How it Works: Running Windows Programs on a Mac

24th January 2014

In their How to Run Windows Programs on a Mac article, Parallels walked through the nuts-and-bolts of running windows programs on a Mac using a virtualization client such as Parallels Desktop or Apple Boot Camp.

For your convenience, we’ve boiled down their article to define what a virtualization client is and walk you through an infographic that explains what is actually happening in your computer when you run a Windows app on your Mac.

What is a Virtualization Client?

A virtualization client is a piece of computer software that communicates between applications, operating systems as well as your computers hardware and software.

Examples of virtualization clients include the aforementioned Parallels Desktop as well as Apple Boot Camp.

Take a look at the image below to see how these pieces fit together:


  • Applications, or ‘apps’, sit on top of their native operating system, or ‘OS’ as show in the image
  • The client layer sits between the applications and operating systems to communicate your needs to the hardware, such as your CPU (the engine of your computer) and the monitor that displays information for you

As you can probably tell, the client layer is a natural conduit that helps facilitate your computers hardware, software and application needs easy and effortlessly.

The Process of Running Windows Programs on a Mac

Let’s take a look at the flow of communication between software, hardware and applications in the graphic below:

Corey is an all round tech guru who has worked at some major blue chip companies. He started Poweronemedia to share his views and knowledge with the rest of the blogging world.