Personally, if the Mac OS seems foreign, then I would suggest sticking with it and it will become less foreign. While many things in the Mac OS work very similar to how they do in Windows, there ARE differences. And for some people, those differences can be a REAL pain.
To be entirely frank, if those differences are a real pain for you, then your best option might be to sell your Mac (Macs do tend to retain value pretty well) or return it (if you can) and go buy a Windows computer. While you can certainly run Windows on a Mac in a way that makes it a Windows computer (i.e. NOT interaction with the Mac OS), I don't really recommend this option unless you REALLY LOVE Apple hardware…and don't might potentially losing some of the hardware's functionality as Apple originally intended (see below).
If the Mac OS is not a real pain to use, but rather just "uncomfortable", then I would strongly suggest don't install Windows (unless you really need a program that ONLY runs on Windows) and just tough it out. If you do "tough it out", over time you will get more and more comfortable with how the Mac OS does things. OTOH, if you install Windows as a "crutch", then you likely will never get used to how the Mac OS does things and using the Mac OS will stay uncomfortable. That is just my opinion. If you go this route, then we will always be around to answer questions on how to do specific things if you need help.
If you do decide you need Windows and/or Windows programs, then as noted by the others in a round about way, there are three basic ways to run Windows program on a Mac:
1) Bootcamp. This is the more "traditional" way as it allows you to "dual boot" between the Mac OS and Windows. In other words, each time you boot up the computer you can decide which OS you want to use. When you boot into Windows, it is essentially as if you are using any old Windows laptop running Windows. It is rather easy to setup. If you really wanted to turn your Mac into a Windows computer and not use the Mac OS at all, then Bootcamp is the only way to go…although I would argue it is a big waste to buy a Mac JUST to run Windows on it…you would be better served just buying an actual Windows computer.
-You are running Windows "natively". In other words, it is virtually no different than running Windows on any Windows computer (i.e. an HP, Dell, Asus, etc). This means that if you wanted, you could always boot into Windows and hardly ever have to mess with the Mac OS again if you wanted, although I would not really advise that.
- Since you are running Windows natively, it will provide the best performance/speed. While the other methods have gotten pretty good at maintain performance/speed even with graphically intensive programs with little "overhead", they still will have some "overhead", which means you will loose some performance/speed with those other methods compared to Bootcamp.
- All your Mac's hardware resources are available to run Windows and Windows program…since when you boot into Windows using Bootcamp, you Mac essentially becomes a Windows computer that just happens to have an Apple logo on it.
- Bootcamp itself is free (you still need a Windows license, which likely is not free).
- You have to reboot the computer to switch OSs. If you are using the Mac OS and need to do something in Windows, then you have to reboot…and vice versa (i.e. using Windows and want to do something in the Mac OS).
- You might loose some functionality from some hardware on your Mac because Apple provides the drivers for their specific hardware. The classic example of this is that Macbook Pros with dual graphics systems (i.e. both a more powerful "discrete" graphics card/system as well as a more power efficient "integrated" graphics card/system) that will automatically switch to the best option in the Mac OS will be stuck only functioning with the more powerful "discrete" card in Windows. The main downside of this is that you generally will NOT achieve the same amount of battery life on a Macbook Pro with a dual graphics system running Windows as you will with the Mac OS (i.e. you will NOT get anywhere near what Apple claims as the battery life when you run Windows in Bootcamp).
- It requires a Windows license, which is generally not free.
I have run Windows XP in Bootcamp on a "first generation" 2006 Macbook Pro many years ago. I have not really used Bootcamp since then as I have found the second option to be a better fit for me.
2) Run Windows in a Virtual Machine program such as Parallels (not free), VMWare Fusion (not free), or VirtualBox (free). This basically entails installing a program on your Mac that will allow you to run Windows "within" that program, and thus run Windows programs within Windows "within" the VM program. The intent in to be able to run some Windows programs that might not have a Mac equivalent, but not to necessarily just run Windows all the time (Bootcamp would be your better option for that) as you still will have to interact with the Mac OS.
