to 2.x, but I did try it and performance wasn't as good, therefore if i was buying new at this moment in time, i'd likely choose Parallels. In my case, I'm just going to stick with 1.1.3 (my current version).

connie
connie

I see pros & cons of both platforms after having moved from Windows to Macbook Pro. But I am definitely more pro Mac now. However, I still have to have Windows & VMWare Fusion because (1) Some banks/brokers only support IE (2) QuickBooks does not support Mac at the level we need (3) GoToMyPC will not support Mac, which we use to sync all our laptops with the office server - this is my biggest issue. If I could find a syncing software solution that would work between PC's and Mac's & would work like GoToMyPC does - which is to just pick the same folder on both machines, hit "sync" & let her go & it goes quickly - then I would be ecstatic! Microsoft also has not made the Mac Office 2008 nearly as useful or easy or productive as the Windows version. Why? Maybe not enough businesses use Macs yet???

josh.blair
josh.blair

I am a software developer that specializes in .NET development with SQL Server back end. I have run SQL Server 2005 & Visual Studio 2008 which are both resource hogs. I use other server apps like BizTalk which is also a hog. Can these things possibly run in a usable way on XP or Win7 in a virtual environment? Can you put more than 4 GB or RAM in MacBook Pro? If these things won't run well in a virtual environment, would these run better in a dual boot scenario? Thanks for your insight. Josh Blair

HypnoToad72
HypnoToad72

The Macs' aluminum architecture allows greater cooling, so extra fans and bulk are not needed. OS X is also slimmer and doesn't need high end gear in order to... crawl... like a Q9650 CPU and 8GB of DDR3-RAM at the lowest possible latency... for a puny 2 hour amount of power on a battery without getting the larger size one (and allow a mammoth 3 hour time frame). Macbook Pros rock the house. If we used things efficiently, we wouldn't have as many issues with resources, climate change, et cetera. There is SOME truth in what is being said and, yes, I think it DOES matter what one uses. Windows is good... I no longer am sure what for because Microsoft hasn't exactly taken responsibility and keeps writing hoggy code and they're pig-headed toward their customers. They're like the swine flu and, from personal tech "support" issues or otherwise, I'm sick of their VERY poor business practices. So, yes, it makes a BIG difference. Especially when the Adobe applications work, without having to be told that bugs will be fixed in the next version of _____. (yes, MS staff told me that... but couldn't tell me when the next version of Expression suite would come out. Like years? Yo, I have professional obligations and my customers aren't going to be as lax. So why should I? Microsoft sucks. They have this "only to make money" attitude as well, which also ties into why their products and services increasingly suck. Service DOES account for long term customers and their satisfaction. Short term money-grubbing and denying responsibility for one's own product is just wrong.) Today's times are myopic and suffer tunnel-vision when it comes about money. And given the greed over the last few years, there is a paradigm shift - by people in almost every political philosophy. Lastly, I am also in college to become a marketer, with a dual major in graphic design. so I have to be cognizant of the "need" to bring in money too. But it's a comparatively myopic concept in life.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

Vista on OS X does work in both Parallels and Fusion. As long as you're doing nothing graphics intensive, it works just fine. However, in my own work of photo and video editing, I found that virtualization just doesn't give me the power I need. Even set up for hardware 3D acceleration and dual-core processing, Windows ran at about half speed. In ProShow Producer (creating DVD videos out of photographic slideshows) the lag became eminently visible when trying to synchronize video to audio. It really depends on how you plan to use Windows on your Mac as to go Boot Camp or virtual.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

I had a Fusion install that was doing much the same for one of my clients. What I ended up doing was a complete backup to an external disk so I could delete and reinstall Fusion with an updated version. However, going to that particular extreme isn't absolutely necessary. There's an OS X app called WinClone that creates a disk image of your virtual Windows installation and parks it on the drive of your choice. It even lets you adjust the size of the Windows 'partition' that Fusion may have locked you into. You should then be able to recover the image into Parallels. I would caution you here that Fusion does have some drivers that will need to be replaced by the Parallels ones. Since I haven't done this particular conversion, I don't know how that will go.

HypnoToad72
HypnoToad72

No more tinkering. I just want to work and get things done. it's funny; people lambasted Linux because people always tinker on the OS. It's no different than Windows and in ways is more tedious and consistent; with with defrag and deleting t3emp files and internet cache and prefetch items and the blighted REGISTRY that someone cooked up and didn't have the sense to get rid of...

