OS X Leopard to be compatible with Windows Apps?

I have been a Mac user only since Christmas 2004 and I can say that it was a great decision to go out and buy one. The operating system Mac OS X is the Rolls Royce of operating systems. The power, stability and security of UNIX (FreeBSD) underneath the hood, with the beauty and elegance of the Aqua user interface.

However there are a couple of applications that I missed from the Windows world: some object modeling tools, the Fritz chess application, the MindManager X5 Pro mindmapping application, to name but a few. Anyway, when I heard in June 2005 of Apple’s decision to move to the next generation of Intel processors, I immediately wondered if they would make it possible to run Windows apps either via software like VMware, or even on another processor core. Well, then I found this and this.

So my next Mac, hopefully, will be a machine capable of running OS X applications and Windows applications at the same time, certainly without a dual-boot setup — touch wood 🙂

Update 04/11/2006:
Well it seems dreams sometimes have a habit of coming true 🙂 After upgrading to a Mac Pro I now have Parallels Desktop running. To run Windows, I just launch the Parallels Desktop application which fires up my Windows VM. This uses the Virtualization Technology built into these new Intel processors. The “Windows partition” is simply an 8GB file on my Mac’s hard drive. Windows runs in its own full screen desktop thanks to VirtueDesktops and I can flick in and out of the Windows screen by a simple hot key. If Windows decides to infect itself with a virus, I couldn’t give a monkeys as (1) it can only destroy itself and not anything else, as its resources are strictly controlled from within the VM settings, and (2) I have a daily backup which backs up this 8GB file only when it changes. Windows is now running in its own padded cell under UNIX, where it belongs — snicker, snicker 🙂

The performance of Windows apps running in this way is nearly full native speed and is very satisfactory, and I don’t even have to suffer the inconvenience of rebooting the machine as part of a dual-boot setup, although that option is still possible in addition using Apple’s Boot Camp solution (dual boot).

So even if Apple don’t pull the rabbit out of the hat when Leopard (OS X 10.5) launches circa Spring 2007, this solution is pretty near perfect. Now I can ditch my old Windows box, and maintain one box instead of two. I can see these new Intel-based Macs becoming very popular indeed, to those in the know.

Update 31/12/2006:
I was just checking the latest developments with Parallels Desktop and these are the new things they have added recently:

  1. Ability to utilise your Windows Boot Camp partition when running Parallels Desktop from Mac OS X — avoids having to have 2 Windows setups: 1 Boot Camp partition installation and 1 Windows VM installed within the Mac OS partition (as a file). Now, if you need native mode Windows, just install Boot Camp/Windows on a separate partition, and reuse the installation from within Mac OS X with Parallels Desktop when you don’t want to reboot and don’t need 100% native mode speed.
  2. Coherence mode: run your Windows apps from the Mac’s OS X desktop and see them side-by-side your OS X windows. This is the killer feature I had dreamed of more than a year ago, but was doubtful whether I would ever see it. Really cool! This should make usage of apps in Mac OS X/Windows more seamless and transparent.
  3. Drag and Drop files and folders between Windows and Mac: a feature that lets you seamlessly drag and drop files and folders from Windows to Mac OS X and vice versa.

See here here and here for more info on the Coherence mode.

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