Most personal computers come with either Microsoft's Windows operating system or Apple's OS X. While Windows is the clear leader in terms of total number of users, many graphic artists and professionals prefer OS X. Install both operating systems on a single computer to have the best of both worlds. Use a virtual computer if you're using a PC or Apple's Boot Camp software if you own a Macintosh computer.
If you own an Intel-based Mac, you can run both OS X and Windows on the same computer. In 2006, Apple replaced the PowerPC chips traditionally used in Macintosh computers with Intel processors. Most PC computers use Intel-based chips, which means you can now run the Windows and OS X operating systems on a Mac computer. However, because of licensing restrictions, you cannot use OS X on a Windows-based PC without violating Apple's End User Legal Agreement. Installing OS X on a Windows PC voids the operating system's warranty.
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Programs like Parallels and VMWare Fusion let you run a "virtual machine" on your computer. This virtual machine runs concurrently with the main operating system. You must install a copy of the Windows operating system on the virtual machine. When you enable the virtual machine, it will boot up in a window or full screen, depending on how you configure the software. You can run programs and access the Internet with a virtual machine just like an actual computer. Virtual machines, however, tend to run slower because the computer must divide its resources between two operating systems. With faster processors and more system memory, this becomes less of an issue when running Windows and OS X simultaneously on a single computer.
You can partition the hard drive on a Mac computer to divide into two virtual drives. Apple's Boot Camp software includes a drive partitioning utility. You can enter how much space you want allocated to each partition within Boot Camp to configure the drive space available to each operating system. Use one partition for the Apple operating system, and the other for Microsoft Windows. You cannot run both at the same time, however. Instead, you must shut down and boot the other operating system. Unlike with virtual machine software, each operating system has full access to the computer's processor and does not have to share the system memory.