A virtual machine is one of the best ways to run Windows desktop software. They allow you to install Windows and other operating systems in a window on your Mac desktop. Windows will think it’s running on a real computer, but it’s actually running inside a piece of software on your Mac.
You don’t have to use your Windows program in the virtual machine window, either—many virtual machine programs allow you to break Windows programs out of your virtual machine window so they can appear on your Mac desktop. However, they’re still running inside the virtual machine in the background.
You’ll need a Windows license to install Windows in a virtual machine. If you already have a product key, you can download Windows installation media for free and install it in a virtual machine program.
Popular virtual machine programs for Mac include Parallels and VMware Fusion. Each of these is a paid program, so you’ll have to buy both a Windows license and a copy of your virtual machine program of choice. You can also use the completely free and open-source VirtualBox for Mac, but its 3D graphics support and Mac operating system integration aren’t as good. Parallels and VMWare Fusion both offer free trials, so you can try all these programs and decide which is best for you.
If you already have a Windows system, you could skip running Windows software on your Mac completely and use remote desktop software to access the Windows machine from your Mac’s desktop. Organizations with business software that runs on Windows can host Windows servers and make their applications available to Macs, Chromebooks, Linux PCs, iPads, Android tablet, and other devices. If you’re just a home user who also has a Windows PC, you could configure that Windows PC for remote access and connect to it whenever you need a Windows application. Bear in mind that this isn’t ideal for visually intensive applications like PC games.
If you’re a Chrome user, you can even use Chrome Remote Desktop to connect to a Windows PC running Chrome from your Mac running Chrome.