These are 3 different methods to run Windows applications on a Mac.
Parallels Workstation is hardware emulation virtualization software, in which a virtual machine engine enables each virtual machine to work with its own processor, RAM, floppy drive, CD drive, I/O devices, and hard disk – everything a physical computer contains. Parallels Workstation virtualizes all devices within the virtual environment, including the video adapter, network adapter, and hard disk adapters. It also provides pass-through drivers for parallel port and USB devices. (source: Wikipedia)
VMware Workstation software consists of a virtual machine suite for Intel x86-compatible computers. This software suite allows users to set up multiple x86 virtual computers and to use one or more of these virtual machines simultaneously with the hosting operating system. Each virtual machine instance can execute its own guest operating system, such as (but not limited to) Windows, Linux, and BSD variants. In simple terms, VMware Workstation allows one physical machine to run two or more operating systems simultaneously. Other VMware products help manage or migrate VMware virtual machines across multiple host-machines. (source: Wikipedia)
Because all guest virtual machines use the same hardware drivers irrespective of the actual hardware on the host computer, virtual machine instances are highly portable between computers.
Whether you’re running a Linux or Mac OS X machine, chances are you need a way to run at least some Windows applications or games that aren’t available on your platform of choice. And you have your choice of potential solutions to this problem. This page illustrates some of the key advantages that CrossOver has in relation to the other compatibility solutions.
CrossOver is described below as found here…
In a nutshell, you have three main choices:
- Dual-booting: running two separate operating systems on one PC, and switching between them as needed by rebooting. Applications such as Apple’s Bootcamp allow this to occur on a Mac OS X machine, for example.
- Running a virtual machine: Emulation products such as VMWare and Parallels allow you to install a copy of Windows within a logical partition within your native operating system. The Windows applications essentially run in a separate “box within a box.”
- Running Wine or CrossOver: Unlike emulation, Wine is a re-implementation of the Win32 API, allowing applications to run as if natively on the target OS. CrossOver is a commercialized version of Wine.