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Mac sites and the fabulous Virtual PC
technofile  by al fasoldt
Columns and commentaries in a life-long dance with technology 
Simple gray rule


Mac sites and the fabulous Virtual PC 


Bit Player for July 20, 1997

By Al Fasoldt

Copyright © 1997, The Syracuse Newspapers

I plead guilty to ignoring the Mac in most of these articles. I'll try to make up for some of that negligence this week.

My candidate for the best single Web site for Mac users is the Macintosh WWW Pointers page maintained by Jay Myers of Myers Consulting Services. It's the only site I've come across that organizes updated master lists of Macintosh-related Web sites in all the most important categories. (They are "Essential Sites," "Software Archives," "Macintosh News," "Macintosh Periodicals," and 10 others, including a guide to sites that sell Mac hardware, peripherals and software.)

There are two ways to find the site. Here's the main address: http://www.nmia.com/~jjm/. Here's a secondary route to the page if something goes amiss in printing the tilde in the main address: Go to http://www.nmia.com/ and click on "NMIA user home pages," then click on "jjm."

A site mentioned twice on the WWW Pointers page is the home of TidBITS, one of the slickest Mac magazines on the Web. TidBITS is unusually well written, superbly easy to navigate and nearly always informative in a gentle, no-nonsense way. It's also published in Chinese and six other languages besides English.

One of the links to TidBITS on WWW Pointers is bad, however. Here's the right address: http://king.tidbits.com/.

An excellent Mac magazine with a Canadian viewpoint is GB's Mac Watch Page at http://tcp.ca/gsb/Mac/index.html. I've always found Canadian perspectives refreshing (and I miss the Royal Canadian Air Farce—does anyone know what I am referring to?), and the Mac Watch Page lives up to my expectations.

In a time of continued trouble at Apple Computer itself, good news came to Mac users from Connectix (at http://www.connectix.com/html/) with the release of Virtual PC. It's a $150 Mac program that emulates a modern PC so thoroughly that it even handles all the MMX instructions of the latest Intel Pentium MMX chips.

Virtual PC running on a Power Mac.

Virtual PC requires a Power Mac with 32 megabytes of memory, not much of a burden these days. It comes with MS-DOS 6.22 and Windows 3.1 or with Windows 95 and DOS 7 (your choice) and can run just about any other operating system, too—including Windows NT and OS/2 Warp. (The absolute minimum amount of RAM to run Windows 95 on Virtual PC is 24 megabytes, but you'd probably find 32 is the real-world minimum. If you're using Ram Doubler, don't count the ``doubled'' memory. You need real RAM.)

Virtual PC emulates the PC's hardware about as perfectly as any emulator can do. It does much better than SoftWindows, the only other Windows emulator, or SoftPC, a junior version of SoftWindows. It's almost a miracle—Windows 95 (or Windows NT) inside a Mac, without so much as a whimper. (It's even possible that Virtual PC could run Windows 95 with fewer odd crashes and lockups than a normal PC would because it should have fewer conflicts.)

But there's a big catch. Virtual PC is slow. (SoftWindows is even slower.) If you have an extremely fast Power Mac, Windows 95 or Windows NT on Virtual PC should run about as fast as a very slow Pentium. If you have something like an 80MHz Power Mac, Virtual PC will run Windows 95 at a crawl.

DOS programs, however, will run quite quickly, even on a lesser Power Mac. Check out a review of Virtual PC at http://tcp.ca/gsb/Mac/index.html.


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