How to run Wilcom software on a Mac

25Feb13

Wilcom software on macRunning Windows on a Mac using Virtualization or Boot Camp – Eduardo Serje

I decided to write this blog as a response to many inquiries from Wilcom users who wanted to use our products in a Mac environment. I have worked for many years on both environments (Windows and Mac), and I have used Boot Camp and virtualization products on my Mac since 2008; all I have to say is that I don’t regret investing in the software or in the time that I’ve spent testing it, having the ability to have the best of both worlds in my laptop has been precious to me.  I will recommend using this technology without any hesitation to any Wilcom user who wanted to move to a Mac and keep their Wilcom software, or to any Mac user who wanted to have the best embroidery software.

First I need to say that this blog is not a technical manual or a set of instructions, rather it has been my experience installing and using Windows (Vista and 7), EmbroideryStudio (2 &3) and CorelDRAW (X5 & x6) in my MacBook PRO, if you are looking for that type of information, there are a few documents mentioned at the end this doc, and hundreds on the web.

What options do I have?

There are basically two options, Boot Camp and Virtualization

Boot Camp is a technology that allows booting your Mac in different operating systems, and the Assistant will guide you to convert a portion of your Mac into a full Windows PC environment; by partitioning the hard drive, installing Windows (or other OS) on that partition and use the Mac hardware as a PC taking advantage of the Intel chipsets. To use this option you have to re-boot your Mac every time you want to use Windows.

Virtualization is the ability to run Windows programs within Mac OS without the need of rebooting, you are able to run EmbroideryStudio (or DecoStudio) along with CorelDRAW in a Mac and also be able to share all the Mac services (printing, network, exchange of files, etc.). As far as I know there are 4 companies that have Virtualization products: Parallels, VMware Fusion, Oracle and True Crypt.

I decided to upgrade my laptop before I installed Windows on my Mac: I upgraded the HD to 1.2TB and installed 8 GB of RAM.  2 small investments that cost me less than $150! For that money the performance improvements I am now getting is worth every cent; don’t forget that you will be running 2 operating systems at the same time. I began with installing Windows Vista – just for testing purposes -, but I then upgraded both installations to Windows 7 as fast as I could, definitively Vista is not an OS I would recommend. The other different thing I did was to install both Boot Camp and Parallels in my laptop. Depending on the work I am doing I can choose to re-boot my Mac laptop to run Windows, or just run it inside Mac OS.

It doesn’t matter if you are going to install Boot Camp, Fusion or Parallels, please go through Boot Camp Assistant, it will give you a comprehensive view of what is going to happen to your Mac, and you will have the chance to burn a CD/DVD or a Flash drive with the latest Windows drivers for your system.  The installation of Windows is an integral part of both methods (Boot Camp and Virtualization).

Boot camp assistant create partition

Boot Camp

To install Boot Camp all you need is a blank CD or DVD and the installation disk of Windows (XP, Vista, 7 or 8); and be connected to the internet. Don’t
forget your Windows Product Key and have handy your Mac OS install DVD, this is sometimes useful.

Run Boot Camp Assistant (under Application – Utilities) and follow the instructions on how to download updated drivers and partition your HDD. Once you have downloaded the updates and burned the DVD, your system will reboot and the installation of Windows will begin.  You’ll need to make a decision on how big the partitions on the hard drive will be (Mac & Win); think it through, because later on it won’t be easy to re-size those partitions and many of the software’s out there perform a destructive resizing or moving partition, meaning you will need to perform a backup or lose all the info, installations, etc. (Depends on the OS version you are running). The minimum space that you’ll have to allocate is 20 GB for a 64 bit installation (recommended).

macintosh harddrive

Once the installation of Windows have finished and your system is running Windows, you have to run the setup of the Boot Camp DVD (the one Assistant did for you, remember? the one that contains the latest Windows drivers for all the hardware of your Mac); if you don’t complete this step, your system will behave erratically, and the experience won’t be as smooth as it should. Once you finished this step, and as with any other Windows installation, run Windows update, and let Windows download and install all necessary updates, reboot and you are ready to install your Wilcom software and CorelDRAW. Boot Camp will install an applet that will be available through the Control Panel for selecting boot options and operating systems.

Installing Virtualization software

Both installations of the commercial virtualization products available (Fusion and Parallels) are easy and clear, and you are going to follow similar steps as with the installation of Boot Camp, you will need your Windows Install disk and Product key and be connected to the internet, but the size of the virtual disk partition (the space you will allocate to install Windows) is not as important as in Boot Camp and it is quite easy to resize it in the future.

I will strongly suggest that you use the DVD you burnt with Boot Camp Assistant (the drivers section) to update your Windows even under virtualization (Parallels or Fusion). Test your Windows OS to be sure that all the drivers are working properly (display, network, mouse, keyboard, etc.) If everything is fine you are ready to install the Wilcom software (and CorelDRAW) in the same manner as you are used to, you won’t find any difference, and voilà you’re done!

wilcom software  on a mac

Parallels or Fusion?

Difficult question… they are almost identical in performance, compatibility (Lion, Windows 8) and UI (you can see Windows in full screen, or better you will see EmbroideryStudio running as a Mac application – meaning you won’t see Windows running). The benchmarks I have seen put them in a “nose to nose finish”, and the winner has been the one –that at that specific moment- has the most updated version… maybe the only difference is pricing, Fusion today  is 25% cheaper than Parallels.

Although I found out that the performance of the newest versions of Parallels and Fusion are quite good, the performance of Windows (and subsequently ES and DRAW) running under Boot Camp is much better, but on the other side, (using virtualization), the fact that you can exchange files between Windows and Mac OS seamlessly and the ability to use all the Windows and Mac applications (that you are so familiar with), is priceless; so choosing which method you will use it’s a question of personal taste, usability and productivity. Personally, I love the fact that have the option to choose between the two anytime.

Last but not least, all of these procedures and products allow you not only to install Windows, but also other OS like Linux or UNIX, or multiple versions of Mac OS or Windows.

Notes:

I did not test the other Open Source applications: VirtualBox and TrueCrypt; but if you wanted to give it a try, here are the links: http://www.truecrypt.org ; https://www.virtualbox.org/

If you have trouble with your partitions, or if you need to resize the ones you setup, one of the best Apps out there is iPartition, it is easy to understand and all the processes are done within a graphic environment, and for most of the processes they have non-destructive resizing and moving.

If you have trouble reading /installing hard drives in your Mac, (to exchange files between the Windows partition under Boot Camp and Mac OS) be aware that Mac OS can’t see NTFS file systems, the easiest way is to re-format your external HD to any variation of Fat (Fat 32 or ExFat).  You can do this from within Mac Os (Disk Utility –under Applications, Utilities: click on the drive and select Erase – Format) or within Windows (Windows Explorer, right click on the drive, Format, File System).

The other way to do this is installing a 3rd party application that will allow you to “see” the NTFS file system under Mac, I used  an App developed by a Canadian company called Tuxera that offers an NFTS viewer for Mac.

There are a few articles out there that can help with this process:

www.macworld.com/article/1165272/bootcamp.html ,

http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4818?viewlocale=en

http://kb.parallels.com/4729

*Please note: research current as of February 2013. This is an independent review only. Wilcom does not provide technical support on hardware devices.

Eduardo Serje is product manager for the Wilcom Elements product suite, which includes DecoStudio and EmbroideryStudio. Eduardo is a strategic thinker, well known in the apparel decoration industry and is recognized as one of the world’s top CorelDRAW users.

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