Parallels vs VMWare vs Bootcamp vs Codeweavers Crossover Office revisited

I have reviewed these products in the past but I think they have rev’d enough times to make it worth my while to revisit them and see how far they have come. As a reminder, lets again review a couple of use cases that you might have:

  1. Native Microsoft Office (any version) support
  2. Latest Microsoft Office
  3. Microsoft Vista
  4. Games
  5. IE7

Again with the ideal requirements:

  1. Runs applications at full speed
  2. Executes them in such a way as they appear to be native applications
  3. Does not require a Window license

The simplest answer is to use Crossover Office to run applications that work with it, as when it works it satisfies the ideal requirements and then use Bootcamp when you absolutely have to have a true Windows machine. Crossover Office is now robust enough to run Outlook 2003 pretty well along with some older games like Counter Strike: Source though it doesn’t have support for the very latest software. There are cases that are in-between, for example you might not need full speed but you do need full compatibility, then either Parallels or VMWare Fusion ought to work for you, like when you want to run IE7 to view a website. If you are doing anything that requires high non-graphics speed and also high-compatibility like developing software, either VMWare or Bootcamp would be your best bet. VMWare allows you to use more than 1 processor and it out benchmarks Parallels. On the other hand, Parallels is a nicer application and its Coherence-mode (integrates Windows applications into the Mac desktop experience) is better than VMWare’s Unity mode. Neither VMWare nor Parallels run highly graphical twitch games to my satisfaction. Here is a little table to help you make your decision:

  • Crossover Office 6.2
    • When it works its the best option
    • Fast, well integrated, runs some games
    • Only option that doesn’t require a Windows license
    • According to CodeWeavers, will work even better under Leopard
  • Bootcamp
    • It is just Windows
    • Mac’s are really good Windows machines
  • Parallels Desktop 3.o (build 5160)
    • Easier to use than VMWare Fusion
    • Coherence is very mature
    • Does not really run games well
  • VMWare Fusion 1.0 (build 51348)
    • Faster than Parallels
    • Unity is OK
    • Lot’s of compatible VMWare appliances
    • Not much luck running games on it

Have any questions about the options? Since I have a license to all of them and use them all for various purposes I would be happy to answer any specific questions about the products.

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  • CP Staley

    How do they all work with Windows networks? My wife works in a vet office with “specialized” software, and a windows log-in network. I had originally thought about going the Boot Camp route, but would prefer virtualization. Any pros and cons on networking with a windows network and using specialized software?

    Thanks.

  • covas

    Great Post..

    To run AutoCad, which program do you recommend?

  • http://www.javarants.com sam

    CP Staley: Parallels or VMWare should work great in that case.

    Covas: For serious AutoCAD work (3D, etc) I can’t recommend anything except Bootcamp.

  • Mark Lunge

    I just upgraded my G4 Powerbook to a 2.6GHz MacBookPro for the dual purposes of: 1) replacing my PC I retain solely for Amateur radio applications (requires USB to RS232 conversion, XP, and EASYPAL Full version digital SlowScan TV – see http://www.kc1cs.com/digi.htm ); 2) viewing financial websites that are IE centric and use Webex SW for live financial workshops.

    From your article I might conclude bootcamp is best choice, but I prefer to have Leopard accessible as I am doing these tasks. With that in mind, what is the best choice?

    Thanks,

    Mark

  • http://www.javarants.com sam

    Based on the unusual hardware requirements I would try it out on the test drives of both Parallels and VMWare and see which one gives you better results. I wouldn’t bother with Crossover Office for this type of application. You’ll only need to install XP once because you can import your images between the environments.

    IE will run well on either of those and I think most Webex stuff works on the Mac natively as long as you are viewing and not broadcasting.

  • http://na Chris Smith

    Hi,

    Have you (or could you please) try these with NetFlix “on demand” streaming? I’ve replaced my media center pc with a Macmini and front row but it isn’t compatible with Netflix.

