Well, after listening to Steve Gibson and Leo Laporte’s enthusiastic and favorable review of Parallels Desktop for Mac (in Episode #59: Comparing “Parallels” VMs) I took the plunge this weekend, buying and installing the program. The software itself took less than sixty seconds to install. My installation of WindowsXP from scratch, however, took many, many hours– mainly because the version of WinXP I have is Service Pack 0 (the original version) and there are a mind-boggling number of security patches to download and install. 🙁 I also installed a fair number of freeware/open source programs (including requisite anti-malware apps) as well as Norton AV and MS Office. (Yes, I know I could get by with OpenOffice, but I have a new VBrick EduCast streaming appliance that has a PowerPoint plug-in- and yes, it requires MS PPT.)

An endless litany of Windows XP Updates

The image above shows 62 updates, but that was just one of at least ten different update sessions I had to run.

The great news is, Windows XP runs EXTREMELY FAST on my Intel Core-Duo MacBook, and I’m extremely fired up about this. Unlike the BootCamp solution, which requires rebooting from the Mac OS into WinXP, with Parallels I can dynamically switch in between operating systems on the fly. This is similar to the functionality of Virtual PC, which I was using back in the late 1990s, but it is MUCH faster because it runs at the native speed of the processor cores. Virtual PC is still available for Windows and Macintosh platforms and is free, but it is MUCH slower and less functional than Parallels according to gurus Gibson and Laporte. (See Episode #57: Virtual PC versus VMware)

I don’t anticipate running Windows much in my free time for fun– but I do have opportunities to teach workshops for teachers about Windows-only software programs like PhotoStory 3 from time to time. I have one of these workshops next week, in fact, right here in Edmond where I live. During my workshops on digital storytelling I like to show a lot of examples, and almost all of these are saved in QuickTime format on my MacBook hard drive. By using WinXP via Parallels on the same computer, I won’t have to do any computer switching or moving to teach my workshops even when we are using Windows-based software like PhotoStory.

I did learn tonight that extending / increasing the size of a Windows partition you have created requires more than just running the Parallels “Image Tool” program. Before increasing the size you have to duplicate the partition, set the original up as a second hard drive, boot from the duplicate one, and run some command line instructions to “extend” the size of the virtual HD. If you don’t, WinXP won’t recognize the partition size as having increased. See this thread for more details.

I’m eager to see how this goes next week in an actual workshop. I’ll share a full report afterwards!

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4 Responses to WinXP via Parallels on my MacBook

  1. Sounds great and I will be doing this now with my Macbook, but does the XP install recognise the usb ports, video-out port, firewire, camera/mic?

    I thought I heard something about these not working under an XP / Parrallels install. Something about the WinXP drivers not being available for the Mac hardware. (?)


  2. Jennifer W says:

    Soooo —
    I could have Paint Shop Pro on my new MacBook??? Sweet!!!

    All the other programs — I already bought for my Mac — Office/Dreamweaver —
    but totally MISS Paint Shop Pro.

    How cool is this??
    thanks for the blog post!


  3. Wesley Fryer says:

    Yes, it appears USB devices work fine, but I’ve just tried a Waycom tablet. You can set up the virtual machine in Parallels to autodetect USB devices. I’ll be teaching with a SmartBoard on both the Windows side next week, I expect this should work fine, but I’ll blog afterwards and let you know.

  4. Tim says:

    I did a session on using digital cameras for a group of teachers last week completely in Windows using Parallels. If it wasn’t for the big white Apple on the back of my MacBook Pro, they wouldn’t have known I wasn’t using the standard Dell laptops we buy.

    Windows had no problems seeing the camera through the USB port. We used Irfanview for the image editor (I’ve also used Photoshop Elements in Windows) and PhotoStory and PowerPoint to create presentations.

    What was really nice was that I was able to show the group some of my own pictures that were in iPhoto without having to do anything more than minimizing Parallels and opening up iPhoto.

    Can you tell I’m sold on this software? 🙂

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