Apple Not-So-Genius

Overheard in an Apple Store today: 'Parallels... made by VMware; Boot Camp, like, way better for running Windows.'

Joe Hernick, IT Director

March 4, 2008

3 Min Read

Overheard in an Apple Store today: "Parallels ... made by VMware; Boot Camp, like, way better for running Windows."Co-workers and readers have accused me of being an Apple fanboy.

While I like the OS and gear, I've never been a fan of Apple's retail shops. I admit the sales model works well; I send friends and family Apple Store-bound to spare myself from informal support questions.

It would be tough to argue with sales numbers as a measure of success.

My non-IT friends enjoy the whole love, hugs, and surplus-cool package: the bright lighting, hipster tunes, hands-on play zones, mildly pretentious floor staff, blatantly pretentious genius bar. All good for them.

Those positive Apple shopping elements kind of make my skin crawl. The sales and, er, genius staff are my biggest turn-offs. To be honest, sales folks at any retail joint turn me off. Like many of you, I buy most of my gear online.

But you can't touch stuff online.

I stopped by my local Apple Store to get my hands on a MacBook Air.

Some part of me covets an Air.

Luckily, this is not an executive-decision-making part of me. I spent 10 minutes playing with the new multitouch track pads on the Air and MacBook Pro. I'd like one, but I can wait. I'll keep plugging away on my perfectly fine vanilla MacBook, thank you very much.

I was about to head out the door after politely turning down the third offer of assistance from a happy, pithy-T-shirted-employee when something wonderful happened.

A woman at the next MacBook down asked, "These can run Windows, right?"

I stopped, filled with the dreadful fascination one feels as you watch a car slowly sliding on ice, knowing it's going to glide through the red light into cross traffic.

Black Shirt: Well, you could.

Customer: So they run Windows?

Black Shirt: I guess you could, but Mac OS is way cooler.

Customer: How do they run Windows? I need to run Windows for work.

BS: You don't need to run Windows. We can put Office on it for you.

C: My friend told me you could run the Mac stuff and Windows at the same time.

BS: Well, you could run a software called Parallels. It's made by VMware, but it's a BEAR to install. I guess we could put that on if you wanted to, but Apple's Boot Camp is, like, way better for running Windows. If you have to.

C: So Parallels would let me run Windows at the same time as the Mac stuff?

BS: But you can run Windows with Boot Camp, and it wouldn't cost you anything more.

At this point I walked out of the store. The woman walked out shortly after me, empty handed.

Because of my peculiar job I happen to run Parallels Desktop and VMware Fusion on my 2-Ghz, 2-GB, OS X 10.4 MacBook. I don't know anyone else who does this. I guest XP and Linux VMs on both platforms; I've even run OS X 10.5 Server as a VM under Parallels Leopard beta. All work just fine on Macs.

I've helped friends with Boot Camp's dual-boot setup. Yes, it's free, assuming you have a Windows license at hand.

I could understand a bit of brand confusion because of the corporate rebadging at SWsoft over the last few months. Heck, I could even forgive a "Parallels made by Virtuozzo" mistake from Apple staff. It's been pretty easy to get mixed up regarding Parallels' parent company recently. But Parallels by VMware?


The employee's self-assured, inaccurate response to a customer query for a virtualization solution left me biting my lip. Based on the quantity of supposed training for Apple's retail folks, I can't help but wonder if this was purposeful misdirection or simple ignorance/incompetence.Overheard in an Apple Store today: 'Parallels... made by VMware; Boot Camp, like, way better for running Windows.'

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About the Author(s)

Joe Hernick

IT Director

Joe Hernick is in his seventh year as director of academic technology at Suffield Academy, where he teaches, sits on the Academic Committee, provides faculty training and is a general proponent of information literacy. He was formerly the director of IT and computer studies chair at the Loomis Chaffee School in Windsor, CT, and spent 10 years in the insurance industry as a director and program manager at CIGNA.

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