Crossover for Mac – Review January 2011

Image representing Windows as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

As a relatively new convert to the Cult of Mac, I have searched for something that will allow me to use my old Windows based programs on my Mac. I have several games and programs that I own, but are just sitting in a cabinet gathering dust. While searching for something else I found a program that claimed to be able to run some PC programs on my Mac, called Crossover which is based on the Wine emulator. So far the results are rather mixed.
Product Name: Crossover
Company Name: Codeweavers
Type: Desktop Software
Product Description:
“Need to run Windows applications on your Mac? CrossOver Mac is what you are looking for. With seamless integration with your Mac OS 10 operating system, there’s no need to boot a separate Windows partition, or move files back and forth between two separate environments. CrossOver Mac lets you work natively in Mac OS 10; you run your Windows applications directly in OS 10 and save all your work files there as well. Running just one operating system means faster performance as well. Running on OS 10 also means that even if you’re running virus-prone applications like Outlook and Internet Explorer, you’re completely protected.
And best of all, you need NO Windows OS license.” Codeweaver’s website
How much does it cost? It depends on what you are looking for, Codeweavers have several different plans, but the basic Crossover basic is $39.95, Crossover games is $39.95 and Crossover Professional which has both versions is $69.95. According to the website Crossover does offer an educators discount.
Is this the first time reviewing this product: This is the first time that I have reviewed Crossover software.
Do my students have easy access the product? No, this product needs to be downloaded and students are not allowed to put software beyond what comes with the MLTI image on their laptop.
Do I currently use Crossover in my classroom? No
Is Crossover intuitive and easy to use or is there a steep learning curve? There is a learning curve for using Crossover, especially beyond the basics and supported software and is at the edge or aobve of my abilities to use beyond the simple plug and play software. When error messages occur, I am not able to fix them to make the unsupported or even some Silver level supported software to work with Crossover.
How does Crossover apply to Special Education? It would allow student or staff to use Windows paced programs, that could assist students.
Limitations: I have used Crossover for a couple of days and have been very frustrated by its lack of ability to run programs that I would want it to. I was hoping that it would be able run Windows Live Writer or some of the other PC blog editor software, but it does not. Also I tried 4 times to load NeverWinter Nights 2 (a RPG that I really like) and Oblivion and they wouldn’t load correctly. I downloaded four different Windows Blog editors and unfortunately Crossover didn’t run any of them.
I was thinking about attempting the original NeverWinter Nights, but got to thinking why should I go back to run a game that old, when there are better options native to the Mac (for a price).
What are the other options/programs that do the same function that I have used, how does Crossover compare to those? There are several Virtual Machines like Parrallels, VM Fusion that you have to have either XP, Vista or Windows 7 run PC software, also there is the Mac’s Bootcamp to run Windows on a Mac. However Crossover intrigued me as something different, because I didn’t have to go out and buy a version of Windows in order for it to work.
The reality is that Crossover works to a point, but it does not run all that many Windows-based applications/games that I want. I had high hopes for it when I first started reading the website about using Crossover, but as I used it more and more, it didn’t do what I wanted or run programs that would have made it a winner for me. It did run Office 2007 (however I now own Office 2011 for Mac, which works well), but the graphics were “off” just a little bit and it didn’t render my gold standard correctly – Maine Individual Education Plan (IEP) checkboxes correctly. It was nice to look at my OneNote Portfolio on my Mac, but being able to run Office 2007 isn’t enough in itself to purchase Crossover for me.
I got Guild Wars back in December 2009 and hadn’t tried it yet, so it was cool to actually play it and Crossover ran it flawlessly. This is a great example of how I expected Crossover to work based on the reviews I had read.
Honestly, I might be thinking differently about Crossover if this was the first month or so of owning a Mac and I wanted to run Office and/or other supported PC software that Crossover does support. It would have saved me some money on the two versions of Office for Mac that I purchased since I bought my Mac.
Recommendation: The big question I have is, does Crossover bring enough of what I want from Windows or not? I really, really like the premise on which Crossover is based and want it to work for me, but at the same time, the programs that I want it to “crossover” to my Mac like Window Live Writer or NeverWinter Nights didn’t run for me or are not supported. Therefore, when the free trial runs out, I have to make a decision on whether I will go ahead and purchase Crossover or not. If I had to choose today, probably not.