Windows On A Mac

Thanks, Parallels!
I was going to write this week’s essay about screenwriting analogies (you know, “It’s a blueprint!” or “It’s a roadmap” or “It’s a rough guideline!”), but I got a bit sidetracked.

See, I’ve been a Mac user my whole life, ever since my first Apple IIe clone back in ‘82 (the Franklin Ace 1000, to be exact…a computer that cost my poor dad $1400 back then…a computer I bought on eBay a few years ago for exactly one dollar), but every now and then, you find yourself stuck needing a Wintel machine. It’s not the way it used to be, where software offerings for Mac were seriously impoverished. There’s practically nothing you can’t get for the Mac nowadays, but it’s that “practically” part that still bugs every now and again.

A few years ago, feeling the need for a Wintel escape hatch for those occasional non-Mac apps (like that stupid Clifford The Big Red Dog Teaches Your Kid How To Read! game), I bought an IBM ThinkPad.

I hate everything about that machine.

Well…not everything. I am a bit fond of the little track nubbin (perhaps because it’s clitoral), but that’s about it. The case is plasticky and shoddy, the screen is horrendous, the drive is about as quiet as a VW bus going up hill, the key feel is cheap and clacky, the sound is dismal, there’s no firewire input, the CD tray is a half a foot-pound away from snapping off at any given moment, and even the power supply is bulky and ugly.

Other than that…

I didn’t mind Windows XP Pro so much, to be honest. It’s a decent system, although it comes up terribly short compared to the latest versions of OS X. Spotlight runs circles around the poky “cute li’l doggy” search function in XP, the Windows Explorer app is ugly and diminished compared to the Finder, and the entire look and feel of XP is very much…well…I want to say 90’s, but that’s almost being generous.

Even worse, any time XP had to do something on a root level (like install certain apps, reboot, upgrade some system software or run a diagnostic), it showed its true, clunky colors. Suddenly, I would find myself looking at fonts from 1983, jagged edges and all, while graphics drawing from a vast palette of about 16 colors blocked and flashed their way across my screen like the images from some awful BASIC program I wrote on my Atari 400 in 1981 (saved on cassette tape drive, natch). The overall effect was like paying for a high-class hooker, getting a low-rent one, and then watching horrified as she removed her wig, glass eye and fake leg.

Plus, if you have sex with her, you will absolutely get a virus, followed by worms, followed by a Trojan Horse humping you from behind.

Yeah, I’m not a Windows fan.

Maybe that’s why I balked at the notion of replacing my aging ThinkPad with a new one. I just hate the idea of spending more money on hardware that exists only to drive software I don’t even like that much.

Enter Parallels.

Because my MacBook Pro is powered by an Intel Processor, it should theoretically be easy to run Wintel apps, right? Well, sort of. I flirted with some apps that promised to run individual Wintel programs within the Mac OS, but they were pretty kludgy. Didn’t have much success with Crossover, for instance.

Parallels, however, works differently. Parallels doesn’t actually run the Wintel apps; rather, it works as a bridge between OS X and a separate installation of a Windows OS that you put on your Mac.

And so, off I went to purchase a copy of Windows Vista to see if this Parallels thing would work. First thing about Vista is this: hey, Microsoft…you still SUCK at packaging. You’d think getting mocked by your own design department would be enough of a sign, but apparently not. Opening the Vista container was slightly harder than convincing my very Catholic girlfriend in 11th grade to give up her virginity. Of course, the fact that they slapped a huge piece of cellophane tape over the “Certificate of Authenticity” didn’t help—in order to open the package, I had to basically shred the certificate, so here’s hoping I never need to show my papers to the Man.

Once the Gordian Knot of Microsoft packaging had been cut, I started up Parallels on my Macbook Pro and loaded in the Vista CD. I tells ya, folks…it worked like BUTTA from there. Took a while, sure, but once it was all loaded in, why, I had a fully operational Vista OS working in full-screen mode on my MacBook Pro. Hell, it somehow managed to tie right into my wireless network without me even telling it how to.

In fact…I’m writing this post within Firefox within Vista within Parallels within OS X.

I wonder if this is how transgendered people feel…

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