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Virtual PC 6 Review

pudge posted more than 11 years ago | from the because-i-am-all-about-the-windows-yo dept.

Microsoft 378

Connectix recently released version 6 of Virtual PC, the standard for emulating Windows on a Mac. With version 5, the main feature was Mac OS X compatibility. With version 6, the focus is on better performance and Mac integration.Now -- and this is the honest-to-goodness truth -- I have not seen an actual computer (only images on TV or in magazines) running native Windows in months. For the whole of 2003. I live a very good life. And I don't want to ruin it by running Windows on my Mac unless I have a need to.

My Windows needs are few. I am a perl developer; I work on perl and release perl software. Occasionally, I want to test on Windows. Further, I am a Slash developer, and sometimes our users complain about certain bugs that only show up on certain browsers, so I want to test that on Windows too. And every once in awhile, there is some software I need that is Windows-only.

All of these needs are rare, but when I need them, I need them. Virtual PC has always been helpful to me for these purposes in the past, though it's been slow. So on to version 6.

The first thing I did was upgrade from version 5, and just play around. Everything is noticeably faster. Viewing multimedia is nicer, opening apps is quicker, moving around the filesystem is zippier (I am running out of adjectives here, bear with me).

I was overdue on some updates, so I ran the Windows Update app. They downloaded and installed much more quickly, though I still prefer to download via Mac OS X and drag the files over to Windows.

I updated Cygwin and ActiveState's Perl Development Kit and Komodo, which I use occasionally; they work fine, but are still too slow to be bearable for everyday use, but I would not want to use Windows for everyday use, so it's all good.

Now, on to the new features. Version 6 has a more refined interface for defining preferences and organizing multiple guest PCs (I've got Windows 95 and Windows 2000). You can now mount those PC disk images, which is nice, but only when the PC is shut down. Since I leave the PCs running all the time, to make startup faster (using the Save State feature), I never have much opportunity to mount the disk images. Although, when I did try to mount the Windows 95 PC (more than once), it crashed. It worked fine for the Windows 2000 image.

Another new step toward integration is the addition of some items for the Mac OS X Dock: a Start menu application, and the ability to place Windows applications in the Dock. The Start menu application is nifty; you get the Start menu from your Windows PC, but in the Dock instead. It's more responsive and looks better. The Windows applications in the Dock seems slightly less useful; clicking on them does not bring the application to the front, it only launches it (which I'd just as soon do from the Start menu).

Supposedly, there are some significant improvements to printing, including automatically detecting USB printers. My USB printer, however, is connected via Mac OS X printer sharing on another Mac, and so I can't print to it directly from Windows (at least, not that I could figure out). Instead, I need to print through the host Mac OS X from the Windows OS. Sounds simple enough, right?

To do this, I still needed to use the right driver for the printer, and it wasn't included with Windows, so I needed to install it. I downloaded the drivers from Canon's web site with a Mac browser, and just copied them to the Windows desktop. When I ran the installer, Windows reported an "access violation". Thinking that perhaps the file was not downloaded properly, I tried downloading it via Windows instead. It takes longer, but maybe it will work. But no, I got the same error. It's good to know that Virtual PC maintains the Windows Experience, that these problems weren't Virtual PC's fault.

I pulled out the CD that came with the printer and installed the (somewhat out of date) drivers from there; this time, it worked fine. But then, when I tried to print, and the Virtual PC app hung on "Printing page number: 1", with a spinning pinwheel and an unmoving progress bar. Force Quit was my only way out. I tried several times, as I did with mounting the Windows 95 image, and each time, it hung. When I would start Virtual PC again, I'd get the Print dialog, and try to print again, and it would hang. At least it's consistent.

I finally decided to give up on printing this way, and did direct printing. I plugged my printer directly into the computer, told Virtual PC to use that USB device for Windows, and Windows detected it automatically and set it up for me. After that, printing worked fine.

But, in fairness, none of these problems are related to my normal uses of Virtual PC, and if I really needed to accomplish the tasks of printing or mounting I'd probably be able to figure it out. I just didn't care enough, so I dropped it and moved on to more interesting things.

I have a Kyocera QCP 3035 cell phone. I am going to be on the road some this summer, so I wanted to use it as a modem for my PowerBook G4/867. I got the cable and the Mac OS X modem drivers and scripts (I had to email tech support to get them), and it works fine as a modem, but I also wanted to use the cable to upload contacts and ringers. The problem is, the Kyocera software is Windows-only. Virtual PC to the rescue?

I installed the Windows drivers and software and plugged in the cable. It took me a couple tries to figure out that I needed to select the cable in Virtual PC's Serial Ports preferences (assigned it to COM1), but when I did, the software recognized the phone and everything just worked. I uploaded ringers, I controlled the phone with the software. So now for the contacts.

I converted my contacts from the Mac OS X Address Book vCard export to a CSV file the Kyocera software could read. I dragged the file from the Mac OS X desktop to the Windows desktop. I imported the file into the Kyocera software and synched it with the phone. It worked. There's not much else to say here, which is about the highest praise I could heap on the test.

I was also thinking about using some Windows software I have to control my motorized Meade telescope; but frankly, if I am going to be investing the time into getting the cable and setting it all up to use software like that, I'd rather spend the extra money to get the Mac version of the software. It'd be much better to use.

All in all, Virtual PC does what -- for me -- it should. I can run perl and various web browsers for testing; I can communicate with serial devices; I can even play Windows-only multimedia files.

For completeness, I was going to play around with Bochs, but after reading various reader reviews bemoaning poor performance, and not being able to find straightforward instructions, I gave up.

You may recall, gentle reader, that Microsoft has purchased Virtual PC from Connectix. Does that mean people should invest more into Bochs, or look for alternate solutions? Will Virtual PC mean the end of Office for Mac? I don't really know; but as I am not a Windows user, I don't really care, as long as I can keep using the very few Windows products I need.

cancel ×

378 comments

lawsuit (1, Interesting)

v_1_r_u_5 (462399) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512577)

I can forsee the day when software vendors join the likes of RIAA in endless lawsuits because people get around software copyright protection by 'sandboxing' installations on virtual pc.

