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I need to load Windows 7 under OS X. These are my Macbook Pro's features:

  • Mac OSX 10.7.2

  • 2.3 GHz Intel Core i5

  • 4 GB 1333 MHz DDR3

Which software would be the most suitable for me, considering that I want to focus on developing .Net Applications.

I know there's VMWare Fusion and Parallels but maybe there's something better or if not, which one would be the best for me? Thanks.

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Recommend you download demos of each and try them out - beyond that, answers to this question are likely to be sheer personal preference. –  Dan J Dec 30 '11 at 19:49
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5 Answers 5

up vote 4 down vote accepted

I'm a Fusion user and have been for a few years now. Fusion 4.x has been a nice upgrade and it's a very stable way to run the latest Windows OSes on OS X. I think you'll be fine with Fusion or Parallels -- both are tested and support Win7. VirtualBox is a nice option, but be prepared to go it alone if you run in to any issues.

None is really better than the other in my opinion. They all have some overlapping features and they all have some features that are unique to the product. Try before you buy if you can.

I will comment on your system: you're going to find things running slow with only 4GB of RAM and a Win7 VM for development work. Visual Studio is a pig and it's running on top of an OS that's not terribly great at memory management. I'd recommend you upgrade that 4GB to 8GB (or more if your model supports it) if you want the best virtualized OS experience.

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A definitive answer about Parallels I like parallels. That is not a "parallels vs Fusion" statement. It works fine, I've not run into any problems.

  • "Early 2011" MacBook Pro with OS 10.7.3, 8GB memory
  • Parallels 6
  • Windows 7 64 bit, VisualStudio 2010 with CodeRush
  • Other coding tools as desired.

Points to Ponder

  • 4GB of memory simply is not enough

  • Given Parallels 6, version 7 is not a worthwhile upgrade from what I gather.

  • Giving the Virtual Machine half the CPUs and 2GB memory seems to be a nice compromise with OS X.

  • The different "view modes" are nice. You can make Win apps look like any other mac apps on the dock. That was creepy for this diehard Mac fan, but it's a nice workflow as I keep the windoze vm running and jump back & forth a lot.

  • General integration with OS X is nice. I use a single downloads folder for all my windoze & mac browsers. I generally keep all my documents and .NET code projects in my Mac folder structure and I configured the VM's C: drive kinda small.

Virtual Box Cheap - like free. I use this on my PC at work. It's OK. It works; nothing to rave about. It's actively kept updated. Don't have experience with the Mac version. Nonetheless parallels OS integration and active support makes the cost worth it for me.

Performance

  • Dump the CD ROM player and get 2 internal drives, make your boot drive an SSD.

  • Running the virtual machine on an SSD is a game changer. I cold boot my mac and I'm running VS2010 in about 30 seconds. It is freaky fast.

  • SSD notwithstanding, you really do no want to run the VM from an external drive. On my work PC, the VM is on an external drive. Yuk.

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You might test Virtualbox https://www.virtualbox.org/ (it's working on osX and emulate Windows 7) it's free.

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I am unfamiliar with Parallels, but I have tried both VirtualBox and VMware Fusion. I have been using VMWare Fusion for well over a year now with no problems. One of the features of Fusion that I find quite useful is Shared Folders, which I discussed on this Ask Different answer.

Having said all of that, to really get the most out of your hardware when using Windows, running it natively via Boot Camp is hard to beat. I talk about this on this Ask Different answer. In short, if you are using VMware Fusion, I would recommend upgrading your system to 8 GB of RAM. While it is not impossible to get by with just 4 GB, having twice the RAM makes a noticeable difference when using something like Visual Studio 2010.

Hope this helps.

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There's also VirtualBox which is free. It's not quite as polished as Parallels and I haven't tried Fusion, but give it a try and see if it's good enough for you.

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