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

Fusion on Boot Camp? That doesn't sound right. Did you just mis-state that or are you talking about using both hardware and virtual Windows on the same machine? Yes, Fusion/Parallels gives you the ability to access Windows-native apps and files while in OS X, but Boot Camp lets them run cleaner and more efficiently as a native Windows install. And a 32GB partition is hardly big enough to do anything productive in Vista; the OS alone takes more than half the allotted space. To me, Boot Camp NTFS lets you run XP or Vista in a partition limited only by the available space on your drive.

AlphaCentauri
AlphaCentauri

I use VMWare Fusion, and have found it to be an excellent solution. As an experiment, I tried Windows Server 2008 under fusion.. wow!! It is so much faster than Vista. I just enabled the web server parts and loaded vs.net 2008. I have 4Gb of memory on my MBP and allocated 2Gb to the VM, set it to only use a single core and reserved 20gig for space. For source control and database, I used subversion and mysql. Both of these run on the osx side of the fence and I just connect to them from w2k8 on the virtual machine.

dcolbert
dcolbert

Generally, if you're a Mac user, for the few things you might NEED Win32 for, why not just have a different box? Dual boot systems, virtualization, they've all got their hassles. With PC equipment so inexpensive, unless you've broken your bank purchasing a Mac while trying to keep up with The Brads at your college campus, I'd imagine a $400-800 PC with a licensed XP already installed is less headache and less money. Unless of course, you're getting your XP license through nefarious methods, which we know a Mac user would *never* consider.

The Groffer
The Groffer

I've been flip flopping between Fusion and Parallels on my iMac since they've both been upping their versions. I've consistently found Parallels to run faster and have a much better integration then Fusion. Both using my windows xp install for boot camp. However for the Mac's I have to support at work that only need windows for a few applications I just use Virtualbox. The applications they use don't require any kind of directx support and they don't need a bootcamp install of windows. Running your bootcamp partition as a VM and being able to run some directx apps in a VM are Fusion and Parallels biggest strengths. If you only need access to some standard non-graphic heavy windows apps on your mac Virtual Box is the way to go.

reggaethecat
reggaethecat

I wouldn't bother paying for VMware Fusion unless you need some of the more fancy features like timed snapshots - and you can do these anyway with a simple script on VirtualBox. It is also available on Windows and Linux - I recently switch from Ubuntu to Mac and had my XP VM back up and running on the Mac within a few seconds with no reconfiguration required. There's also an open source version for all you zealots out there.

williamjones
williamjones

A couple of the clients that I've had who wanted to use Boot Camp ran into problems. Boot Camp is pretty painless to set up on a new machine...but setting it up on a disk that has been in use for awhile already can be complicated. These clients of mine ran into problems because the Boot Camp setup insisted that their hard disk needed to be defragmented before partitions could be resized to make room for the Windows install. Generally, Boot Camp is the better solution for anyone who needs Windows to have direct access to the system hardware, like for 3D gaming, or for anyone who uses specialized peripherals that might not communicate over virtualized USB drivers. A final note...you can use a couple of different utilities to access your Mac's partition from you Boot Camp installation of Windows. Look into the commercial products MacDrive or TransMac for mounting Mac formatted disks, or freeware HFS Explorer, a Java utility that will allow you to browse Mac partitions for files and copy them into Windows. Check out www.macwindows.com for more great Mac/Win interoperability tips. [Edit to fix spelling.]

williamjones
williamjones

Current MacBook Pro laptops only support 4 GB of RAM. If you need as much memory as possible for your applications, then you should stick with Boot Camp. Booted to Windows using Boot Camp, your Mac is a native Windows machine. It will run Windows very well, but I turn your question back to you: As a developer, would you run MS SQL Server and Visual Studio on a ~2.4 Ghz Dual Core *Dell* laptop with 4 Gigs of memory? You shouldn't expect a Mac to be a dramatically different experience when running Windows.

hyperalgesia
hyperalgesia

Both are correct. Boot Camp partitions can be used by Fusion or Parallels, and the Mac can dual boot directly into Windows. However NTFS partitions are not visible to Mac. Files on FAT32 partitions can be transferred to the Mac side from Windows or directly from the Mac in Boot Camp>My Docs and offloaded to backup. We acquire large data files and backup in this fashion on several machines. NTFS partitions are required, however, for WinClone.

williamjones
williamjones

This is how I run Windows on my personal Mac. I *need* to be able to use Windows un-virtualized for certain things, and I also want to be able to launch a virtualized version periodically. Having my VM manager be able to virtualize my Boot Camp partition without having to reboot my machine solves this issue, and I don't have to worry about maintaining two Windows disks/images. One thing though, people should be aware that booting a Boot Camp partition from a VM isn't exactly the same. VM software is only able to support certain features (often "sleep" or "suspension" of a virtual machine) when using special disk images. Trying to suspend a VM that's booted from a Boot Camp partition could result in damage to the partition and make it impossible to boot directly into Boot Camp. For me, this isn't a huge issue. I just always completely shut down my VM when I'm finished.

