More of our clients are interested in switching to the Mac because of the bad taste that Vista left in their mouths, or because of what they are hearing about Windows 8. Most programs work on the Mac now, so there’s almost no reason not to switch, since you can run any version of Windows within a Virtual Machine (opens like any other program). So long as you don’t mind the learning curve and the fact Macs are more expensive, it might be the right decision for you.
So we thought we’d put together this guide for VirtualBox (free!) on the Mac.
This screen shows what VirtualBox looks like when a Virtual Machine is setup. In this case, the Windows 8 90-Day Evaluation version, which you can get here if you want it.
To add a Virtual Machine, click the ‘New’ button. You will then see this screen.
Type what you would like the Virtual Machine to be called. Then use the drop-down menus to choose the operating system you will be installing. Then click ‘continue’.
On this screen, you can adjust the amount of memory (RAM) you want allocated to the specific Virtual Machine. We recommend at least 1GB, which will allow modern operating systems to run fairly well.
On this screen, you can create the file that will act as the virtual hard drive or “startup disk”. Just leave it as the default settings. You can adjust the size of the hard drive on a future screen.
Leave this screen as default. It asks you what type of Virtual Machine file you want to create. If that’s something you’re well-versed in, then you’ll care about this screen. Otherwise, don’t worry about it.
You can create a dynamically allocated virtual hard drive, which is best, as it will only increase the size of the virtual hard drive file as needed. If you prefer a fixed size (can’t be fixed later), choose that.
On this screen, you can adjust how large you want the virtual hard drive to be. We recommend at least 20GB. VirtualBox can always make it larger as needed with the dynamic drive.
This is the summary screen. Go ahead and click ‘create’ to create the Virtual Machine.
To install the operating system, VirtualBox will need to load the files from a DVD drive or an ISO file. To tell VirtualBox to do that, you’ll need to access the settings. To do that, right-click the Virtual Machine and click ‘settings’.
Go to the ‘storage’ tab, and click the “DVD” icon under ‘Attributes’, and point it to where the DVD drive is, or where the ISO file is. Then click ‘okay’.
You can now double-click the Virtual Machine to start it. Pay attention the prompts or messages VirtualBox gives you to ensure your keyboard and mouse clicks are captured within the Virtual Machine when you expect them to be. Otherwise, you may need to ‘press any key to boot from CD or DVD’ to load the files from your physical DVD drive. Be sure to right click that ‘DVD’ icon and click ‘Remove disk from virtual drive’ when the operating system is installed, so VirtualBox doesn’t try to install the operating system again the next time you turn it on.