COMPUTER REQUIREMENT NEWS
The ever-changing world of computers and computer software is a constant challenge for all of us. In this section we share the ways in which we are keeping up with the latest hardware and software changes that affect your Solar suite of products.
All of Esoteric Technologies' current programs for sale are compatible with Windows 7 and 8, both 32-bit and 64-bit versions, and this includes our world-class Solar Fire Gold program. If you upgrade your computer and/or Windows Operating System then chances are that you need to also UPGRADE your Solar Fire. Please don't try to install versions prior to 7.3 on your new computer as you may cause problems. If you move house then you may well need to purchase new items. Computers are much the same. If you upgrade your computer system then you are likely to need to purchase new software. The cost of the Solar Fire upgrade is AUD$150 to update your Solar Fire Gold from previous versions (excluding Standard). You can purchase your upgrade on CD or Download. All new purchasers of Solar Fire Gold will be receiving the Windows 7 and 8 compatible version.
If you would like to see the new features that have been included in Solar Fire Gold since v7.0, please click here and view the top part of this page. If you don't yet own Solar Fire Gold, click here for more details on the program and how to purchase it.
PLEASE NOTE: It has been discovered that Solar Fire v5.1 has some issues with Windows 7 AFTER it has been installed so we recommend that if you do have the Solar Fire v5.1 version that you do not install it on a Windows 7 computer but instead upgrade it to the latest Solar Fire Gold version for installation on a Windows 7 computer.
We are pleased to assure you that the Solar Fire team is working hard and creatively to keep your software up-to-date.
Please contact us for Windows 7 or 8 compatible updated CDs for all of our other programs: Solar Writer v2.5, JigSaw v2.2, etc
Our latest versions will operate on all versions of Windows from and including Windows 2000. If you have an older version of Windows (i.e. Win 98) then you will either have to update your Windows operating system or please do check with your agent or with our staff to see if we have some older CDs in stock.
For those of you who have enquired about Solar Fire Deluxe (v6) and previous versions, please note that there is no guarantee that these older versions will work on Windows 7 or 8 and you may indeed experience problems. We suggest that you upgrade to the latest Solar Fire Gold and take advantage of the wonderful new features and the work that the Solar Fire team has put into this latest astrology software.
For some of our older programs, although they will work under Windows 7, there is an issue with the Help system. This issue currently affects most older (non-current) versions of our programs, as well as the following current program versions: Solar Spark v2 and AstroTides v1. Users are able to download an update from Microsoft which will remedy this issue. See the following web page for more details: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/917607. Once you complete the download, as suggested on the Microsoft page, there is still another minor issue whereby an error message pops up when you access the Help system. This error message can be eliminated if you first scroll down further on the Microsoft page, locate the "Microsoft Fix It" logo then click on this link to remedy this issue.
Apple Mac and Parallels (PDF)
You may not even know what a 64-bit version of Windows means. If so, then don't worry - just carefully note, print or copy the computer requirements on the product page for whichever product you are interested in and take it to your computer software salesperson before purchasing your software.
Windows 7, including the older Windows Vista and Windows XP, is available in either 32-bit or 64-bit versions. The 64-bit version of Windows 7 is now more widespread than previous 64-bit versions of Windows.
You can check whether you have the 32-bit or 64-bit version of Windows by the following steps:
* click on the "Start" button to see the Start menu
* on the Start menu, right-click on the "Computer" menu item (or "My Computer" menu item) then click on the "Properties" menu item
* on the resulting screen, under the "System" heading and next to the "System type:", you will then see whether you have the 32-bit or 64-bit Operating System (the version of Windows).
The 64-bit version of Windows is capable of running 32-bit software, but no longer supports 16-bit software code. Most of our current software products (including Solar Fire Gold) are 32-bit programs, so they can be installed and run on both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows. However, some of our products still contain some 16-bit components, and therefore cannot be installed or run on 64-bit versions of Windows.
We are expecting that as we release new version of our programs, in most cases we will be able to ensure full compatibility with 64-bit versions of Windows. However, older programs (such as Solar Fire Standard Edition) cannot be made 64-bit compatible. Solar Fire Standard Edition users wanting to run their programs on 64-bit versions of Windows would have to upgrade to Solar Fire Gold.
To ensure that users who have 64-bit versions of Windows are fully aware of any possible incompatibility with any of our programs, we have added information about this to the computer requirements that we provide on each product’s webpage on our site.
