Mac vs Windows Part 2
In the debate between Windows and Mac operating systems, each has certain advantages over the other – I reviewed the primary differences a couple of weeks ago (see article here). For some users, running Windows on a Mac or OSX on a PC allows for the best of both worlds.
Most Mac lovers will tell you that Apple makes reliable hardware, but there’s no denying that compatibility with 3rd party software designed for Windows can pose a challenge. One way to work around this is to establish a dual boot on an Apple computer using Apple’s Bootcamp software which comes preinstalled on OSX. Find a walkthrough here.
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Setting up a dual boot requires that you partition your hard drive into three sections: one to run Windows, one to run OSX and another for your data. Upon starting your system you’ll select which operating system to launch dependent on the task you need to perform. You maintain access to your data when utilizing either OS. The primary challenge is that if you launch one OS and then need to utilize a program on the other partition, you’ll need to restart your computer and boot to the other partition.
Mac users that share files with Windows PCs will find dual boot to be particularly handy. Even programs that have Mac versions, such as Microsoft Office for Mac, often encounter cross-platform compatibility issues, particularly with formatting and appearance. Whether it be fonts that don’t carry over or spacing that becomes distorted, when you need to produce a document, spreadsheet or presentation for a Windows user it’s best to use a Windows OS.
There are also programs and applications (particularly games or less mainstream software) that don’t offer Mac versions. Establishing a dual boot will allow you to run just about any program, even if it’s Mac or Windows-only.
Some users prefer to use a software application such as Parallels to establish a “virtual machine” to run Windows within OSX. The advantages are that it allows you to run Windows and OSX simultaneously and it doesn’t require partitioning your drive – the Windows installation is stored in a file on your current drive and Windows launches in its own window on your normal desktop. This works great for running an occasional, resource-light Windows-only program, but since your system has to run both operating systems simultaneously it’s not a good option for running resource-heavy programs (like PhotoShop or games). Unless your system has a lot of RAM, running a “virtualization” is likely to lead to sluggish performance.
For those that want to run OSX on non-Apple hardware, the process is more challenging. It requires building your own PC with specific hardware, also known as a “Hackintosh.”
There are certainly advantages: OSX is less susceptible to malware and has some great software applications that are not compatible with Windows. Standard PCs offer more hardware flexibility than Macs, allowing you to upgrade certain capabilities (such as graphics processing in order to play high-resolution games) and PCs are typically less expensive.
On the other hand, building a “Hackintosh” may be more than the average user should take on. After selecting specific hardware and building your own PC, you’ll have to format drives and configure BIOS before installing the OS. Once complete, Apple won’t support your custom machine so you’ll be reliant on online forums and trial and error troubleshooting if you run into problems.
Lifehacker maintains an up-to-date guide for creating a “Hackintosh” wherein they walk you through what hardware to buy and the steps to follow for building your own machine and installing OS X.