Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

Windows Vista, meet Parallels

Choose a Vista
I’ve finally come across a legitimate copy of Windows Vista at a price I was willing to pay, so at last I’m able to put Parallels Desktop to full use by running it alongside Mac OS X on my MacBook. I could write a long essay about my experiences, but here’s some bullet points instead:

  • Parallels makes installing Windows a snap. If you choose ‘typical’ mode, you are asked what Windows you want (2000, XP, Vista etc), your Windows product key, and, erm, not much else. You then get to skip the first part of the Vista installation so it dives straight into the file copying.
  • Vista’s install is a little more boring compared to its predecessors – no feature tours while you wait. But it is a lot faster, a welcome break from XP’s hour-long install.
  • Once installed, there were 41 updates to install through Windows Update, and Vista informed that it wanted an anti-virus program. So I gave it one, even if the concept of installing an anti-virus program on a Mac is a little bizarre.
  • Coherence, the feature of Parallels that integrates Windows into your Mac desktop, is fantastic. I currently have my Mac menu bar with the Windows taskbar below it and a mix of Windows and Mac windows open. And a mixture of Windows and Mac applications in my Dock.
  • After one of the reboots from installing updates, Windows told me that my copy may not be genuine. A quick trip to Microsoft’s Genuine Advantage site, in Firefox no less, made it learn the error of its ways. But it shouldn’t have done that in the first place as this is a genuine copy I’m using.
  • You can’t use your iSight camera straightaway – Parallels does support it but doesn’t ship with the Windows drivers for it. You instead have to pillage them from Boot Camp, using these instructions. Once you’ve done that it works fine.
  • This may have been Parallel’s fault but I started off in Vista with the ‘Administrator’ account with no password. Would have preferred the option to create user accounts and passwords but this can be done afterwards at least. Haven’t seen a User Account Control dialogue yet, even though it’s enabled, which is also concerning.
  • While Windows is running in a virtual machine, Parallels mounts the C drive in OS X, so you can manipulate the disk from both operating systems. This makes sharing files between the two really easy.
  • I haven’t yet installed much software – a virus scanner, Firefox, Flash and Windows Live Messenger and that’s it so far. I’m unfortunately running a bit low on disk space so I’m treading carefully.
  • This MacBook only has 1 GB of RAM – if you’re going to attempt this, get 2 GB. Trust me.


  1. Vista is a memory hog to begin with. In order to get the whole Aero desktop experience, people have been recommending 2GB of memory.
    My old PC hard drive died recently. It was 8 years old, so I decided on a new machine. I ordered it online and got it equipped with 4 GB of RAM, just to keep me slightly ahead of the curve for a while. 🙂

  2. That’s also what I’ve heard, however I’ve got Aero disabled as I don’t really need the eye-candy. Think a memory upgrade for this is in order soon.

  3. I’m actually surprised that you got Vista running at all with only 1GB in your MacBook.
    I use WinXP on my MacBook with 2GB of RAM and it works pretty good. I would never try Vista on my MacBook (in Parallels). The biggest reason, they want way too much money for the version I would need to run in virtualization.
    NewEgg has RAM for the MacBook at a really good price and it works great. I got my 2GB’s from them.
    Also, I just recently upgraded my MacBook’s HD to 160GB’s with a USB External HD I got from It’s a:
    Western Digital 160 GB USB 2.0 Passport 2.5″ External Hard Drive ( WDXMS1600TN )
    It was suggested by a blog I read. I just popped open the enclosure that the drive comes in, pulled out the 160 and switched it with the 60GB that came with the MacBook and away I went. Works like a champ and it was only just over $100. Bonus is I get a 60GB external drive to use to transfer files between my Mac Pro and my MacBook. 🙂