The following is a summary of 64-bit compatibility status of our main products:
Products which are 64-bit compatible
* Solar Fire Gold
* Solar Writer v2
* Solar Maps v3
* JigSaw v2
* Solar Spark
* Asteroid Add-on
* Imperial Astrologer
* Solar Font
* Book of World Horoscopes
* Stock Market Data
* Chart Data Collections
Products which cannot be installed on 64-bit versions of Windows
* Solar Fire Standard Edition
Over time, we will be expect to have all of our programs 64-bit compatible, with the exception of Solar Fire Standard Edition
All of Esoteric Technologies' programs have been written specifically for PCs and the MS Windows operating system and are not directly compatible with the Mac operating system. However, Apple Mac Computers can run Windows programs if you have:
- The Windows operating system (OS) - where you own the license (product) key
- A dual boot system or emulation (virtualisation) software installed…
The main software packages of this type for the Mac are:
- Boot Camp (a dual boot system)
- Parallels Desktop for the Mac (virtualisation software)
- Virtual Box (virtualisation software)
These software packages are first installed on a Mac where they enable the isolation of the Windows environment from the Mac OS X environment. This allows both Operating Systems to run on the computer without interfering with each other. It also means viruses can't jump from one OS environment to the other OS environment.
All of these options also require that you have a Windows disk and a license (product) key that you are not currently using somewhere else. As Solar Fire will work on any Windows version from Windows 98SE onwards you can use an old version of Windows to install on a Mac e.g. a Windows disk that went with an old unused computer will probably work.
Boot Camp was first included with the Mac OS in August 2006. Our USA agent Astrolabe Inc. have been successful using Solar Fire running on Windows on a MacBook notebook by using Boot Camp. Usually Windows runs fast on a Mac this way.
Boot Camp requirements
OS version 10.5 and 10.6
Apple lists the following requirements for Mac OS X Leopard and Snow Leopard
- An Intel-based Mac with the latest firmware (early Intel Macs require an EFI firmware update for BIOS compatibility).
- A Mac OS X Leopard or Mac OS X Snow Leopard installation disc or Mac OS X Disc 1 included with Macs that have Leopard or Snow Leopard preinstalled; this disc is needed for installation of Windows drivers for Mac hardware
- 10 GB free hard disk space (16 GB is recommended for Windows 7)
- A full version of one of the following OSs:
- Windows XP Home Edition or Professional with Service Pack 2 or higher (32-bit editions only)
- Windows Vista Home Basic, Home Premium, Business, Enterprise or Ultimate RTM or higher (32-bit and 64-bit editions)
- Windows 7 Home Premium, Professional, Enterprise or Ultimate (32-bit and 64-bit editions)
OS version 10.7 and 10.8
Apple's lists the following requirements for OS X Lion and Mountain Lion
- An optical drive
- Blank CD/USB media for installation of Windows drivers for Mac hardware
- 16 GB free hard disk space for 32-bit versions of Windows, 20 GB for 64-bit versions of Windows
- A full version of Windows 7 Home Premium, Professional, or Ultimate (32-bit and 64-bit editions)
There are instructions for using the Boot Camp Assistant in the Macintosh help…
- Search for “Boot Camp” in the Help, or …
- Look here: http://manuals.info.apple.com/en/Boot_Camp_Install-Setup.pdf
Using the Boot Camp Assistant application is generally a straightforward process. The Boot Camp Assistant guides you through the process of creating a new partition on a hard disk in your Mac. A partition is simply an area of the hard disk that is separated off from the rest of the disk. A hard disk can be divided up like this into many partitions, and each partition acts like it is a separate disk in its own right (even though they all are on the one physical disk).
The Boot Camp Assistant then helps you restart the computer using a Microsoft Windows disc that you provide, and the Windows installation program takes over, formatting the new partition you have made and installing the Windows OS.
Finally you need to install the necessary Windows device drivers from the Mac OS disc. Depending on your the version of OS X Windows drivers should be able to be found in a folder called “Boot Camp”, and under that a folder called “Drivers”. Additionally when Windows is running you can go into the Device Manager and check which drivers are needed – devices they are needed for will be shown as not working properly.
After you have installed Windows you have two operating systems installed and able to function on your Mac – the original Mac OS X that came with your computer, and MS Windows which you have just installed. You choose which you are going to use when you start the computer - by continuously holding down the “Option” key on the keyboard (or the “Alt” key on a non-Mac keyboard) when the computer is starting up. This brings up the boot manager (a small menu) where you can choose which OS you want to be used for that session.
