My Virtual Machine Killed My Sony

I/O tug-of-war: Who's in control?

The tug-of-war between the Windows VM and the host Mac OS doesn't stop with the Sony device. The virtual machine manager doesn't want to share. It wants to assign itself exclusive access to devices, such as a USB drive or my CD-ROM drive. In some cases the VM asks first. In others it just grabs the resources away from the Mac.

Attach a USB disk and Parallels asks to control it. But if the Mac grabs it first Parallels won't let you map it to the Windows session unless you eject and reattach the device. Only then you can reassign it.

The mouse will work with applications running on both Mac and Windows virtual machines, so long as it was connected before launching the Windows virtual machine. Attach a new pointing device afterwards, however, and you may see this message:

No mouse fail message

That's right: You've lost your mouse in the Mac environment until "disconnect" it from or suspend the virtual machine.

Launch the Windows VM while playing a music CD within iTunes and you'll see this error:

CD ROM Fail

You'll need to quit iTunes and eject the disc before you can ask Parallels to assign the device to your virtual machine. But at least it asks: With the VMware Fusion virtual machine I set up the music stops. The virtual machine rips control away from the Mac and hands it over to Windows.

Some things are great about running Windows within a virtual machine on the Mac. Windows can go up in flames and you can simply yawn and switch back to your Mac apps, which continue to run happily away. But the experience is a bit less seamless than I had imagined when it comes to I/O. Although you can have Windows and Mac applications running side-by-side right on the Mac desktop, in some cases I find that it's best to just use one environment at a time and to suspend the Windows session when I want to return to a Mac app.

As for the Sony ST10, for now I continue to upload files onto a separate Windows XP machine, save them to a USB disk and copy them over to my Mac for replay and transcription. Perhaps Sony will come up with a version of its software for the Mac. At this point, however, it's looking like my next voice recorder will have to be another brand.

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