Boot Camp and Parallels Desktop

Boot Camp and Parallels Desktop are different approaches to the ability to run Windows apps on your Mac.

Microsoft Windows icon 3DBoot Camp
Boot Camp is Apple’s in-house solution. It runs Windows at native speed, meaning it completely takes over the Mac and turns it into a full-blown Windows computer. Windows applications have full access to multiple processors and multiple cores, accelerated 3D graphics, and high-speed ports and networking such as USB, FireWire, Wi-Fi, AirPort, and Gigabit Ethernet as well as drivers for audio and Bluetooth. The Boot Camp support software for Windows that lets you use these features can be downloaded from Apple. If you’re using Mac OS X v10.5 or Mac OS X v10.6, the Boot Camp support software is on the Mac OS X installation DVD. After the installation of Windows is complete and you insert your installation flash drive or disc containing the Boot Camp support software (while booted in Windows), it is automatically installed on your Mac.

Boot Camp supports Microsoft Windows XP with Service Pack 2, Windows Vista, or Windows 7 (requires Mac OS X v10.6 or later and Boot Camp 3.1 or later). For more details, see Boot Camp: System requirements for Microsoft Windows. For information about using 64-bit editions of Windows Vista or Windows 7, see Boot Camp: Macs that work with 64-bit editions of Microsoft Windows Vista and Windows 7.

Boot Camp Assistant creates a partition just for Windows without erasing your existing Mac OS X volume.

After installation, you select whether to boot into Windows or OS X by holding the Option (Alt) key at start up. Or, use the Startup Disk control panel in Windows (installed with Boot Camp support software) or the Mac OS X Startup Disk preferences to set the default operating system to use each time the computer starts up.

Boot Camp is a free download, but requires a licensed copy of Windows. And, as mentioned above, you must restart your Mac to change from one operating system to the other.

Parallels DesktopParallels logo
Parallels Desktop takes a decidedly different approach. It allows you to seamlessly run Mac and Windows applications side by side, using virtual machine technology. Unlike Boot Camp, you don’t need to partition your hard drive, and you don’t need to reboot to change from one operating system to the other.

Drag and drop files between Windows and Mac applications, and launch Windows applications from your Mac dock.

Hardware Requirements for Parallels Desktop 8

  • A Mac computer with an Intel Core 2 Duo, Core i3, Core i5, Core i7, or Xeon processor (Core Solo and Core Duo processors are no longer supported)
  • Minimum 2 GB of memory (4 GB of memory is recommended to run Windows 7 in a virtual machine or if your host OS is Lion)
  • About 700 MB of disk space on the boot volume (Macintosh HD) for Parallels Desktop installation
  • About 15 GB of disk space for each virtual machine

Software Requirements for Parallels Desktop 8

  • Mac OS X Mountain Lion 10.8
  • Mac OS X Lion 10.7.4 or later
  • Mac OS X Snow Leopard 10.6.8 or later

Which one should I choose?
If you want maximum performance, or plan to run Windows apps exclusively for prolonged periods of time, Boot Camp is a better choice. Also, Boot Camp is a free utility, downloadable from Apple’s site. Parallels Desktop is a commercial application, and must be purchased separately. But if you want the convenience of running Windows apps side by side with Mac apps, or if you only plan to use Windows apps once in a while, Parallels Desktop is the better choice.

I’d rather have someone install and configure either one for me. Does Connecting Point do that?
Yes, we do. Read on:

  • Let us install and configure Boot Camp on your Mac. Connecting Point SERVICE (an Apple Authorized Service Provider) will set up your Mac to give you the choice of booting up in Mac OS X or Microsoft Windows. (Requires purchase of compatible version of Windows, sold separately.) $99.99
  • Let us integrate everything from your old PC to a new Mac. Connecting Point SERVICE (an Apple Authorized Service Provider) will move the entire contents of your Windows PC to a Parallels Desktop virtual machine on a new Apple Macintosh’s hard drive. This transfer includes the migration of all compatible applications, as well as all compatible photos, contacts, emails, and music files. Price includes the Parallels Desktop app, as well as all operating system updates on both the Mac and the Windows virtual machine. (Customer must have or purchase a second Windows license to maintain Windows on both the old PC and the new Mac.)  $199.99
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