Re:lawsuit (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5512644)

I'm a really cool AnonCoward, and I'd just like to say..
Parent was the true first post! Nyeh! That makes me..
THE CHILD OF THE FIRST POST. Hence, I rule.

Re:lawsuit (2, Informative)

binaryDigit (557647) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512653)

when software vendors join the likes of RIAA in endless lawsuits

Software vendors already have the BSA to chase down evil doers.

people get around software copyright protection by 'sandboxing' installations on virtual pc.

I don't understand how using virtual pc helps people "get around" copyright protection? If it's an enduser app, then I doubt they care if you are silly enough to try to run two copies of Photoshop in two different VirtualPC sessions (ouch). The only scenerio I can see is if you're running something like IIS where it _may_ have language that says you can run one copy per cpu, so you run 5 copies in 5 virtual pc sessions to get around the CAL limits, but who'ed be insane enough to do this? I would imagine the bigger issue might be running this or VMWare and doing the above. But then again, the software licenses might already preclude this, so it may be a moot issue.

In any case, could you expand on what you had in mind here?

Richard N. Perle is a PANTYWAIST: Sue Me (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5512701)

Chronology of Events

Seymour Hersh writes an article in The New Yorker:
A Hawk's Business: Why was Richard Perle meeting with Adnan Khashoggi? [newyorker.com]

Ricard Perle, on Wolf Blitzer's show, calls Seymour Hersh a terrorist [cnn.com]

Read the interesting comments with historical comparisons at Talkingpointsmemo.com [talkingpointsmemo.com]

More details available at: ENOUGH IS ENOUGH: [gooff.com]
Richard Perle brands journalist Seymour Hersh a "terrorist"

Jack Shafer at Slate calls Richard N. Perle a pantywaist [msn.com]

Cheers,
W00t

There's an article in the New Yorker magazine by
Seymour Hersh that's just coming out today in which
he makes a serious accusation against you that you
have a conflict of interest in this because you're
involved in some business that deals with homeland
security, you potentially could make some money if,
in fact, there is this kind of climate that he
accuses you of proposing. Let me read a quote from
the New Yorker article, the March 17th issue, just
out now. "There is no question that Perle believes
that removing Saddam from power is the right thing
to do. At the same time, he has set up a company
that may gain from a war."

PERLE: I don't believe that a company would gain
from a war. On the contrary, I believe that the
successful removal of Saddam Hussein, and I've
said this over and over again, will diminish the
threat of terrorism. And what he's talking about
is investments in homeland defense, which I think
are vital and are necessary. Look, Sy Hersh is the
closest thing American journalism has to a
terrorist, frankly.

BLITZER: Well, on the basis of -- why do you say
that? A terrorist?

PERLE: Because he's widely irresponsible. If you
read the article, it's first of all, impossible
to find any consistent theme in it. But the
suggestion that my views are somehow related for
the potential for investments in homeland
defense is complete nonsense.

BLITZER: But I don't understand. Why do you
accuse him of being a terrorist?

PERLE: Because he sets out to do damage and he
will do it by whatever innuendo, whatever
distortion he can -- look, he hasn't written a
serious piece since Maylie (ph).

BLITZER: All right. We're going to leave it right there

Get Your Unilateral War On Iraq On [mnftiu.cc]

story branding (5, Funny)

MrLint (519792) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512580)

Ya know it was kinda odd to see an 'apple' story with with bill gates borg head icon on it. i was confused for a moment:)

Re:story branding (0, Offtopic)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512666)

Ya know it was kinda odd to see an 'apple' story with with bill gates borg head icon on it. i was confused for a moment:)

And the reply artwork is Apple theme, too (aqua? I dunno, don't have a mac)

I remember all the compatibility stuff crammed into the Amiga and you see how well that saved the platform (of course Commodore's marketing strategy was: Ready! Fire! Aim!) When I buy a computer, I expect it to behave like the system I bought it to be (with the occasional throwback emulators which still allow me to play Odyssey The Compleat Apventure and M.U.L.E...)

first post (-1, Offtopic)

CorporatePunk (624429) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512581)

first post

Network? (4, Interesting)

eingram (633624) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512583)

Maybe I missed it in the review, but is it possible to network the Virtual PC to the actual computer running it? You could do this in VMware and I found it useful time to time.

Re:Network? (1)

veddermatic (143964) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512635)

Just give them different IP addresses... it works quite well.

Re:Network? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5512651)

Yes it is. You can set it up as NAT'd behind the system it's running on, or as a seperate IP address.

Re:Network? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5512656)

Yes. There are two main network setups. Shared IP, and Virtual Switch. Using Virtual Switch you can do this.

Re:Network? (3, Interesting)

clifyt (11768) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512950)

Shit, I do this all the time.

I run both Win2k and Redhat 8.0 on my Mac. I find it MUCH more efficient to grab my terminal and SSH into my 8.0 box than it is to pull the GUI up for the virtual RH box.

Of course, occasionally I'll use Remote Desktop on the Mac to pull up the Win screen (cause for some damn reason, resizing the screen sometimes screws it up...I haven't took the time to figure that out yet).

Dealing with the demo of the new 6.0, I've even noticed it has built in VNC if you wanted to admin the stuff that way...

It really is a slick application...I just need to get off my ass and upgrade before the demo runs out...

clif

Re:Network? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5512672)

You should be able to. You can do it in Virtual PC for Windows.

Re:Network? (5, Informative)

Dephex Twin (416238) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512741)

Yes, but most people don't seem to know how to do it. Connectix supports using MS Loopback Adapter for the Windows version of Virtual PC, but for some reason doesn't have a Mac equivalent.

You can make your own by mapping some IP (say, 192.168.111.1) to 127.0.0.1. Just do this in the terminal:

sudo ifconfig lo0 alias 192.168.111.1

Then you add this to the ethernet port as well:

sudo ifconfig en0 alias 192.168.111.1

Now anytime VPC tries to get to that IP address, it will be like going to localhost.

Now if you just set the Windows side to a static IP like 192.168.111.2 with the gateway 192.168.111.1, the two machines can talk, even if you are not hooked up to any network.

Oh, and make sure you set the Windows side to "Virtual Switch" in VPC... the default is "Shared Networking".

