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Virtual PC 6 Review 378

Posted by pudge
from the because-i-am-all-about-the-windows-yo dept.
Connectix recently released version 6 of Virtual PC, the standard for emulating Windows on a Mac. With version 5, the main feature was Mac OS X compatibility. With version 6, the focus is on better performance and Mac integration.
Now -- and this is the honest-to-goodness truth -- I have not seen an actual computer (only images on TV or in magazines) running native Windows in months. For the whole of 2003. I live a very good life. And I don't want to ruin it by running Windows on my Mac unless I have a need to.

My Windows needs are few. I am a perl developer; I work on perl and release perl software. Occasionally, I want to test on Windows. Further, I am a Slash developer, and sometimes our users complain about certain bugs that only show up on certain browsers, so I want to test that on Windows too. And every once in awhile, there is some software I need that is Windows-only.

All of these needs are rare, but when I need them, I need them. Virtual PC has always been helpful to me for these purposes in the past, though it's been slow. So on to version 6.

The first thing I did was upgrade from version 5, and just play around. Everything is noticeably faster. Viewing multimedia is nicer, opening apps is quicker, moving around the filesystem is zippier (I am running out of adjectives here, bear with me).

I was overdue on some updates, so I ran the Windows Update app. They downloaded and installed much more quickly, though I still prefer to download via Mac OS X and drag the files over to Windows.

I updated Cygwin and ActiveState's Perl Development Kit and Komodo, which I use occasionally; they work fine, but are still too slow to be bearable for everyday use, but I would not want to use Windows for everyday use, so it's all good.

Now, on to the new features. Version 6 has a more refined interface for defining preferences and organizing multiple guest PCs (I've got Windows 95 and Windows 2000). You can now mount those PC disk images, which is nice, but only when the PC is shut down. Since I leave the PCs running all the time, to make startup faster (using the Save State feature), I never have much opportunity to mount the disk images. Although, when I did try to mount the Windows 95 PC (more than once), it crashed. It worked fine for the Windows 2000 image.

Another new step toward integration is the addition of some items for the Mac OS X Dock: a Start menu application, and the ability to place Windows applications in the Dock. The Start menu application is nifty; you get the Start menu from your Windows PC, but in the Dock instead. It's more responsive and looks better. The Windows applications in the Dock seems slightly less useful; clicking on them does not bring the application to the front, it only launches it (which I'd just as soon do from the Start menu).

Supposedly, there are some significant improvements to printing, including automatically detecting USB printers. My USB printer, however, is connected via Mac OS X printer sharing on another Mac, and so I can't print to it directly from Windows (at least, not that I could figure out). Instead, I need to print through the host Mac OS X from the Windows OS. Sounds simple enough, right?

To do this, I still needed to use the right driver for the printer, and it wasn't included with Windows, so I needed to install it. I downloaded the drivers from Canon's web site with a Mac browser, and just copied them to the Windows desktop. When I ran the installer, Windows reported an "access violation". Thinking that perhaps the file was not downloaded properly, I tried downloading it via Windows instead. It takes longer, but maybe it will work. But no, I got the same error. It's good to know that Virtual PC maintains the Windows Experience, that these problems weren't Virtual PC's fault.

I pulled out the CD that came with the printer and installed the (somewhat out of date) drivers from there; this time, it worked fine. But then, when I tried to print, and the Virtual PC app hung on "Printing page number: 1", with a spinning pinwheel and an unmoving progress bar. Force Quit was my only way out. I tried several times, as I did with mounting the Windows 95 image, and each time, it hung. When I would start Virtual PC again, I'd get the Print dialog, and try to print again, and it would hang. At least it's consistent.

I finally decided to give up on printing this way, and did direct printing. I plugged my printer directly into the computer, told Virtual PC to use that USB device for Windows, and Windows detected it automatically and set it up for me. After that, printing worked fine.

But, in fairness, none of these problems are related to my normal uses of Virtual PC, and if I really needed to accomplish the tasks of printing or mounting I'd probably be able to figure it out. I just didn't care enough, so I dropped it and moved on to more interesting things.

I have a Kyocera QCP 3035 cell phone. I am going to be on the road some this summer, so I wanted to use it as a modem for my PowerBook G4/867. I got the cable and the Mac OS X modem drivers and scripts (I had to email tech support to get them), and it works fine as a modem, but I also wanted to use the cable to upload contacts and ringers. The problem is, the Kyocera software is Windows-only. Virtual PC to the rescue?

I installed the Windows drivers and software and plugged in the cable. It took me a couple tries to figure out that I needed to select the cable in Virtual PC's Serial Ports preferences (assigned it to COM1), but when I did, the software recognized the phone and everything just worked. I uploaded ringers, I controlled the phone with the software. So now for the contacts.

I converted my contacts from the Mac OS X Address Book vCard export to a CSV file the Kyocera software could read. I dragged the file from the Mac OS X desktop to the Windows desktop. I imported the file into the Kyocera software and synched it with the phone. It worked. There's not much else to say here, which is about the highest praise I could heap on the test.

I was also thinking about using some Windows software I have to control my motorized Meade telescope; but frankly, if I am going to be investing the time into getting the cable and setting it all up to use software like that, I'd rather spend the extra money to get the Mac version of the software. It'd be much better to use.

All in all, Virtual PC does what -- for me -- it should. I can run perl and various web browsers for testing; I can communicate with serial devices; I can even play Windows-only multimedia files.

For completeness, I was going to play around with Bochs, but after reading various reader reviews bemoaning poor performance, and not being able to find straightforward instructions, I gave up.

You may recall, gentle reader, that Microsoft has purchased Virtual PC from Connectix. Does that mean people should invest more into Bochs, or look for alternate solutions? Will Virtual PC mean the end of Office for Mac? I don't really know; but as I am not a Windows user, I don't really care, as long as I can keep using the very few Windows products I need.

