Three things to know about Apple Boot Camp

Erik Eckel tells you three things you should know about Apple Boot Camp that might make it a better option than Parallels or VMware Fusion for running Windows on a Mac.

Erik Eckel tells you three things you should know about Apple Boot Camp that might make it a better option than Parallels or VMware Fusion for running Windows on a Mac.


Enterprise technology professionals frequently are tasked with deploying and maintaining Windows installments on Macs. That's all well and good. Numerous industries require Windows-specific applications.

By dual-booting Mac systems, organizations can leverage the Apple platform's strengths (high performance, tightened security, ease of use, reliability, functional design, etc.) with cross-platform compatibility. Apple Boot Camp, while the least sexy of available dual-booting options, remains the leading alternative for most businesses.


Here are three things all enterprise administrators should know (and remember) about Boot Camp.

It's free

Yes. That seems simple. Boot Camp 2.0 is included free with the Apple OS X Leopard and Snow Leopard operating systems. But businesses everywhere are forking over millions of dollars to the likes of Parallels and VMware.

Parallels Desktop and Fusion are excellent products. They eliminate the need to reboot a Mac in order to access the Windows operating system, which can certainly save some organizations sufficient time that the productivity gains more than exceed the software's licensing and support costs.

But does every enterprise user requiring Apple OS X and Windows need to access Windows almost instantly or from within an Apple OS X session?

Probably not.

Those organizations whose users can bide time (typically less than two minutes) while the system reboots will find they can reduce expenses associated with application licensing and support costs.

It's faster

When booting Windows using Boot Camp, users will experience better performance. This is because Boot Camp enables Windows to more fully utilize processor and RAM capacity. Windows sessions powered by Boot Camp, for example, fully leverage all core processors, while other methods fail to properly optimize performance.

Do not underestimate these performance advantages. When simultaneously opening multiple windows (including the Internet, email, proprietary business applications, etc.), running antivirus and antispyware applications, and powering a reasonably attractive graphical display, computers place a heavy load on the CPU and memory channels. Asking the same PC to do so while running two concurrent OS sessions is fine (assuming appropriate hardware upgrade investments are made to enable the computer to manage the task), but performance improves significantly when Boot Camp is selected and only a single OS is active.

It's compatible

Seemingly a host of USB connectivity, application and other incompatibilities inevitably arise when using third-party virtualization tools. Apple's engineers work diligently to ensure Boot Camp compatibility. This characteristic is, after all, an Apple hallmark. The company works with almost obsessive proclivity to maintain control of both hardware and software compatibility across its entire line of products.

One recent real-world enterprise example involves the recent OS X Snow Leopard release. I've heard of many cases in which Mac systems running third-party virtualization solutions required patches or reinstallation. Systems running Boot Camp typically suffer no ill dual-booting effects when upgrading to the latest operating system release, however.

Thus, maintaining Boot Camp as a standard helps organizations eliminate unwanted surprises. By utilizing Apple's own dual-booting utility, businesses receive the benefit of Apple's own stringent internal testing practices. Rather than having to rely upon reactive third-party patches and tweaks, businesses deploying Boot Camp can, in many cases, avoid many troubles altogether.

By Erik Eckel

Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president o...