What's new in Virtual PC 7?

by Giles Turnbull

When Microsoft purchased Virtual PC last year, reaction was mixed.

"They're trying to kill Windows emulation!" some people cried. There were fears that Microsoft might "butcher" VPC, at the time a much-loved and much-used program.

"Only Microsoft can make Windows emulation better," others pointed out.

The second bunch had a good point, and the new release of Virtual PC 7 may go some way to supporting their view.

New features include better graphics support, easier printer integration, G5 processor support, and "Fast Save", a means of closing down the emulated PC with one click.

Another feature I certainly like the look of, and tried (in vain) to use on my lime green iMac about five years ago, is copy-and-paste between platforms. Now, the Mac and the virtual PC share a clipboard, which should make this most common of actions useful once more.

For anyone who has never witnessed Virtual PC's clever act, Microsoft's Flash demo tells you everything you need to know.

And if you are a newcomer to this kind of technology, a word of warning: you can never have too much RAM. Running a entire extra OS, plus the applications you want to use within it, on top of your normal Mac stuff is very memory-hungry activity. I write from bitter experience.

The official minimum requirements are a 700MHz G3, G4 or G5 chip (so that's my old 600MHz iBook out of the question - but then I'd be amazed if any G3 machine could run Virtual PC at any kind of tolerable speed); Mac OS X 10.2.8 (or 10.3 if you're using a G5), 3GB hard disk space, and 512MB of RAM.

Is Windows emulation important for your work?


2004-10-05 19:20:35
Maximum RAM letdown
I have a 2GB Powerbook. I was really hoping that VPC 7 would take advantage of more than 512MB of RAM, but it doesn't. I guess I won't be buying the upgrade just yet.
2004-10-06 00:59:11
Killed Linux
Microsoft may not have killed off VPC, but they have killed off its support for Linux. Withh Connectix VPC, at least some versions suypported at least some versions of Linux officially. That's now gone.
2004-10-06 08:58:40
application support
Is there a good way to determine which applications Virtual PC will properly and reliably support? For instance, I wouldn't buy VPC7 if it won't support the Cisco VPN client.
2004-10-06 10:34:19
Killed Linux
That's funny... I'm running Suse Linux right now. VPC emulates hardware. You'd have seriously go out of your way to make that hardware incompatible with Linux.
2004-10-06 10:37:03
Maximum RAM letdown
It does take advantage of more than 512mb of RAM. It's just that any single VM can only use 512mb of RAM. What are you trying to do that you need more than 512mb of RAM assigned to a single Windows VM? If there's no need, there's no point. My experience is that maxing the RAM doesn't improve performance, and in fact I've noticed slight degradations of performance in XP with more than 256mb of RAM (both in VPC and in hardware).
2004-10-08 02:41:25
The real purpose behind buying Virtual PC ...
There have been talks and leaked specs about the new XBox2 being based on PowerPC chips ... 3 of them in one machine! It appears to make perfect sense that Microsoft would buy VirtualPC to provide backward compatibility in XBox2 for XBox1 games. Doesn't it? I don't think they bought it with the mac market in mind.
2004-10-20 12:17:06
application support
As far as the Cisco VPN, I am using it with VPC7. To get it to work I had to install a second ethernet card and use the Virtual Switch option in VPC7.

Tom C.

2004-10-24 14:50:06
application support
AutoCAD, I heard informally, won't work with Virtual PC. Is there any way to confirm or disprove this before trying it?


2004-10-25 11:41:46
Maximum RAM letdown
(Is it just me, or do semi-rhetorical questions like "What are you trying to do that you need ... ...?" rub other folks the wrong way?)

I face the same issue as the original poster -- I need to run a number of very memory-hungry applications on my virtual PC for demonstration purposes. I am trying to lighten my load and avoid carrying an actual Wintel laptop around with me. I had naively imagined that if I had 2GB of physical RAM, that VPC would allow me to allocate as much or as little as I wanted to the VM. Clearly I gave M$ too much credit on this front. Hopefully a future release will support larger virtual RAM allocation.

As to your other comment, if you have noticed a degradation of performance with >256MB of RAM on a hardware PC, please call Ripley's, because you have an oddity on yoru hands! ;-)

2004-11-16 04:48:48
Maximum RAM letdown
Not exactly... This is well known phenomenon. It occurs when installed physical memory size exceeds cache address space. (Think 640K limit for cache).

See http://www.pcguide.com/ref/mbsys/cache/charCacheability-c.html

It is reasonable to expect the VPC, if it truly emulates hardware, will mirror this behavior.

2004-11-24 08:32:52
application support
I just installed Autocad LT on a 20" Imac G5 with 1G of ram. It runs but a lttle slow opening large drawings. I am going to 2G on the ram and will provide a followup. Frankly, I was amazed it opened and ran at all.

Incidentally. VP7 with XP Pro runs all my proprietary WIN stuff very well. I am parking my Win machine.

2004-12-18 13:34:03
application support
In fact, Cisco VPN client is one of the main reasons I use VPC. I use the VPN client to access some IP-restricted resources, like scholarly journals and such. However, if I run the client directly in OSX, it takes over the entire network connection and I can't use the LAN in the meantime. If I use the VPN client in VPC, I can access the restricted stuff in the VPC and still use my regular LAN stuff at the same time. It's great.

2005-02-03 16:45:26
application support
Did you need to get a second ethernet card to make this work?

I'm in the process of trying to determine if I can replace my stand-alone Windows workstation with a Mac G5 running VPC. It sounds like it is possible, but can you recommend the Mac system requirements to make this transition a smooth one?

2005-03-02 09:09:54
One dude
Does VPC 7 supports multiscreen ?
I´ve and iMac G5 1,6. It has a Nvidia Geoforce Card FX 5200 with multimonitor support.

I have installed VPC 7 and under XP i have a 4 Mb graphic card without multimonitor support.

Now i have downloaded the xp driver to Nvidia Geoforce FX5200, but i dont know what will happen when i try to install it

Sorry for my poor english

2006-04-02 14:52:25
My iBook G3 runs Windows 95 reasonably well. It's at 800MHz and 256MB RAM