(To get rid of those customizations, just execute this command: sudo ifconfig lo0 -alias 192.168.111.1, and then the same with with en0).

Re:Network? (1)

irving47 (73147) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512978)

Yeah, I used to do this when Winnuke was still a problem. Nothing funnier (at the time) than launching Win95 in VPC and then using "Nuke'Em" to blue screen it. Hours of enjoyment!

FIRST post! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5512584)

FIRST post!
hehehehehehehehe

Emulate, what ever... (-1, Funny)

L0stb0Y (108220) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512591)

Step 1: Steal BSD
Step 2: Make BSD look like MAC
Step 3: Make BSD that looks like MAC look like Windoze
Step 4: Profit

HEY! NO MYSTERY ??? STEP.

I'm going to be rich. Right after I go write in my /. journal.

LosT

Re:Emulate, what ever... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5512683)

I'm going to be rich. Right after I go write in my /. journal.

Sorry, but I just patented the idea. Pay up, sport!

It seems (1)

L0stb0Y (108220) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512813)

it seems Amazon beat you to the punch, they are already taking me to court.

Re:Emulate, what ever... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5512740)

Step 1: Steal BSD
Step 2: Make BSD look like MAC


Its free with practically no restrictions. It would seem to be hard to steal. And its only userland. The kernel is mach based.

Step 3: Make BSD that looks like MAC look like Windoze

Its really Mach, with BSD layer, using naitive Mac interface, running a PC emulator.

Step 4: Profit

Yep. That why they did it. They do it pretty consistently. That why they've been rumored to be dying for 20+ years. Unlike a large number of Linux companies who just died, more than a few by surprise.

L0stb0Y

Truly.

Re:Emulate, what ever... (1)

L0stb0Y (108220) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512797)

For the record, I have a mac myself, so before the zealot wars begin, I'm going to go open Vi AND emacs on my MAC-in-the-box.

*yawn*

LosT

own j000 (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5512604)

f1r5t prost! (yes, trolling)

NIGGER POST! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5512607)

This is a nigger post. Kill the niggers. Lynch them. Motherfuck! Kill the worthless pieces of shit!

Recently??? (0, Flamebait)

veddermatic (143964) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512609)

It came out about the same time as the ATi Radeon 9500... and we remember when you guys figured that one out =P

"News for nerds, horribly delayed puff pieces for products that have been out for months."

sigh.

Hmm (4, Informative)

Gortbusters.org (637314) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512618)

For all the PHP developers, the good ole Zend Studio [zend.com] is available on Mac OSX. If only NuSphere's PHPed [nusphere.com] was.

Hmm, what else keeps me a windows box next to my linux box. Perhaps it's DAOC, management of my Clie. The MS office support in OSX is tempting though!

Re:Hmm (1)

jejones (115979) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512739)

Following the NuSphere link shows "V3.1 now available/supports Linux."

Re:Hmm (1)

lewp (95638) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512755)

Just replace them both with a Beowulf cluster running Emacs. Be sure to buy a bigger hard disk first, though :).

Clie program for Mac OS X (2, Informative)

gavbaa (575314) | more than 11 years ago | (#5513006)

Check out Missing Sync (you can find a link to it on the Sony Clie website). According to my office friend who just got it for his Clie, it's the greatest sync program since sliced bread, and integrates with all the tasty Mac apps.

Waste your fucking mod points (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5512625)

You sad bastard moderators with no lives!

What I want to know (4, Insightful)

FueledByRamen (581784) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512626)

When are they going to re-add 3d acceleration for Virtual PC? I'd love to run Rhinoceros (a 3d CAD app) inside of VPC, but it runs poorly on an unaccelerated card. (I'd also love to run Battlefield 1942, but that will have to be relegated to my gaming x86 for now, as it requires somewhere around a 2ghz cpu for all of the physics and AI.) I remember that sometime in the past they had support for the 3dfx Voodoo 3 cards - where has that gone?

Re:What I want to know - We need benchmarks! (1)

VeryPuzzled (656546) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512747)

It would also be interresting to see exactly how well do different Mac models perform on Virtual PC (let's say on Windows 2000) according to popular benchmark applications. This way, we could roughly compare a certain type of PC with it's emulated Mac equivalent. The same could be done with Bochs, and would probably give good indices of how well both emulators performs. Since my main PC broke down, I've been looking torward Macs and since I still have a few softwares that would require Windows, I'm really wondering just how much "slower" the Macs really are when emulating a PC. So, since I don't yet own a Mac, I can't do the testing and post results. But I'm really interrested to see a review/site/post that has benchmark results and that can compare PCs to emulated PCs on Macs... ;-)

Re:What I want to know - We need benchmarks! (3, Informative)

runenfool (503) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512897)

Its very very difficult to directly compare performance between emulated and real systems. You can have one app that runs like its running on a P3-500, and another that runs like its on a 486. Its just the nature of emulation, it does some things better than others.

Anything requiring extensive disk access will tend to be slow, as well as anything video intensive. In my experience anyway.

If you are talking about buying a new Mac, and the Windows (obviously the Linux stuff has probably been ported to some degree) software you have isn't games or anything too intense, it should probably run great on a Powermac.

Re:What I want to know - We need benchmarks! (3, Informative)

smagoun (546733) | more than 11 years ago | (#5513039)

In my experience, VPC on a 1ghz powerbook runs at about the same speed as a 500mhz PIII with really slow disk and graphics subsystems. Unfortunately the disk + graphics systems put a damper on overall performance. The CPU emulation itself is quite fast, however. Depending on exactly what you're doing, it ranges from about .4x to .75x the speed of host's processor. On one of the new 1.42ghz towers, I'd expect to see CPU performance roughly equal to a 750mhz PIII.

Re:What I want to know (3, Interesting)

runenfool (503) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512816)

Connectix/Microsoft can't readd video card support because of endian issues.

The reason the early voodoo cards were supported is because they were 3d only. If another 3d only card came on the market it could be done.

Re:What I want to know (1)

FueledByRamen (581784) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512871)

What I'm thinking (and this would take a performance hit, obviously, but it would still work) is that they could emulate some common video card (like a Voodoo3) that specs are openly available for, and just translate the hardware instructions for it into OpenGL calls for the host OS. No endian-ness problems if you're not just copying the instructions from one card to another.