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Virtual PC 6 Review

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  • by MrLint (519792) on Friday March 14, 2003 @01:18PM (#5512580) Journal
    Ya know it was kinda odd to see an 'apple' story with with bill gates borg head icon on it. i was confused for a moment:)
  • Network? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by eingram (633624) on Friday March 14, 2003 @01:19PM (#5512583)
    Maybe I missed it in the review, but is it possible to network the Virtual PC to the actual computer running it? You could do this in VMware and I found it useful time to time.
    • Just give them different IP addresses... it works quite well.
    • Re:Network? (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Yes. There are two main network setups. Shared IP, and Virtual Switch. Using Virtual Switch you can do this.
      • Re:Network? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by clifyt (11768) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [rettamkinos]> on Friday March 14, 2003 @01:57PM (#5512950) Homepage
        Shit, I do this all the time.

        I run both Win2k and Redhat 8.0 on my Mac. I find it MUCH more efficient to grab my terminal and SSH into my 8.0 box than it is to pull the GUI up for the virtual RH box.

        Of course, occasionally I'll use Remote Desktop on the Mac to pull up the Win screen (cause for some damn reason, resizing the screen sometimes screws it up...I haven't took the time to figure that out yet).

        Dealing with the demo of the new 6.0, I've even noticed it has built in VNC if you wanted to admin the stuff that way...

        It really is a slick application...I just need to get off my ass and upgrade before the demo runs out...

        clif
    • Re:Network? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Dephex Twin (416238) on Friday March 14, 2003 @01:35PM (#5512741) Homepage
      Yes, but most people don't seem to know how to do it. Connectix supports using MS Loopback Adapter for the Windows version of Virtual PC, but for some reason doesn't have a Mac equivalent.

      You can make your own by mapping some IP (say, 192.168.111.1) to 127.0.0.1. Just do this in the terminal:

      sudo ifconfig lo0 alias 192.168.111.1

      Then you add this to the ethernet port as well:

      sudo ifconfig en0 alias 192.168.111.1

      Now anytime VPC tries to get to that IP address, it will be like going to localhost.

      Now if you just set the Windows side to a static IP like 192.168.111.2 with the gateway 192.168.111.1, the two machines can talk, even if you are not hooked up to any network.

      Oh, and make sure you set the Windows side to "Virtual Switch" in VPC... the default is "Shared Networking".

      (To get rid of those customizations, just execute this command: sudo ifconfig lo0 -alias 192.168.111.1, and then the same with with en0).
  • Hmm (Score:5, Informative)

    by Gortbusters.org (637314) on Friday March 14, 2003 @01:21PM (#5512618) Homepage Journal
    For all the PHP developers, the good ole Zend Studio [zend.com] is available on Mac OSX. If only NuSphere's PHPed [nusphere.com] was.

    Hmm, what else keeps me a windows box next to my linux box. Perhaps it's DAOC, management of my Clie. The MS office support in OSX is tempting though!
    • Following the NuSphere link shows "V3.1 now available/supports Linux."
    • by gavbaa (575314)
      Check out Missing Sync (you can find a link to it on the Sony Clie website). According to my office friend who just got it for his Clie, it's the greatest sync program since sliced bread, and integrates with all the tasty Mac apps.
  • by FueledByRamen (581784) <sabretooth@gmail.com> on Friday March 14, 2003 @01:23PM (#5512626)
    When are they going to re-add 3d acceleration for Virtual PC? I'd love to run Rhinoceros (a 3d CAD app) inside of VPC, but it runs poorly on an unaccelerated card. (I'd also love to run Battlefield 1942, but that will have to be relegated to my gaming x86 for now, as it requires somewhere around a 2ghz cpu for all of the physics and AI.) I remember that sometime in the past they had support for the 3dfx Voodoo 3 cards - where has that gone?
    • by runenfool (503) on Friday March 14, 2003 @01:43PM (#5512816)
      Connectix/Microsoft can't readd video card support because of endian issues.

      The reason the early voodoo cards were supported is because they were 3d only. If another 3d only card came on the market it could be done.
      • What I'm thinking (and this would take a performance hit, obviously, but it would still work) is that they could emulate some common video card (like a Voodoo3) that specs are openly available for, and just translate the hardware instructions for it into OpenGL calls for the host OS. No endian-ness problems if you're not just copying the instructions from one card to another.
      • by A_Non_Moose (413034) on Friday March 14, 2003 @02:29PM (#5513231) Homepage Journal
        Connectix/Microsoft can't readd video card support because of endian issues.

        Nvidia about the time they started making Mac video cards said that adding endian support is *trivial*.
        Specifically they were talking about BI-endian support.

        Kind of shot ATI in the foot (and themselves) when PC video cards sell for 70 bucks and the Mac equivalent sells for 300 bucks.

        The reason the early voodoo cards were supported is because they were 3d only. If another 3d only card came on the market it could be done.


        Uhh, not quite...the real reason was that the voodoo2 could be flashed to add the endian support for macs...irony struck when it could only be done on a PC. {chuckle}
        Now, IIRC, there is a Mac flash program for 3dfx cards and for Nvidia/ATI cards.
        Takes some digging to find, on occasion.
        .
    • No thanks! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by feldsteins (313201) <scott@scottfelds t e in.net> on Friday March 14, 2003 @02:06PM (#5513041) Homepage
      I for one don't want VPC to have accelerated 3D video. Follow my logic. VPC gets accelerated video. Game start to be playable on it (not fast, but playable). Mac users start buying Windows games that didn't get ported to Mac OS proper. Game developers start saying "hey, why bother doing an expensive port when we are already selling them the Windows version?"

