- The Washington Times - Monday, November 2, 2009

So there I was, looking at Quicken 2009, the Windows version, on my Mac, and something seemed off. In fact, a fair amount seemed off.

For one, it seemed a bit pokey. I could understand that, since I was using CrossOver Mac Professional, a $69.95 application built on top of the Unix-and-Linux-based WINE non-emulator, which allows you to install and boot a Windows program on an Apple Macintosh computer without having a copy of Microsoft Windows loaded.

Why would anyone want to do that, with a world of very good Mac applications out there? Well, one of the applications that’s not out there for Mac, these days at least, is Quicken, and there are legions of folks who have relied on the Intuit product for their personal and home business finances. Instead of switching to a Mac-created application, or because their bookkeeper/accountant/tax professional prefers stuff done in Quicken, having a way to run the program might be a help.

Or perhaps you’re a gamer. The “Professional” edition of CrossOver Mac includes “CrossOverGames,” allowing you to play “World of Warcraft” or “EVE Online” or “Half-Life” to your heart’s content, again, on a Mac without loading Windows. While Mac OS X allows you to “dual boot” an Intel-based Mac with either the Apple or Microsoft OS, you still have to buy a copy of Windows, and when booting in Windows mode, you lose your Mac functionality. “Virtual machine” software such as VMWare Fusion or Parallels can provide so-called “dual boot” functionality, running both OS X and Windows side-by-side, but the programs can squeeze memory if you don’t have a lot installed.

I tested CrossOver Mac Professional not because of a burning desire to play “Grand Theft Auto 2” (and, yes, I know there’s “GTA4” out now), but to get into this emulation-that’s-not-emulation thing a bit deeper. As noted here during the past two weeks, there’s a growing interest in Linux as an alternative desktop operating system; some users like the no-cost aspect of versions such as Debian and Ubuntu and look at CrossOver’s underlying WINE software as a way to bring some Windows applications over. Since Mac OS X and Linux both have the Unix operating system at their core, I figured that CrossOver Mac Professional would be sufficiently similar to a Linux-style emulator that I could judge the whole process. (Linux defenders may dissent, of course.)

Installing CrossOver Mac Professional was rather easy, as was installing Quicken 2009. The Quicken install procedure was similar to that under a real copy of Microsoft Windows: Everything fell into place quite nicely. Until start-up.

My big beef is that the fonts and screen layout of Quicken 2009 under CrossOver seemed very basic, as if the normal fonts weren’t available, and pale imitations were in their place. Everything just looked “off,” and that made the program uninviting.

Then I toddled over to the CodeWeavers Web site (www.codeweavers.com) and found the news: Quicken 2009 Premier, the version I used, rates a “Bronze” level of compatibility: “The Bronze is awarded to applications that install and run, and that can accomplish some portion of their fundamental mission. However, Bronze applications generally have enough bugs that we recommend … customers use them with caution. … Don’t be surprised if there are some bumps along the way,” is the way the Web site described it.

The firm says future versions of CrossOver should bring compatibility up to a “Silver” level, which means an application that would ” install and run well enough to be usable,” but still with a bug or two that would keep it from “flawless” or “Gold”-level performance.

So, it seems this whole Utopian vision of running applications independent of an operating system might have a few miles to go. But at least there’s a road map, and people working toward a useful goal.

E-mail mkellner@washingtontimes.com