Although I’m now exclusively using Mac hardware I am still “OS merging” – I still need Quickbooks PC accounting software and down the years I’ve picked up a few other PC only applications including Mailwasher Pro and Affmeter Pro which I don’t want to be without so I’m running them using the Parallels Virtual PC software.
Virtual Machines – Better Than The Real Thing?
(If you’re not planning to run any non-Mac software you can safely skip to Mac Life Part 3)
My Atari background offers me a unique insight into the pros and cons of working with Virtual machines compared to the real thing. Atari software ran much faster on both Mac and PC hardware than it ever did on real Atari computers and I’ve run up against all the typical issues which ALL need to be addressed before finally committing to using a virtual machine:
Switching between the guest and host OS
This can involve a complete machine reboot or a keyboard shortcut and everything in-between.
Accessing software from the other OS
Parallels makes it possible to run the host and guest OS in parallel so it doesn’t get much better than this.
Accessing, moving and copying documents and files between the OS’s
You’ll need to find a way of working which makes it easy to access documents and files which need to be available across OS’s and you’re going to have to find what works best for you on a trial and error basis.
My solution is two-fold. I run a local network with shared storage and I use remote cloud services – which I’ll go into in more detail later on.
Hardware compatibility issues
If your software relied on any hardware which isn’t supported or emulated by your Virtual machine you won’t be able to use it. There’s no easy solution to this one.
Problems with peripherals
Printing is the most common area which always throws up unexpected problems.
Keyboard layout handling
The Mac and PC keyboard layouts are different. A few crucial keys are in the “wrong” place or simply missing! Switching to a Mac and continuing to use Windows software is a challenge that requires practice and a measure of perseverance and reference tables.