A slicker option is CodeWeaver's CrossOver Mac Pro 8.0, an application that runs a virtual environment so you can run Windows applications on your Mac. (We tested the Pro version, which supports both apps and games.) With CrossOver 8 installed on your Mac, you can insert a Windows installer disc such as the one for Microsoft Office 2007 or Quicken 2009 for Windows, install the program, and run it without actually running Windows. This saves time, because you never have to boot the Windows OS. And, theoretically, it should make Windows apps run faster on your Mac.
CrossOver Mac Pro 8 is a smart application; it relies on the open-source Wine application for running Windows apps and streamlines the install process. However, since the CrossOver 7 ( Macworld rated 3 out of 5 mice ) release last year, the new version only adds support for one major, new Windows application (Quicken 2009) and tweaks Office 2007 compatibility. CodeWeavers has not addressed my chief complaint, which is that the application does not provide any guidance as to whether an application will work at the time of install, and relies instead on an online user forum. So, CrossOver 8 is smarter, but still not smart enough.
Of course, the real strength of CrossOver 8 is whether it will work for the applications and games you want to run, not any interface issues. For example, I know of a design agency that still uses Adobe FrameMaker 7 to access an extensive archive of page layout documents. In some other cases, you might need to run a Windows program such as Microsoft Word 2007 because that's the version dictated by your company. Fortunately, CrossOver 8 has tweaked support for Office 2007 and now runs more reliably and faster, and adds support for features such as inserting clip art. That said, on my MacBook with 2GB of RAM and a 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo processor, Office 2007 still crashed to the Desktop at least once per hour.
CrossOver 8 supports some of the more popular--but still not the very latest--PC games, such as Left4Dead. That game in particular is important because it ranks up there with World of Warcraft ( Macworld rated 5 out of 5 mice ) as a popular multiplayer game without a Mac version (yet). Left4Dead actually ran quite smoothly and even worked for a multiplayer co-op match.
I also tested Internet Explorer 7. After a few "dry runs" the app finally installed. Sites rich with ActiveX components, such as Live.com, ran quite well. Quicken 2009 never crashed, although parts of the program (such as the start-up screen) have noticeable graphical glitches. Accessing these apps is easy: CrossOver puts icons for Windows apps in a folder, a nice touch, and you can even drag them to the dock for easy access.