      And that leads to the end of the Mac game market. All you have left is emulation. Like Linux. And for the record, Linux is in quite a corner, too. It's primarily because all Linux people who care about games are dual booting Windows. So developers are asking themselves why they should port to Linux when they're already selling them the Windows version. Answer: they have no reason to.
      • 3D != games (Score:5, Interesting)

        by smagoun (546733) on Friday March 14, 2003 @02:37PM (#5513303) Homepage
        What about programs that require OpenGL or Direct3D that aren't games? There are plenty of CAD, modelling, visualization, etc packages out there that use 3D graphics but aren't games. Furthermore, many of these programs are low-volume or custom programs that have no chance of being ported to the Mac. Better 3D support in VPC for these programs would do nothing but *help* people.

        About the game market....does it really matter if there's a mac game market, if Windows games work just fine? Instead of late/non-existent/half-assed/broken/etc ports, Mac users would be able to run new games right when they came out. I bet they'd even be compatible with their PC counterparts, so people playing (say) Everquest wouldn't have to use Mac-only servers. That would be a *good* thing IMHO.

        (FWIW, many games today require so much horsepower that emulation - even with 3D acceleration - simply wouldn't be feasible, so a port would be the only viable option for playing on the Mac anyway. That should keep the Mac game market up + running).

  • by nycroft (653728) on Friday March 14, 2003 @01:24PM (#5512638) Homepage
    A lot of us Mac true believers would probably cringe at the thought that Microsoft is getting its grubby hands all over a cherished Mac product. I freaked out at first, I'll admit it. But after I calmed down I started to think rationally.

    What could be better? I think MS would be crazy to kill it off. So that leaves only better support for the product and smoother operation (we hope). I had loads of trouble with version 5. Hangs, freezes, and everything. Maybe now (and I know that a lot of hardcore Macers will freak out when I say this) Macs and Windows will finally start to get along.

    Just think positive.
    • by binaryDigit (557647) on Friday March 14, 2003 @01:30PM (#5512704)
      I think MS would be crazy to kill it off

      Why would you think this? Can't imagine that the numbers of users are huge enough for Microsoft to really care. Microsoft bought them for use on x86 systems to add enterprise level partioning to NT server. They don't care about the Mac version (not primarily anyway). Unfortunately we are at their whim here, if they are feeling generous then we _may_ benefit. If however they decide that it's not worth their time, then they can deprive Mac users of a very useful and hard to replace app.
      • by Dephex Twin (416238) on Friday March 14, 2003 @01:47PM (#5512857) Homepage
        They don't care about the Mac version (not primarily anyway). Unfortunately we are at their whim here, if they are feeling generous then we _may_ benefit. If however they decide that it's not worth their time, then they can deprive Mac users of a very useful and hard to replace app.
        I don't see why they are being generous to keep it going. I would imagine that significant majority of the copies of VPC that are sold are the ones that are bundled with Windows. Microsoft isn't a hardware company, so to them, this is as good as the person owning an x86 box.

        In my opinion, MS would see it like: "we could keep this app going, and keep selling Windows and other MS products to Mac users, or we could kill it off, add more fuel to the abusive monopoly fire, and *possibly* have some of those VPC users go buy a PC with Windows."
        • I don't see why they are being generous to keep it going. I would imagine that significant majority of the copies of VPC that are sold are the ones that are bundled with Windows. Microsoft isn't a hardware company, so to them, this is as good as the person owning an x86 box.

          It's called economics, do they make enough money on those copies of WinXXX to justify the expense of keeping VPC in the product mix. Macs are what 4% of the PC market, and out of that 4% how many are running VPC with an actual purcha
          • The issue is not whether M$ makes enough money on it that it affects the overall finances of the comapny. Hardly anything they do meets that criteria.

            The issue is if it makes money for them. VPC clearly made money for Connectix when they owned it to justify the expense of developing it, and it will by necessity make more money for M$. So from that perspective it seems like a nobrainer.

            If there is some strategic over riding goal that is served by cancelling the product, they will do that anyway, of course.
    • The reason that people freak out, and the reason I bought VPC 6 the day I found out Microsoft bought it was that I wanted Virtual PC, not Virtual Windows. I bought it without any windows, and now I can run Linux and Wine which will let me run the 1 piece of Windows software I want to run (Garmin MapSource).

      Who thinks that Microsoft will go out of their way to make sure that Microsoft VPC will run 'alternate' operating systems?
    • by barc0001 (173002) on Friday March 14, 2003 @01:52PM (#5512913)
      Microsoft won't kill it off. They'll just fire all their Mac Office developers and tell everyone who wants to run future versions of Office on a Mac that all they need to do is buy the Virtual PC, a copy of Windows, and Office for Windows, and then they can have Office on their Mac. After all, why sell only one product to fill someone's need when you can force three down their throat instead?
      • I wouldn't be surprised if future Mac products were just the windows versions integrated with an application-specific VirtualPC wrapper.

        This way they don't even have to make Mac-specific applications at all, just maintain the wrapper.

        I don't know how performance-inducing this would be, but it'd save a ton of development time.
        • They did this, and called it (if I remember correctly) MS Office 4.0.2. (Basically Word 6 and Excel 5) Mac users failed to buy it in droves.

          Mostly because it was incredibly ugly, and worked just like the stupid Windows version that they bought a Mac to not have to use in the first place.
    • ...after I calmed down I started to think rationally...

