Since the news broke that Microsoft has bought Connectix’s Virtual PC, much of the online discussion has speculated as to what Microsoft is going to do with this popular Mac product. I’m not sure myself. But technically speaking, I’m very interested in the latest release of VPC. I have version 6.0.1–running Windows XP–on a 1GZ 15″ TiBook, (in full screen mode even). And I have to tell you, for the first time I’m impressed with VPC’s performance on Mac OS X.
In the past I did recommend version 5 because it was valuable for Web testing and other light PC tasks on a Mac. But only for short periods of time. It’s difficult to turn back our internal “computer performance” odometer to the old days when waiting for a page to slowly appear was acceptable. Version 5 of VPC was just too painful for more than 20 minutes at a time. But, then, that was all I usually needed to view newly designed Web pages or to make sure that all the components on a CD worked properly.
Then I installed version 6 on a 1GZ TiBook. Even using Windows XP Home Ed, I noticed a tremendous speed difference between version 5 and 6. Plus, now I could run Windows full screen on the 15″ PowerBook instead of being limited to 800 x 600 resolution. (And you can even put Windows apps on your Mac OS X Dock.)
It’s funny what we’ll do given the opportunity. I’m writing this weblog live in IE 6.0, running on XP Home, via Virtual PC 6.0, on Mac OS X 10.2.4, on a TiBook. See, if you stick to working with text, you can do anything!
To give VPC 6 the ultimate test, I loaded Ulead’s VideoStudio 7 on to XP and played around with some clips. Believe it or not, VPC could actually play .avi clips smoothly in VideoStudio. The .mpgs and .movs did experience some stuttering, but the application never crashed and performed well enough for me to use it for research as part of a project I’m working on.
Side note here: Ulead’s VideoStudio 7 seems to be a darn good application if you want to edit DV on Windows. It costs less than $100, and is far better than Windows Movie Maker.
I’ve only had one gotcha so far. I enabled “Security Lockout” in VPC’s Security Preferences panel. I entered my normal password twice as required, and checked the lockout “PC Settings” box. Then a while later, when I went to change some settings, VPC balked at my password.
In the help menu, VPC lists this stern warning: “Warning: Passwords are stored using a triple-DES encryption. It is not possible for Connectix to retrieve passwords, even in an emergency. Please note your password and use the “hint” feature. Passwords are case-sensitive and are always required to access preferences.“
Well that’s nice. But you know what? My hint text is scrambled, leading me to believe that so is my password. So, I would recommend avoiding this option until I have more information on what happened. (And no, I didn’t forget my password, and the caps lock is not turned on.)
Other than the fact that I can not longer change my VPC preferences–fortunately I set the RAM allocation to 512MB!–I’m truly impressed with the usability of version 6. If you’re a VPC owner with a fast computer, it’s probably worth the $99 upgrade fee.
However, this will most likely be the last weblog I write in IE 6 on Win XP, on VPC, on OS X. Safari with its built-in spell checker and speedy performance (not to mention much better font rendering) is just too much fun.