Re:What I want to know (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5512898)

I remember that sometime in the past they had support for the 3dfx Voodoo 3 cards - where has that gone?

Actually, they didn't. They only supported the Voodoo (and Voodoo 2 I think) cards, which worked differently from today's cards (and the Voodoo 3), because they were basically just 3D accelerators.

MSN Tech Support SAQ (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5512632)

I work at milton-freewater sykes that takes outsourced msn calls.

MSN Tech Support

Seldom Asked Questions

General

Q: Who the hell are you and why are you writing this?

A: I'm a level 3 tech, and I'm writing this because some truth needs telling.

Q: Is MSN seperate somehow from Microsoft proper? Sometimes I get that impression talking to the techs.

A: Your impression was correct, but for a very different reason entirely.

The reality is that, except for a very small group of testers (The Microsoft Bench Team, who tell Redmond what kind of calls they receive on the floor as techs, and have no more power to help you than any other agents), the technician you are speaking to does not actually work for Microsoft. Instead, he works for such companies as ACS, Stream, Sykes, and Teleperformance. Under no circumstances will the person you are speaking to reveal that himself; that would get him fired.

Q: WTF? I haven't heard of any of those companies.

A: They're call centers. Instead of actually hiring people to man the phones itself, Microsoft has contracts with other companies. This arrangement is known as outsourcing.

Q: So how much are they getting paid?

A: Lower-level techs make a couple dollars over minimum wage. Tier 3 isn't being paid enough to care, either.

Q: What tools are the technicians using?

A: The primary tool every technician uses is something called PAM, Phoenix Account Management. This, like every other Microsoft product, is poorly programmed with a slow, buggy interface. So when the tech says "Your ticket number is.. uhh..", that tech has just clicked "Save Ticket" but his PAM is being too slow and may not give the ticket number for several seconds.

On the Phone

Q: Is the tech/rep just trying to get me off the phone ASAP? He's getting paid by the hour, right- why should he care?

A: Because he is graded on something called Average Handle Time. The contracts drawn up by Microsoft and the outsourcing companies may vary, and are never shown to the techs on the floor, but one thing is true- it is always less efficient for the outsourcing company for its techs to take long calls. This is passed down to the techs in the form of AHT. Lower-level techs are usually much more concerned with AHT than higher-level ones. This is because higher-level techs are more apt to deal with long, complicated issues, thus their AHT is higher and not focused on quite as much.

Q: Sometimes I get the feeling that there's something the tech really wants to say, but can't.

A: You know how the recording says "This call may be recorded for quality purposes?" It often is. There are many things the technician may not say on the telephone- and if you're speaking to anything less than a level 3 tech, those may include solutions. They have to transfer you to a higher tier for that person to try the fix. You may think that's ridiculous, and it is. The reason hinges on AHT. Similarly, Level 3 agents are not allowed to call the phone companies for DSL issues themselves. Why not? It raises AHT and outbound calls cost money. Never mind what the benefit of that might be to you, the user. You are only a bit player in Microsoft and the outsourcing companies' grandiose play.

Q: I think the tech was a bit perturbed at me. It showed in his voice.

A: You must have really pissed him off. Call-center employees have two things preventing them from sounding angry: a general apathy towards you as a customer, and mental discipline preventing them from showing their emotions over the phone. If the technician shows in any way annoyed with you, he personally, fiercely hates you and would love to beat your head into the ground. Relax; five minutes after he gets off the phone with you, the technician will likely have forgotten who you were, except as a story to tell the other techs.

Of course, if he didn't, your name, address, phone number, and e-mail address are all on his screen. And if it's a higher-level tech, he can read your email, too. And send it to your wife and kids. Better hit that Delete button now, Sparky.

Q: Sometimes, when in a conversation with a tech that sounds a little exasperated or perturbed, he stops talking and the background noise cuts out, although I know I've got a good connection. What's going on?

A: He hit the Mute button and is probably swearing at you. Example: "Okay, I want you to click Start, and then Run." (mute) "And then type in C:\SUICIDE\HangYourselfNow, you stupid fucking whore." (unmute) "And then type in R as in Roger, E as in Elephant.."

Q: Wow! Is it because he thinks I'm stupid?

A: Actually, most people who call MSN tech support are quite stupid; smart people don't use MSN. Although Level 1 techs deal more with stupidity than anyone else (solving the simple issues caused by sheer stupidity and not escalating them), other levels get their share of idiots. You have to be genuinely, wholly, aggressively stupid for that to make a tech angry.

Q: I told the tech that nothing changed, but I actually clicked on one of those popups that said "Date/Time Update" last night and now I'm getting all these ads. I would have told him, but I don't want to be embarrassed..

A: Do not, under any circumstances, lie to a technician, even if the tech is incompetent, even if you think he's lying to you. Techs are like doctors- you can't be embarrassed in front of them. Just tell the tech you goofed and put the malignant spyware on your computer, and the tech will at least try to get it off. Otherwise the tech will just say "I don't know what's wrong. Something in your operating system is malfunctioning." and ask you who your computer manufacturer is.

Q: Why do I get this impending sense of dread when the tech asks me who made my computer?

A: This is because the technician is probably going to refer you to your OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) to completely wipe and restore your computer. What this means is that your computer is so fucked up that we can't even try to debug it, and the only way the tech knows how to fix the problem is for you to start from scratch. Better start backing up your files while you have the chance.

Escalations

Q: The tech I was talking to said he was going to transfer me to someone else, but I got him back instead, and he had more stuff for me to do. What happened?

A: His escalation was rejected. The higher-level technician will gleefully reject it, lowering his average handle time (as it only takes a few minutes for him to reject the call) and avoiding dealing with you. Remember, most technicians would, given the choice, rather not talk to you.

Q: Why did the higher-level tech ask me if we did certain things? Didn't the lower-level tech tell you what we did, or put that information in the ticket?

A: This is because lower-level techs, trying to get you off their phones, will lie about what has been done in order to get an escalation. Thus, if you answer 'no' to an inquiry about what has been done (again, DO NOT LIE to a tech, no matter how much lying techs do!), the higher-level tech will probably report the lower-level tech for it.