      You must be new here :-)
  • Hmmmm... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by superdan2k (135614) on Friday March 14, 2003 @01:24PM (#5512639) Homepage Journal
    Anyone else notice that the row of pictures at the bottom of the page, the old Linux versions of VirtualPC seem to have gone missing with Version 6? Hmmm, and Microsoft bought VPC from Connectix, you say? Hmmm. Imagine my surprise.
    • Re:Hmmmm... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Robotech_Master (14247) on Friday March 14, 2003 @01:38PM (#5512781) Homepage Journal
      They went missing sooner than that. Try, the day (or maybe the day after) Microsoft bought Connectix. A Mac friend of mine wanted to get ahold of them when he heard that news...and found no sign on their website that they had ever supported Linux.
    • They stopped selling a Red Hat Guest OS Pack well before the buyout was announced (someone I know found it missing in January but I think it went away in late Fall 2002). It's disappearance might still be tied to the buyout or they might have decided that it wasn't profitable (possibly because of how frequently Red Hat is updated compared to Windows).

      The VPC for Windows Technical Reference PDF [connectix.com]is still online and contains information about running various non Microsoft OS's. Even though it says "for Windows
  • by elflet (570757) <elflet@[ ]tquestion.net ['nex' in gap]> on Friday March 14, 2003 @01:24PM (#5512642)
    will this mean the end of Office for Mac?

    That's not likely. Office:Mac is already a cash cow for Microsoft; MS had the single largest share of the Macintosh software market in the 90s and probably still does. There's no profit in tossing the mature cross-development system they're using and probably ticking-off the installed base of Mac users.

    Really, there'd be no money in it for MS to try and move Office:Mac users to Office on Windows.

  • by grammaticaster (657410) on Friday March 14, 2003 @01:24PM (#5512643)
    I work in a mixed Mac / PC environment. I've found that the better solution to interoperability problems is to simply have computers on both platforms; we never have conversion problems, because the programs that run on PC's only don't output data that needs to be used on the Mac. Besides, for $249, you can almost buy a cheap PC and KVM. i just don't see the point. Who needs Virtual PC?
    • Who needs Virtual PC?

      I think Pudge's review explains a situation where VPC is better than a real PC:

      My Windows needs are few. I am a perl developer; I work on perl and release perl software. Occasionally, I want to test on Windows. Further, I am a Slash developer, and sometimes our users complain about certain bugs that only show up on certain browsers, so I want to test that on Windows too. And every once in awhile, there is some software I need that is Windows-only.

      If you only need the PC eve

      • (Of course, since OSX came out, I am struggling for a reason to ever boot VPC into RedHat again. heh.)

        Totally ... I have a Linux box here for Slashdot development, but I've moved it all over to my TiBook. I use the Linux box as an ssh gateway, mail server, and nightly backup of my TiBook to its 30GB drive. And I could move all of those services over to Mac OS X. If I ever replace my local Mac OS X server (right now it is a PowerBook G3/500) with a desktop Mac, with more room for HD, more power, etc., I
    • by Spencerian (465343) on Friday March 14, 2003 @02:07PM (#5513045) Homepage Journal
      1) Because carrying two computers is impractical if you have a laptop, and PC work is impossible without VPC if you are a mobile Mac.

      2) Because transferring data between Macs and PCs, despite Mac OS X, can still be a pain. VPC makes it easy to read files without great pains if you have the software.

      3) Because some people need an environment where they can test matters without forking over additional cash.

      4) Cables suck. KVMs work, but suck. Multiple keyboards suck. Multiple anything with computers generally suck.

      5) VPC is a true clone. Every single copy is identical. It's a perfect environment for general testing. You can't get that from any store-bought or homebrew PC. Each will have slightly different parts.

      6) VPC is the best way to connect to Windows resources and applications that are steadfastly Windows-only.

      7) Respectfully speaking, most people that use VPC don't do the same things you do.

      I use VPC to connect to my company's VPN. Quick, I don't have to expend extra effort or make more room on my desk, and can move documents back and forth as I need to.

      Better--I can copy my HD with XP as a disk image and move it around, changing it for use with my home and with a company net; in effect, two instances of XP from a single registration. Try THAT with your single-user copy of XP on a real PC.

      Microsoft bought VPC and the other VM technologies because they work. Microsoft is many things, but business-wise they are far from stupid or they wouldn't be a rich company. As for ethics, well...
      • 4) Cables suck. KVMs work, but suck. Multiple keyboards suck. Multiple anything with computers generally suck.

        I run a PC and Mac here at work, using a Mitsubishi DP 900 U monitor. It has dual inputs (one VGA, one BNC) and a USB hub with two upstream ports - when I hit the switch on the front of the monitor to swap the video input, it automagically swaps the USB peripherals between the two machines as well, with almost no delay (less than a second). I'd occasionally get problems with Mac OS 9, but under X

      • 4) Cables suck. KVMs work, but suck. Multiple keyboards suck. Multiple anything with computers generally suck.

        I did the two keyboard thing until I found x2vnc [hubbe.net]. I just run a vnc server on my windows box, fire up x2vnc on the linux box, and presto - seamless mouse and keyboard interaction over the OS barrier. For novelty reasons alone it's worth checking out.

        • Also win2vnc [hubbe.net] works for the other direction. Windows to X.

          BTW, i use a 4 port KVM, so I can share 1 21inch monitor with my laptop docking station/linux box/test box/sun box, works perfectly, and I bought OEM cables for 15 bux per pack for video/ps2 cables. KVM's rule.
    • by TechStuff.ca (588157) on Friday March 14, 2003 @02:08PM (#5513056) Homepage
      VirtualPC is very useful in a HelpDesk environment. You can have multiple versions of Windows (and other OSes) running at once, to easily support people on multiple platforms without rebooting your own machine.

      You can have one environment in which a particular Windows Update patch or security update has been installed, and another that hasn't, and easily switch between them.

      You can even set up environments with specific software combinations. ("So, you're running WordPerfect 11 with Internet Explorer 5.5 and QuickTime 6? Just a sec. Okay, let's see if we can duplicate that error...")