    Thanks!

  • http://www.javarants.com sam

    I have tried it and it doesn’t work that well. Bootcamp would be your only real option for running Netflix until they port it natively to the Mac.

  • http://None Charles

    Hi,

    I’m a Windows user thinking of changing to Mac. I have a few applications that have no Mac equivalent, so I would like to run Windows XP on an irregular basis. If I go with Boot Camp presumably it will partiton the hard drive. If later on I decide that it would be better to use VM or Parallels or whatever, I presume that I couldn’t get rid of Boot Camp without getting rid of the partition; which would mean a complete format, or re-installation of the hard drive. Am I correct ?

    Thanks, you are very generous with your time.

    Charles

  • http://www.javarants.com sam

    Actually the Mac comes with software that will let you dynamically change the partition map so you will be able to later get rid of the Bootcamp partition without reformatting the Mac side of things and reclaim the space.

  • http://None Charles

    Actually the Mac comes with software that will let you dynamically change the partition map so you will be able to later get rid of the Bootcamp partition without reformatting the Mac side of things and reclaim the space.

    Actually the Mac comes with software that will let you dynamically change the partition map so you will be able to later get rid of the Bootcamp partition without reformatting the Mac side of things and reclaim the space.

    Actually the Mac comes with software that will let you dynamically change the partition map so you will be able to later get rid of the Bootcamp partition without reformatting the Mac side of things and reclaim the space.

    Actually the Mac comes with software that will let you dynamically change the partition map so you will be able to later get rid of the Bootcamp partition without reformatting the Mac side of things and reclaim the space.

    Many thanks. Charles.

  • Grey Satterfield

    I just ordered a 2.4Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo PowerBook Pro from Amazon. It will replace both a PowerBook G4, which I have used for almost 5 years, and a three year old desktop, which runs Windows XP Professional. I use the desktop only to run a few Windows apps. The Windows apps I will use most of the time on my new MacBook Pro will be Quicken 2007, Word 2003, Excel 2003, Outlook 2003, Garmin software for my Garmin GPS runners’ watch, and WordPerfect 12. I have a license for all apps I use. I have no interest in running games or the latest and greatest Windows apps.

    I probably should add that I won’t need to run the XP versions of my MS Office apps if my MS Office suite for OS X 2001 will run satisfactorily under the emulation provided by Apple for old PowerPC apps.

    Obviously, I would prefer to run the apps I do use under OS X over having to move to Boot Camp in a separate partition. What would you recommend I do to run these apps on my new PowerBook Pro most conveniently? I suspect that the answer may be Crossover Office but I thought I should ask first.

    Many thanks for your time and attention. When I found your original post and recent replies to the questions of others, I thought that I had died and gone to heaven. Thanks again!

  • http://www.javarants.com sam

    Because you list a device I would recommend that you confirm that it works with Crossover Office first. My gut reaction is that you should probably use Parallels or VMWare in order to ensure that your device is supported and older software like Wordperfect 12 works well since that is not likely to be extensively tested by Codeweavers. The Mac version of Office is sufficient for every purpose except hardcore Excel users — plus the new version of Mac Office runs just about the same speed as the old one even under emulation. Entourage isn’t really the same as Outlook but its still usable.

    Good luck!

    Sam

  • Grey Satterfield

    Because you list a device I would recommend that you confirm that it works with Crossover Office first. My gut reaction is that you should probably use Parallels or VMWare in order to ensure that your device is supported and older software like Wordperfect 12 works well since that is not likely to be extensively tested by Codeweavers. The Mac version of Office is sufficient for every purpose except hardcore Excel users — plus the new version of Mac Office runs just about the same speed as the old one even under emulation. Entourage isn’t really the same as Outlook but its still usable.
    Good luck!
    Sam

    Sam — Thanks a million! I have learned that free trial versions of all three programs are available online, so I now feel better about my ability to make an informed choice. Once again, thanks.