Q: Wow. I just spent half an hour with two techs trying to fix this weird-ass "Windows Logo Testing Error", and the third tech I talked to just had me type in ' regsvr32 softpub.dll ' and BAM, it was fixed! Why didn't the first guy just tell me this?

A: Because that's outside his support boundaries.

Q: Why is that?

A: Who knows?

Q: Exactly who is the Network Operations Center, why is something sent there going to take so long, and why can't I talk to them?

A: The NOC is a small group of technicians that have special abilities and access to the guts of the MSN data servers themselves, not having to go through PAM. They actually get paid real money, and no tech is allowed to speak ill of them in the least; this can lose them points on call coaching.

In fact, they are so highly esteemed that mere level 3 technicians must get permission, and follow a certain series of troubleshooting steps, just to escalate a ticket to them. If everything is not done, or everything is done but not documented to the NOC/Microsoft's satisfaction, the ticket will get rejected and you'll find yourself getting called back. This is why the tech is often being pedantic with you; he's just doing what he needs to do to have any chance of getting the issue fixed.

The NOC is often very late in responding to issues, often leaving tickets open and ignored for far longer than the (ridiculously generous) ten-business-day deadline. Similarly, after that time, the L3 tech has no power to confront them directly; instead, he must post what is called a 10-day escalation form which the NOC is also free to ignore.

The reason you cannot talk to them is because you are not worth their time.

The kicker? They're outsourced, too.

Q: Wouldn't it be better for all concerned if Microsoft simply hired some Level 4 agents who we could talk to who have NOC-like powers and could fix the problems on the back-end over the course of a few minutes instead of weeks?

A: Yes, but that's not how Microsoft does business. The purpose of the MSN tech support structure is to keep users away from people who can actually do things. There is no technical reason for this. Perhaps they just don't want someone accidentally revealing how shitty their database actually is.

E-mail

Q: What the hell is HTTP email?

A: HTTP email is mail which is not locally saved unless you choose to do it yourself, but instead is left on the webserver. With a POP3 mail account, the server stores your mail, and you download it.

Q: There's really not that much difference. In fact, I've seen ISPs who have web interfaces for their mail, and I look at it at work before downloading it via POP3 at home. What's the big deal?

A: There really is no logical reason. As a way to lock you into Microsoft products, it fails miserably; any Linux-wielding joker can program a Hotmail interface. It's just the way they want to do it, and if that means that your favorite POP3 mail client no longer works with their 'service', tough luck.

Also, outbound port 110 is blocked on narrowband accounts, meaning that you can't directly get your POP3 mail on another ISP. Why? Because Microsoft doesn't want you to.

Q: I've had POP3 for years, now I don't. I never wanted HTTP mail. What happened?

A: You just had to get MSN 8, didn't you? It automatically 'upgraded' your account. What's that? You've been using Outlook 2000, which doesn't have HTTP functionality? Better go buy the latest version.

Q: Doesn't this sort of migration cause large problems?

A: Yes. There's a "Split Inbox" problem where MSN.com mail goes to the Hotmail account, and outside email goes to the POP3 account. Sometimes you can send email but not recieve it; sometimes you can receive but not send. Sometimes it's working half on Hotmail and half on POP3; sometimes it works half on Hotmail and the other half just disappears into the void.

Q: I heard that MSN's been having big problems with email recently. What happened?

A: In the interests of spamfighting, program was introduced that blocked every domain that was sending more than 50 emails to MSN customers a day.

Q: Hey, wait- customers of other ISPs such as AOL, Earthlink, and...

A: You've got it. Even military providers were blocked. And this happened around the 17th-18th of Februrary, a time when people were being shipped en masse to Iraq. Mothers and sons out of contact, servicemen wondering why their wives were sending them messages saying "Please respond! Are you okay?!" when they had just emailed them a few hours ago. All because some bonehead with too much access and too few brain cells decided to block mass mailings the only way he knew how.

Every single one of those providers had to be un-blocked. Individually. After extensive L3 troubleshooting. By the NOC. They're still working on it as of this writing.

Strangely enough, this still didn't stop the spam.

Q: Shit- my daughter was going to mail my free Hotmail account when she finally delivered her child..

A: Congratulations, Gramps.

DSL

Q: My DSL stopped working after I changed my phone company.

A: You're fucked. Dumbass.

Q: I've ordered two months ago and received nothing.

A: Between the phone companies and Microsoft, it's easy for things to break. The phone companies aren't really under much obligation to make things work (as you aren't really 'their' DSL customer) and Microsoft has no liaison into the internal workings of the phone companies. What do you think happens? Orders get stuck in the gateway between Microsoft and your phone company. It gets set up on the MSN side but the phone company never provisions the line. The phone company provisions the wrong phone line and MSN thinks your service should be on the right one. You live in Colorado but the modem is sent to Portland.

And no, errors are not automatically caught by the system, and nobody is tasked with looking over new DSL orders to make sure they're proceeding properly. You have to call.

Q: Well, I'm back on dial-up as, after three weeks of this nonsense, they finally told me that I couldn't get DSL after all. But now I can't even connect through that. What happened?

A: When your account was downgraded back to dial-up, you somehow lost your 'narrowband provisioning'. Of course it doesn't make sense. You'll be off the Internet for a week while the NOC circle-jerks on your account. Enjoy.

Getting to the Boss

Q: I asked to speak with a supervisor, but I could have sworn I was talking to the supervisor just the other day, only he was a tech. Do people get promoted quickly in this business or what?

A: When you ask to speak with a supervisor, this is what is simply called a 'sup call'. Depending on the call center you get (as of this writing, Microsoft has no policy on sup calls, meaning it's up to the call center to deal with you), sup calls may get you a higher level technician, or you may get a 'supervisor' (just another technician) playing a 'non-technical' role trying to calm you down and send you back to the original tech. Under no circumstances will you get anyone technically classified as a boss.

Q: But I want to speak to someone in charge!

