June 30, 2006 4:00 AM PDT

Turning Wine into Windows on a Mac

It used to be that running Windows programs on a Mac was a slow, painful process. There was only one option: running Virtual PC emulation software.

But with Apple Computer's shift to Intel chips, the pool of options has expanded considerably. For one, Apple has its own Boot Camp software, which lets Intel-based Macs boot up with either Windows or Mac OS X. Meanwhile, start-up Parallels has released software that lets the Microsoft operating system run in a separate virtual machine with only a slight loss in performance.

Soon there will be yet another option, which, unlike the current choices, doesn't even require a copy of Windows. A company called CodeWeavers is using an open-source technology called Wine to allow some Windows programs to run under Mac OS X.

CodeWeavers is in early testing with CrossOver Office for Mac now and plans to release a final version of the software in July or August. CEO Jeremy White said he would have liked to have seen his product out before the rivals.

"It's unfortunate we couldn't get it out before," White said in an interview. "We would have loved to have been the only solution out for a while."

Though the move to Intel has already opened up Windows options for Mac users, the planned release of CrossOver Office highlights the fact that Apple's systems are becoming far more compatible with the Windows world.

White said CrossOver Office has one big advantage over those other options: Using it doesn't require the purchase of a copy of Windows. However, it also has significant downsides. Its focus is on application compatibility, not device drivers, so things like printers don't work with the Windows applications.

CrossOver Office

Also, Wine is a compatibility layer, not a true emulator, so it works with only some Windows programs. ("Wine" used to stand for "Wine is not an emulator"--a mind-bending nonacronym along the lines of the GNU Project's "Gnu's not Unix.") Developers at CodeWeavers and others on the open-source Wine effort have to work on each program they want to make compatible.

"That's why it is so hard, and why not so many applications work," White said.

Getting there
The move to the Mac is new, but CodeWeavers has been trying to find a commercial market for Wine technology for three or four years now. Its main product has been its CrossOver Office for Linux, which uses the Wine technology to run, among other programs, Microsoft Office. White said about 100,000 people use the CrossOver Office product.

White acknowledged that the Wine technology remains imperfect.

"In theory, it's the holy grail," White said. "In practice, it's very promising and great when it works."

While many Windows programs may work with the Mac version of CrossOver Office, CodeWeavers will support only a handful. These will likely include Microsoft Project, Microsoft Outlook and the Windows-only game "Half-Life 2," White said.

CodeWeavers remains a small effort. The company has about 20 people, with half those based in St. Paul, Minn., including White.

White said he has some hope that, despite the competition, Mac users will prove less tightfisted than Linux users. Many of these have been reluctant to pay for the CrossOver product, when the technology is also available free in the open-source world.

"Parting with money is just not part of the Linux way," White said.

Plus, there are a lot of Mac users out there. "There are far more Mac users than there are Linux, at least in North America on the desktop," White said.

See more CNET content tagged:
CodeWeavers Inc., wine, GNU, Apple Macintosh, open source

34 comments

Join the conversation!
Add your comment
That smell?? Oh, it's the COFFEE!!!
Wake up and smell the coffee guys, we don't want WINE. We have
full blown Windows with all the device drivers. Wine is not a
compatibility layer, it's an incompatibility layer. Just leave it alone
and focus on something else.
Posted by CentrOS (126 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Far better than having to purchase a copy of Windows
I like this solution far better than having to purchase a copy of
Windows.

Most Mac users don't care for 100% compatibility anyway. It is
only a few Windows apps that they need to run occasionally.

For example, if Crossover Office can run MS-Project, that alone
would sell it to me as I don't need to run any other Windows
apps.

For many Mac users Internet Explorer for Windows is the only
app they need to run, and then only to check how their website
looks to a Windows user. Again, if Crossover Office can run
IE6/7, then that alone would be good enough for many to buy it.
Posted by balooh (37 comments )
Link Flag
Right Direction
If software companies see enough Mac users running Windows,
why would they continue dumping money into building
applications for OS X? In a worst-case scenario OS X could be
left without anything but Apple apps!

At least technologies like WINE are a step in the right direction,
since even if there were NO native applications written for OS X
it would not be a problem. It would also be nice to just buy
Windows software and (assuming the license allows for more
than one seat) install it on PCs and Macs.

For people or companies that do not run PCs at all, they could
install Windows apps without the cost of buying Windows! To me
that sounds good.
Posted by (26 comments )
Link Flag
You haven't used WINE...
WINE doesn't work on everything, but when it
does work, it's often the ideal solution.
QuickBooks? Use WINE and it's faster and runs
just like a native app rather than a VM, and no
need to dual boot.

Drivers are generally not important with regard
to the applications (the article falsely implies
you couldn't print, but rather you use the
native print driver rather than the Windows
ones). For example, the fact that you don't use
Windows drivers doesn't impede you from using
WINE to play World of Warcraft in any way -- the
functionality is all there and it plays
identically on the same hardware save for the
fact that you can force it into a Window managed
by the desktop environment. It also uses less
memory.

