by August 10, 2001 0 comments

Virtual PC 4 is a Mac application that lets you run multiple PC-based OSs on your Mac desktop. This helps you save the cost of buying extra hardware for different OSs and, not to mention, the hassles of maintaining them. The software can be useful for training institutes too, to train their students on multiple OSs. It’s also useful for software developers, who want to check their software compatibility on different

Virtual PC 4

Price: Rs 17,000 
Features: Runs multiple OSs in different windows; supports drag-n-drop files, and copy-n-paste text and graphics; virtual PC list; supports Mac peripherals such as printers and CD-ROM 
Pros: Easy to use, install, and configure
Cons: None
Contact: Ample Technologies, 91/1, 6th A Main, 10th Cross, R T
Nagar, Bangalore- 560032. Tel: 080-3433038 


Virtual PC supports almost every major OS on the PC platform. This includes PC-DOS, Windows
95/98/Me/2000/NT, and Red Hat Linux. You can either run the OSs in full-screen mode or in separate windows. Another advantage is that you don’t have to reboot the machine every time you want to switch to another OS.

Each OS in Virtual PC needs a certain amount of extra RAM and free hard-disk space. For instance, Windows 2000 requires 80 MB RAM and 1.5 GB of free hard-drive space. Similarly, Windows 98 requires 50 MB RAM and 1 GB of free hard-drive space to run under Virtual PC. You’d also need a G3/G4 processor and Mac OS 8.5 or later.

Virtual PC comes with one pre-installed and pre-configured OS, which you can choose. For reviewing, we received one with Windows 98 SE. You can install other OSs yourself, or even buy pre-configured OS packs for Virtual PC.

Once everything is up and running, you can share files and folders between the Mac desktop and the virtual OS you’re running; copy and paste text and graphics; pause and restart your virtual machine; or share your Mac network connections and peripherals such as the printer and CD-ROM drive. You can also share folders on your Mac desktop and view them in any of the virtual OSs you run. For this, Virtual PC assigns a drive letter to any folder you want to share on the Mac, and displays it in the Virtual OS.

The software works by creating a drive image file on your Mac machine. The OS, its applications, and the data are stored on this file. So, as you add applications or data on the virtual machine, the size of the drive image also increases. If need be, you can expand your drive image using the Virtual disk assistant.

Installation doesn’t take much time and a PC Setup Assistant helps you in creating and configuring a virtual machine. By default a virtual machine is set to share your Mac network connections, for example for file sharing or Web browsing. This makes things easier as you don’t have to go through an extensive configuration process on the virtual machine. To control the virtual machines or change some of the settings, you can use the Virtual PC List, which acts as the Control Panel for the virtual machine. You can also see a thumbnail picture of the desktop of each virtual machine here and whether it’s running or not.

Another useful feature of the software is the Saved PC state, which saves the current state of the PC while shutting down. So the next time you start your PC, it’ll open the applications you were running at that time. It also reduces the start-up time of the virtual machine from a few minutes to a few seconds.

We tested the software on the iBook with a G3/500, Mac OS 9.1, 128 MB RAM and 10 GB hard-disk space. We first tested all its features on Windows 98 SE and it worked well without any glitches. We could drag-n-drop files between the two machines, access our network folders, surf the Internet, and fire a print from Windows. We could also switch between OSs with the click of a mouse and access the CD-ROM drive from the virtual machine. The Share folder created on the Mac desktop also appeared as a network drive on the virtual machine, making sharing files easier.

We also installed Windows 2000 to see how well it works with Virtual PC. It worked fine, but a little slow, probably due to lack of sufficient memory. Overall, it’s a very useful software, well worth its price for training institutes and software developers.

Neelima Vaid at PCQ Labs

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