Apple Makes Windows 10 Available on Macs

Going to Boot Camp.

David Hastilow / Moment Mobile

I love Microsoft Windows. I also love Macs. In my career as a technology reporter and editor, I've used both extensively, and enjoy using both. They each have their strengths and weaknesses; the key is knowing when to use each.

The Mac vs. PC wars are legendary -- people often felt that they had to take sides, and liking one meant that you had to hate the other. "PCs are insecure and unreliable!" screamed the Mac folks.

"Macs are insanely expensive and you can't play games on them!" responded the wild-eyed PC crowd. In reality, there's some truth in both statements, but that doesn't mean that one type of computer is better than another. It means they're different is all.

This, of course, is a  Microsoft Windows site. About.com also has a terrific Mac site, with a great Guide in Tom Nelson. Tom and I don't waste our time trashing PCs or Macs; we try to help you get the most out of both. And one of the very cool things about Macs is that you can run Windows on it. It's through a Mac technology called Boot Camp, and now Boot Camp can handle Microsoft's next-generation operating system, Windows 10.

Go Native

Apple has released a new document discussing this. Basically, Boot Camp allows you to start up your Mac into either a Windows 10 environment or an OS X (the Mac operating system) environment. The major advantage of this approach is that you'll be running Windows 10 natively, meaning that you won't experience any performance issues.

That's different from another way to running Windows on Mac, which you may be familiar with. In this other approach, called virtualization, a copy of Windows (it can be any version of Windows) runs on top of OS X. Essentially, what happens is that the virtualization software fools Windows into thinking that it's running on a PC instead of a Mac.

A Virtual Solution

The two main types of software that do this virtualization are Parallels and VMware Fusion. A check of their websites indicates that neither product appears to have support for Windows 10 yet, although I'd expect them both to support it soon. There's also a free product called VirtualBox that does the same thing as the commercial products, but doesn't do everything the other guys do.

At present, then, you can't run Windows 10 on top of the Mac OS. But you can install Windows 10 in the Boot Camp configuration. One thing to remember is that if you already have a copy of Windows 7 or Windows 8, Windows 10 is a free upgrade, so if you already use Boot Camp for Windows, you should be able to upgrade to Windows 10 for nothing. (It's a bit different for 32-bit versions of Windows. Apple has information on that in the document referenced earlier. This article can help you determine if your copy of Windows is 32- or 64-bit.)

Pluses and Minuses

What are the advantages and disadvantages of running Windows 10 on top of OS X vs. running it in Boot Camp? The main benefits of using Windows 10 in Boot Camp are speedy startups and great performance. So if you want to run heavy-duty programs like first-person shooter games or video editing software, using Windows 10 in Boot Camp is your best bet.

It also doesn't cost anything (except the cost of buying a new copy of Windows 10, if you don't own a pre-existing version of Windows).

The advantages of using virtualization software to run Windows 10 on top of OS X are that you're still in the Mac environment (inside a container called a virtual machine), so you can switch back and forth between programs if you want. For many people, this is the preferred way to do it, because they'll need features of both operating systems, and powering down the computer and restarting it into the different OS just isn't efficient or practical. It also costs money, if you want to use the commercial virtualization programs, and will cost even more if you have to buy a copy of Windows 10 to run within the program.

You've Got Choices

For what it's worth, I typically use Windows in a virtual machine on a Mac. Both Parallels and VMware Fusion work very well for this, allowing you to tune how you want Windows to appear and work with Mac's OS X. Either way you decide to go, it's good to know that Windows works well on Macs, and especially exciting to know that you can now use Windows 10 on it.

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