In response to some negative
statements recently asserted against Virtual PC, the following provides
a more positive perspective on Virtual PC (VPC), what it can do for you and your
Mac, and some tips on how best to use it.
I've been running VPC since
1998 with both Windows '98 and Windows 2000, and have successfully performed various
- I've run all the components
of Microsoft 98.
- I've run Project.
- I've run MoviePlayer.
- I've run Outlook.
- I've run VPN over both modem
- I've mounted .dmg files as
disks in VPC to access data or to run an installer from the disk image.
- I've run the Windows 2000
Pinball game, and as a measure of speed and responsiveness, I thought the program
ran pretty well.
NOTE: I also use the VPC <->
Mac Clipboard and Inter-OS drag 'n drop as well.
... and the lists goes on.
I am running the last Connectix version of the control program, and I have many,
many good things to say about this program.
Is it as fast as the same clock speed of the PC? Of course not, but I've run PowerPoint
presentations with at least a hundred full graphics slides, and although I had a
delay on the initial load and maybe a second or so delay between some slides, it
was nothing like "Well, I'll go to lunch and we'll be on the next slide when
when I get back" type of experience. Same experience for Word and Excel: No
delays in typing, although maybe some delays if I move ahead twenty or thirty pages.
Movies seem to play okay, and I've played quite a few CDs with the CD Player. VPC
on Windows 98 on my G4 QuickSilver even recognized my USB Soundstick and immediately
began using them for the sound output.
Most of this experience is on a 233 MHz Wallstreet Powerbook. Things get much better
on my Titanium Powerbook and G4 QuickSilver.
I took some abuse about a blue screen of death I got on VPC, with the assumption
that it was VPC at fault. Then we ran the same thing on real hardware, only to watch
it thrash itself into the "blue" as well. VPC was innocent.
I did notice that VPN stresses VPC pretty good, but tests with both a modem and DSL
both seemed to work pretty well.
- Don't starve VPC for memory
or hard drive space (allocate plenty).
- Consider reverting to the
last Connectix version of the control program since rumor has it that the latest
Microsoft versions may not perform as well. No promises, but worthy of consideration
and some testing.
- Ensure you have the latest
VPC additions. This is less of a problem with VPC 5 and 6 since the additions are
inside the program package. It used to be (and may still be) that one of the major
differences between versions is the VPC additions.
- In many cases, you can use
the 'save as' to exit the program instead of shutting down the PC. This technique
allows you to go from launch to a Windows desktop in something like 10-20 seconds.
Basically, you are saving the environmental setup to disk and bypassing bootstrap.
This works well for standalone stuff and the only problem, if any, is re-establishing
a network presence (I don't recall any specific problems doing this).
- I personally don't like Word's
automatic spell checking and I have found it to be overly wasteful of resources.
I turn it off and do an overall document check at the end. Ditto for some other automatic
features such as PowerPoint's auto save -- seems to result in a continually growing
files even when information is deleted. In many cases, I have found that a re-save
at the end reduces the files size. Same thing for Word, especially if 'Change Tracking'
I'll end this by a quote I once read, "It's not how well the bear dances, it's
that it can dance at all." My experiences with VPC have been more positive than
those I have read recently. I'll add that this bear is at least a pretty good
social dancer. I'm eagerly watching the DarWine & Boch projects, but for my near
term needs, VPC does the job, and doesn't irritate me much more than a hardware based
machine. The only thing that I think is really wrong with VPC is the machine it's
trying to emulate.