Can I run Microsoft Windows on my Mac?
The short answer – Yes, if it’s an Intel-based Mac, it’ll run windows natively. If it’s a PowerPC-based Mac, it’ll run Windows under emulation using VirtualPC or other equivalent tools.
On an Intel-based Mac, you have 3 options:
Apple’s Boot Camp (available with Leopard). It requires partitioning of your hard drive (the Boot Camp installation process will guide you through this) and legitimate full copies of Windows XP or Vista. It has since been made exclusive to Leopard users.
Parallels Desktop and VMware Fusion – Works similarly to Microsoft’s/Connectix’s Virtual PC – where you run an OS inside an OS. They do not require SP2 specifically, and can actually run any of the other x86 OSes you can probably dream up… Linux, *BSD (for what, I have no clue – MacOS is based on Darwin), Windows 98/2k/XP/2k3/Vista. Probably even OS2, BeOS or what have you.
Parallels runs the guest OS inside of the normal MacOS working environment. It uses some hard drive space to form an image (not a partition, but actually a file), and it’s performance isn’t really that fantastic. However, it is notably much better than VirtualPC ever was, in a large part because the instructions are native and do not require translation by the processor.