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Ask Max: Does Parallels have to be installed on my iMac to run Windows?

Asked on 05/18/2009:

Am planning to buy a new iMac and want to install Windows XP plus OS 10.5. Have read that Parallels must be installed on a new Machine but can find no explanation as to why. Can you shed any light on this?

I realize that XP will not install on a partition larger than 32 Gigs and that Boot Camp will partition the HD on the new iMac at the time Boot Camp is installed. Can the remaining 218 Gigs of the 250 HD of the iMac be further partitioned after the installation of Boot Camp & XP? Also, do you have any recommendations as to which is the better to use, Boot Camp or Parallels?

- Owen


There is no real reason that Parallels must be installed to share your Mac computer system with Windows. I use an iMac that has Vista installed Via Boot Camp without Parallels, but in the past I had used Parallels to Run XP on the same system before I uninstalled it. You can run Windows on your Mac via Boot Camp, Parallels, or VMware. You can even mix and match Parallels and Boot Camp, allowing you to use the same installation of Windows two different ways. That said, for the best experience I would recommend Parallels alone. Repartitioning your hard drive is risky business and locks you into a particular configuration. Parallels lets you experiment with different configurations and a variety of x86 operating systems. It is also easier to uninstall Parallels from your system when you are done with Windows.

If you want to use Boot Camp for the maximum system performance (i.e. gaming), then don't limit your self to 32GB. You can have larger Boot Camp partitions but it will need to be formatted as a NTFS disk from the Windows installer. The only draw back to a NTFS formatted disk is that the Mac OS will not be able to write to it, only read items from it.

Hope that helps,


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