Updated: Jun 8
You're using a computer from Apple's Mac family. You work, play, browse social media, watch movies, or listen to music. You sometimes want to run a cool Windows-only program on your Mac, like Chessmaster, or maybe you need to use ChessBase regularly. Is this possible on a Mac, and if so, is it easy and comfortable?
The answer to all these questions is: Yes!
In this article I will describe how to use chess programs designed for Windows on a Mac.
First, a brief historical background.
Back 10-15 years ago, when computers and software were far less powerful than they are today, using Windows and programs written for it was usually problematic on Macs. The computers of that time allowed you to run, for example, a Windows virtual machine in macOS, but its performance left a lot to be desired.
One solution, although not very practical, was the introduction by Apple of a solution called BootCamp, which allowed the installation of Windows "alongside" macOS. The user could then use Windows and programs fully and with good performance, but was forced to exit macOS, reboot their Mac, and only then could they use Windows.
However, today, modern Macs are fast enough (especially with the M1 processor) that it's possible, comfortable, and relatively easy to use the benefits of macOS and its applications and Windows applications simultaneously.
In the first image of this article, I posted a screenshot where we see macOS Monterey along with Windows 11 running and the chess programs Chessmaster, ChessBase 16, Scid vs. Mac.
Certainly, if you look online for guidance you will find many options such as Virtual Box, UTM, Vmware Fusion and others.
I will present you dear reader the most convenient and best way to use Windows software on your Mac.
Footnote: This article is not sponsored. The opinions below are those of the author alone.
Parallels Desktop (PD) is a commercial program that runs on Intel and Apple M1-based Macs.
Its strength is that the user can use macOS system and applications and at the same time work with, for example, ChessBase or train with Fritz.
Of course, using PD and Windows there is no obstacle to use any other software, such as Microsoft Office, games or Auto Cad, etc.
Steam for Windows 11 in... macOS :-)
The author of this article over the years has not encountered a situation in which any of the Windows programs did not work using PD.
A great and very useful option is the ability to use Windows programs in the same way as Mac programs.
Below in the image, an open window with Fritz 18 and a Windows Explorer window.
Chess Assistant 20 and ChessBase 16.
You can also use macOS programs and Windows programs at the same time - without losing performance!
Microsoft Excel for Mac and Deep Shredder 13 for Windows.
Safari web browser and Play Chess server.
Examples can be multiplied.
Parallels Desktop for Mac is a mature program created by professionals and recognized by millions of Mac users. Each released version is always updated and extended with new features.
Based on his own experience, the author of this article confirms that the manufacturer also cares about the ever-increasing speed of PD, which can be seen especially on Mac computers with the M1 processor.
Using Parallels Desktop, it feels like the same work and/or play as on a Windows PC.
So what do you need to use Windows programs on macOS ?
The requirements are not high.
The latest version of Parallels Desktop 17 is available for up to 5 Mac operating systems.
This means that even Macs from 2009 (!) are supported and can use Parallels Desktop 17.
Below are the specific requirements for PD17.
Amount of RAM.
For an Intel-based Mac, a Mac with 8GB of RAM or better yet 12GB or more is sufficient for satisfactory operation.
It's worth mentioning that using a Mac with an M1 processor, 8GB of ram guarantees comfortable work.
With a Mac and macOS meeting the Parallels Desktop requirements, you still need Windows.
PD17 allows you to automatically download Windows from the Microsoft website and install it. Of course, to enjoy the full version of Windows, the user should provide your own Microsoft Windows license key, purchase Windows directly from within Parallels Desktop, or transfer an existing Boot Camp partition with Windows already installed.
And that's all :-)
Once Windows is installed, you can use it, install software, and do everything just as you would on a regular PC.
For ordinary users, the Parallels Desktop 17 is so easy that with just a few clicks, there is no need for any specialized intervention in the Windows download and installation process itself.
Parallels Desktop 17 will automatically adjust all parameters to make Windows perform at its best.
It is worth knowing that Parallels Desktop 17 allows you to use different Linux distributions and using several different operating systems at the same time!
Debian GNU Linux 10.10.
Debian (PyChess) and Windows (Chessmaster).
Parallels Desktop 17 is currently (March 2022) the best and most convenient solution to use Windows programs on macOS.
I highly recommend trying out Parallels Desktop 17. The manufacturer provides a trial version which works for 14 days without any limitations.
Vmware Fusion (VF) is a commercial program by VMware.
Like Parallels Desktop, VMware Fusion has a long tradition of providing MAC users with the ability to install Windows.
VF is a good alternative to Parallels Desktop.
However, it is important to note the significant two differences between the two programs.
Vmware Fusion only works with Intel based Macs.
Vmware Fusion does not support machines using the Apple M1 processor - unfortunately this fact means that all recent Apple computers using the M1 processor are not supported by Vmware Fusion.
It is a pity, because VF is a good program created by a company specializing in, among others, virtualization of operating systems.
Vmware Fusion is less powerful than Parallels Desktop.
On the same Mac, the latest version of Vmware Fusion 12 is several percent to tens of percent less efficient than Parallels Desktop 17.
This is probably due to the fact that Vmware focuses on a very broad market and many products related to virtualization of software and IT systems, providing mainly business customers with many specialized solutions.
Parallels Desktop, on the other hand, is software which for several years has been developed by the producer in the tiniest details in order to ensure the best possible integration of Windows with macOS.
Vmware Fusion 12 has slightly higher hardware and software requirements than Parallels Desktop 17.
Vmware Fusion does not offer the ability to automatically install Windows or Linux through a wizard. The user must install the operating system himself.
Once the operating system is installed, it is fully usable for all applications, e.g. work, games, internet.
If you're running an Intel-based Mac and don't care about the ultimate in comfort and speed, then Vmware Fusion may be the solution for your needs.
CrossOver (CO) is a commercial program by CodeWeavers that allows you to run multiple programs written for Microsoft Windows.
CrossOver does not need Windows to run, for example, the Arena program.
CO works differently. It's not an emulator. It does the work of translating Windows commands into Mac commands so that you can run Windows software as if it were designed native to Mac.
CrossOver works with all kinds of software - productivity software, utility programs, and games - all with one application.
That sounds interesting, doesn't it ?
You don't need Windows, so you don't need to buy Windows to use the application, right ?
Unfortunately, that's not quite the case.
CrossOver works with a large number of programs, but at the same time it can't run many other programs.
For example, using CrossOver works good (not perfectly) with Fritz 12 or ChessBase 9, but it is impossible to run Fritz 16 and newer versions. The same is true of ChessBase; older versions work fine, newer ones will not run.
A working Arena program for Windows running in macOS using CrossOver.
Below are the requirements of the CrossOver program. As you can see, the program is being developed; there are several versions of CrossOver for many macOS systems.
I mainly recommend CrossOver to those people who want to work with one or at most several chess programs. However, you should check in advance whether this program or these programs will work with CrossOver at all. The developer offers a 14-day trial version with no restrictions.
In conclusion, in this day and age (March 2022), a chess player who wants to use Windows software on a Mac can do so conveniently and without any restrictions using Parallels Desktop software.
There is a lot of useful chess software for Macs - I encourage you to read the article titled: Tools in a chess player's workshop - Mac.
Sometimes, however, out of habit, sometimes out of sentiment, when we want to play, among others with Chessmaster or train with Fritz - and we want to do it on our own Mac - then Parallels Desktop or Vmware Fusion will come in handy.