CrossOver – Would you like some Wine with your Windows apps?

26 Comments

About a month or so ago, I attended an Apple briefing on Microsoft interoperability using the new Intel Macs. It was a lot of fairly familiar ground, with Boot Camp and Parallels, but they also introduced a new product, still in alpha testing, from CodeWeavers called CrossOver that got me really excited because it was showing Windows applications running directly in an X11 window using Wine. Wine has been around on Linux and other Unix boxes for a while, and has been worked on by the Darwine Project folks for a while now, but CrossOver is the first really polished looking Wine solution that I’ve yet seen for OS X.

Why was this so exciting? My day job involves supporting a number of Macs in a heterogeneous environment and sometimes I’ll be sent problems to solve that can only be fixed by launching Virtual PC on my PPC Mac or (now) Parallels on my Intel Mac. People will send me Visio documents that OmniGraffle can’t open, I’ll need to access a website that only works correctly with Internet Explorer 6.x for Windows, and so on. So I launch Windows, I wait for it to load, I log in, check to make sure my virus protection and MS patches are up to date, then actually get to work by launching whatever I need. In a rush, I’ll skip checking the virus protection and patches, but you get the idea.

CrossOver skips a good chunk of that, including the part about checking for patches and virus updates because I’m not running Windows, I’m running Wine instead. As stated on the Wine HQ site: “Think of Wine as a compatibility layer for running Windows programs. Wine does not require Microsoft Windows, as it is a completely free alternative implementation of the Windows API consisting of 100% non-Microsoft code, however Wine can optionally use native Windows DLLs if they are available.” With CrossOver, if I need to work with an application I already have installed, I launch CrossOver, go under the Programs menu, and launch the application I want. The time savings alone is great, as is the ability to run older versions of applications along with newer versions, like Lotus Notes 5 and 6. The latter ability is enabled by Wine’s use of “bottles”, which are virtual C: drives, complete with Windows registry, that you install your applications into. CrossOver’s bottles are based off of Windows 98 and Windows 2000, and you can have multiple instances of each OS as individual bottles. In other words, if for some odd reason you need to have Office 97 running side by side with Office 2003, you can. You’ll set up a Windows 98 bottle and install 97, then set up a Windows 2000 bottle and install 2003. Both Offices will live on their own bottle, not interfere with each other and both show up as available options under CrossOver’s Programs menu. Even better, you can archive copies of your bottles once you have them set up the way you want. Hose your current bottle, and you can go back to the archived version.

I want to emphasize that this is still alpha software, so it’s not done yet and in some spots has some distance to go. (For example, having Outlook included in the list of supported applications is in the plan, but not there in the actual product yet.) For all that though, I’ve found CrossOver to be pretty stable and plan on signing up to be a beta tester once it gets there.

26 Comments

Elizabeth Sayers

In September 06 I was persuaded to change to Apple and bought a 13″ MacBook. Because all my files were on Windows, I also bought Crossover and was very pleased with it until the machine crashed 6 weeks later and needed parts replaced. After repeating this exercise 5 times in as many months, the company finally agreed to replace the computer. My problem now is that I can’t seem to use the Crossover feature any more. How can I re-activate Crossover with my new machine? I would appreciate any help.
Thanks,
Liz

widow

I cannot believe code weavers isn’t writing code for this PPC. architecture.

Wilson Biggs

I’m on my G4 Powerbook, and want to use some Pokémon hacking tools, but I can’t. EXE! I use File Juicer! Some lame .txt file comes out! Now i realise I can’t! Crossover is for Intel! I agree.

CrashTest

“Shaem
Jun 30th, 2006 at 5:19 pm

Well that sucks most people are still using PPC macs it kinda pisses me off that already they are forgetting about PPC computers such as the G5, and just to use Crossover I have to splurge well over £1000!

Great just great”

You have to remember that it is not made by Apple so you can’t blame them of “already forgetting about PPC computers”, and secondly, it is running applications designed for intel chips, on intel chips. It is just an intermediary so that it can be done within the Mac OS. To implement something that would also allow the apps to run on processors not originally intended would be MUCH more involved, and probably out of the scope of the WINE base they are using.

Louish

Just played with it for a little bit, its all good. Got it installed by making sure X11 was installed via the Max OS install disk. Got Crossovers installed, and did my first test by successfully installing Paint Shop Pro 7.04.

Nice….

Louish

I have an Intel Mac Book Pro, with all the latest updates, including X11 for 10.4 installed. When I run the Crossover installer it says:
“CrossOver cannot run because it requires components from Apple’s X11, which is not installed. Please install applie’s X11 using the optional installs package on the mac osx install disc 1 that came with your mac and then restart crossover.”

How do I check to see if X11 is properly installed. I tried downloading a version from Apples site, but it was for an older OS and it told me I already have a newer version installed of X11.

Thanks
Louish

Rich Trouton

Sloaah,

Probably not. Since you’re not running Windows, just specific Windows-compatible applications, the viruses don’t have much to infect or means to spread by. It’s possible to deliberately run a virus on a Wine bottle (most likely on CrossOver too), but the results of that on Linux were inconclusive and a little funny: http://os.newsforge.com/article.pl?sid=05/01/25/1430222

Rich Trouton

Highchecker,

I was able to get Windows Media Player 7 to install into a Win98 bottle, using an online installer from CNN.com’s video section that I accessed using IE 6 running on CrossOver. I’m still working on WMP 9, so far without success. For WMP 7, it looks like it’s important that IE 6 be installed first in the bottle you’re planning to install WMP into.

It’s my understanding that CrossOver only works out of its own bottles, so I don’t believe it’ll be possible to have your Windows partition applications run inside CrossOver. You can ask the folks at Code Weavers if that’s possible.

highchecker

rich,
of course i have x11 insatlled, thx for teh advise anway, i found now package insatller crossover alpha2, this worked, i can run some apps directly, but its really an alpha. what i would like to know, if how can a game liek HAL LIFE work, and windows media player not. bad thing, is that now windows xp apps are supported. i have a windows partition, so i ask myself it would be nice to have an app wich can use this windwos to start my applications…

Shaem

Well that sucks most people are still using PPC macs it kinda pisses me off that already they are forgetting about PPC computers such as the G5, and just to use Crossover I have to splurge well over £1000!

Great just great

highchecker

hi all,
i tried to install the demo but it does not work.
in terminal i got the messge, that my darwin isnt supported, i run a new macbookpro with newest firmware and os, some help?

regards

highchecker

Jeffrey Lee

Brutal,

There are some Groupware Servers and devices that require Outlook for full functionality. Entourage can do most of this however there are those that still need Outlook and the features they gain.

You can blame MS for this type of anti-competitive BS.

Tommy

If Apple were to buy Code Weavers wouldn’t this give the Mac OS the windows compatibility that some people say it’s always needed? Would give a huge boost for sales. Particularly those who want to switch but don’t want to leave some Windows programs behind.

Nick

I was so impressed by Crossover under Linux where I got Word, Excell, Powerpoint and Outlook running from simple icons under KDE for some clients. They were amazed. It was completely transparent.

If it can be made to work for OSX, Apple could be in front of its biggest marketing campaign for switchers.

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