Here are the steps you will need to take:
- Download and install VirtualBox. This is a free virtualisation product backed by Oracle. It will allow you to run a virtualised client OS as a window inside OSX. It seems to be just as good as Parallels but is completely free.
- Download Windows (I chose 8.1 which is the latest full released version). You can get this from the Microsoft Technet Evaluation Centre. It comes with a 90 day trial license which will of course have to converted into a full licence after that period has expired.
- Then create a new OS inside VirtualBox for Windows. My tips here are:
- To give the OS at least 50GB disk if you have the space. Full installations of Windows, VisualStudio and Office take a lot of disk space (around 25GB) and you want to have a decent amount left.
- By default VirtualBox only allocates 1 CPU to the OS. You want to increase that, also increase the amount of memory that you give the OS if you want decent performance experience.
- This is pretty obvious but make sure you choose the correct setting for the OS you are installing. i.e. Windows 8.1 not Windows 8 if that's your OS.
So there you have it a fully installed Windows environment on your Mac for free - well at least free for 90 days by which time you will probably be desperate to come back to Mac OSX again anyway :-)