For most computing tasks, such as: typing papers, working with Microsoft Office (Word, Excel and Power Point), reading email, surfing the web, or other general tasks, you won’t see any functional difference between a Mac and a Windows PC.
However, a Mac will not run Windows software without some help, and a number of software packages used in the Engineering curriculum will only run under Windows. There are three common options available to students with Macs when they need access to Windows-only software:
- Use Apple’s Boot Camp software to turn your Intel-based Mac into a dual boot computer. You will have the option of booting up under Windows (purchased separately) or MacOS when you start your computer. The disadvantage to this method is that a reboot is required to use the other operating system, and sharing files between the two OS’s requires extra steps. The advantage is that your programs should run faster, because your Mac is running as a Windows computer now. Boot Camp and necessary drivers are available directly from Apple.
- Use programs like Parallel’s Desktop for Mac, VMWare Fusion, or VirtualBox from Oracle that allows you to run a virtual Windows computer on your Mac. In this mode, you do not have to reboot to switch between MacOS and Windows, and files can easily be shared between the OS’s. While this can be a convenient solution, it does have trade-offs. Virtual computers usually have slower performance than hardware based systems, and more demanding software may not run or may perform poorly. Parallel’s Desktop for Mac and VMWare Fusion can be purchased from their respective manufacturer’s website, and VirtualBox from Oracle is currently a free download.
- Use one of the UKITS student computing labs or departmental computer labs for running software used in a particular course. Most, if not all, of the software used in your classes will be available in one of these labs. Please note, freshmen are expected to use their personal laptops during a number of their labs and courses.
Software used in the Mechanical, Civil, Mining, and Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering programs is largely Windows-based, and can be resource intensive. Macintosh computers used in these programs may spend extended periods of time running as Windows-based computers using Apple’s Boot Camp software. A Windows-based computer may be a more cost effective choice in these cases.
About Microsoft Imagine Software
The software the College licenses through the Microsoft Imagine program will not run natively under Mac OS. To use this software on your personal system, you will need to use one of the methods above for running Windows on your Mac.
Running Linux on a Mac
A number of the tools and software packages available for Linux are also available for MacOS, or are already incorporated as part of the operating system. If you need (or want) to run a particular Linux distribution on your Mac, Boot camp and virtual machines will allow you to do this.