WINE is nice in that 1. You don't need a copy of
Windows, 2. Everything runs natively without the
overhead of virtualization, often faster than
they do natively under Windows on the hardware,
3. It runs in the native desktop environment
instead of a virtualized desktop-on-a-desktop
and is managed by the same Window manager as
everything else.

Wine is also nice in that WineLib allows you to
do things like use Windows DLLs in Linux/OSX
applications, or compile apps written with the
Win32 API into native Linux/OSX executables.
Posted by Zymurgist (397 comments )
Link Flag
There will never be 100% compatibility
Nothing will ever offer full compatibility. There's always going to be some issues.
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.techknowcafe.com/content/view/552/44/" target="_newWindow">http://www.techknowcafe.com/content/view/552/44/</a>
Posted by (156 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Oh my gosh
Why do you want to emulate Windows everywhere. Gosh it's MacOSX, rather force vendors producing more native applications.
---
Pixel image editor - <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.kanzelsberger.com" target="_newWindow">http://www.kanzelsberger.com</a>
Posted by firstlast (35 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Mac on a PC
How come no one has figured out how to run MAC OS on a PC now? It not should be difficult, then all PCs
and Macs would be common.
Posted by wpope1 (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
OS X does run on ordinary PCs
Where have you been lately? It´s been all over the news for ages -
OS X for x86 has been tweaked by entusiasts to run on ordinary
PCs. It doesn´t run perfectly if I remember correctly - but then
again it´s not supported by Apple. And even more important it´s
not legal to run OS X on a non-Apple PC. - So what was your point
again?
Posted by andrewholden (17 comments )
Link Flag
PC aren't powerful enough to run Mac...
Posted by soberg1 (1 comment )
Link Flag
The key is driving mac sales
I disagree that running windows apps on macs will decrease native OS/X app development.

For years, we've wanted more native application, but nothing has been done to increase this number. The only thing that is going to increase the number of native apps is to 1) sell more macs and 2) put more cross platform tools in the hands of developers (Yellow Book)

Apps like this drive point 1 in that they help convert more windows, or really pc users, to mac users. Why buy a pc laptop when you can buy a mac and be able to run BOTH OSes and have the best of both worlds? Then, once the market share of macs goes up, and users like the easer to use OS/X, these two factors will drive the clamor for more native applications.

Add in the factor that Vista, with its huge hardware requirements, is going to force many to choose a new platform soon, and the opportunity is there for Apple to seize.
Posted by bhales (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Great point
Mac OS X is very memory efficient (kernel is compiled that way),
and not as performance efficient as VISTA. LINUX also gets gudos
for running on non-optimal hardware. However, VISTA is WAY too
big for an OS and its UAC is clumsy and gets in the way of smooth
operation. Their (MS) concept of levels of VISTA running is clumsy
and stupid and a marketing fiasco.
Posted by curtegg (38 comments )
Link Flag
Uh, windows and mac machines ARE pc
This is more aimed at the community as a whole be it penguin, fruite or billy worshipper. We frequently talk in terms of mac and pc; "psh, Mac rocks harder than PCs, dude." - "whatever dude, PC blows Mac out of the water." - "Screw that man, my linux box could eat both those machines alive."

The irony and point of contention that makes my ears bleed a little every time I hear it is that a Windows based machine and an Apple based machine are both PC. They are both Personal Computers be they palmtop, sub-note, notebook or desktop.

Comparing osX to a pc is like comparing your coffee to the mug your drinking it from. Your not comparing a PC to a Mini (not the little box but the sub-mainframe class), mainframe or cluster.

That's my only gripe though. I too hope that bootcamp and virtual computing can intice more Windows users to give the OS a try. Though no OS is exactly right for everyone, I think most people will find that osX is far more usable than Windows. The tech savvy will always love the performace focus of *nix based systems and by family ties, osX but the general user is just trying to do something WITH not TOO there PC.

If your all good, maybe next week I'll rant about the gross miss-use of the preface "cyber" by mass media, IE:

Preface "cyber" being derived from "cybernetic" defined as an electro-mechanical replication or replacement of a human function with additional features.

it's not cybercrime, it's crime
it's not hacker, it's criminal (hackers are generaly very moral and inquisitive indaviduals)

maybe I have this all wrong and I should really be checking my cyber-email while talking on my cyberphone during the drive home in my cybercard. hey, they all involve a computer right?
Posted by jabbotts (492 comments )
Link Flag
great for non Mac apps but...
This new option sounds great for people who want or need their
mac to run one or two windows applications natively, but there
are always going to be downsides.
Whenever you add another layer, everything gets slower. This
kind of software sounds good, but I would think that it would
only work really well on less processor intensive tasks.
I hope that app developers dont see programs like this as an
alternative to developing for the Mac market. They would be
foolish to do so, and it would suck! I bought a mac to enjoy
using a mac, not to pretend its a windows PC!
Also, if there was an option between a mac native app and a
windows app I would choose a mac native app everytime. Nicer
GUI, sleek workings etc. The only apps I would want to use that
come from a PC would be browsers to test web pages.
Posted by yikes31 (71 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Certainly...
Apps running under WINE do run slower than a
native app for the platform, but they often run
faster than they do under Windows.