Bill Detwiler
Bill Detwiler

If you can handle the extra cost, using two machines is probably the "purest" solution. But for frequent travelers, like me, there's just no way I'm lugging two laptops through airport security.

HypnoToad72
HypnoToad72

and people have reported major problems with getting Parallels to work. (windows task manager reporting 100% usage and other problems) I opted to go Fusion and it was a good choice.

HypnoToad72
HypnoToad72

has more features intertwined with OS X's GUI, and it has a more solid feel all around. (e.g. virtualbox's "seamless" mode still has the top edge of the task bar showing up. Yuck. Fusion's "unity" mode does a far better job at consolidating the Windows GUI within OS X. I thought about it and ultimately spent the money. Better to do it right the first time when possible.

mail.dave
mail.dave

I've heard good things about VirtualBox, but that in terms of performance that it might not - not yet - be a match for VMWare. Althought with my WinXP image the current version has a longish delay when the OS finishes loading. Mike Bombich (see bombich.com ) has a good article about deploying dual-boot Macs.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

I have to agree with William, here. Boot Camp is significantly the better route if you need real power on the Windows side. He's also right that on a Mac that's seen any real use before trying to set up for Boot Camp, the hard drive needs to be defragged so it can be properly partitioned. Just like dual-booting any other machine, you have to set aside some space for the second OS. A virtual application doesn't have that requirement, but the performance of a virtual machine just cannot match that of a hardware installation. The deciding factor between virtualization vs dual-booting tends to be graphics based. If you intend to game or do serious photo/video editing, or if you're using some form of video project software like ProShow where timing may be critical for the final product, you don't want the clock hesitating or running slow in the production process; a few hundred milliseconds here and there can through audio/video synchronization off significantly during the course of the presentation. On the other hand, if you're only using it for access to MS Office or other office management software, then virtualization should meet your needs perfectly.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

I attempted a Boot Camp install then using Fusion/Parallels to access it, and discovered that I couldn't boot into Windows via Boot Camp any more. Somehow both applications managed to corrupt the Windows install (or the boot sector itself) so that I could only access them through the virtual app. That's not what I wanted. Are you telling me they've managed to fix that problem?

dcolbert
dcolbert

Portable users who have a need for both OSes. In that case, I can see the advantage. But I *do* wonder - is this a *need* or a desire? That is, how often is this "need" for dual OSes caused because the person has "made the switch", but there are certain things their new OS platform simply can't do? (For whatever reason - it could be that the new OS platform isn't as good as it claims to be, or it could be a draconian plot of an evil-multinational corporate monopoly to dominate the OS market - take your pick.) In that case, I find myself a little bit skeptical. You're jumping through hoops to get away from something you can't quite shake, and I bet you're actually adding a lot of extra cost, complexity and effort to your daily PC routine - all for the sake of "not dealing with OS hassles" - and then dealing with that OS anyhow, but possibly through a couple extra abstraction layers, to boot. Emulation, dual booting, VMing - they all have their liabilities, shortcomings, and challenges. The only advantage I see isn't even actually security (I mean, most compromises today are going to happen in the cloud at a site that stores your personal data, not a breach of your personal data on your own PC), but "reliability" - in that you are probably far less likely to have to deal with malware or a virus infection on a *nix. For me, surfing cautiously and having my Win32 machine more secured is less hassle than having a *nix and going through hoops like Wine or VM machines to accomodate my needs in a Win32 dominated world. If I made the switch, I'd want to do it for good - and I know a lot of people who have. One of my engineers sold all his PC gear and got a Mac and hasn't seemed to look back. But honestly, he uses his PowerBook in about the same capacity I use my S10 *netbook*. Professionally, at work, he has a Win32 machine, too, though.

cwkoller2
cwkoller2

Hauling a Mac and a Dell through airport security was a PITA. My first MBP was a thing of beauty, and the new 17" is incredibly fast, not to mention the longest-running battery I've ever witnessed. 5+ hours on a charge with MacOSX and Vista (and Windows 7 Final Candidate) is too much power for any one person!

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