A: YOU CAN'T. Don't even try. It doesn't matter what you say or do- nothing is going to get you on the phone with the technician's actual manager. This is the way it should be; managers have better things to do than deal with complaining idiots, such as holding meetings, sending emails, micromanaging their employees' schedules, and playing FreeCell.

Q: What kind of bullshit is this?! I run a business and...

A: You run a fucking business on MSN?! You dumb shit. Hey, asshole, do the words residential use only have any meaning to your thick, under-used head? In fact, the moment you even used the word 'business', you increased the tech's annoyance level a notch. By saying that you run your business on MSN, you have demonstrated four things:

1. You have not even cursorily glanced over the EULA. No one actually reads that monstrosity word-for-word, but one would expect- ahem!- a businessperson to be a little more conscious about that sort of thing.
2. Your 'business' cannot afford even a single real IT person and you are too stupid to actually find an ISP that handles business accounts.
3. Your 'business' is likely a "Home-Based Business" or MLM scam, making you the scum of the earth.
4. You believe that this makes you more important than anyone else, even though you're paying the same amount of money.

If you "run a business" on MSN, you should be putting a gun to your head, not a telephone.

Q: ...I need the problem fixed NOW!

A: Ever see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? You're a bad egg and my incinerator's always on.. really, after reading the rest of this SAQ, you'll understand why complaining to the tech or his supposed supervisor will do you no good.

Q: Okay, okay! I'm not like that. I'm not trying to run a business. I'm just a gamer, and I'm missing out on my Shadowbane beta. This thing's been languishing for weeks now and dial-up sucks. Just who do I have to call to get a fast, working connection?

A: The MSN cancellations department (aka the SAVE desk, whose job it is to feed you bullshit and get you not to cancel), then another broadband provider.

Conclusion

Q: So, in total, is MSN a good ISP?

A: NO. By almost any standard, MSN is a horrible ISP. Serious dial-up ISPs and DSL providers have much more efficient service, no bloated software, and tech support that has the power to actually fix problems on their end without you having to wait a ridiculous amount of time. They need your continued business and generally act like it; this is where the term 'valued customer' comes from. MSN does not see you as a valued customer. MSN sees you as a tiny portion of their market share.

With a cable modem or a big DSL provider, it's a big company, their tech support is also probably outsourced, and you're a tiny portion of their market share as well, but for some reason you're usually not going to get the same kind of bullshit.

This illustrates the core problem. The flaws are not inherent in the way that large companies work, or

Q: But it sure beats AOL, doesn't it?

A: Yes, it does, but that's not saying much. The Information Superhighway provides an excellent metaphor.

In the fast lane of the highway are people in cable-modem sports cars and DSL drag racers. Burning down this electronic autobahn, these Low Ping Bastards zoom their packets to game servers and peer-to-peer networks, downloading whole movies chunk by chunk.

High above are the people in truly ultra connections, the big-server cargo planes, and the occasional jet-setter with his own personal T3. That kind of power is out of reach except by corporations and the truly rich.

In the slow lane are the narrowband users, the mass of bikes resembling Shanghai traffic. The technically inclined who cannot get cable or DSL go past on carefully-tweaked 10-speeds. The AOL users, in the slowest lane of all, are toddlers on plastic big-wheel tricycles, watching the world pass by as they struggle to make their tiny legs move their inefficient transportation, wondering why they left the giant AOL nursery to visit the wider Internet.

Where do you fit into this? You are the dorky-looking 9 year old wearing cumbersome elbow and knee pads, the training wheels on your flimsy, gearless bike rattling as you struggle to keep the adults in view.

Sort of brings new meaning to Parental Controls, doesn't it? MSN is the parent. You are the child.

(With MSN DSL, things are a little better. You're in the driver's seat of an old, half-broken Yugo, and if you're running the software, with a cranky Driver's Ed teacher who has the passenger's seat brake pedal.)

Q: Well, I got this $400 rebate on my computer but I have to have 3 years of MSN, so I'm kinda stuck..

A: WTF were you doing buying your computer there anyway? Any honest, small-time comp shop- or even the computer geek next door- would have sold you a real, custom-built puter, from standardized parts, for a fair price of parts + labor. Instead, you went and bought a proprietary piece of crap from Gateway, Dell, HP, Compaq, Emachines, or (God forbid) Sony. (They make much better game consoles than computers, trust me.) So not only are you shackled to an inferior connection, you're stuck with a wimpy machine that is nigh-impossible to upgrade or repair.

But since you can't go back in time and correct your mistake, the solution is to make a connection in Dial-Up Networking with your username as MSN/yourusername (With no @msn.com part. And if you have a Hotmail email address, you can't do this.) and the phone number as simply one of the access numbers. (If you need to ask what goes into the Password field..) This will take off the useless pads and training wheels of the MSN software, although it's still a crappy bike.

Q: How much of this is confidential information?

A: About all of it, really.

Q: If they find out who you are, won't you get fired?

A: Actually, I'll also probably get sued, and the infamy will prevent me from getting another tech support job ever again.

I no longer care.

Re:MSN Tech Support SAQ (-1, Offtopic)

alexperry (658657) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512771)

w00t! i work at the brantford site for msn PAM is causing trouble something fierce today go MS!

Re:MSN Tech Support SAQ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5512812)

brings back memories of when I used to worked outsourced phone support. good ol' half hour lunches, stupid callers, someone listening in and grading you, putting people on hold because I had to take a dump...can't imagine why i ever left

It matters that Microsoft bought it. (5, Insightful)

nycroft (653728) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512638)

A lot of us Mac true believers would probably cringe at the thought that Microsoft is getting its grubby hands all over a cherished Mac product. I freaked out at first, I'll admit it. But after I calmed down I started to think rationally.

What could be better? I think MS would be crazy to kill it off. So that leaves only better support for the product and smoother operation (we hope). I had loads of trouble with version 5. Hangs, freezes, and everything. Maybe now (and I know that a lot of hardcore Macers will freak out when I say this) Macs and Windows will finally start to get along.

Just think positive.

