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DECEMBER 8, 2007  

Windows works! (on a Mac)Windows XP startup screen on my iMac

My work computer is a Windows machine, and I'm not crazy about it. Seems slow and ugly compared to OSX on my Mac. But today when I heard the Windows startup chime and saw the cheesy sky of Windows XP I was ecstatic. But I was at home, not at work.

The thought of installing a new operating system on a computer is always scary. There are glitches that crop up, from annoying to disastrous. One reason I got this computer—an Apple-refurbished 20" iMac—was so I could run Windows to test my website. So installing Windows has been in the works for a long time. But I've delayed partly in fear of problems.

Today was the day. First I spent some time backing up critical files—my photos, school stuff, etc.—in case a fatal crash happened. I'd already loaded Parallels Desktop, the software that fools the Mac into thinking it's a PC. Yesterday Windows XP arrived via UPS. All I had to do was install it.

Strangely the process went pretty much as described in the Parallels manual: create a new "virtual machine", insert the Windows CD, and follow the directions on the screen. It took at least an hour for the installation to be completed, but once finished it was nothing short of miraculous.

I can click an icon and switch to a full-screen version of Windows XP that operates just like mine at work, but uses all my Mac hardware: printer, wireless router, scanner, etc. I launched the browser (Explorer 6) and the web looked the same. I hit "Print" and the page printed on my HP LaserJet printer. I downloaded mScape software, installed it without a hitch, and it works. Even transferred software to an HP iPaq via USB.

More on mScape and the iPaq later. It's a way to make location-based interactive experiences—a great idea that I've only begun exploring today. I can hardly wait to dive into it. Now, thanks to my Mac and Parallels, I can.

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