      VPC lets you test viruses, spyware and other dangerous software without risk. You just make a backup of the virtual drive before trying something risky, in case you need to go back to the previous version.

      VPC isn't for everyone, but it's very useful for some.

      Sandy
      • VPC lets you test viruses, spyware and other dangerous software without risk. You just make a backup of the virtual drive before trying something risky, in case you need to go back to the previous version.

        Good point ... I've done this more than once.
    • I'm very curious, what KVMwould you suggest, how woul dyou hook this up? I've wanted to do this between my imac and pc for a while, but i'm not sure how or if it's possible with an imac.. (flat screen new ones)
  • by exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) on Friday March 14, 2003 @01:26PM (#5512659) Journal
    Very oldies like Civilization run too fast but anything recent is far too slow. AOE2, for example, crawls on a 550MHz PowerBook and an oldie like the origonal Command and Conquer are too slow to be playable. You have to go back as far as Warfract (I!) or Settlers II to find a real time graphics game that plays fine. Microprose's Magic the Gathering works well however. Of course there's no problem running the original Infocom adventure games for that real retro experience. I found the original Tomb Raider almost tolerable. Surprisingly I found the old PC Wolfenstein a bit choppy on v5 but I'll try v6 some time soon. I tried the recent freebie GTA. It actually runs but too slow to be fun. On a 1GHz PowerBook it may actually be playable.

    All in all it's a fine app. Integration of individual Windows apps into the dock is cool.

    BTW I originally bought v5 with PC-DOC and installed my own Windows 98 (legally I might add).

    I've also tried running every OS I could get my hands on. Pretty well everything from Plan 9 to Menuet runs. The only thing that failed was Darwin - that was on v5.

    • Command & Conquer (and Red Alert) worked quite well in VPC last I tried them on my 7600 w/ 450mhz G4. I used to play the original GTA on that machine back when I had a 266mhz G3, and it was more than playable. This is all under OS 9, however; OS 9 has always provided better performance for VPC than OS X. Give that a shot, you might be surprised at the difference.

      Also keep in mind that games aren't a priority for the VPC team, and Connectix has repeatedly said that VPC is not a gaming solution.

    • I suggest to upgrade to version 6. Its quite a bit faster.

      With that said, you may also boot back into OS 9. Virtual PC took something like a 50 percent performance hit with the X upgrade. It was actually getting pretty fast under classic.
  • by BWJones (18351) on Friday March 14, 2003 @01:27PM (#5512671) Homepage Journal
    Interestingly, I was talking with a Windows developer on the plane about a year ago and he was telling me that using Virtual PC on the Mac for Windows development was actually easier than developing on a dedicated Windows machine because in VirtualPC, Windows is an image that can be readily backed up and restored with a drag and drop should you do something really stupid with the registry or kernel.

    • I highly doubt they were using the Mac version for development - they were much more likely to be using the Windows version of VPC.

      This will give you near-native speed since the instruction set doesn't need to be interpreted, but you can still have multiple virtual machines (which definitely makes life easier: particularly for QA, where you can run multiple versions of Windows for testing and just fetch a fresh disk image when things get broken).

      This whole virtual-x86-machine-on-x86 is exactly why MS bo
      • I highly doubt they were using the Mac version for development - they were much more likely to be using the Windows version of VPC.

        Actually, yes he was. We were sitting side by side with our Apple laptops. I was preparing for a talk at a conference and he was writing code.

        This will give you near-native speed since the instruction set doesn't need to be interpreted, but you can still have multiple virtual machines (which definitely makes life easier: particularly for QA, where you can run multiple vers
    • I think he probably started with "I want to / already own a Mac but I have to develop for Windows" and used that to rationalize away the performance penalty.

      I guess if he were cross-developing somehow, either by using a cross-compiler or a portable programming environment, that wouldn't be too painful - edit on MacOS, compile on MacOS, test on Windows - but if he was just running Windows full screen and doing all his development in there, he was either being disingenuous or ignorant.

      Disingenuous, if he we
    • by thatguywhoiam (524290) on Friday March 14, 2003 @05:17PM (#5514810)
      I once read about a guy running a webserver at (I believe) University of Texas. He was running this:

      Macintosh G3 -> running BeOS, which was running Sheepshaver, which was running Mac OS 8, which was running Virtual PC, which was running Windows NT 4, which was serving his website.

      He figured that it had to crash really fucking hard to go through the wall, so to speak, of 3 different operating systems. Sort of a padded cell for IIS.

  • by heldlikesound (132717) on Friday March 14, 2003 @01:30PM (#5512702) Homepage
    I run OSX 10.2.4 on a 700 mHz iBook with 384MB of RAM. Not, a "loaded" machine at all, but quick enough for web dev. and some light multi-media work. I ran VPC with Win 98, and the results were pretty pathetic, I'd click on a window to move it and would have to wait five seconds for the system to even respond, it was basically unusable.

    Enter VPC6. I upgraded to VPC6 and installed Win 2000 Pro, (which has always been the best of the worst in my opinion), and was pleasantly suprised to find it runs pretty smoothly, apps are actually useful now, I use Nokia's WAP development toolkit, and while it's not setting speed records on my computer, it works for what I need it to do.

    So, all of you familar with the scientific method are now asking, "So was it the upgrade of the OS or VPC that made the speed in increase?" Well, I didn't do any controlled experiments, but it feels like it was the upgrade. Your unpleasant, but neccesary results may vary.

    On a related note, Microsofts purchase of Virtual PC was a predictably smart and evil business move. Does anyone actually believe that Microsoft, will make this a better program? I'm glad that VPC6 was a relatively nice upgrade, I don't expect to see another useful emulator until Bochs on OSX devaporizes...
  • virtual PC ... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by SuperDuG (134989)
    ... for those who "Switched", but didn't quite realize what they were getting into ...

