Mac OS X: Virtual Machine vs. Boot Camp

Mac OS X: Virtual Machine vs. Boot Camp - My sister-in-law just handed me her brand new, shiny black Apple Macbook; the one with a 2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 1GB memory and 160GB hard drive. Like majority of new Mac owners, she wants to run Windows applications on it.

I have two options to help her out. One is to install Windows using a desktop virtualization software like Parallels, VirtualBox, or VMWare Fusion. The other is through Apple’s Boot Camp.

Now which method did I like better?

Before I'll answer that, let me give you a brief overview of Virtual Machine and Boot Camp:

In computer science, a virtual machine (VM) is a software implementation of a machine (computer) that executes programs like a real machine. It is considered as one of the distinct classes of desktop virtualization. Virtual machine technology is used to host multiple instances of a standard, single-user desktop PC operating system (e.g., Windows XP) on a server machine. With desktop virtualization, a user can directly access the guest desktop operating system while inside the host OS (e.g., Mac OS X).

Boot Camp is a utility included with Mac OS X v10.5 "Leopard" that assists users in installing Microsoft Windows XP or Windows Vista on Intel-based Macintosh computers. Boot Camp guides users through non-destructive re-partitioning (including resizing of an existing HFS+ partition, if necessary) of their hard disk drive and using the Mac OS X Leopard disc to install Windows drivers. In addition to device drivers for the hardware, the disc includes a control panel applet for selecting the boot operating system while in Windows. In short, Boot Camp will let you dual boot OS X and XP efficiently.

Now which way did I choose?

If you are not in a hurry, I will compare some of their essential features so that we can easily point out the advantages and the disadvantages:

The Verdict:
After considering the hardware specifications of my sister-in-law’s laptop computer and the possible applications that she will often be running with it, I immediately decided to go for virtualization using Parallels Desktop for Mac. The other reason for choosing VM over dual boot is its ability to switch OS a lot faster and easier, or even use two or more operating systems at the same time. If my sister-in-law is into gaming or her Mac is a little low-end, it would have been a different story because I will definitely just install Windows using Boot Camp. Low-end hardware cannot handle VM well, and advanced 3D games will possibly run slow in VM environment.

So there you have it. I hope this article will somehow guide those who are torn between desktop virtualization and Boot Camp on installing Windows or just about any other OS for their Mac.


  1. i'm planning to buy MAC nga din.. and use boot camp.. pero I'll go for HP TX1000 series nalang.. maganda na kasi yun.. hehe..

    and OS X ay di ko pa need ^_^

  2. That's a good choice. You should wait until January because Apple is rumored to release a new slimmer Macbook and the price is only around $1500.

  3. You could have chosen both. Parellels can boot from a bootcamp partition in tiger or leopard. My macbook pro does it every workday.

  4. @ john p. It was for my sister-in-law so I didn't want to complicate things for her and just chose to install Windows thru Parallels. If it was mine I might also chose both ways plus add a Linux partition on it.:)