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Take Control of Running Windows on a Mac, 3rd Ed.: A Review

By Richard Orlin

Washington Apple Pi Journal, reprint information

One of Apple’s selling points for the Macintosh and Mac OS X Leopard is that it allows you to run Windows effortlessly on your Mac. Well, that’s stretching the point a bit. However, with the help of Joe Kissell and the latest version of Take Control of Running Windows on a Mac, you will be able to do it when the need arises.

Let’s face it, it’s a Window’s world, and there are some things that just won’t run correctly on a Mac. Many games, Microsoft applications like Outlook, Access, and MS Project, Web sites that are not compatible with Safari, and some internal corporate software are all examples that come to mind.

Take Control of Running Windows on a Mac starts off with a summary of the several options you have for running Windows. The list includes Boot Camp, Parallels Desktop for Mac, VMWare Fusion, and the free VirtualBox. It also discusses how to run Windows programs without having a copy of Windows by using CodeWeaver's Cross Over Mac or an open-source program called Wine. The author’s recommendation, unless you’re a gamer, is to use one of the virtualization programs: Parallels Desktop for Mac, VMWare Fusion, or VirtualBox. Because virtualization software allows you to run multiple operating systems simultaneously on a single computer, you can switch rapidly and seamlessly between Mac OS X and Windows without sacrificing performance of either operating system. As a bonus, you can easily transfer files between the operating systems and your peripherals work on both simultaneously. Kissell is of the view that it’s a toss-up between VMWare Fusion and Parallels Desktop for Mac, and notes that both applications gain improved performance and added features with each new iteration. He suggests that you download the free demos of each and decide which one will better meet your needs. The links to download VMWare Fusion and Parallels Desktop for Mac are shown below.



The author also recommends that you look at the comparative review that Macworld did last December, to help you make a decision. You can review it at:


Once you decide whether you want to use Boot Camp or one of the virtualization programs mentioned above, the author takes you through the necessary steps for preparing your Mac for running Windows. He discusses the different versions of Windows that you can install on your Mac. Then he walks you through the installation of each of the programs you can use. And trust me, he goes over everything! I especially liked his side-notes like the one that describes the different nomenclature for carriage-returns: “Enter” in Windows and “return” in Mac OS X.

Once you have Windows up and running, Kissell has more information for you. He tells you how to back up your virtual machine data, whether you want to just take snapshots of your data (which is the default), or get down and dirty with a block-level backup, or even store your personal data on your Mac. He also tells you how to print without problems (something that is often a problem in Windows) by following three simple steps.

Apple advises that, if you want to install Windows XP using Boot Camp, you must have a retail version of XP and no less than Service Pack 2. Well, if you’re as cheap as I am and you don’t want to buy XP Service Pack 2 when you already have a copy of XP, this book has a section on how to create a slipstream installer disc. A slipstream installer disc is a CD or DVD with a customized version of the Windows installer that has certain additions, updates, or options pre-configured. It can make installation faster—and also give you a way to install Windows XP in Boot Camp even if your CD contains a pre-SP2 version. But be forewarned: you will need to use a Windows computer or one of the virtualization products to build the slipstream installer disc.

The book also has a section on how to protect your Windows setup from malware and viruses. The steps are few, but nonetheless important: First, apply all Windows updates; second, use a firewall; third, install anti-virus software; and fourth, put in place spyware and ad blocker software. And finally, if you are still operating in the stone age, the author explains how to run Windows—albeit maddeningly slowly — on a Power PC Mac.

I found the book to be very informative and discovered a few tips that were new to me. Much of the information, other than the section on slipstreaming a DVD, could be found on the Internet, but the $10 price tag seems a small price to pay for the wealth of information Joe Kissell has carefully organized and placed at your disposal here.

And, as a bonus, you get coupons for $5 off Parallels Desktop for Mac 4.0 and 10% off VMWare Fusion 2. I recommend looking around the Web though before using the coupons because, at the time of this writing, you could find heavily discounted copies of either program with a simple Google search.

Take Control of Running Windows on a Mac, 3rd ed., by Joe Kissell
167 pages, Released February 18, 2009
5.2 MB download, Adobe PDF format
ISBN: 193367153X
Price: eBook $10; print $21.99

Available at: takecontrolbooks.com