    Personally Virtual PC isn't all that bad, but it is funny to see all the anti-MS mac zealots with a copy of Virtual PC on their computers.

    In true honesty I don't really see a need any longer for virtual PC except for Mac users that are used to a PC that want to keep using windows. With OS X I really can't think of anything in particular that I would need Virtual PC for. I would almost keep a *gasp* windows machine a

    • Personally Virtual PC isn't all that bad, but it is funny to see all the anti-MS mac zealots with a copy of Virtual PC on their computers.

      I don't know any anti-MS Mac zealots. I know tons of anti-MS Linux zealots, but the Mac users I know just prefer their Macs. When the time comes to run Microsoft software, or the occasional Windows program, they're happy to do it.

      The Mac community isn't really a good place to find zealotry... unless you count the zealots from other communities who make the trip over h
      • I don't know any anti-MS Mac zealots.

        Well, there was the whole auditorium full of them booing when Jobs and Gates (on a screen) shared a keynote, or whatever that was. OTOH they got the first full soaking of Reality Distortion Field, so maybe they're all faithful converts now.

        I don't really mind running MS Office on my Macs from a political/zealotry standpoint, but I do grit my teeth every time I encounter an annoying bug... like the way Word and Visual Basic (Equation Editor, Endnote CWYW plugin)

      • I am an anti-MS Mac zealot, and I know many anti-MS Mac zealots. None of the longtime Mac users I know are EVER happy to run Windows; quite the opposite.

        It is true I use and like Linux, but I have been a Mac user far longer than a Linux/Unix user, and I have hated Windows for pretty much all that time (well, Windows didn't exist when I became a Mac user, but I hated it since it came out).
    • Anyways, I remember the "rumors" of a MS Windows Release for PPC and I also remember "rumors" of Mac OS for x86. Kinda makes you wonder what behind closed doors meeting took place to kill these projects.

      A Mac OS X for x86 does exist - it was available to beta testers until RC1 or RC2, when it was simply put back indoors. All of the OS X stuff obviously was crossplatform - it probably still is.

      Windows 2000 for the PPC was killed off, but NT 4 for the PPC exists. Too bad it doesn't have drivers for any Ma

  • by nsayer (86181) <nsayer.kfu@com> on Friday March 14, 2003 @01:32PM (#5512720) Homepage
    I use VPC for Windows on occasion too, but I also have tried a few times to load FreeBSD as a guest. But it has some issues.

    In the past, sound didn't work, but it appears that is fixed in 6.0.2. The usual sound configuration (ISA SB16, port 0x220, irq 5, dma 1 & 5) works.

    X has never worked. It aparently works for Linux, but every time I try and start the X server under FreeBSD, I get a crash loading the int10 module. Nobody in the world seems to know why or how to fix it.

    The clock (gettimeofday()) runs at almost double speed while the guest is running. The fix for this is to run a little daemon that syncs the guest to the host. This daemon is on Connectix's FTP server somewhere. It uses a pair of asm blocks with invalid (on a real CPU) instructions to ask VPC what the date and time are, and syncs the clock up on a periodic basis.

    Of course, it's mostly pointless to run a FreeBSD guest under VPC on a mac, since MacOS X is already very much like FreeBSD (because, of course, a lot of it came from FreeBSD). It's mostly a curiosity thing.

  • Microsoft (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Hellraisr (305322)
    Maybe now they'll actually port it to PC so I can emulate a Mac on my PC. By the way, why hasn't anyone done this yet? If you can emulate PC on Mac, it only makes sense that you could emulate Mac on PC.
    • I should would like to know about this. I'm a Mac lover from way back, but I'm stuck in a Windows world. I'd love the opportuntity to run Mac emulation on Win XP! Anybody know anything about this?
    • Re:Microsoft (Score:2, Informative)

      by truenoir (604083)
      There are Mac emulators for PC. Basilisk for one. They actually work pretty well, however, the biggest things are that 1.) You can't emulate a PPC and 2.) You need a Mac ROM file (which to legally have means you probably need to go buy a used Mac for $5 anyway).

      This pretty much limits you to 8.x MacOS levels, however, if you want to run some older Mac games or whatnot, it should be good enough. System 7.5.5 is available for free from Apple though, which makes it a solid choice for such a task.
    • "If you can emulate PC on Mac, it only makes sense that you could emulate Mac on PC."

      Thanks, this is good news, I can emulate a ZX81 on my PC, so it only makes sense that I could emulate the PC on my ZX81.

      Now I can slap up a 9V battery load Win2K... Where'd the function keys go? Where'd my my mouse Go? Oh, and it appears that we never needed more than 16k.
    • Re:Microsoft (Score:3, Interesting)

      by k_187 (61692)
      Because VPC emulates x86 on PPC, there are a couple of PPC emulators for windows, but the most recent OS they can run is like System 7.6 (maybe 8.1, I'm not sure). They're also ass slow. There's also much more of a market for windows apps on a Mac than Mac apps on windows.
  • by JudgeFurious (455868) on Friday March 14, 2003 @01:38PM (#5512772)
    And so I cannot in good conscience upgrade my existing VPC5. I cannot condone their business practices so they get none of my money. Disney's in the same boat with me.

    Besides I just got finished telling the kid (13 year old son) that he could pick from GameCube or Playstation 2 but no X-Box was entering our home so I guess it's time for me to back that up.

    It's a shame, I really enjoyed VPC too.
  • hmm (Score:3, Funny)

    by B3ryllium (571199) on Friday March 14, 2003 @01:38PM (#5512779) Homepage
    Does it come with a lightgun?

    If I'm gonna play VirtuaPC, I need a lightgun so I can shoot all those stupid Windows applications ... and watch them recoil in 3D blocky splendour!

