I’ve really enjoyed having my Intel-based MacBook Pro this last year or so — while it’s a bit of a quirky machine and runs hotter than the sun, it’s probably my favorite laptop I’ve ever had. One of the great things about it is virtualization — the ability to run other operating systems as guest processes while still working in OSX.
Why do I care? Well, maybe 4 reasons:
1) Quicken — Quicken for Windows is significantly more feature-rich and less crashy than Quicken for OS X. I’ve gone back and forth on this one, have used Quicken in both environments a bunch, and just can’t get happy with the OS X version. It’s made a bigger problem lately by the lack of a Universal Binary, which means that it’s running emulated (sloooooowwwww), and I find my machine running extra-strangely when Rosetta (the emulation layer) is running. (Apple, if you can release even a marginal spreadsheet tomorrow as part of iWork 07, my life will be a lot better. I know I’ll still need Excel & Word from time to time, but not nearly as much. Hmm. Maybe I’ll post about that in another note.)
2) Firefox — As Firefox is pretty much my bread and butter, and we run on (more than) Windows, Linux, and OS X, it’s great to be able to flip over to Windows or Ubuntu or whatever to see how it works, test out issues that get reported by partners, that sort of thing.
3) Other new stuff — Less frequent than previously, but every once in a while, something comes out that only runs on Windows. The Venice Project is a good example (that I’m going to experiment with and hopefully blog about later this week).
4) Remembering what Windows is like, and playing around with Vista — as much as I like my current OS X operating environment (and I do, a lot — it works the best of any system that I’ve ever used, really), it’s important to remember that most of the world doesn’t have the same experience (for lots of reasons, not just OS X). So I like periodically living in Windows XP or Vista for a bit of time so that I don’t lose my muscle memory. Also interesting to play around with Ubuntu and notice what great strides they’re making in terms of getting Linux to “just work” in lots of different cases.
I’ve been using Parallels for about 6 months now, and it works incredibly well. The team has built a program which gets better by the month, it seems. It’s my virtualization of choice at the moment. I think the coherence feature is pretty bogus, even though the blogosphere is all excited about it. I find that in practice, it just doesn’t work all that well. I will say that as good as Parallels is, and it’s great, my machine always acts a little strangely when it’s running.
VMWare Fusion, which is only a debug build at this point, is what I expect to start using eventually. It’s very slow now — because of the debug status — but is a lot better behaved, lives better next to other applications, stays where you expect it. I’m pretty sure this will be the winner.
Crossver is, basically, unusable. Slooooooooowwww. And not really right. Neat that they can make it work. But when applications run, they make a lot of assumptions about the OS & shell environment that they’re in — and if you don’t have the whole package there to support it, there will always be weird gaps, no matter how much you implement.
And boot camp is good, too, but I just don’t reboot my machine frequently enough for it to be practical.
Anyway, for the moment, it’s Parallels, but I’m betting on VMWare before the summer.