Friday, May 22, 2009

Chrome on the Mac (kind of)

Catching up on some TV last night, I saw a reference to the Windows 7 Release Candidate. Visting the Microsft site, I saw that the download was an .ISO package - basically a pre-burned disk image intended to be a bootable DVD to facilitate the installation of Windows 7. And then it clicked: VMWare can create new virtual machines out of .ISO files. I could run Windows 7 on my Mac. Which means I could run Chrome on my Mac!

Getting Windows running on my Mac was shockingly easy. All told it took about an hour. Here's what I did:

  • Download the .ISO file from Microsoft's site (choose the 32-bit version), get a license key for the evaluation copy
  • In VMWare, click "New"
  • Select Windows Vista, point to the downloaded .ISO file and provide your license key
  • Wait and watch as VMWare builds your Windows machine
Once done, I fired up the virtual machine, and Windows 7 loaded flawlessly. Fired up IE, downloaded Chrome, and there you had it: I was now running Chrome on my Mac.

On the shuttle into work this morning, I tried using just Chrome inside of the Windows 7 virtual machine to see if I could use it as my primary browser. It was rock solid, and noticeably faster than Firefox on the Mac. (Which, when you think about the computing shenanigans going on, is rather remarkable.)

The Release candidate is valid for a year (though it'll start degrading itself by doing bi-hourly shutdowns in March, 2010), which means that if you have a copy of VMWare, you can run Windows 7 for the next 12 months for free. Of course, Chrome on the Mac will be released natively ahead of that... but in the meantime, this isn't a bad way to test out a new OS while also getting a screaming-fast browser as part of the bargain.

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  1. Are you running Firefox 3.1.* or 3.5 on OS X? I've been on the beta versions for awhile (since last year some time) and performance is much quicker. As far as VMs, I have Visita, W7, and Server 2008. W7 is my favorite - good idea to dump Chrome on it. Will get to it.

  2. Currently on 3.1, and I'm sure part of the sluggish performance is because of some plugins I'm using. Probably need to go through and remove everything but the absolute essentials to be more fair in comparing the two.

    I'm actually pretty impressed with Windows 7 so far... performance-wise, even in the VM, it's doing great.

  3. Rick, the most important thing here to me is the 12-month trial of Windows 7. I hadn't even thought about it until your post. Yes, I'm posting this in Chrome via Windows 7, via VMware. (Because I can)

  4. @Louis: Yep, it didn't occur to me to check until I'd finished downloading... after all, this was, as you note, very much a "because I can" idea, no more. But then I discovered the expiration on the RC in the FAQ, and then it didn't seem so frivolous.

    Glad you appreciated the post, loved your write-up on what this all means. I think you're right - the OS is a whole lot less important. 95% of my day is in a browser, which means that the fastest, most stable browser is where I'll do my work.

  5. Great trying to figure out what else to Windows 7 for, if anything...maybe playing Solitaire on the Mac...

  6. Sorry, this is nothing to do with the post - I just can't seem to find an answer in Google Help and wondered if a member of the team could help me...
    I want to register the blog name, but it's taken - however, there are no posts on it, no profile, no content at all. I was wondering if it would be possible to find a way to contact this person to give up the name if they aren't using it. Thanks. Ben (

  7. @El Wray - I'd prefer you keep individual support requests (particularly those with contact info) out of the comments; you should steer issues like these to our help forum (

    Answering your question - we don't recycle URLs. Once they're taken, they're no longer available. Suggest you either use a hyphenated version (if that's workable), or just use a custom domain so you can host at your own domain instead of at