    Woo! VirtuaFighter!

    Erm, I mean, VirtuaPC. ;-)
  • About 4 months ago i tried setting up my friend's OSX titanium (no special hardware) up with VPC and windows 2000 (using the cd that comes w/ vpc). Without fail, it would blue-screen and then eventually cause OSX to kernel dump. After reinstalling vpc, windows 2000 several times and encountering the same results, I said screw it. My other friends who have tried the same have also said windows was impossible to get configured using VPC. So hopefully this time around, their software will work as advertised.
  • For some reason my favorite application, Partition Magic, doesn't run on it!

  • x86 emulation (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rf0 (159958) <rghf@fsck.me.uk> on Friday March 14, 2003 @01:40PM (#5512803) Homepage
    Looking over the site it looks like a nice program but can it run other x86 Operating System like Linux or FreeBSD. It would just be nice to know as I'm thinking about a powerbook and would like to know my options. Of course I know OS-X is BSD based but just wondered about other flavours of *NIX

    Rus
    • Before the buyout they used to sell a version that was boxed with RedHat. Pretty much any OS that you can install can be installed, it supports booting the virtual machine from a CD. Of course, some features may not work, like another poster pointed out about FreeBSD (Sound works, X doesn't).

  • by xonker (29382) on Friday March 14, 2003 @01:52PM (#5512912) Homepage Journal
    Note the complete absence of any mention of Linux on the Connectix site? They used to support Red Hat and sell copies for their virtual machine. Guess those days are GONE now that Microsoft took it over.
  • Printing (Score:3, Informative)

    by Sho0tyz (147844) <Sho0tyz&wanadoo,fr> on Friday March 14, 2003 @01:59PM (#5512974)
    It seems like the reviewer made it too difficult for himself. Why not just choose the "print to file" option in Windows and drag the postscript file over to the Mac disk to print it. It takes a few extra seconds, but surely it's easier than moving the printer around.
  • VPC is useful for testing code in various browsers, but it's not a reliable test for colors. PC's are notorious for having a darker gamma than Macs, but VPC doesn't adjust for this. For web designers on Macs, there's still no substitute for having a PC box in close proximity.
    • For web designers on Macs, there's still no substitute for having a PC box in close proximity.

      ...except for setting your Mac screen gamma to PC standard (2.2) like I do :-)

      That said, VPC is very helpful for seeing what all the different Windows interface widgets do to your layout- the controls look, act, and size quite differently and can negatively affect the design of your sites.
  • I updated Cygwin ..., which I use occasionally....

    That's messed up.... Cygwin on a Windows emulator on a Mac.... Joking aside, why cygwin? Why not just Mac OSX terminal?

    • by pudge (3605)
      Because when I am testing ActivePerl for Windows, the last thing I want to do is use the DOS Shell. :) It is certainly not for doing real work, just for making it easier to get around for testing.
  • PC prices are so cheap nowdays, that I'm wondering how come no company has come up with a "PC on a PCI card" which you can drop into a mac, and use as a normal PC instead of emulating it...

    Whoever does this just needs to make sure to allow the mac user to keep using the same keyboard, mouse, ethernet, hard drive (a partition for the PC or some form of file sharing), and USB ports, and if possible to loop-back the PC video signal to display it into a window inside the Mac via some kind of utility. after tha
    • I don't know if they still make them, but for the longest time you could buy such a card. Orange Micro [orangemicro.com] used to make such a line of card, known as OrangePC. They wern't terribly popular. I know for a while you could buy PowerMacs with PC cards preinstalled, usually leading to a 'PC' after the model number, such as the 7300/180 PC [everymac.com] that has a 166Mhz Pentium in addition to it's 180Mhz PowerPC chip.

      I have no idea if anyone makes products like this for modern Macs.
    • They made that sort of thing for Macs back in the 680X0 days. I have no idea if they were popular or worked well - probably not, since they seem to be gone now. Essentially, they were as you described - a PC motherboard on a PCI card. But by the same token, couldn't you do the same thing with the G3 or G4 for the PC?

      I see a few issues doing this now, though:
      1. Powering it would be tough nowadays. Not only would cooling be tricky, but the power consumption would require a huge power supply. Possible to get
    • PC prices are so cheap nowdays, that I'm wondering how come no company has come up with a "PC on a PCI card" which you can drop into a mac, and use as a normal PC instead of emulating it...

      Like this (search for Houdini) [faqs.org]? There were also (as you mention) the various Janus Bridgeboards for the Amigas. The fastest was a '486dx66, I think. There was even a A500 '286 card that connected to the memory expansion slot (!) at the bottom of the computer. With glorious Herkules graphics.

      In other words, it has

  • by Sarin (112173) on Friday March 14, 2003 @02:41PM (#5513343) Homepage Journal
    I use bochs [sourceforge.net] on my mac which runs linux.
    It emulates the x86 processor and hardware so you can not only run windows but also other x86 operating systems and it's free. Here are some screenshots [sourceforge.net] .
    It's not that fast on my 400mhz powerbook though. But it works fluently.
  • by gerardrj (207690) on Friday March 14, 2003 @03:16PM (#5513640) Journal
    1. Getting rid of the Windows desktop all together. I REALLY look forward to the day when VPC can go rootless like an X windows server can and the Windows apps appear directly on the Mac desktop.
    In eccessence VPC would be just another code execution path just like CoCoa(yellow box), Carbon and Classic(blue box). Maybe the VPC emulator would be called "bigblue box".
    This would eliminate many of the system redundancies of running a fully isolated emulator (like mainatining two system clocks, device configurations, display spaces, etc) and dramatically speed things up.

