Walt Mossberg

Recent Columns by Walt Mossberg

Mossberg’s Mailbox

Running Vista on a Mac

There’s no other major item most of us own that is as confusing, unpredictable and unreliable as our personal computers. Everybody has questions about them, and we aim to help.

Here are a few questions about computers I’ve received recently from people like you, and my answers. I have edited and restated the questions a bit, for readability. This week my mailbox contained questions about Macintosh computers’ ability to handle Windows Vista, Quicken, and the best iPod to use when exercising.

Will the currently available range of Macintosh computers accommodate Microsoft’s new Windows Vista? When will Apple formally offer the successor to Boot Camp, allowing a Mac user to simultaneously run the Mac OS and Vista?

I haven’t tested the new Intel-based Macs with pre-release versions of Vista, Microsoft’s forthcoming version of Windows. And Apple hasn’t made any announcements about Vista compatibility with its Boot Camp program, which allows a current Mac to boot up in Windows instead of in the Mac’s own operating system. Officially, Boot Camp only works with Windows XP.

However, a third-party company, Parallels Inc., has announced that its $80 product, Parallels Desktop for Mac, now allows Vista to run on the 2006-model Macs. Unlike Boot Camp, Parallels permits Mac users to run Windows inside a window in their Mac environments, with no restarting needed. More information is at parallels.com, where the software also can be downloaded.

As for the future of Boot Camp, Apple doesn’t plan any major new releases of that program, though I can’t swear it wouldn’t offer a minor tweak. The company is focused on integrating the functionality of Boot Camp into its own 2007 operating system release, called Leopard, which is due out next spring. I assume that, with this functionality built in, Leopard-equipped Macs should be able to run Vista out of the box, provided you buy and install your own copy of Vista. However, Apple hasn’t specifically promised that Vista will run on Macs.

Quicken has been unstable on my system and is much more complicated than I need. Is there a program available on the Web that simply allows me to track my income and expenses against a budget?

Yes. Microsoft makes a stripped-down $20 version of its Microsoft Money program, called Money Essentials, that does just what you want, and not much more. It runs only on Windows PCs, and can be purchased and downloaded at microsoft.com/money. We reviewed it and found it worked fine. If you use a Mac, you might consider Moneydance, available at moneydance.com. It’s designed to be quick and simple, but I haven’t reviewed it. Moneydance runs on Windows and Linux machines, in addition to Macs using OS X.

What model iPod would you recommend that is affordable and can be easily used while I exercise in a cardiac rehab program? I’d like to record and play back several hours’ worth of classical music.

The best iPod model for exercising is also the least expensive — the tiny new $79 iPod shuffle, which even has a built-in clip for easy attachment to clothing. It holds one gigabyte of music, which should play for more than a few hours. But the shuffle lacks a screen and many features that other iPods include. If you want these things, you should consider the smallest, least expensive iPod nano, which costs $149, holds twice as much music and is still quite small and light. You can get a lanyard or armband made especially for the nano.

However, as a former heart-surgery patient who benefited immensely from cardiac rehab classes, let me suggest that isolating yourself with an iPod may not be the best way to go through the program. In my experience, the information provided by the professionals and the support from fellow patients was invaluable. To absorb those, I found, you have to be social and involved.

Top Products in Two Decades of Tech Reviews

December 17, 2013 at 6:04 pm PT

Diabetes Data Beamed to Your Phone

December 10, 2013 at 6:16 pm PT

Two Houses, One Cable TV Bill

December 10, 2013 at 6:14 pm PT

Calling Overseas on Wi-Fi

December 03, 2013 at 6:18 pm PT

Dell Tablets at Bargain Prices

December 03, 2013 at 6:12 pm PT

Latest Video

View all videos »

Search »

Walt Mossberg’s Product Guides

Desktop PC’s and Laptops

The Laptops to Buy

Digital Cameras

Digital Cameras Improve Zooms, HD Function