WINE implements some loaders and an
implementation of the APIs on top of the native
platform. But a lot of performance of Windows
apps goes into performing Windows-specific
operations that are no necessary in the
non-Windows environment.

WINE is a love-hate sort of thing. When it works
well, the Windows app will often work better
(faster, uses less memory) on the non-Windows
platform. However, sometimes it really doesn't
work at all, in which case, you're back to
VMWare or Parallels...

If you just want to play World of Warcraft --
you're all set.
Posted by Zymurgist (397 comments )
Link Flag
Native Apps
There have always been enough native Mac developers to keep the
platform going; out of the millions of Mac users there are a few
thousand programmers who love the machines and don't want to
develop for Windows or Linux.

While I think Crossover is a great idea, it would have been funnier
to have finished those pictures of Visio running on a Mac, with one
of OmniGraffle running natively.
Posted by JulesLt (110 comments )
Link Flag
Native Apps
There have always been enough native Mac developers to keep the
platform going; out of the millions of Mac users there are a few
thousand programmers who love the machines and don't want to
develop for Windows or Linux.

While I think Crossover is a great idea, it would have been funnier
to have finished those pictures of Visio running on a Mac, with one
of OmniGraffle running natively.
Posted by JulesLt (110 comments )
Link Flag
Yea, but do they provide Office 2000 or newer for critical application save
This is a personnal issue for my computer setup. I can no longer access legible rendering from my data files without using Wordpad; thus XML is stuck in a server for anything I could transmit over the internet; and storage would be a must.(Under Construction)
Posted by Stalin Hornsby (60 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The Is Nothing New Under The Sun!
It is stated in this article that; "Soon there will be yet another option, which, unlike the current choices, doesn't even require a copy of Windows. A company called CodeWeavers is using an open-source technology called Wine to allow some Windows programs to run under Mac OS X."... the fact that "Bob Amstadt (the initial project leader) and Eric Youngdale started the Wine project in 1993 as a way to run Windows applications on Linux."; although platforms may vary from time to time... then it would be quite logical to assume that this effort by "CodeWeavers" is not something new and like the old saying goes - There Is Nothing New Under The Sun!

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.answers.com/topic/wine-software" target="_newWindow">http://www.answers.com/topic/wine-software</a>
Posted by Captain_Spock (894 comments )
Reply Link Flag
There Is Nothing New Under The Sun!
It is stated in this article that; "Soon there will be yet another option, which, unlike the current choices, doesn't even require a copy of Windows. A company called CodeWeavers is using an open-source technology called Wine to allow some Windows programs to run under Mac OS X."... the fact that "Bob Amstadt (the initial project leader) and Eric Youngdale started the Wine project in 1993 as a way to run Windows applications on Linux."; although platforms may vary from time to time... then it would be quite logical to assume that this effort by "CodeWeavers" is not something new and like the old saying goes - There Is Nothing New Under The Sun!

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.answers.com/topic/wine-software" target="_newWindow">http://www.answers.com/topic/wine-software</a>
Posted by Captain_Spock (894 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Is anyone awake at C|Net?
In what way is this a "new" option? It is not even necessary to look
to Linux. It is difficult to believe that the author bothered to do
even five minutes of basic research? If so, it is difficult to imagine
how he could have missed darwine.
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://darwine.opendarwin.org/" target="_newWindow">http://darwine.opendarwin.org/</a>
Posted by DeusExMachina (516 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Mac OS X does run on ordinary PCs
Where have you been lately? It´s been all over the news for ages -
OS X for x86 has been tweaked by entusiasts to run on ordinary
PCs. It doesn´t run perfectly if I remember correctly - but then
again it´s not supported by Apple. And even more important it´s
not legal to run OS X on a non-Apple PC. So what was your point
again?
Posted by andrewholden (17 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Sorta runs.....
... isn't any better than not running at all, But then, a PC user might
not be able to notice the difference..
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Link Flag
Just waiting
Just waiting for the Red Box layer.

Programmer #A-5 of www.totallyparanoia.com

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.network54.com/Forum/7505/" target="_newWindow">http://www.network54.com/Forum/7505/</a>
Posted by fakespam (239 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

Join the conversation

Add your comment

The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Click here to review our Terms of Use.

What's Hot

Discussions

Shared

RSS Feeds

Add headlines from CNET News to your homepage or feedreader.