    2. Code optimization and restructuring. There was an app/addition to Windows for Alpha (iX32 I think)that would do this. It would look through all your executable 16/32bit X36 code one the machine and pre-optimize it and create a cache of native code that would run on the 64bit Alpha. Given today's HD space and the Mac's concept of "packages", this daemon on the Mac could periodically scan for new Windows apps, and re-write the core portions of them to run natively on PPC, making system calls in to the appropriate VPC section of OS X.

    The article's writer ponders the end of Office for Mac. With these two features, there's a distinct possibility that would become reality. MS would simply bundle the VPC emulation "box" along with the Office installer, or any other software you purchase from them.
  • I love VPC6 (Score:5, Informative)

    by nettdata (88196) on Friday March 14, 2003 @03:22PM (#5513688) Homepage
    I actually went out and bought version 5. While it WORKED, I was somewhat disappointed in it's performace (specifically, the lack thereof). The mouse was SLOW, disk access was REALLY slow (a samba share to the OS X box was the best way to achieve reasonable disk access), etc. It was PAINFULL.

    Enter the VPC 6 upgrade.

    WOW.

    Let me say that again...

    WOW!

    Now, to put it into perspective, I have a TiBook 800 with a Gig of RAM. I'm CTO of a software development company (Intellinger) [intellinger.com], and we develop performance monitoring software. Our entire shop uses OSX for our development (Java). We need to test and demo our product on/with Win32 OS's.

    We use VPC for demos as well as testing on different platforms.

    VPC6 boots faster on my TiBook than it does on my 2 year old Toshiba Satelite Pro. The mouse is THERE, if you know what I mean... no more "VNC" like responses, and the local folder sharing RULES.

    I personally use it for a number of things...

    Demos: We pull into a (potential) client site with our OSX laptops, launch our app on OSX, and then fire up VPC with the appropriate Win32 or Linux OS, and proceed to run our app against it. VPC allows the Win32/Linux session to look (over the network) like a totally separate machine. (VPC allows NAT-like network access or a totally independent IP address/access). The clients are totally amazed, and for the most part we have to keep them focused on our app and "stop asking questions about VPC!". The resounding feedback from the techies we present to is "wow... that's COOL! What are you selling again?".

    Testing: We have a dual processor OSX box, running VPC, with 23 separate installations of different Win32 and Linux installs in various stages of configurations. We've found that this works amazingly well in testing installation, configuration, and operation issues. We can duplicate an entire configuration, do what we want with it, and then blow it away when we're done. Disposable installs. Way cool.

    Visio: Omnigraffle is a great program for OSX, but it still is lacking the serious "stencil" support that Visio has when it comes to designing co-lo racks, etc. As well, most of the network techs I know still use Visio for the most part, so I need to be able to exchange Visio docs with them. I run Visio in VPC when I have to, and it feels "natural", native, whatever you want to call it. Awesome response.

    Adobe Acrobat: Acrobat support SUCKS for OSX. (Adobe, you listening? Get your shit together!). I do a lot of reports in Word, and the PDFMaker macro in the Win32 version of Acrobat is amazing... it creates a really nicely formatted PDF document with the nice bookmarks, etc. That just doesn't exist in the OSX world. (If someone knows how to do this, PLEASE let me know!). So, to get around this, I have acrobat/Word installed on VPC, so when I have to generate the final docs, I use it to generate the output.

    TOAD: I do a lot of Oracle development, and have yet to find a replacement for TOAD. It doesn't run in OSX. But it runs VERY well in VPC. The only issue is trying to find a minimal sql*net client install without installing / unzipping a DB install. Joy. That being said, I can launch VPC with Win98, create a port-forwarded SSH session to a remote Oracle box, and do anything I have to with TOAD. For that matter, I can also use TOAD in VPC to develop against the Oracle 9i DB running in OSX on the same box.

    Those are just some of my experiences, and that's not to say that everything is golden...

    There are the occasional freezes, usually the result of me using LiteSwitch X to switch between apps too quickly while it's working away on something, and there are some "weird" errors that pop up (every time I close TOAD, for instance, I always get a "illegal operation" error pop up). But you know, that's the minority of the time... the exception rather than the rule.

    I highly recommend VPC6 for that "last mile" when moving from Win32 to OSX.

    • by descubes (35093) on Saturday March 15, 2003 @01:42AM (#5517736) Homepage
      I use Ghostscript's 'ps2pdf' program to generate PDF files. It does keep bookmarks, at least when printing from FrameMaker (I don't use Word too much, but that's probably the same thing).

      So here is what I do (not quite as easy as you'd like, but it works):
      - First, install ghostscript or some package with ps2pdf. Left as an exercise for the reader.
      - Second, print to a postscript file, generate PDF hints
      - Third, invoke ps2pdf on the generated PS file.
      You generally want to include all the required fonts in the document, ps2pdf doesn't seem too good at finding fonts by itself.

      ps2pdf also solved another problem for me, namely printing from Classic applications when my printer's driver exists only for OSX - Solution: print to PS, convert to PDF, print the PDF from OSX.

      Hope this helps...
  • VPC speed (Score:3, Informative)

    by iotaborg (167569) <exa@COLAsofthome.net minus caffeine> on Friday March 14, 2003 @03:24PM (#5513718) Homepage
    In my experience, VPC has some interesting speed issues. I'm on a G4 Dual 1250, with VPC 6 with Win2000. In my experience, VPC can emualte x86 basic instructions very fast, for example running an RC5 test will give me ~3MKeys/s in VPC, which is very comparable to current low end PCs (in OS X I get 25+MKeys/s ;) ).


    The problem, however, is in the graphics. Graphics are simply too slow, and it doesn't have good DirectX support either. It emulates an S3 graphics card... I hope Microsoft fixes this issue in the next verion of VPC, because processor emulation is fast, UI and graphics are slow.

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