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Running Windows Applications On A Mac Without Windows – CrossOver Review

Introduction

Running Windows applications on Linux and Mac systems has come a long way. I remember doing virtual machines, like QEMU, and VirtualBox, running a guest in Vista or XP, and while it does run as expected, the overhead costs of running a whole operating system in a VM environment can be big (I still do use these programs, particulary VBox for development purposes).

Around 2004-2007ish, I’ve was doing some application testings for a little program named WINE (I also have a friend, Tom Wickline, of Wine Reviews, who incidentally was the indirect reason why I created this blog in the first place (we did a review of PlayOnLinux in the past together, and it was so much fun, that I created this blog out of a whim). No, WINE is not a alcoholic drink, but instead it is rather a program that emulates different Windows APIs in linux and mac systems. It was also a challenge to compile for beginners too (I do not compile in mainstream linux OSes in the past but rather in smaller hobbyist type Linuxes like Alinux/PeanutLinux or PCLinuxOS). Real life happened though, so I had to give up this hobby.

The advantage of running WINE over Virtual Machine solutions is no overhead costs and the application runs at particularly native speeds. The disadvantage of running WINE is that not all programs run (Windows has a lot of APIs under the hood, and WINE doesn’t implement all of them).

In this particular article, I am running CrossOver 14.1.3 for Mac, on an early 2011 MacBook Pro (8,1) with 4GB of RAM and Intel HD 3000 Graphics (384MB Shared Memory Display).

Also for this particular experiment, I am installing a CodeWeavers supported application (Microsoft Office 2007), and two unsupported, but community supported applications (Mass Effect, and Tomb Raider 2013)

Before We Start
Before we start, let us see the levels of compatibility in these programs according to WINE compatibility levels:

Bronze – programs can install and run, with fundamental functionalities intact. However, the applications running have enough bugs that CodeWeavers advises running them with caution (save early and often).

Silver – programs can install and run well enough to be usable. There are however bugs that are found to let the program run flawlessly.

Gold – programs can install and run as you would expect if you are running Windows.

A further level of support for CodeWeavers is officially supported. That means if your application is in the list of officially supported applications, CodeWeavers is dedicated to bring up the level of compatibility higher (for example, supported bronze applications is expected to be brought up to silver level applications of CodeWeaver in future versions of CrossOver).

Microsoft Office (Officially Supported, Bronze)
Microsoft Office is an Office Suite of Word Processor, Spreadsheet, Presentation Software, among others. It is basically the proprietary equivalent of LibreOffice/OpenOffice. As such, CrossOver supports Microsoft Office officially.

When the Installation Disk is placed in, CrossOver AutoRun automatically pops up a prompt screen
When the Installation Disk is placed in, CrossOver AutoRun automatically pops up a prompt screen
Upon continuing, MS Office is selected, then progress of install is shown.
Upon continuing, MS Office is selected, then progress of install is shown.
Upon successful install, Microsoft Office 2007 bottle is created with the appropriate program links.
Upon successful install, Microsoft Office 2007 bottle is created with the appropriate program links.
MS PowerPoint 2007 running in CrossOver for Mac.
MS PowerPoint 2007 running in CrossOver for Mac.

For a Bronze application, running MSOffice 2007 seems to have no problems at all (expected for an officially supported application).

Tomb Raider 2013 (Silver, unsupported)

Tomb Raider 2013 is a reboot of the Tomb Raider Franchise of games starring Lara Croft. This program was installed using the installer disc (not through Steam).

Installing Tomb Raider 2013 through installation disc in CrossOver.
Installing Tomb Raider 2013 through installation disc in CrossOver.
Tomb Raider 2013 after installation.
Tomb Raider 2013 after installation.

One thing to note is that the application link to tomb raider is not automatically created by CrossOver. In order to do this, you’ll have to run a command pointing to Steam.exe in the Program Files Folder and save it as a Launcher.

Running the application results in a steam error (not a showstopper).
Running the application results in a steam error (not a showstopper).

This is a bug in WINE, apparently some installed systems have this error from steam popping out. Nevertheless, the program runs as expected as shown below:

Tomb Raider 2013 Running in CrossOver for Mac
Tomb Raider 2013 Running in CrossOver for Mac

As Tomb Raider 2013 is basically a DirectX 10/11 Application (and WINE doesn’t support DirectX 11 yet officially), expect to have graphical glitches.

A possible workaround is to set some registry keys:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER/Software/Wine/Direct3d/”StrictDrawOrdering” = “enabled”

A curious thing is that Tomb Raider works quite well in a MacBook Pro 2011 despite having less than required running requirements (for the graphics card); on benchmarks, I can reach up to 30fps max.

Mass Effect (Gold, unsupported)

This is another popular game by EA. The story revolved around Commander Shephard, a soldier set out to save the universe from an unknown threat.

Again, this is installed from an installation CD (not steam)

Installer CD of Mass Effect inserted into Mac. As shown, it is an unsupported game by CodeWeavers.
Installer CD of Mass Effect inserted into Mac. As shown, it is an unsupported game by CodeWeavers.
Installer Screen for Mass Effect
Installer Screen for Mass Effect
Mass Effect running in CrossOver for Mac
Mass Effect running in CrossOver for Mac

For a Gold rated unsupported application, this game is running as expected in CrossOver. One nitpick though is that the Masseffect.exe file link has not been added to the Mass Effect bottle, so you’ll have to add that as a Launcher in the Run Command section of CrossOver.

Final Thoughts
WINE (and subsequently CrossOver) has come a long way since it’s inception. It can practically run games and applications which a few years ago would not have been possible.

Is it worth a buy? I say, that would depend on the applications/games you’re running in. My advice is to take a look into the compatibility database to see if your application runs or is supported/community supported. If it isn’t listed, I would suggest you try first the trial version of the program to see if it works. If it does, then having a copy of CrossOver can be a good addition to your applications for the mac.

 
 

One comment
  1. Tom Wickline

    As a added bonus I have a promo code that is good for a instant 25% discount off CodeWeavers CrossOver Mac or Linux that I can share with everyone. The promo code is ( WEAVEME ) and its valid until 12/31/2017

    Just enter the promo code in CodeWeavers online store and click update, you will see your instant 25% discount 🙂

    Cheers,
    Tom

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