Over the years, I’ve tested various software programs that allow me to run Windows on a Mac. My first encounter occurred more than 15 years ago for a client who hired me to run Windows 3.1 applications on her Mac using SoftWindows. In those days, running Windows in conjunction with the Mac OS was often an exercise in futility and frustration. Even later products like Connectix’s Virtual PC (now owned by Microsoft) suffered from sluggish system behavior and compatibility issues when running Windows apps.
Quantum advancements in hardware design and technology coupled with Apple’s adoption of the Intel processor has made it possible for software vendors to produce Mac programs like VMware Fusion and Parallels that run foreign operating systems like Windows at near-native speeds.
I recently registered with Microsoft to beta-test Windows 7, the expected successor to Windows Vista. The reason Microsoft has chosen to introduce another operating system when the current offering has been on the market for a relatively short time is open to debate and speculation. I have been getting along just fine using Windows XP Professional and have avoided upgrading to Windows Vista due, primarily, to my dislike of its user interface.
Windows 7 beta testers are given the option to download the 32- or 64-bit version of the OS. I chose the 64-bit version that weighed in at 3.15 gb and took many, many hours to download. I opted for the latter to take full advantage of the 64-bit architecture of the Mac. I burned the installer onto a blank DVD and selected Fusion to run my virtual machine. It turned out that I didn’t need to burn a disc, as I was able to begin the installation process in Fusion using the .iso installer as my boot media.
Installation took about an hour and was problem-free except for a nagging screen message that the OS wasn’t protected by anti-virus software.
Fusion offered to help by offering to install a complimentary, 12-month subscription to McAfee VirusScan 2008, but that gift proved to be an illusion, as it was accompanied by a subsequent warning that VirusScan was incompatible with the installed version of Windows.
I finally dismissed the anti-virus warnings by installing the free version of AVG Anti-Virus 8.
I noticed that Windows 7 is quick to boot up and responds to mouse and keyboard commands instantaneously. Sharing Mac folders over the network is simple and straightforward.
During system boot, I encountered a persistent bug that causes the Windows 7 logo to disintegrate into small fragments on the splash screen.
Once booting completes and displays the Windows logon screen, the display artifacts disappear.
I suspect that the logo behavior is due to a Windows 7 conflict with the default graphics driver provided by Fusion.
As a virtual machine running under Fusion, the Windows 7 beta takes up a little more than 8 gb of disc space. Because my Mac boot drive has less than 20% free space remaining, I don’t plan on installing and testing any of my major applications in Windows 7.
The Windows 7 beta program expires in August.