Virtualization Basics: Windows on Macs
A common reason for running the Windows operating system (OS) on a Mac computer is to bypass compatibility issues. Virtualization is the only way to efficiently install OS-specific software on any machine, so let’s go over some of the ways this solution (virtualization basics) creates synergy between the two platforms.
Configure an entire machine with a few clicks
With programs like VMware and Parallels, installing Microsoft’s OS on your Mac is almost as easy as creating a new document in Office. The process varies between vendors, but it’s usually akin to clicking File and New and then choosing between Windows XP, 7, 8 or 10, and typing in your product key.
Deciding how much hard drive space and RAM get devoted to your virtual machine is also simple and user-friendly. For example, allocating memory to your Windows partition is done by sliding a marker along a scale that is color-coded based on the recommendations of your virtualization software.
Once you’ve completed these simple steps, click Finish and the rest will be configured for you.
When referring to virtualization basics, an important thing to consider is picture-in-picture computing. Older OS virtualization solutions forced you to choose which platform you would use by presenting the options while the computer was still booting up. Once you picked one OS, there was no way to switch without restarting the computer.
Now, you can open Windows as if it were just another desktop application. This is especially useful when you need to work in both OSs simultaneously. Just adjust your Windows screen to half the size of your monitor and use the other half for MacOS applications.
Another reason this is so important is because it allows you to run multiple versions of Windows at the same time. Half of your screen could be running an outdated application in Windows XP while the other half is working in Windows 10.
Another thing to consider from the list of virtualization basics is the touchbar support. The customizable touchscreen that was added to Apple’s flagship laptop line is a great way to create shortcuts and increase productivity. Virtualization applications have added Touch Bar support so you can use it to interact with Windows applications.
For example, a Touch Bar button for opening Cortana — Microsoft’s AI assistant — is included in the Parallels virtualization software. Alternatively, you can also use Apple’s keyboard-based touch screen to toggle between virtual OSs or interact with your Mac while still working in Windows.
Single Application Mode
Containers are a popular subset of virtualization solutions that allow you to give users access to a single application rather than an entire OS. Unfortunately, they are incredibly difficult to set up and manage. Updates to Mac virtualization software have simplified the process with a “Single Application Mode” whereby administrators can grant employees access to pre-configured Windows partitions with only one program installed.
Regardless of whether you’re a certified virtualization professional or a consumer trying to make it work with low-cost software, everyone makes mistakes. With saved configurations of Windows installs known as Snapshots, you can start over without having to set up everything from scratch.
If one of your Windows partitions becomes infected with malware, loading a Snapshot rolls everything back to its original state so you don’t have to configure the virtual hardware or retype the Windows product key. Best of all, restoring a Snapshot is much quicker than a fresh install.
Taking advantage of everything virtualization has to offer involves a lot of IT planning and maintenance. Fortunately, it’s all within reach for small- and medium-sized businesses that partner with a managed IT services provider. Contact us today to learn more.