Using VMWare Fusion to run Windows on a Mac

I just pur­chased a Mac­Book and have the joy of learn­ing a new set of rou­tines and pro­grams, all while recon­fig­ur­ing my ser­vices again. I’ve used Macs in var­i­ous work set­tings but the bulk of my devel­op­ment time has been on Win­dows, most recent­ly XP.

I will rec­om­mend VMWare’s Fusion for oth­er Win­dows users mak­ing the switch. Fusion is an $80 pro­gram that lets you run Win­dows through Mac (you have to pay for a fresh ver­sion of Win­dows, a copy of XP put me back $200 at Sta­ples). Apple has an alter­na­tive called Boot Camp which lets you install Win­dows so you can start up in it when you start your com­put­er. This pre­sum­ably runs faster (there’s no Mac OS over­head while in Win­dows) but Fusion is much more prac­ti­cal since I’m using simul­ta­ne­ous­ly with my Mac pro­grams. The speed is fine, even with lots of Mac pro­grams run­ning. Fusion is also more flex­i­ble about disk space allocations.

I’m quite amazed about what it can do. Netflix’s Watch Now ser­vice is unavail­able for Macs but runs fine through my Fusion-powered Win­dows XP. The Rhap­sody music client also works and I’m lis­ten­ing to music as I’m run­ning my Mac pro­grams. In an amaz­ing feat, I was able to use Rhap­sody to sync songs on my Palm T/X via USB cable. This is Win­dows XP run­ning atop Mac OS X sync­ing dig­i­tal rights managed-protected data with Palm OS over USB. Real­ly amaz­ing that it all worked!

I’m stick­ing with Win­dows XP because of all the night­mare sto­ries I’ve heard about Vista, but also because it uses less mem­o­ry and so will run faster. Also, I know XP very well and don’t real­ly rel­ish the thought of learn­ing a whole new sys­tem in addi­tion to Mac OS. I’m pre­sum­ing that over time I’ll use Win­dows less and less and will just have it for brows­er cross-checking pur­pos­es and to run the occa­sion­al Windows-only soft­ware like Rhap­sody and Net­flix.

  • I’d real­ly like the net­flix fea­ture, but I can’t bear the thought of drop­ping $280 to do it.

  • I would imag­ine there are places where one could obtain a Win­dows ISO file with­out paying…
    I wouldn’t have paid $180 just for Net­flix but for that and Rhap­sody (which I use all the time) and for my past pro­grams and for the abil­i­ty to trou­bleshoot it’s worth it. This lat­ter part is fair­ly essen­tial, as MS Inter­net Explor­er isn’t avail­able for Mac. Since it’s the most pop­u­lar brows­er and the most prone to dis­play improp­er­ly I real­ly do need easy access to a Win­dows machine for testing.
    I guess it’s pos­si­ble that you might be able to use VMWare or Boot Camp to run Lin­ux and then use the Wine­HQ open source Win­dows emu­la­tor to run MSIE. Whether it can be done and whether it would pass Netflix’s ornery DRM pro­tec­tions I can’t say.

  • Hope you’re enjoy­ing your switch to OS X. I did the same thing recent­ly and I also went with VMware Fusion + WinXP, for those times when I need it, which are increas­ing­ly rare.
    I’ve been mean­ing to try it out with Net­flix, which is why I found my way to your post. My iMac runs win­dows bet­ter than my old Dell lap­top did.

  • Mar­tin Kelley

    @wheat: yes, the switch has been great. And Fusion keeps get­ting bet­ter. I recent­ly upped my mem­o­ry to 3gb and have Win­dows run­ning more-or-less full time. I watch a lot of Net­flix, but also need MS Inter­net Explor­er to test brows­er com­pat­i­bil­i­ties and some­times use it just when a site is act­ing screwy. There’s also some good freeware/cheap pro­grams for the Win­dows with­out Mac equiv­a­lents so I pop over to Win­dows for those. I also like run­ning Lin­ux, more to know my way around it than to actu­al­ly use it though.