Run Windows Programs on Any Platform with Wine and 6 Other Apps

Make no mistake, Windows is still the most used (and popular) operating systems for desktops and laptops. So you can bet that many people still rely on Windows applications daily to accomplish their tasks.

If you were previously a Windows user who had migrated to another platform or operating system, and are missing your Windows applications already, there are a few different methods to bring your Windows applications back.

You can go for dual booting on Linux, or go with Bootcamp or Parallels on Mac, or you can install these following apps that I’m going to show you. These applications will allow you to install and run Windows applications right on your non-Windows operating systems, e.g., Mac OS X, GNU/Linux, Ubuntu, BSD, and Solaris.

1. Wine

Wine is recursive acronym for Wine Is Not an Emulator. Started in 1993, Wine is an open-source project developed and maintained by the community under the coordination of Alexandre Julliard.

Wine is a compatibility layer between Windows programs and the operating system. It converts Windows API calls to POSIX calls, thus allowing the integration of Windows applications to POSIX-compliant OS (Mac OS X, GNU/Linux, and BSD). Rather than an emulator or virtual machine, it is a reimplementation of Win32 API.

Wine primarily supports Windows XP, but its new releases actively include support for newer versions of Windows. Wine supports 32-bit architecture; support for 64-bit architecture is still under development. With Wine, you can run programs such as MS Office, Windows Media Player, Adobe Photoshop, Max Payne, and several other games and applications.

More: Application Compatibility Database

2. CrossOver

CrossOver is a commercialized, and supported, version of Wine for Linux and Mac OS X. It is proprietary software with out-of-the-box support for many commercial Windows applications like MS Office, MS Outlook, MS .NET Framework, Adobe Lightroom, DirectX, etc.

On top of that, you can also play popular games like Counter-Strike, Half-Life, Diablo, StartCraft, and World of Warcraft. Though Wine is a free alternative, CrossOver, provided by CodeWeavers, is a better choice for professionals and organizations who want to run particular software on Linux or Mac OS X.

More: Application Compatibility Database

3. PlayOnLinux

Now, while Wine and CrossOver provide support for many applications with Wine, you need to customize settings for the particular app, and for CrossOver, you have to fork out money for it. PlayOnLinux is a nice alternative for both (if you are on Mac, skip to the next one).

PlayOnLinux is a graphical front-end for Wine compatibility layer. It simplifies the installation of Windows apps and (especially)y games on GNU/Linux by auto-configuring Wine. It provides wrapper shell scripts to specify the configuration of Wine for any particular software. It also uses an online database of scripts to apply for different programs, and a manual installation can be performed if the script is not available.

More: Application Compatibility List

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4. PlayOnMac

Like PlayOnLinux, PlayOnMac is a graphical software built on top of Wine. It aims to ease the installation of Windows programs and games on Mac OS.

You can use PlayOnMac to easily install many apps and games on Mac OS without making changes to Wine’s configuration for that particular program. PlayOnMac takes care of Wine’s settings so that you don’t have to configure them manually, and you can enjoy using the software or game.

More: Application Compatibility List

5. WineBottler

WineBottler is an app packager, which means it packages Windows-based applications into Mac app-bundles. The name suggests that it is connected to Wine, which is basically how you can run Windows programs with it on your Mac. To use it, install it. That’s it.

Click the Install button in WineBottler, and it will take care of the rest. It comes with handy scripts that take care of downloading, installing, and configuring an application for you. WineBottler can pack your Windows .exe software into Mac .app package and convert .exe or .msi into an app. It even provides options to install special dependencies. Read more on its documentation.

6. Wineskin

Wineskin, which also uses Wine to run Windows applications, is a porting tool. It allows you to port Windows applications in Mac application bundle wrappers, which can then run on Mac OS X and even shared with other Mac users. It works with Snow Leopard, Lion, and Mountain Lion.

Wineskin uses a customized version of X Window System, known as WineskinX11, to provide the graphical user interface for Windows programs on the Mac OS X. Once you have created a Mac application bundle of any Windows program, you can easily run it on your Mac OS X just like any other native software.

7. Q4Wine

Q4Wine is a QT4 graphical user interface for the Wine compatibility layer. It’s available for GNU/Linux and FreeBSD. It helps you to manage Wine prefixes and installed applications in an easy-to-use graphical interface.

Q4Wine lets you easily handle tasks for creating and managing Wine prefixes, controlling Wine processes, making a backup of prefixes, and many more tasks that would otherwise not be as easy to handle.