    I have one more device question: I use a USB thumb drive to back up my Quicken 2007 files. Since I will be running the Windows version of Quicken I am wondering whether I can expect the thumb drive to work properly when I run Quicken with one of the emulation programs?

  • http://www.javarants.com sam

    Your USB thumb drive will work with all of them. With VMWare and Parallels you can either share the mounted thumb drive from the Mac side to the Windows side or you can give control of the device completely over to Windows. Crossover Office uses the same devices as the Mac has available.

  • Grey Satterfield

    Your USB thumb drive will work with all of them. With VMWare and Parallels you can either share the mounted thumb drive from the Mac side to the Windows side or you can give control of the device completely over to Windows. Crossover Office uses the same devices as the Mac has available.

    Thanks, that’s encouraging. Being able to run the Windows version of Quicken 2007 conveniently is very important to me because the OS X version is but a pale imitation of the real thing. Shame on Quicken, but there it is. I run as many expenses as I can through my credit card account because it allows me to keep better records of my expenses than was possible when I paid cash for many purchases. Thus, I use Quicken for Windows on a daily basis, often several times a day.

  • http://www.javarants.com sam

    If that is what you are using Quicken for I would sign up for Wesabe or Mint which both do a fantastic job of tracking credit and bank accounts without a lot of fuss.

  • Grey Satterfield

    If that is what you are using Quicken for I would sign up for Wesabe or Mint which both do a fantastic job of tracking credit and bank accounts without a lot of fuss.

    Sam – I have been a slave to Quicken for nearly 10 years and the idea of changing to something new at this late date makes my blood run cold.

    I have a VMware Fusion question that I hope you can help with. I tried to use my Boot Camp partition as a virtual machine with VMware but got the following message:

    “Your virtual machine cannot be powered on. Be sure that your host machine’s date and time are set correctly.

    “Please enter a valid serial number by choosing VMware Fusion > Licensing. . . or click on the Get Serial Number button below.”

    Below that, two radio buttons are displayed, “Cancel” and “Get Serial Number.”

    The time on both my OS X and Windows clocks has been squirrely immediately after a reboot but I have recently reset both.

    Does the error message I got mean that I can’t setup a virtual machine with the trial version of VMware Fusion, or could something else be going wrong?

  • http://www.javarants.com sam

    I don’t have any experience with the trial version and Bootcamp. My guess is that it is supposed to work though. In the past, I have gotten great help from the VMWare forums for their other products so I suggest that you post your question there.

  • Grey Satterfield

    I don’t have any experience with the trial version and Bootcamp. My guess is that it is supposed to work though. In the past, I have gotten great help from the VMWare forums for their other products so I suggest that you post your question there.

    Sam – My problem turned out to be VMware’s requirement that even unregistered versions of Fusion require the entry of an authorization number before they will run. Once I figured that out, registered as the user of a free trial version of Fusion, and entered the number they gave me, Fusion started to work.

    Fusion brought up XP in the Boot Camp partition but XP immediately froze. When I rebooted in Boot Camp my disk was corrupted and Windows had to repair it. This happened twice. I guess that’s because I had partitioned my Boot Camp partition in Fat32. Clearly, then, I can’t use Fusion with the Boot Camp partition.

    The Boot Camp partition and Windows are great. They are stable and XP is and a lot faster in Boot Camp than it is on my old desktop PC. The down side is that it takes a couple of minutes to shift between OS X and Windows.

    Later, I created a VMware virtual disk and reinstalled XP. Fusion works just fine, although I have had some problems with XP that have nothing to do with the fact that it is running under emulation.

    Anyway, you have been a lot of help to me in this exercise and I can’t thank you enough.

  • JD

    There hasn’t been a question in a while, so I hope you’re still available. I am a brand new MacBook owner. One of the reasons I purchased it was to be able to connect to my work computer remotely. When I go to the log in site, I get the message that the application needs ActiveX controls to run. This is probably the only time that I will REALLY need to use one of the programs that you reviewed above. I would appreciate your recommendation on which is the best product for my purposes.

