How to run Windows apps in Mac/Linux (and vice versa)?


If you are running Linux and want to run Windows application, then you have following choices.

  1. Install Windows via virtualization software. Then install your Windows application on top of it.
    1. Pros
      1. No need for dual booting.
      2. You can switch from Linux apps to Windows.
      3. You can share files between Linux and Windows (some configuration required).
    2. Cons
      1. You need a valid copy of Windows.
      2. Virtualization is resource intensive. Unless you have high amount of RAM (16 GB or more) and fast hard disk (e.g. SSD) performance will be poor.
  2. Install Windows via dual boot partition.
    1. Pros
      1. No performance penalty.
    2. Cons
      1. You can either work in Linux or in Windows.
      2. Need to have a valid copy of Windows.
      3. You are effectively running a Windows PC under this route.
  3. Run Windows application natively on Linux.
    1. Pros
      1. No copy of Windows needed. This can be achieved by some Windows emulator software in Linux like WINE, Crossover etc. These software install a Window-like layer on top of Linux as a sandbox.
      2. You just need a valid copy of Windows application – which you will install via emulator in Linux.
      3. You can easily switch between Windows application and Linux in same session.
      4. If you have the Windows version of application software already, then usually no further cost associated with it (unless you choose a commercial version of an emulator)
    2. Cons
      1. This option could be buggy. Not all Windows application can be run in this way. Some manual trial and error with configuration settings is expected.
  4. Buy your OS specific version of the application.
    1. Pros
      1. Guaranteed to work. For example, Microsoft sells Office software for Mac OS too.
    2. Cons
      1. You are paying for the software again for different operating system.
      2. Some format compatibility issue may still come up if both software versions were not compiled using same code base.

So which option do you choose for your favorite application?

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