Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
Microsoft Virtual PC 7
- Drop and Drag Feature, Prints without Windows Drivers, Easy Installation, Fast Save Option
- Extremely sluggish performance, A Little Pricey
Virtual PC 7 is an excellent program that comes highly recommended to all Mac users, but it is let down by painstakingly slow performance. It’s a shame because if it was quicker, we’d find it hard to find many faults with this version.
Price$ 499.00 (AUD)
A major stumbling block for Mac or potential Mac users is the multitude of software out there that just isn't compatible with Macintosh systems. With Virtual PC 7, Microsoft has attempted to solve this problem and while their effort is admirable, you'll have to put up with extremely sluggish performance.
For those of you wondering just what we're on about, Virtual PC is a program which creates a Virtual Windows machine inside your Mac. The Windows OS opens in a regular window, just like any other application, and is a spitting image of its big brother - complete with Start Bar and Desktop all on your Mac!
The most convenient factor of Virtual PC is the ability to drop and drag and copy and paste files from your Mac to your Virtual Windows system. This means it is a relatively simple and hassle-free process to use files on both systems. A cool feature in this version of the program is the ability to display your current running Windows applications in the Mac OS X Dock, which means you can quickly glance at what you're running without having to switch to the Windows view.
Virtual PC is very easy to install and we experienced no problems whatsoever. Installation is actually a two-part process; You install Virtual PC first, then you restart you Mac and install Windows XP Professional (which is included in the package). You can even install multiple versions of Windows by setting up different virtual machines and these different machines can be selected each time you start the program.
A new feature in this version is the Fast Save option which allows you to close or quit Virtual PC without losing files or current work. You simply Quit Virtual PC (Apple Key + Q) or click the Close button and all open files are saved, your Virtual Windows is put to sleep and the application is closed - all at the touch of a button. Then when you re-open the program, you'll find your Virtual Windows exactly the way you left it before you quit.
Basically, almost everything you can run on a PC you can run on your Macintosh using Virtual PC - including games. You simply insert the software disk into your Mac drive and the program will be detected by your virtual Windows XP. From here, you simply install the program as you would on a normal windows machine. We found printing in particular an absolute breeze - just click print from your Virtual Windows and it will print to your default Mac printer - there is no need to install any Windows print drivers. Very simple, you might say, but unfortunately, Virtual PC 7 is extremely frustrating in terms of performance.
You can forget about running tasks that rely on intense graphics; they're so slow as to be almost unusable. We tested the program on an iMac G5 (not the new Intel ones) and whilst Microsoft has stated improvements in speed over previous versions, Virtual PC 7 is still extremely slow. Web browsing was slightly improved, but you'll still be twiddling your thumbs during loading times. It's disappointing, as the rest of this program is top notch.
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