Reader J.H. asks: When you use Visio on the Parallels Desktop, is operation of Visio as good, smooth and fast as using it on Windows XP? I tried Visio once on Virtual PC and found it unsatisfactory. Visio is the main reason my office
is not a Mac office.
J.H., out of courtesy, asked for a simple yes/no answer. Unforunately, I wanted to provide a bit more detail :-).
Virtual PC for the Mac was slow for a couple of reasons. First, it is an emulation solution. It actually had to emulate an Intel CPU to run the Windows code and application code installed on top of it. Second, it is pretty clear that the PowerPC G4/G5 processors were definitely slower than the Core Duo and Core 2 Duo commonly found in most Intel Macs out in the wild today.
Parallels has the advantage of being a true virtualization option that works directly on an x86 architecture. Moreover, the Core Duo and Core 2 Duo (and Xeon Woodcrest) have the Intel-VT virtualziation assistance built into the hardware. Basically, virtualized OSes including Windows XP and Linux fly on it an Intel Mac running Parallels Desktop for Mac.
The, BUT…, comes into play if you bought an Intel Mac early in the release cycle and didn’t bump RAM up to 1GB or more. I would hesitate to run Windows as a Guest OS on a 512MB MacBook, for example. However, if you have 1GB or more of RAM, set Windows XP SP2 with at least 512MB RAM for its virtual machine and Visio and other apps seem to run pretty fast to me. Combine that with Parallels Coherence mode that lets you run Windows applications in what looks like its own window under Mac OS X, and the experience feels nearly seamless (Windows apps menus always are Windows-like vs. Mac-like, of course).
So, if you have at least 1GB RAM on a Core Duo or Core 2 Duo (not so sure about a Core Solo in the original low-end Intel Mac mini), you should be able to run Visio and other Windows applications comfortably using Parallels Desktop for Mac.