Moving to Mac: Keeping in touch with Windows

Ok, so I’m not 100% off of Windows, nor will I ever be. Unfortunately, some projects (even personal ones) require that I use SQL Server, and most require testing in IE. Combine that with the facts that I don’t consider myself a *NIX expert quite yet, and that I’ve already invested thousands in Windows hardware, and I’ll probably be running Windows servers for at least a few years to come.

So, how do I cope? First off, I have to sing the praises of VMWare Fusion. I’ve used Parallels, but was never really pleased with it. Yeah, it ran Windows, but it didn’t do it with much style. Once I compared the feature sets, VMWare came out to be a clear winner to me. It supports things that Parallels doesn’t, like guest OS support for multiple CPU’s, 64 bit, and (least importantly) limited support for DirectX 9.

How do I use it? Well, I’ve got a few VM’s set up on my Mac Pro… The first one is actually the VM that points to the BootCamp partition. That VM is for testing IE 7 and Vista, and general Windows computing. When in BootCamp, it’s for the rare gaming session. The next one is a XP Pro/IE 6 testing environment. It’s off a vast majority of the time, though. The last VM is a 2003 Server, running SQL Server and it’s tools. It stays on all the time, since it’s literally a server machine. It replaced a 6-year-old Celeron box that was just eating up electricity.

Also, I’m still finding that I need files off of my old Windows boxen, and OS X’s support of Windows networking fixes a vast majority of that. Sometimes I just need to look something up on my old computer or manage one of my servers, and luckily, Microsoft was kind enough to release the Remote Desktop Client for OS X. The interface for actually establishing connections isn’t quite as slick as it’s Windows counterpart (I wish it just kept a history of previous sessions), but otherwise it’s identical.

So, between Remote Desktop and virtual machines, I’m covered. Hopefully, though, I’ll be able to wean myself off of Windows completely with these tools, like a smoker and nicotine patches.