    Thank you

  • http://www.javarants.com sam

    Your best bet would be one of the real windows environments. Presuming you don’t want to reboot to do it that leaves you with Parallels or VMWare. For this application either would work great though Parallels has somewhat better desktop integration so would likely work best. You would still need a Windows install.

  • Eric Becker

    Looking to run Act 2000, Excel and Word 2002 integrating ACT and word, I have lists and contact data on ACT that I would like to keep and it is hard to find contact programs for MAC. Considering crossover but not exactly sure how their pricing works also considering VM fusion. Have an older Microsoft Digital Software Photo program that is not listed at Crossover so not sure if I start with Crossover I think it is $39 for standard and they come out with code for the microsoft program do I need to repurchase crossover which will put me at around $80 or do I go with trying to find new XP OS for VM fusion and then have a long term solution. Not sure what I can pick up a new XP OS but trying to weigh my options. Can you tell me which one works better? also the netflix movie streaming you mentioned will not work on VM fusion is that correct? Do you know if I buy crossover will ACT 2000 and Word 2002 work and integrate to be able to write letters and will I need to pay anything else to Crossover? Also can I pull files from the my MAC folders or would I need to keep the files seperate? Please give me your recommendation….

    Thanks,

    Eric

  • http://www.javarants.com sam

    It sounds to me like you need a pretty extensive solution for all the integration between the various Windows programs that you are using. For something like this where it isn’t just a single program in isolation I would recommend VMWare/Parallels over Crossover. With any of these solutions it is possible to directly share files between the two systems.

  • Grey Satterfield

    After considering Sam’s useful recommendations, last March I got VMware Fusion for my then new MacBook Pro and it has been terrific. As is the case with any software, I have had to work through the occasional glitch but for the most part I have been able to use my Windows apps just about as easily as I use OS X apps. Better yet, Fusion works seamlessly with my network printer and a FireWire drive that is attached to another computer on my network, which I use to store Backups from Quicken for Windows.

  • Lou

    I'm a new Mac user (MacBook Pro/OS 10.5.6). I currently working on a six sigma project that requires a special macro for excel 07. (that does not work on the Mac excel 07 program) Can you suggest a program that would support this app. Thanks

  • http://www.javarants.com spullara

    If you require macros in excel 2007 you have to use the windows version. The easiest way to use the windows version of excel is to use CodeWeavers CrossOver Mac and a native install of Office 2007. I would ensure that it does what you need it to do by using their evaluation version first. If Excel 2007 doesn't perform as well as you would like you will need to use one of the virtualization solutions (Parallels or VMWare) and a real copy of Windows.

  • Shahc

    Hi. I just got a Mac as my work desktop. I partitioned it using Boot Camp and put Vista Enterprise on it. I also have a ThinkPad that runs Vista Enterprise on it. When I try to use remote desktop connection from the Windows Vista sitting on my Mac to my Thinkpad it works well. However, when I try to RDP from my Thinkpad to my Mac running Windows, I am unable to connect. Is this because the IP address of the Mac running Vista applies to the machine and not just the Windows portion of the Machine? Is there a way to remotely connect to the Windows portion of the Mac desktop?

  • http://www.javarants.com spullara

    I would ensure that you are going to the correct IP address. They can be different for the Mac vs. Windows depending on when they get their IP address from DHCP.

  • Bo

    Hi, Sam. This is the most helpful blog I've seen for PC to Mac converters, I've learned a lot from all your interactions. Many thanks to you and to all the people who've posted queries.

    Cheers, Bo

  • Bo

    Hi, Sam. This is the most helpful blog I've seen for PC to Mac converters, I've learned a lot from all your interactions. Many thanks to you and to all the people who've posted queries.

    Cheers, Bo

  • http://removevirushelp.com/how-to-remove-security-shield-2011-virus.html security shield 2011 virus

    Personally, I like to use VMWare.