We have previously seen how to Run Windows 8 on Mac, but this method consists of installing a new OS on your Mac using Parallels. One of the most off-putting factors of a Mac to a Windows user is its incompatibility with a lot of software. Recent years have seen the Mac make up some good ground with the likes of Valve backing the platform with Steam for gaming, but still lag behind in some key areas.
For example, Microsoft Office for Mac isn’t a patch on the suite you can get for Windows, and other popular Microsoft software such as Windows Live Writer, isn’t available at all.
WinonX aims to take the Mac that little step closer to Windows in terms of software compatibility, by offering users a platform to run a growing number of Windows-only applications on their Mac.
Installing Windows Apps on Mac
When you first launch WinonX, you’ll be faced with the screen as shown below. You’ll notice there are already a number of entries in the Applications folder that’s created upon launch. For example: DOS Prompt, Explorer and Minefield (Minesweeper) are there by default, amongst others.
To install new apps though, which you’ll most likely want to do if you’re up for anything more than making notes or playing basic and tedious games for hours, you simply need to download the .exe or .msi file from the usual source online. The example software I used for the demonstration is ImgBurn, as it’s a relatively simple, quick to install application as well as being free.
So, once you’ve got the installer, just double-click the icon as you would on Windows, or instead drag it to the WinonX dock icon. Don’t drag it onto the main window of the application, as it seems to just launch you into a blank white state, effectively crashing the application.
Just hit ‘Open’ when faced with this prompt and you’ll then be confronted with a screen as shown below for a short time before you’re automatically launched into the installer for the application.
Once you’ve brought up the installer for the application, it’s exactly as it would be on Windows, except in a typically pre-Windows XP interface.
Progress through the installation step by step, following the on screen instructions as always, and eventually you’ll be left with the original screen as shown in the first screenshot, however this time yours, like mine, will include the installed application within the appropriate folder. Simply click once on the app and it’ll load and run as it would under Windows.
How it Works
Effectively, WinonX is a pretty face for a background project that’s been in existence for rather a long time now: Wine, and it’s been allowing Linux users as well as Mac users run Windows applications for a number of years. For this reason, the only applications compatible with WinonX are those that are compatible with the Wine Project as standard, which you can find here.
Wine is a free, open-source project for Linux, Mac OS X, Solaris amongst others, and rather than being a typical emulator or virtualization software, though there is much debate on the subject, it is known by the developers as a ‘compatibility layer’. Now the ins and outs of exactly what constitutes each is quite irrelevant, as just like an emulator or VM, you will notice a decrease in performance over native running of the application on Windows, therefore you might want to consider the power your Mac can produce before trying to run fully fledged games on there, though you should be fine under normal circumstances with standard applications.
WinonX, though, provides a layer for Wine so that you can make use of Wine much more easily, in theory, than you could if you had to manually meddle with APIs and such. Not a beginner’s job. I’ve found that although not every app will work with WinonX – I had some trouble with Windows Live Writer, for example – under normal functional circumstances it will allow you to install and run applications in a similar amount of time as it would take you on Windows.
Why It’s Useful
A lot of what could come under here is probably a little obvious. Running applications that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to run, for instance, would be something you’d automatically assume this was good for. And it is. But more than that, running these applications on top of a layer like Wine can save you the hassle of dual or triple booting your Mac and not only having to switch operating systems manually, which can be time-consuming, every time you want to use a Windows application for just a few seconds, but also save you valuable hard disk space by removing the necessity of installing an entire OS and all the junk that inevitably comes with it.
On top of that, it’s also free. Rather than having to splash out potentially hundreds on a Windows license, Wine allows you to run Windows applications that you might own or have access to for free.
The crux of this application is simply this: it allows you to run a lot, but not all, Windows software on a Mac. What you choose to use that for is entirely up to you, providing the applications are compatible.
For many applications is works perfectly, and will allow you to perform small tasks without having to switch OS or computer. It’ll save you time, money, hassle and valuable bytes.