- No rebooting necessary. Since you are running Windows "inside" of the Mac OS, you don't need to reboot the computer to run your Windows programs. Some of the VM programs (such a Parallels) have modes that will essentially make it look like your Windows program is running on the Mac OS (i.e. kind of make Windows itself "invisible"). This means that you can use your Mac OS programs along side your Windows program (in a sense).
- Make it VERY easy to backup your "Windows computer"…you just copy the VM file for your Windows VM to another drive. Just a basic, run of the mill file copy. And if you do that on a regular basis, then "reverting" to a good, clean Windows setup if you mess something up or get infected with something is just a matter of copying the one file back from the other drive to the Mac's internal drive.
- VM programs tend to have a mode that will allow Windows programs to essentially operate as if there are Mac programs…i.e. essentially make the Windows OS kind of "disappear". This may not be a positive for everyone.
- You will have some performance loss…how much will depend on the settings for your VM (for example, with Parallels you can "set" how much RAM the VM will use, you can set how many cores of the processor the VM will use, etc). Even if you "set" the highest hardware level, you will have some performance loss compared to running Windows in Bootcamp…this is especially true for graphically intensive programs such as games or something like AutoCAD/Revit.
- You will not be able to dedicate your Mac's full hardware setup to Windows. In other words, the Mac OS as well as the VM program itself will need RAM and processor usage, which means Windows will not be able to have all the RAM or processor usage.
- Requires a Windows license…again generally not free.
- Generally not free as two of the three popular VM programs cost money, although VirtualBox is free.
I currently run Parallels on both my Macs. I do this so that I can run my structural engineering programs on my Macs (I am a structural engineer in the "real world"). At this time, I run Windows 7 on one of my Macs in Parallels and Windows XP Pro on the other Mac in Parallels.
3) CrossOver. CrossOver allows to run some Windows programs in the Mac OS without Windows itself. For all intents and purposes, those Windows programs run side-by-side with the Mac programs and act as if they are Mac programs (they will still look like Windows programs). Technically, this is the cheapest option since a Windows license generally is not free.
- No Windows license required.
- No need to reboot the computer…everything is done in the Mac OS.
- Technically can be the cheapest option.
- Ideal if you need to run only one or two specific programs (assuming CrossOver will allow those programs to run…see the first disadvantage).
- Won't work for all Windows programs. You will need to got to CodeWeaver's site and search through the programs that will run/are supported.
- Still lose some performance/speed compared to running Windows in Bootcamp. CrossOver is essentially "translating" between Mac OS and Windows "speak" (so to speak…pun intended), so there will be some overhead. In other words, you are NOT running the program "natively" in Windows and running Windows "natively" on the computer.
- You don't interact with Windows as all (which can also be an advantage for some). Since you said your Mac is feeling foreign to you (this "foreign-ness" is the Mac OS, not the Mac hardware), then I would assume this is a disadvantage to you.
I tried CrossOver a long time ago using their trial. It seemed to work OK, but I found that running "full" Windows in a VM was a better option for my needs.
4) I know I originally said there are three ways…but the 4th way is essentially a combination of the #1 and #2. Both Parallels and VMWare Fusion allow you to use a Bootcamp partition setup as your VM in either Parallels or VMWare Fusion (I believe technically VirtualBox can as well, but it is a more complex process and less supported than either Parallels or VMWare Fusion). This essentially gives you the best of both worlds…i.e. you can run the VM within the Mac OS for most things, but when you want the full performance level (for things like games or maybe AutoCAD/Revit) you can reboot into Windows in Bootcamp. You do lose a few features compared to using a "true" VM file (for example in Parallels, running the Bootcamp Windows installation as your VM, you will not be able to pause it, save it as a snapshot, cannot be compressed etc…see this page: <a data-ipb="nomediaparse" data-cke-saved-href="http://download.parallels.com/desktop/v9/ga/docs/en_US/Parallels%20Desktop%20User
" href="http://download.parallels.com/desktop/v9/ga/docs/en_US/Parallels%20Desktop%20User" s%20guide="" 32733.htm"="">http://download.parallels.com/desktop/v9/ga/docs/en_US/Parallels%20Desktop%20User's%20Guide/32733.htm) and also means that backing up your Windows setup is a bit more complex than a "true" VM file.
Edited by smax013, 25 May 2014 - 12:42 AM.