Can You Install Windows on a Mac Computer

Wondering, can you install Windows on a Mac computer? While Windows and Mac are polar opposites in the operating-system universe, you actually install Windows on a Mac so you get the look of a Mac with Windows capabilities.

Is running Windows on a Mac difficult?
Not at all, as long as your Mac is Intel-based. Two of the most popular programs for combining Windows and Mac are Parallels Desktop and Boot Camp. You can buy Parallels Desktop for a reasonable price, and it runs with Mac OS X Leopard 10.5.2 or later or Mac OS X Tiger 10.4.11 or later. Boot Camp comes with Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard.

What is the difference between Parallels Desktop and Boot Camp?
Parallels Desktop creates a Virtual Machine for Windows, meaning it is more like a video game emulator, and you can run Windows while you are within Mac. Boot Camp lets you choose which operating system you want whenever you start your computer. Your choice will depend on how you plan to use Windows and Mac. If you need to move between Windows and Mac often, then Parallels Desktop may be the better choice.

What do I need before installing Parallels Desktop or Boot Camp?
The requirements for each are similar. Here is how to set up:

  • Obtain a disc with Windows XP or later, plus the product key. The version of Windows you use must have Service Pack 2.
  • For Parallels Desktop, make sure you have at least 15GB available on your hard drive. For Boot Camp, free up at least 10GB of space.
  • Make sure your computer's firmware is up to date.
  • Backup your Mac in case any problems arise with the installation.

How do I install Parallels Desktop?

  • Load the CD into your Mac, and launch the installer.
  • Once the program has been installed, create your virtual machine. Launch the application, and choose "New VM" in the lower-left corner of the screen.
  • A series of prompts will unfold. Choose the option to Create a Typical VM, make the Guest OS Type Windows and the Guest OS Version Windows XP.
  • Name the machine, and let Parallels Desktop create a directory for it. You'll be returned to the Parallels Desktop home screen.
  • Insert your Windows XP disk, and press the Play button to the right of the Parallels Desktop home screen.
  • Parallels Desktop will walk you through the Windows XP installation. Be sure to provide the product key when you are prompted to do so.
  • Windows will reboot. Now, whenever you need to access Windows, you can open Parallels Desktop, and Windows will run within the Parallels Desktop screen.

How do I install Boot Camp?

  • Find Boot Camp Assistant, which is in Applications > Utilities. Enter your administrative password when prompted.
  • Once you click on the Boot Camp Assistant, you will be prompted to burn a drivers CD if you don't already have one.
  • Next, you will be asked to partition your hard drive so that the hard drive is split into a Windows portion and a Mac portion. You can drag a bar to determine how much space Windows gets.
  • After the partitioning, insert the Windows CD in your hard drive.
  • You will be prompted to choose the partition for Windows. Make sure you install Windows on the partition of your hard drive labeled "Boot Camp." Choose FAT as your partition format.
  • Sit back and relax while Windows installs, and enter your product key when prompted to do so.
  • When that's done, insert the drivers CD, and install the drivers.
  • Reboot, hold down the option key and choose which operating system you want to use.

What problems might occur?
Partitioning your hard drive might result in problems. Follow the prompts for each program carefully, and make sure you leave plenty of room for Windows. Think about how often you plan to use Windows, and allot the right amount of space so Windows doesn't always crash.

If want to try Windows but aren't willing to part with your Mac just yet, installing Parallels Desktop or Boot Camp can be the perfect solution. 

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