Conversely, if you happen to have a fancy new iMac, VMware supports 5K monitors natively. Since virtual machines have to share resources with the host OS, performance is very important.
Thankfully, TekRevue has benchmarked all three programs for a variety of tasks. The current version of VMware outperforms the others in nearly every category, while VirtualBox is way behind its competitors. In 18 different tests, VMware took top honors in 11, most notably in the graphics benchmarks. Performance margins were typically pretty close and as a whole, Parallels tends to do best in CPU-related tests where VMware does best in graphics-related tests.
The general trend of CPU versus graphics runs throughout their tests. Parallels tends to boot faster than VMware, transfer files faster, and saves battery life better than VMware. Beyond that, feature-wise, the two paid options are very similar, and the difference is mainly price and how many Macs you need to install on. All of this changes from year to year, too. Parallels and VMware both require that you buy an annual license every year to get updates that pack in performance gains and feature improvements.
The Best Virtual Machine Software
This is a bit tiresome, especially when they lock out newer versions of Windows behind those paid upgrades. Regardless, the good news here is that while VirtualBox is free, even VMware Fusion and Parallels have trial periods so you can check them all out. You can have any number of guest machines installed. VM companies spend a lot of time tweaking their software so that Windows runs as close to native speed as possible, and the results are impressive.
How much slower is Windows when running on a virtual machine? It depends on the software you choose, and is an important consideration we look at further. While installing virtualization software is no harder than any other app, getting Windows up and running is easier on some platforms than others.
Here are some issues:. Make sure you include that cost in your budgeting calculations. After all, they chose it, and expect it to do everything they need. If that describes you, you may not find any benefit in running virtualization software. Do you fit into any of those categories? Then read on, to discover which virtualization solution is the best fit. Fortunately, the apps that we cover in this roundup have different strengths, and each one is worth considering. So we hand-tested each product, aiming to understand what they offer. Below are the key criteria we looked at when evaluating:.
Does the software run on Mac, Windows or both? We give special consideration to Mac users who want to run Windows, as they may well be one of the biggest groups interested in virtualization. We also give attention to virtualization on Windows, and installing guest operating systems other than Windows.
How easy is it to install Windows and other operating systems using the software? Installing an operating system is a big job, though hopefully not one you need to do regularly. As I already indicated, there is a difference in how easy each app makes this.
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That includes which media you can install Windows from, how smoothly the process goes, and whether the necessary Windows drivers are installed automatically. Some VM apps give you more ways to do this than others.
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Just as important, once the app is running, you want it to be responsive. Not everyone will be willing to spend the same amount of money on virtualization software. A clear and detailed knowledge base with FAQs may answer all of your questions without the need for further support. Similarly, asking questions to the community of users can also be very helpful, such as through an actively moderated forum. Parallels Desktop for Mac is a fast and responsive virtualization application for macOS.
It is designed for the average user, is priced competitively, comes with great support, and makes installing Windows a breeze. Also have a look at our Windows winners—they are strong contenders for Mac users as well. For now, let me highlight a few key features of the full version of Parallels Desktop I really like, and explain why they might be important to you.
This is potentially difficult and time consuming, but not with Parallels. Firstly, they allow me to install Windows from every installation medium, including a flash drive. None of the competitors support installing from flash. After inserting my USB stick and choosing the right option, Parallels did most of the button clicking for me. It asked me to enter my license key, and then I just had to wait for the process to finish. All of the drivers were set up for me as part of the automatic process. Parallels gives you a variety of methods to launch your Windows apps. First, by clicking on the Parallels icon you can launch Windows.
From there, you can launch your Windows apps from the start menu, taskbar, or however you normally launch apps on Windows. You can place them on your dock or search for them in Spotlight. They run them in their own window, so you never need to see the Windows desktop or start menu. It can even place your Windows Desktop icons on your Mac desktop, but having tried this, I prefer not to have quite that much integration, and keep Windows in its place.
Mac and Windows together. No rebooting necessary.
One nice touch is that when you right click on a document or image, Windows apps that can open it are listed right along with your Mac apps. Switching between Mac and Windows was seamless and immediate. Parallels does its best not to slow down your Mac software, too. When not in use, it pauses the virtual machine to reduce the load on your computer. You might like to run macOS on a virtual machine. That can be useful if you want to test a new app without compromising your main machine, or if you have an app that only works on an older version of OS X, say a 16 bit program that is no longer supported.
I also tried Linux. Installing Ubuntu was straightforward. Various distributions of Linux can be installed with a single click. I imagine Parallels have spent their efforts tuning their software to Windows, the operating system most people buy the software to run. Once you have several operating systems installed, launching them and switching between them is very straightforward.
You can run each one in its own window or space. Parallels Fusion Pro is aimed at developers and power users who demand the best performance, and the Business edition includes centralized administration and volume licensing. This is definitely the cheapest way to get Parallels, but at the cost of some features.
Windows on Mac Benchmarked: Boot Camp vs. Parallels vs. Fusion
A day trial is available, and a Windows license is not included. Unlike VMware, Parallels offers free support for their products, which is available via Twitter, chat, Skype, phone Click-to-Call and email for the first 30 days after registering. After that, you can get support via email for up to two years from the product release date. The company also makes it easy for you to find answers to your questions in their online reference materials. Get Parallels Desktop for Mac. The next version, CrossOver Mac 17, is due to be released this autumn and will be built on Wine 2. VirtualBox is the odd duck in this list, in a way.
The best app for running Windows on a Mac
And it has some of the pros and cons of each. VirtualBox can do almost anything the commercial products can do, and the price for the core package is right. It has an extensive list of supported operating systems and enthusiastic online forums.
But compared to the offerings from VMware and Parallels, VirtualBox is less polished and less easy to use. From an enterprise perspective, unless you can devote significant resources to it, you may be better off with one of the other options. Parallels may be the most intuitive and easy-to-use Windows-to-Mac virtualization product. It feels the most Mac-like. Installation of a new VM is easy and quick. A nice touch aimed at cross-platform developers is support for Modern.
IE test environments. Other developer-focused features include a network simulation module that can model degraded or minimal network connectivity scenarios within a VM. Thinkstock, Microsoft, Apple. Current Job Listings. Table of Contents Boot Camp 6. The most relevant question for enterprises is which Windows-on-Mac virtualization options offer: Boot Camp 6.