Re:It matters that Microsoft bought it. (3, Interesting)

binaryDigit (557647) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512704)

I think MS would be crazy to kill it off

Why would you think this? Can't imagine that the numbers of users are huge enough for Microsoft to really care. Microsoft bought them for use on x86 systems to add enterprise level partioning to NT server. They don't care about the Mac version (not primarily anyway). Unfortunately we are at their whim here, if they are feeling generous then we _may_ benefit. If however they decide that it's not worth their time, then they can deprive Mac users of a very useful and hard to replace app.

Re:It matters that Microsoft bought it. (4, Interesting)

Dephex Twin (416238) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512857)

They don't care about the Mac version (not primarily anyway). Unfortunately we are at their whim here, if they are feeling generous then we _may_ benefit. If however they decide that it's not worth their time, then they can deprive Mac users of a very useful and hard to replace app.
I don't see why they are being generous to keep it going. I would imagine that significant majority of the copies of VPC that are sold are the ones that are bundled with Windows. Microsoft isn't a hardware company, so to them, this is as good as the person owning an x86 box.

In my opinion, MS would see it like: "we could keep this app going, and keep selling Windows and other MS products to Mac users, or we could kill it off, add more fuel to the abusive monopoly fire, and *possibly* have some of those VPC users go buy a PC with Windows."

Re:It matters that Microsoft bought it. (1)

binaryDigit (557647) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512932)

I don't see why they are being generous to keep it going. I would imagine that significant majority of the copies of VPC that are sold are the ones that are bundled with Windows. Microsoft isn't a hardware company, so to them, this is as good as the person owning an x86 box.

It's called economics, do they make enough money on those copies of WinXXX to justify the expense of keeping VPC in the product mix. Macs are what 4% of the PC market, and out of that 4% how many are running VPC with an actual purchased copy of WinXXX. We're talking a pittance, not even a blip on their radar. Even more the case that a purchase of VPC most likely does not translate into a copy of any other M$ software (Office for instance).

Re:It matters that Microsoft bought it. (1)

nycroft (653728) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512862)

Hey, I'm not the marketing strategist at MS, but look at the beating they're taking on the XBox...They're losing something like a hundred dollars per unit because they hope it'll pay off someday. Maybe that's what they're hoping with VPC. They're making a decent amount with Office:Mac (I think they're the leading Mac software developer besides Apple).

I don't know. I just thought some optimism was in need here. Don't be such a sourpuss.

Re:It matters that Microsoft bought it. (1)

binaryDigit (557647) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512956)

Hey, I'm not the marketing strategist at MS, but look at the beating they're taking on the XBox...They're losing something like a hundred dollars per unit because they hope it'll pay off someday. Maybe that's what they're hoping with VPC.

Completely different scenerios here. With xbox they're trying to dominate a huge market, not the case with VPC.

Don't be such a sourpuss.

One mans sourpuss is another mans realist ;) Didn't think I was being a sourpuss, just trying to make an educated evaluation of the situation. I didn't say that Microsoft WOULD dump VPC, just that if they DID, it wouldn't be shocking, and unlike some other Mac folks, I wouldn't attribute it to be an act of Microsoft predatory monopolistic business tendencies, just sound business.

Re:It matters that Microsoft bought it. (3, Interesting)

rthille (8526) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512840)

The reason that people freak out, and the reason I bought VPC 6 the day I found out Microsoft bought it was that I wanted Virtual PC, not Virtual Windows. I bought it without any windows, and now I can run Linux and Wine which will let me run the 1 piece of Windows software I want to run (Garmin MapSource).

Who thinks that Microsoft will go out of their way to make sure that Microsoft VPC will run 'alternate' operating systems?

Re:It matters that Microsoft bought it. (5, Interesting)

barc0001 (173002) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512913)

Microsoft won't kill it off. They'll just fire all their Mac Office developers and tell everyone who wants to run future versions of Office on a Mac that all they need to do is buy the Virtual PC, a copy of Windows, and Office for Windows, and then they can have Office on their Mac. After all, why sell only one product to fill someone's need when you can force three down their throat instead?

Re: Hangs, freezes, and everything (1)

FlaSheridn (414319) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512954)

> I had loads of trouble with version 5. Hangs, freezes, and everything.

I'm having them too with VPC 6 and XP Pro on OSX 10.2.4/G4Dp, as are a number of people in the Connectix support forum. Frequently even the Mac's menubar clock freezes for several seconds, something I've never seen before. On the other hand, given the lack of outrage here, perhaps I'm in the minority.

Hmmmm... (4, Interesting)

superdan2k (135614) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512639)

Anyone else notice that the row of pictures at the bottom of the page, the old Linux versions of VirtualPC seem to have gone missing with Version 6? Hmmm, and Microsoft bought VPC from Connectix, you say? Hmmm. Imagine my surprise.

Re:Hmmmm... (5, Interesting)

Robotech_Master (14247) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512781)

They went missing sooner than that. Try, the day (or maybe the day after) Microsoft bought Connectix. A Mac friend of mine wanted to get ahold of them when he heard that news...and found no sign on their website that they had ever supported Linux.

I installed Red Hat 8.0 on it last week (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5512842)

I installed Red Hat 8.0 on Virtual PC 6 last week. The linux GUI is very slow on my Dual 450MHz, but the command line works great. I can even ssh from the same mac (and from others in my network) to the "Virtual linux", so I just run Virtual PC with linux, minimize it, and use several of my terminals in my mac Terminal.app to log on to it. Its pretty cool.

I am using it to learn RAID on linux, and it is better than a real PC. I can create "virtual disks" and connected/disconnected at will, which is very convenient to simulate RAID configurations, failures, etc (on a real PC, I would have to open the box and connect/disconnec disks to simulate hardware failures...not big deal, but more incovenient).

I have also installed Win98 in it, to run Kazaa...and it is actually usable.

So, all in all, a pretty good product.

PD: I havent tried it yet with Verion 6, but I installed Solaris 6 x86 on Virtual PC 5. It ran OK as well.

The end of Office for Mac? (4, Interesting)

elflet (570757) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512642)

will this mean the end of Office for Mac?

That's not likely. Office:Mac is already a cash cow for Microsoft; MS had the single largest share of the Macintosh software market in the 90s and probably still does. There's no profit in tossing the mature cross-development system they're using and probably ticking-off the installed base of Mac users.

