Dan Cohen

An Actual Use for Windows on the Mac
Posted to Programming for Poets on 20 April 2006, 10:10 AM EDT

Programming for PoetsOK, so you can now run Windows on a Mac. So what? For most of us in the humanities, all we need is already on the Mac, which (in addition to intangibles such as the Mac's design) is why so many of us remain stubbornly attached to Apple's computers while over the last twenty years almost everyone else has moved to the more generic platform of the PC. Most educational, graphics, and web development software is available for the Mac. (For those in the social and natural sciences, on the other hand, many important software packages are either not available for the Mac or come out later than they do for the PC.) But perhaps there's the rub. Since many of us only use Macs—especially those that build academic or museum websites—we often don't see how most people view our sites. Since websites often render differently on different operating systems and web browsers, not checking how your site will look (and perform, if you are using dynamic web technologies) on a PC with IE (still 85% of web surfers) is unwise. Now with Parallels Workstation—the Windows-on-Mac solution that doesn't require rebooting your computer to switch OSes—you can literally have a window into the world of Windows sitting on your desktop in parallel with your Mac applications. For instance, here's a screenshot of my Mac desktop with Firefox for the Mac running on the left, and IE for Windows running on the right:

Looks to me like I need to work on the font size differential between Macs and PCs.

This parallelism of operating systems is incredibly handy for web development on a single machine. At the Center for History and New Media we have gone through phrases where we have paid for services that send us static images of our websites on different platforms and in different browsers. We also spend a lot of time running from our Macs over to PCs to check how everything is looking. Now we can do this all on one machine, easily and instantaneously.

Now I just need to install another window for the 2% of web surfers using Linux...

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