Madness — Microsoft Windows on My Mac Mini

Microsoft Window XP ThumbnailBe faithful to your lover, not your computer. While I still like my Mac, some radical changes to Apple’s hardware line has me concerned about the future of the Mac. With the removal of the optical drive from the new Mac Mini, disappointments with Mac OS X Lion, the White Macbook going bye-bye and the hardwired MacBook Air RAM, the entry-level Macs have become less attractive to me. That’s why I started wondering about Microsoft Windows.

Today I visited a local Best Buy store. This trip reminded me why I used Windows PCs during the previous decade — it’s cheaper! Oh sure, the MacBook Air is an elegant machine. But to equip it for the work I need, I’d have to spend about $1200. That’s a bit silly when I can get a Windows Laptop for $350 or Netbook for about $250. Are Mac laptops 3-4 times better than a Windows laptop? I don’t think so. Mac OS X and Windows both have advantages. That’s when I started to wonder… why should I choose?

I decided to install Windows XP on my Mac. If Apple continues to make changes that I don’t like, I’ll be ready to go back to Windows. And after checking-in on the Windows scene, I’m surprised at what I saw. Windows XP was released 10 years ago. And yet, new software is still being made for it. I was surprised to see XP listed as the minimum requirement for Star Wars: The Old Republic. That was refreshing to me, as I wasn’t impressed with Mac OS X Lion.

Seriously Apple, “Full Screen Chess” is not a feature. :P

So, I decided to clear the dust off my copy of XP and VMware Fusion. Macs are basically using the same parts as Windows PCs. That makes virtualization a powerful way to access Windows software while running Mac OS X. The result seems like a practical joke.

This is not a trick. It's a window from XP on my Mac desktop. It trivializes the "Mac vs. Windows" debate. I don't have to choose a side when I can run both.

Obviously, optimal performance is not achieved by running two operating systems simultaneously, but this project gave me a new perspective on two arch rivals. It reminded me that I use a Mac for one reason only — iOS development. Without that, I wouldn’t own a Mac right now.

I had fun with Windows. I played a little 3D Pinball, wasted time installing Service Pack updates, smirked at Internet Explorer and reminisced about the games I used to play. Yeah, I think that’s what I miss most about Windows. There are some great games. I think that’s why I like Virtualization. It’s not really fast enough for high-end games, but it is fast enough to get some work done. That’s what I like about my Mac. With software like iWork and Pixelmator, I’m staying productive while saving money. And without the big game library, there are less distractions.

Do I really need another MMORPG?! :lol:

I probably shouldn’t be too grumpy about the new Apple hardware. Because I was underwhelmed with the new offerings, I felt better about my current computer. I don’t have a pressing need to upgrade. That saves me money. One of the nicer things about Macs is that they generally have longer lifespans than their Windows counterparts.

This little project was a great way to remind me of the strengths and weaknesses of both operating systems. Right now, the plan is to hold off on any new computer purchases. Then, when Windows 8 is released, I can decide if I want to switch platforms. I look forward to watching the best platform win.