Running Windows for free on your Mac

Virtualization is one of the most useful features of current computing hardware, allowing you to run multiple operating systems at once on a computer at near-native speeds. Despite its benefits, one of the big problems is that while many people have Wi

Written by Topher Kessler

Virtualization is one of the most useful features of current computing hardware, allowing you to run multiple operating systems at once on a computer at near-native speeds. Despite its benefits, one of the big problems is that while many people have Windows software, they do not want to pay extra for running it on their Macs.

There are many ways to get Windows applications running on your Mac, and we discussed these in our article on options for running windows on the Mac. However, all of these options do require some form of license, either just for Windows (ie, Boot Camp or VirtualBox), the Mac software (ie, CrossOver), or for both Windows and the Mac software (ie, Parallels and VMWare). Depending on the version of Winodws and the Mac setup, getting a Windows application to run can cost up to $300.

Despite the seeming need for some sort of purchased license, there are a combination where you can legally run Windows for free on your Mac, both of which use the Windows 7 public beta instead of a retail version. The first is to run the public beta in Boot Camp, though since it is a beta release of the OS we caution againt this, as there may be unknown incompatibilities (though many people have reported success with this). The second option is to use Sun's VirtualBox virtualization software and install Windows 7 to a virtual machine.

Recently, CNET Executive Editor "Tom Merritt" has released a How-To video on CNET TV that outlines how to set up Windows 7 on the Mac. Check out the video for instruction on getting Windows to run on your Mac for free: http://cnettv.cnet.com/virtualize-windows-free-mac/9742-1_53-50072669.html

UPDATE: Despite Microsoft initially pulling the Windows 7 beta, they have it available for download until August 20th from this website: http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windows-7/get/download.aspx. Additionally, since this is a beta OS, while you can install it and run Windows programs, be warned that it may not function completely or as expected.

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Topher has been an avid Mac user for the past 10-15 years, and has been a contributing author to MacFixIt for just over a year now. One of his diehard passions has been troubleshooting Mac problems and making the best use of Macs and Apple hardware both for family and friends, as well as in the workplace. He and the newly formed MacFixIt team are hoping to bring enhanced and more personable content to our readers, and keep the MacFixIt community going here at CNET. If you have questions or comments for Topher or the other MacFixIt editors, feel free to contact us at http://www.macfixit.com/contact

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