Virtual PC 3.0 full review

While most Mac owners will admit to loathing PCs and Windows, there are times when not being able to run PC software is a definite disadvantage. On-line banking inevitably requires PC-based client software, and many business applications have no Mac equivalent. Running PC emulation software is by far the most cost-effective solution: enter Virtual PC (VPC). Three variants are available, differing only in the bundled, fully licensed PC system software: Windows 98, Windows 95 and DOS. Installation is painless. VPC’s Setup Assistant provides a step-by-step guide, and the entire process takes only five minutes or so. In fact, my shrink-wrapped copy of Windows 98 has yet to be opened. Once up and running, VPC’s Preferences can be adjusted, such as video memory, modem and the creation of a ‘D’ drive. Mac folders can be shared – appearing to Windows as extra hard disks – and networking enabled. In essence, Windows ‘sees’ its environment through a set of disk, card, and port emulations. VPC 3.0 is certainly an improvement over its predecessor, with a number of updated emulations. For instance, the previously ropey eight-bit sound has now been replaced by the equivalent of a SoundBlaster 16 card, while video emulates an SVGA card with up to 4MB of VRAM. Scripting is now possible through AppleScript support – useful for everything from launching applications to carrying out repetitive tasks – and the Shared IP facility means Internet connection in Virtual PC uses the Mac’s settings. USB support for a wide range of peripherals is likely to be a main selling point for VPC 3, but, life isn’t quite that simple – Mac OS 9 is mandatory for this.
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