Windows on Mac and Office on Linux

By Blane Warrene
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A recent development project has put me in a position to be shifting back and forth across OS platforms (thank goodness for KVM switches). It is not really a big deal however since it is one keyboard, mouse and monitor, I simply prefer to work with one or a minimal number of machines when knee deep in building and testing.

For starters, with my Macintosh being pretty beefed up, I run the latest Virtual PC, Version 7, from Microsoft with Windows XP Pro SP2. This gives me simultaneous access to both operating systems on the fly for any testing.

My complaint, as was the case for many others, was always the sluggishness of VPC in previous versions. That has been resolved with the latest release for me (Although I continue to see reviews stating otherwise). One caveat though – I am running a 1.25 GHz, 1 GB RAM G4 with 120 GB in hard drive space, which very likely helps with VPC’s performance. I cannot imagine running the software on a system with anything less. Perhaps this is the benchmark generating muddling publicity on the new release.

Even better though has been my recent discovery of CodeWeaver’s CrossOver Office. While not new – I had not previously spent any time looking into it. Now though, immersed in QA – I can complete intensive test scripts on my Linux workstation, and readily update Word and Excel spreadsheets without jumping machines due to CrossOver Office.

Of course there is the argument for using an open office suite – however – that does not always cooperate with corporate client specifications, including VBA-enhanced documents and spreadsheets for quality assurance. Thus, the ability to run Microsoft Office on Linux is invaluable.

Version 4.0 supports some key applications, most interestingly for developer’s Macromedia Dreamweaver and Flash (the latter considered the Linux golden egg by some – a step toward native Flash dev on Linux). It also runs Adobe Photoshop, Microsoft Office and several other programs. A comprehensive database showing tested and untested product compatibility is online at the CodeWeaver’s site.

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