So, once the new partition is made, and Windows and the necessary Windows device drivers are installed on it, and you are familiar with how to start your Mac with the Mac OS X running, or start it with Windows running, then you can install Windows programs on your Mac, e.g. Solar Fire.
And if you later change your mind about having Windows on your Mac it doesn’t take long to take it off again.
Boot Camp Issues
1. With Boot Camp, you need a full version of Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7. If you have an upgrade version you can't eject the CD while Windows is installing to insert the older Windows CD (that is being upgraded) when it asks you to. However, if you have an external CD drive you can insert both CD's at the same time and it will work. Put the older Windows disk in the external CD drive and just press the ENTER key when the Windows install asks you to insert the old CD.
2. Boot Camp will make a Windows partition and format it for you, but the Windows installation program will want to format it again. You need to let it do this or it won't install properly.
3. If you don't plan to use Windows on your Mac much (i.e. infrequently in small sessions) then when Windows formats the partition let Windows make it the default – a small sized FAT32 format partition – this can be handy as OS-X can also access (use) a partition with that format.
But if you plan to use Windows a lot it probably makes more sense to instruct the Windows installation program to make it bigger than the default size and to format it as a NTFS partition.
4. You will probably want a mouse with two buttons on it.
The current Mac mouse allows you to effectively "right-click" by first holding down the "Ctrl" key on the Mac keyboard, then clicking the mouse button. Here is a link to information about the "right-click" feature: http://www.macinstruct.com/node/66. This works unless you need to control-click and drag all at the same time. In those situations you can plug in a PC USB mouse (and often these also have a mouse wheel which is very handy).
On the Windows keyboard there is a “Delete” key and a “Backspace” key. The Windows “Delete” key deletes the character to the immediate right of the cursor, but the “Delete” key on the Mac keyboard deletes the character to the left of the cursor (acting like the Windows “Backspace” key).
One option is to get a keyboard hot key program and reprogram the right hand “Command” key to be a Windows “Delete” key. Here's free software called Keytweak that can be used for that: http://www.brothersoft.com/keytweak-70740.html. If you use this program then click on button #62 and change it to 'Del'. A final note: the “Command” key acts the same as the “Windows” key does in Windows.
Both Parallels and Virtual Box are virtualisation software packages that let you run MS Windows inside of a window on the Mac desktop. And generally MS Windows runs reasonably close to normal speed using this method.
A way of describing how this works is, in simple terms, that when either package is installed it allows you to set up a “PC Virtual Machine” on the Mac - which means it tricks the Mac computer into acting like a PC; you could say that you are virtually creating a PC computer – i.e. using software to simulate an actual hardware PC, hence it’s called a “virtual machine”.
This method is different to Boot Camp. Boot Camp uses a portion of the hard disk and formats it physically so that you can natively install Windows onto the disk; it’s like dividing the computer in half -, one half to run the Mac OS and the other half to run the Windows OS. Whereas (again in simplistic terms) Parallels and Virtual Box basically just create a super large file on the Mac (formatted) disk and then put Windows in that file. When the file is loaded into memory then suddenly Windows springs to life and “runs”.
Parallels Desktop for the Mac
If you use Parallels the only proviso is to disable the "Shared Profile" setting (normally enabled by default) or Solar Fire Gold won't be able to find it's user files or save files.
Here is a link to the "Shared Profile" settings page: http://download.parallels.com/desktop/v5/docs/en/Parallels_Desktop_Users_Guide/23544.htm.
Here is a link to the Parallels website: http://www.parallels.com.
Here is a link to the installation instructions on the Parallels website; kb.parallels.com/4729
Parallels 7.0 Requirements *
Parallels Desktop 7 for Macintosh requires a Mac with one of these processors:
The software requires the operating system be one of these versions:
- OS X 10.5.8 "Leopard" or later
* Version 8 was released in August 2012. Parallels is not free.
Sun Microsystems supply virtualisation software called "Virtual Box" which is free. This is possibly a little more difficult to set up than Parallels but not majorly so. Here is a link to their website: http://www.virtualbox.org/
Virtual Box Requirements
Virtual Box requires XP, Vista or Windows 7 - though it will work with older versions of Windows but it doesn't have drivers for Hi Res video with those.
A video driver that can be used with Windows ME and Solar Fire on Virtual Box can be found here: http://www.bearwindows.boot-land.net/vbe9x.htm.
Installing Solar Fire on a virtual machine
Once you have installed either Parallels or Virtual Box, then start it up from it’s program icon, and then get Windows running (use it’s help system to learn how to do that if it isn’t obvious to you). Once Windows is running you can then install Solar Fire on your Mac.