I'm interested in knowing why one would run Windows on a Mac. I may be required by my school to do so, and I'm curious about potential reasons.

So, what are some of the reasons to run Windows on your Mac?

8 Answers 8

  1. Games
  2. Internet Explorer: If you are a web developer and want to test your website in IE (which you have to).
    Also some corporate intranet applications work only on IE(6/7/8 compatibility mode).
  3. Microsoft Office: Yes, there is a version for the Mac, but some prefer the Windows version (I remember reading sometime before somewhere, (unable to find the link) that the Windows version is better). Also, people like me who have a Windows PC (my wife's) and a Macbook Pro at home, I can buy one Office Home and Student edition (it comes with licence for 3 installs) and use it on both.
  4. Learning Windows specific technology. For instance I want to learn C#. C# is best learnt in Microsoft Visual Studio (IMHO).
  5. Games
  6. Games
  7. Games

There was something else too... oh yeah, games.

  • 3
    And you must add to your Microsoft office explanation that Mac version didn't support rtl languages right.
    – Am1rr3zA
    Feb 12, 2011 at 19:39
  • 1
    I feel it's necessary to point out that thanks to the App Store in 10.6.6 and Steam, the "Games! Games! Games!" line is shrinking. My 2¢... Feb 12, 2011 at 22:52
  • 1
    @VxJasonxV it depends. I own 84 Games on Steam, of which 8 are Mac Compatible. Feb 13, 2011 at 2:02
  • I said is shrinking, not "is gone". I have 17 Mac Steam Titles of ~40 purchases. Feb 14, 2011 at 0:47
  • concerning MS OFfice: I don't know about the newest versions (I still have Office:mac 2004), but in former versions the Mac version had some features that the Windows version did not have, BUT it also lacked features of the windows version. As I often used Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) to automate tasks in MS Office, I had problems with the mac version, as there was less support in the programming IDE (no "intellisense" code completion, etc...) Apr 24, 2011 at 9:09

Developing and running .Net applications.

And, no, Mono is not a viable alternative, and likely will never be while MS keeps extending .Net.

  • +1 Pragmative view. And a straight forward true reality. Mar 24, 2012 at 23:52

As a professional software developer, I often use various versions of Windows inside VMWare on a Mac. Reasons include:

  • It's easy to back up the virtual machine, so if it gets malware, I can just snuff and restore it.
  • If I need to run a Windows program or utility, it can be a lot quicker to start up one of my virtual machines on an already-running Mac than to start a physical Windows computer
  • All of my non-Mac Intel machines are usually already doing something useful running Linux, so I'd have to bring one of those down to run Windows on a physical box.
  • Most of my Windows software development is maintenance of legacy code from many years ago, and coding/running/testing it in a virtual machine is often faster than the hardware it was originally developed on.

Also, Intel Macs simply are very high-quality Windows machines- Apple's quality control is the best in the industry. Also, Boot Camp doesn't use the stock drivers from NVidia and so on; Apple has their own team that writes Windows drivers custom-tuned for their specific hardware, and they're really great.

How great?

  • When Apple first started shipping Intel-based MacBooks and MacBook Pros, a lot of Windows magazines had articles like, "The best Windows laptop you can buy is a Mac"
  • My wife and a friend are gamers, and my wife's MacBook Pro runs rings around his custom Windows gaming laptop
  • When my wife's desktop gaming rig croaked recently, she almost got a Mac Pro to replace it
  • what reason did she give for not upgrading the croaked desktop gaming rig to a Mac Pro? (last item)
    – DevSolo
    Apr 14, 2011 at 12:28
  • @DevSolo: She's a programmer too, and her gaming rig is a desktop machine hooked up to the TV in the living room. She decided if she was going to get a new Mac Pro, she'd rather use it in her home office for development, and for the living room picked a cheaper HP box with fewer CPU cores but a kickin' GPU. "Which should I go for... faster compiles, or more fps on Fallout..." She, of course, went for the geekier choice. One of the many reasons I love her.
    – Bob Murphy
    Apr 15, 2011 at 17:40
  • +1 "Intel Macs simply are very high-quality Windows machines- Apple's quality control is the best in the industry" - certainly from the physical perspective: lovely light solid aluminium body. Easy to clean, doesn't look warn or age, doesn't creak. Quiet machines, barely noticeable hard disk usage or fan. With thunderbolt, quad-core on the latest to consider too. USB3 capability available via Caldigit's ExpressCard 34 too. Mar 24, 2012 at 23:58

the main reason might be compatibility:

There is a lot of software for MacOS X and you can do nearly everything with a Mac and there is software which is even unique on MacOS X.

On the other hand, there is "standard" software for Windows in some areas e. g.

  • in engineering
    • CAD
    • CAE and
    • simulation software

which does not exist afaik for MacOS X. Converting and exchange with Mac-based applications might be possible, but for such complex data formats like 3D CAD data there is always some (or much) "loss" by converting from one format to another, so it's sometimes the best if everyone uses the same software and maybe even the same version.

If somebody needs to be compatible to such a software, MacOS X might be only the second (or even 3rd) choice (as UNIX or Linux might be more "compatible"), unfortunately.


First of all, I would investigate the reasons behind your school asking you to use Windows. It may just be that they're unaware that a lot of Mac software can handle 'Windows files' such as .doc, .xls, .zip (!). Indeed, there's a ton of open source software such as OpenOffice that works equally well on both platforms.

The reasons I have to boot into Windows (using Boot Camp):

  1. To use Windows itself, for learning or understanding the new features.
  2. Software that just has no Mac or online equivalent. There are very few of these but if you've been using a legacy application such as QuickBooks account software for 5 years, it's hard to move away.
  3. Internet Explorer, to see its' different behaviour.
  4. Games
  5. Weird hardware devices where there's no Mac drivers available. Usually, this is a sign of a poor design decision, but there are some obscure bits of hardware that can be manipulated by Windows by not by Mac.

At work, it's usually because the company has some application, maybe in-house developed or maybe bulk licensed, that's Windows only. Or the company uses some web service that is only certified to run on MSIE, not Safari (et.al.)


One company I was visited solved this problem neither by running Windows on their Macs, nor by providing everybody with a Windows PC, but by running virtual instances of Windows PCs (somewhere in the server room or cloud?), and using Remote Desktop apps on Macs and Linux desktops to view the Windows desktops and/or run Windows apps. (It may have been either a VMWare or Citrix infrastructure on the back end.)


Microsoft OneNote - It's not in the Mac Office suite.


Work VPN, aventail, not supported on Mac by IT department (even though it sort-of works on a mac...getting IT to do even basic troubleshooting impossible...frustrating as heck)

Also .NOT (sorry, .NET) corporate applications, and communication with the Windows drones.

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