I'd mentioned recently how I've been using Crossover to run Internet Explorer for Windows from my MacBook Pro, without having to install Windows. That works rather well, but doesn't give much flexibility - only a relatively small subset of applications run under Crossover.
Today, I downloaded the MacWorld-announced Parallels Release Candidate, and grabbed a WinXP SP2 install CD. It took about 2 hours to get Windows installed and updated, but once that was done, Parallels is pretty darned cool. Coherence mode is sweet, hiding as much of Windows as possible, and letting the Windows applications' windows float freely as nearly first-class citizens on my Mac desktop. I installed iTunes and Quicktime to see how they perform - pretty darned well, surprisingly. I then went to install a real testing application - Quake3Arena - only to find that Parallels doesn't support OpenGL. Yet.
It's not perfect - I've had to let Windows run through a seemingly endless series of updates (now installing update 35 of 65, after 3 reboots). And I still have to see/ignore the offensively ugly and unhelpful Windows UI. The first thing that greeted me when I launched my newly-installed Windows XP was a scary dialog box warning me that I was running unsecurely, and that I should do something about that ASAP. But, I'd just launched it for the first time. Wouldn't it make more sense to default to a more secure state? Oy.
Alan led me to Parallels. I thought I was being clever by using Crossover. I think I'll be sticking with a full Windows system, but I'll try to run it as little as possible. Now, if only they'd hurry up and add OpenGL support so I could, um, do work 'n stuff...
Anyway, here's my system, with Mac and Windows apps all singing Kumbaya.