You can nail a huge painted star next to Crossover Mac on the all-time list of best software, for two reasons. One of them might surprise you.
Al Fasoldt's reviews and commentaries, continuously available online since 1983

T e c h n o f i l e
Have a Mac? Safely run Windows programs with Crossover

August 10, 2008

By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2008, Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2008, The Post-Standard

   Last month, I explained how Mac users could do what might have seemed impossible until recently: They could run a program designed exclusively for Windows without installing Windows itself.
   The Windows program I wrote about, Picasa, locates, organizes, displays, fixes, edits, prints and e-mails your photos in ways other programs, regardless of their cost, simply can't match. What's just as amazing is that Picasa is free. (Read that article at www.technofileonline.com/texts/tec071308.html.)
   Many readers have asked for more information about the incredible software that lets a Mac run such a Windows program. It's called Crossover Mac, and is available for $39.95 from www.codeweavers.com.
   You can nail a huge painted star next to Crossover Mac on the all-time list of best software, for two reasons. One of them might surprise you.
   The first is, of course, the way Crossover Mac turns regular Windows programs into regular Mac programs. There are a few differences -- programs written for Windows look a little different and have menus in places Mac programs don't have -- but otherwise Windows programs running on a Mac through Crossover look and behave just like programs that normally run on the Mac.
   The second reason? Safety. Windows is notoriously unsafe. But Windows programs running on a Mac using Crossover have no safety problems.
   That's because the computer running everything isn't a Windows PC. It's a modern Mac. Leaving aside any arguments over why Windows is unsafe, we can agree that leaving Windows itself out of the equation makes a lot of sense.
   Think of it this way: The viruses, Trojans, spyware, worms, zombies and Internet break-ins that plague Windows PCs work by infiltrating the operating system. Without a Windows operating system to sneak into, these invaders can't bother a Mac running Windows programs under Crossover.
   Although Crossover is a commercial product sold by Codeweavers Inc., it is based on a 15-year-old Open Source project called WINE (or "Wine," without all the capital letters; it's been used both ways). The WINE project, at www.winehq.org, explains that "technically speaking, WINE is not an emulator." Instead, WINE supplies services for Windows programs and allows them to use the Mac file system as if they were running with a PC drive.
   Crossover, like WINE itself, is also available for Linux computers. Macs need to be the latest design, which uses Intel processor chips. Models that can't run Crossover include Mac G3, G4 and G5 models, iBooks and PowerBooks. Models that are able to run Crossover Mac include all current iMacs, Mac minis, MacBooks, MacBook Pros and Mac Pro models.
   For Windows programs that run well under Crossover, such as Internet Explorer and Picasa, Crossover Mac is pure magic. But not all Windows programs do as well. Codeweavers keeps an updated list of Windows programs known to run under Crossover. It's at www.codeweavers.com/compatibility.