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A Review of Apple's Boot Camp Beta and Parallels Workstation Beta

For Intel-powered, Duo Core Macs
by Joshua Byers

Updated July 12, 2006

Joshua Byers, a PC technician, likes the Intel-powered Mac as a Windows platform, using either Boot Camp or Parallels Workstation 2.1 Beta2 for Mac OS X (now called Parallels Desktop). He installed both beta versions on his machine. Here is his review of both. Joshua identifies the issues and some ways to work around some of them.

NOTE: this review was written before Parallels Desktop was officially released. For information about the current features in Parallels, see our Parallels Tips and Reports page.

The review:

Other MacWindows virtual machine pages:

Intel Macs:

PowerPC Macs:

By Joshua Byers

I have Win XP SP2 Pro retail running on a dual-core 2.0 GHz, MacBook Pro (2 GB of RAM, 100 GB 7200 RPM) using both Boot Camp and Parallels Workstation 2.1 b2.

I'm thrilled with the performance with each.

While installing office, booted with Boot Camp, I was surfing and downloading with absolutely no noticeable performance hit.  The machine feels MUCH faster than my 2000+ AMD system.  Office took very little time to install compared with other PCs I've installed it on (Which is many because I work PC support at my university)

Note about obtaining max speed: In order to get it you must go to Power Options in the Control Panel and select Always On.

With 2.0 gigs of RAM installed XP reported only 1.98 Gb.  Why there is this discrepancy I am not sure.  Maybe Apple is using some RAM for BIOS emulation, hard to say.


The easy of installation is incredible for Boot Camp and for Parallels.

I reinstall Win XP on a daily basis for customer machines where I work.  I've installed Windows on any machine type you can think of. From Pentium IIs to PIVs, AMDs, in Compaqs, Dells, Sony's, HPs, Gateways, home jobs, the works. I point this out to suggest I have some authority on the matter when I say this is the EASIEST Windows install I've ever done.

Once Windows is installed, you insert the Mac driver for XP CD that Boot Camp has you burn and you're off to the races. It automatically installs ALL the drivers you need, even the 3D accelerator drivers for that X1600.  There are a few clicks of Continue Anyway due to non-Microsoft certified drivers, but other than that, its almost totally automated.

There is no hunting for every driver for every device on the system from the manufacturer’s website like dell does and virtually every other PC manufacture under the Sun (except Sony with Download Taxi). Apple did a very good job with the driver installation. I wonder how Apple can make a better driver install in BETA form for a competitor’s OS than the competitor can make for any system their OS is designed to run on.

Also, while booted into Boot Camp, document and folder windows (not the OS) slide around the screen like butter.

Windows XP activation with Both Boot Camp and Parallels on One Mac

Activation worked fine with Boot Camp for a licensed copy of XP that had not been previously activated on any PC. But once I rebooted into OS X to install Windows again using Parallels the activation failed with the same Product Key. A quick call to I Microsoft solved the problem. I explained to the tech it was the same machine, just two different “ways” of installing it, and but that didn’t seem to compute.  She asked if it was installed on the same machine as if to suggest to me that is all she wanted to hear was that it was the same machine. I think the key phrase to use is, “reinstalling” on the same machine. She then gave me the confirmation number and I was off to the races. So far as I can imagine this is perfectly legal in the US, but I’m no lawyer.

Issues with Boot Camp Beta:

[NOTE: there is a Windows utility that fixes Boot Camp's lack of right click.]

I anticipate Apple solving a lot or all of these issues in beta 2

Issues with Parallels Workstation Beta

Ctrl Click in Parallels does work for a right click, unlike Boot Camp.

Boot Camp Beta vs. Parallels Beta

 Overall I’d say Parallels Workstation is the way to go if you have the RAM for it and do not want to game.  The speed in Parallels was astonishing--not simply astonishing for being inside a virtual environment, but astonishing for a real physical PC. The company claims 90 percent of native performance and initial (unscientific) usage suggests they are not lying. The windows do not move around as smooth as being booted into Boot Camp. In Boot Camp, Windows move around almost as smooth as they do inside Mac OS X. In Parallels, the window movement feels like any old plain-Jane PC with Windows. 

The ability to run the two operating systems simultaneously puts Parallels out ahead of Boot Camp in my opinion for most common usages. Parallels is there when u need Windows, and gone in a flash. The same is not true with Boot Camp.  Two OS boots are required to switch back and forth and transferring data between the two is a pain. 

As it stands right now, you’d need two Windows installations for optimal setup, one in Parallels for normal use, and one with Boot Camp for gaming/performance intensive tasks that may require all your RAM like Photoshop (NOTE: You can run Photoshop in Windows--it’s native!). Two Windows installations means wasted drive space and no sync between them.

Still, Windows XP runs “insanely great” on the MacBook Pro, better than any authentic PC I’ve used.  Its fast, stable, and best of all can be run inside OS X with Parallels Workstation.  I highly recommend this machine to anyone.

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