Darwine 1.0 lets you legally run Windows applications on the Mac OS X - without having to shell out for a Windows operating system.

Wine, the open-source tool that enables you to run Windows programs in UNIX-based environments, has reached 1.0 status. That's great for Linux users. And for Mac OS X users, there are a couple of tools such as Darwine 1.0.

This tool is closest in spirit to the open-source release for UNIX-like platforms and is lumbered with the jovial moniker ‘Darwine'. Of course, really important thing is whether or not it works. And it does. Sort of.

Unlike commercial emulators that require you to buy a copy of Windows, Darwine 1.0 implements the Windows API on top of Mac OS X - or, to be more accurate, on top of X11.

Reading through the program compatibility lists at Wine's Application Database (appdb.winehq.org) fair whets the appetite. With game-download tool Steam near the top of the list, tantalising you with access to top titles such as Portal and Quake 4, it would be easy to get carried away... And, indeed, we were able to get Steam to load and start with our installation of Darwine 1.0. We just couldn't get it to start any games.

Using Darwine 1.0 is still a fairly frustrating experience. Even the initial installation is a little cumbersome. We downloaded the stable release from the current project page, but you'll need to install the latest version of Xquartz too. That's an updated version of X11, the Mac's X Windows system. Once both are installed you can try some of the sample programs bundled in the package. These include Windows Notepad, a clock, Minesweeper and, intriguingly, an implementation of Windows File Explorer. The latter is the most interesting tool in the pack, giving you unfettered Windows-style access to your file system. Others have tested Windows stalwarts such as Solitaire and WordPad with success.

Still, Darwine 1.0 has a way to go before it will run more complex tools such as Microsoft Office. As for Portal, there's always the free, 2D Flash version at portal.wecreatestuff.com.


Darwine 1.0's a free download and, although it's not perfect it won't put a dent in your pocket, so it's worth trying.