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First Look: CrossOver Mac, Windows virtualization

updated 04:30 pm EDT, Thu June 19, 2008

First Look: CrossOver Mac

No matter how much you may love your Mac, there may still be programs that you may need to run on Windows. The simplest solution is to buy a copy of Windows to use on Boot Camp, Parallels, or VMware's Fusion. Unfortunately, Boot Camp only lets you run either Windows or Mac OS X, but not both at the same time. Parallels and Fusion let you run Windows at the same time as Mac OS X, but all three solutions still force you to buy a separate copy of Windows. To avoid the cost and hassle of buying and using Windows, just get CrossOver Mac 7.0.

The idea behind this program is to run a Windows program without buying or using Windows. Essentially, this app tricks a Windows program into thinking it's running on Windows when it's really running on Mac OS X.

After installing and running this program, you just need to insert a Windows CD/DVD into your Mac. Now you have a choice. If the disc contains a Mac program, then let Mac OS X take control of the disc. If the disc contains a Windows program, then CrossOver Mac can take control and install the software.

Unlike programs such as Parallels and Fusion, which create a virtual machine file that mimics an actual computer, CrossOver Mac creates separate files called "bottles," where a single bottle mimics a particular version of Windows. This allows you to install a program in an optimum version of Windows, such as Office 97 in Windows 98, or Office 2007 under XP.



Effectively, bottles allow you to run many Windows programs on your Mac without the fear of any of them interfering. Since each bottle gets stored as a single file on your hard disk, you can also easily make backup copies of each one, or copy them to run on another Mac running CrossOver.



To run a Windows program, you just launch Crossover Mac to reach its opening screen. From this interface, the CrossOver Applications link displays all your installed Windows software.



By double-clicking on an installed Windows app, you'll load the bottle that contains it, and see it presented inside an ordinary Mac OS X window.



Sharing data between Mac and Windows programs is as simple as copying and pasting it from one program to the other, or vice versa. Every Windows app can also save a file directly to your hard disk through its normal Save dialog box.



When running a Windows program, its icon appears in the Dock like any of its Mac peers. Clicking on the icon switches you to the app, and you can also save the icon in the Dock for fast access.


Windows programs appear in the Dock as a regular icon


While CrossOver provides the ability to run Windows software on a Mac without running or buying a copy of Windows, do be aware that it doesn't work with every Windows title. The
CrossOver website lists all Windows software tested and verified to run properly.

Ratings for programs range from Gold (the most compatible) through Silver, Bronze, Honorable Mention, Untested and Known Not to Work. The most popular programs -- such as Office 2007, Quicken 2002 and Photoshop CS2 -- tend to run flawlessly, but other apps have more limited compatibility, falling between minor glitches and certain features not working at all. If you want to run a Windows title that hasn't been tested yet, it's best to download a trial version of CrossOver and test your Windows library to make sure it performs smoothly.

Because of this limited support, CrossOver can only meet the needs of a smaller audience, specifically those who want to run the most established Windows programs. For $39.95 though, this program is far less expensive than buying a separate copy of Windows, and if it does support your library, you'll find it's far more convenient than competing solutions. CrossOver Mac 7.0 is definitely worth a look for anyone who needs to run Windows software on their Mac, even if it can't perform miracles.




by MacNN Staff

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Comments

  1. flur

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +1

    WINE

    nuff said.

  1. bredlo

    Joined: Dec 1969

    -6

    Day late, dollar short

    This would've been useful info last week, before I bought Fusion. : (

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969

    -7

    technically

    doesn't a bottle actually emulate a windows API for a version of Windows, not an actual windows installation (since no windows is needed)?

    And a whole 13 applications with a Gold rating (man, if you've just gots to run Office 2000, you're set!). Another 20-30 are Silver. Not exactly setting the world on fire.

  1. Guest

    Joined: Dec 1969

    -8

    Finally!

    Yay! Mac users can finally run Photoshop Cs 2 and Office 2007. What a useful piece of software.

  1. resuna

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +3

    "fooling"?

    There's no "fooling" going on, this is a Windows emulator at the API/library level instead of running Windows under a virtual machine or CPU emulator.

  1. jwblase

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +1

    Wine-O

    All this seems to be is an optimized version of WINE . I wonder how much of the $39.95 goes back into WINE development?

  1. jwblase

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Wine-O

    All this seems to be is an optimized version of WINE . I wonder how much of the $39.95 goes back into WINE development?

  1. ward m

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    CrossOver Mac with Rhino

    Anybody try running Rhino3d 4.0 in CrossOver Mac in Leopard (10.5.3) ?

    It's the only reason I have to keep Windows around... and I would dearly love to throw that pesky Windows monkey under a bus.

  1. oobie

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +5

    Try it before you bag it

    Two things that are good to know with Crossover:

    1. You can download the trial and be testing your chosen Windows apps in about 15 mins. And remember, the buying and installing of Windows is not the only thing you're being spared here, there's all the other c*** eg. anit-virus that come into the investment in time and money as well. You're saving big time here.

    2. If you want to run Windows games, yes Boot Camp is best of course but I trialled crossover specifically for a PC game I love and it runs great. Fusion and Parallels are not up to it. I run my PC game online in 1920 x 1200 and it is silky smooth. I do miss out on a the very high end effects that I would get from running it natively in Windows but it's pretty close and frame rate is paramount for online play.

    Even if your app isn't rated in the compatability chart (mine certainly wasn't), give it a go, you've got nothing to lose.

    I'm very impressed.

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