Tag: parallels

Worldwide Telescope launches half-baked!

Microsoft launched their much-hyped WorldWide Telescope this morning.

The application has a lot of promise as an educational tool, in that it can make astronomy fun and engaging.

First off, there is no Mac version. Boo! For this reason alone, I should have just walked away. But I didn’t because it promised so much and I quite enjoy astronomy.

I checked out the system requirements (bearing in mind how optimistic Microsoft are on these typically – did you ever try to run XP on 64mb RAM? Ha!).

On the System Requirements page it told me I needed a 2.2GHz Mac to run WorldWide Telescope if I wanted to do so on XP or Vista (recommended) via Bootcamp (no mention of Parallels or VMWare. Given that my Mac is 2.16 GHz, and hasn’t BootCamp setup (I use Parallels), I gave up on that option.

Worldwide Telescope system requirements

I then went about installing it on my Vaio. The installation went ok (although I wasn’t made aware until half-way through that I’d have to install Direct X).

When I launched it on the Viao though, the first obvious problem was that you can’t choose Ireland as an option to set as your location. What a crock! Seriously. The country options go Iran, Iraq, Israel, Italy. WTF? People in countries like Yemen, Uzbekistan, Lomé, Togo, Sierra Leone, Senegal, North Korea and Myanmar, for instance have no problem setting their location. But no Ireland option. What did we do to annoy Microsoft Research?

The second issue was even more annoying though. The application wouldn’t run on the Vaio. It crashed the display driver.
WorldWide Telescope Error

This is, unfortunately, typical Microsoft software behaviour. Launch bloated, Windows only, error-prone software with the minimum of QA or testing. Let the unsuspecting public be your free testing department and hopefully get the software right by the third revision.

It is no wonder so many people are afraid of computers when the software released by the world’s largest manufacturer is so prone to crash.

Microsoft Vista performance issues

Vista is buggy. That much is obvious to anyone who runs it but it has been improving in stability as the patches are rolled out. However it runs extremely slowly too and this became startlingly obvious to me in the last few weeks as I have been testing browsers on different platforms.

It turns out I can run Internet Explorer 8 faster on my older Mac than I can on my newer Vista machine (both 2ghz Intel core duo with 2gb ram)!

When I ran the SunSpider JavaScript Benchmark tests on IE8, it completed the test in 9.9 seconds on my Mac (running XP in Parallels).

However, when I installed Internet Explorer 8 on my Vista laptop, IE8 completed the test in 19,906.4ms.

Vista is more than twice as slow as XP running in Parallels on my Mac.

Vista is a huge embarrassment for Microsoft. They spent a fortune developing it and you speak to any Microsoft employee now and if the topic turns to Vista they get visibly uncomfortable. To the extent that Microsoft are now starting to talk up Windows 7 with Bill Gates calling it a big step forward. It needs to be.

Internet Explorer 8 (Beta) released

Microsoft released Internet Explorer 8 Beta yesterday and, surprisingly, it seems to be quite a good browser! I say surprisingly because Microsoft don’t have a track record in the good browser market 😉

I wrote a post a few weeks back comparing the speeds of various browsers and Microsoft’s current browser, Internet Explorer 7, was the slowest browser by a long margin.

Opera’s CTO HÃ¥kon Wium Lie was quoted recently making some very valid criticisms of Internet Explorer 7.

However, Microsoft seem to have addressed many of those issues in Internet Explorer 8.

I downloaded and installed it on my Mac last night (in the Parallels partition with XP as the OS).

Internet Explorer 8 Beta on Mac

It seemed to work well enough so I loaded up the Acid2 test and was surprised to find that it rendered correctly! This was a good sign!
IE8 Beta passes Acid2

So then I tried running the SunSpider JavaScript Benchmark tests on it and it completed the test in an extremely respectable 9.9 secs. For comparison, Firefox 3.0b3 took 16.9 seconds to complete the same test.

There is still a lot of work to be done on IE8. It crashed several times on me when I was using it and it fails the Acid3 test miserably (17/100 compared to Firefox 3.0b3’s 61/100 and Webkit’s thoroughly respectable 87/100!).

Still, this looks like Microsoft are finally taking a step in the right direction with IE8. I am looking forward to seeing the final release.

UPDATE – I installed Internet Explorer 8 on my Vista laptop this evening (the same one where Webkit runs the test in 9,094.2ms) and IE8 completed the test in 19,906.4ms. This is roughly the same as Firefox 3.0b3 and is a vast improvement on the 66,870.6ms which IE7 took.

Parallels networking error resolved

I had a problem with my copy of Parallels ufter upgrading last night – the shared networking no longer worked and it was grabbing the same ip as my Mac – causing all kinds of problems.

The program wouldn’t allow me to re-configure the network settings (all other options were greyed out).

So after a lot of messing about, I decided to uninstall Parallels using the Uninstaller which ships with the app, delete all Parallels files (except the .pvs) and re-install.

This solved it completely!

New version of Parallels too popular!

I have written about Parallels previously and how it makes running Windows applications on a Mac seamless.

Arstechnica are reporting that the latest version of Parallels is now available to download. For anyone who already owns a copy of Parallels, this is a free upgrade (wohoo!).

Demand for the upgrade appears to be extreme though, the link on the download page is timing out or the download dies after about 5mb 😦

Running Windows on OS X

Actually Sprinting Windows on OS X might be a more accurate post title or Screaming Windows, or…

Parallels is virtualisation software which allows you to run other OS’s on your Mac. I splashed out recently and bought myself a new 15″ MacBook Pro (2.16ghz intel core duo, 2gb ram, 120gb hd).

Now that I have an Intel based Mac, I decided to purchase a copy of Parallels and try out Windows XP on OS X.

Parallels installs easily enough but getting it to install Windows is not trivial (yup, I had to read the Help file to figure it out!).

Having said that, that is the only quibble I had with parallels – once Windows (XP Pro) installed, it ran very smoothly.

Windows XP on Mac

It also works perfectly in full-screen mode (but then the screenshot wouldn’t be as interesting!!!).

I downloaded IE 7 beta and Office 2007 beta to try them on XP on the Mac and they work flawlessly. In the image above you can see IE 7 in the foreground and Word 2007 in the background.

What is most impressive though is the speed of XP on the MacBook.I only assigned it 512mb ram but everything is completely instant. Click on the Word icon and it is open, same with any of the Office apps, or Firefox, or Flock. IE 7 is a little slower but only because I have a multiple tabbed window as my home page. It runs faster than I have seen XP run on any PC.

Between that and the fact that the latest desktop Macs are coming out $500 cheaper than equivalently specced Dells, you now have no reason not to consider a Mac as your next PC!