Really, there'd be no money in it for MS to try and move Office:Mac users to Office on Windows.

Re:The end of Office for Mac? (1)

Gortbusters.org (637314) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512668)

Imagine if MS sold Office for Linux... they'd have the single largest share of the Linux software market!

As it stands now, who has the largest share, Ximian Connector? Star Office?

Re:The end of Office for Mac? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5512865)

As it stands now, who has the largest share, Ximian Connector? Star Office?

Microsoft. Even Lunix freaks are smart enough to know that if you want to get any real work done, you boot into a properly licensed Microsoft(R) Windows(TM) operating system and run Microsoft(R) applications.

That's one degree of separation.

What's the application? (4, Interesting)

grammaticaster (657410) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512643)

I work in a mixed Mac / PC environment. I've found that the better solution to interoperability problems is to simply have computers on both platforms; we never have conversion problems, because the programs that run on PC's only don't output data that needs to be used on the Mac. Besides, for $249, you can almost buy a cheap PC and KVM. i just don't see the point. Who needs Virtual PC?

Re:What's the application? (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5512679)

I use a mac powerbook. You saying I should carry two notebooks?

There ARE valid useful applications.

Re:What's the application? (2)

warpath (19103) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512980)

Who needs Virtual PC?

I think Pudge's review explains a situation where VPC is better than a real PC:
My Windows needs are few. I am a perl developer; I work on perl and release perl software. Occasionally, I want to test on Windows. Further, I am a Slash developer, and sometimes our users complain about certain bugs that only show up on certain browsers, so I want to test that on Windows too. And every once in awhile, there is some software I need that is Windows-only.
If you only need the PC every rare once in a while, why take up the real estate/ethernet port/power/powerstrip socket/whatever? Then there's also those who might be working on PowerBooks or iBooks primarily.

I'd say it has it's uses. (Of course, since OSX came out, I am struggling for a reason to ever boot VPC into RedHat again. heh.)

I was hoping to play more games (3, Informative)

exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512659)

Very oldies like Civilization run too fast but anything recent is far too slow. AOE2, for example, crawls on a 550MHz PowerBook and an oldie like the origonal Command and Conquer are too slow to be playable. You have to go back as far as Warfract (I!) or Settlers II to find a real time graphics game that plays fine. Microprose's Magic the Gathering works well however. Of course there's no problem running the original Infocom adventure games for that real retro experience. I found the original Tomb Raider almost tolerable. Surprisingly I found the old PC Wolfenstein a bit choppy on v5 but I'll try v6 some time soon. I tried the recent freebie GTA. It actually runs but too slow to be fun. On a 1GHz PowerBook it may actually be playable.

All in all it's a fine app. Integration of individual Windows apps into the dock is cool.

BTW I originally bought v5 with PC-DOC and installed my own Windows 98 (legally I might add).

I've also tried running every OS I could get my hands on. Pretty well everything from Plan 9 to Menuet runs. The only thing that failed was Darwin - that was on v5.

Re:I was hoping to play more games (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5512881)

You can run the text based Infocom stuff (Zork, et al) in a terminal window

Re:I was hoping to play more games (1)

exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512907)

I know, and I do. I also run it on my Palm.

Warfract? (0)

WIAKywbfatw (307557) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512915)

You have to go back as far as Warfract (I!)... to find a real time graphics game that plays fine.

Warfract? What's this? Is it like a custom version of Rescue On Fractalus for Dubya's personal use?

(Only kidding. I know you meant Warcraft but your post made me reminisce about a game (ROF not WC) that I hadn't even thought about in years.)

Re:I was hoping to play more games (2, Interesting)

smagoun (546733) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512918)

Command & Conquer (and Red Alert) worked quite well in VPC last I tried them on my 7600 w/ 450mhz G4. I used to play the original GTA on that machine back when I had a 266mhz G3, and it was more than playable. This is all under OS 9, however; OS 9 has always provided better performance for VPC than OS X. Give that a shot, you might be surprised at the difference.

Also keep in mind that games aren't a priority for the VPC team, and Connectix has repeatedly said that VPC is not a gaming solution.

Re:I was hoping to play more games (1)

runenfool (503) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512921)

I suggest to upgrade to version 6. Its quite a bit faster.

With that said, you may also boot back into OS 9. Virtual PC took something like a 50 percent performance hit with the X upgrade. It was actually getting pretty fast under classic.

Big advantages for developers (5, Interesting)

BWJones (18351) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512671)

Interestingly, I was talking with a Windows developer on the plane about a year ago and he was telling me that using Virtual PC on the Mac for Windows development was actually easier than developing on a dedicated Windows machine because in VirtualPC, Windows is an image that can be readily backed up and restored with a drag and drop should you do something really stupid with the registry or kernel.

Re:Big advantages for developers (2, Informative)

Lynn Benfield (649615) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512968)

I highly doubt they were using the Mac version for development - they were much more likely to be using the Windows version of VPC.

This will give you near-native speed since the instruction set doesn't need to be interpreted, but you can still have multiple virtual machines (which definitely makes life easier: particularly for QA, where you can run multiple versions of Windows for testing and just fetch a fresh disk image when things get broken).

This whole virtual-x86-machine-on-x86 is exactly why MS bought them: the fact that there's a Mac version was pretty incidental to them I imagine - what they're really after is the virtual server market.

My experience with upgrading from VPC5 to VPC6 (5, Informative)

heldlikesound (132717) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512702)

I run OSX 10.2.4 on a 700 mHz iBook with 384MB of RAM. Not, a "loaded" machine at all, but quick enough for web dev. and some light multi-media work. I ran VPC with Win 98, and the results were pretty pathetic, I'd click on a window to move it and would have to wait five seconds for the system to even respond, it was basically unusable.

Enter VPC6. I upgraded to VPC6 and installed Win 2000 Pro, (which has always been the best of the worst in my opinion), and was pleasantly suprised to find it runs pretty smoothly, apps are actually useful now, I use Nokia's WAP development toolkit, and while it's not setting speed records on my computer, it works for what I need it to do.

So, all of you familar with the scientific method are now asking, "So was it the upgrade of the OS or VPC that made the speed in increase?" Well, I didn't do any controlled experiments, but it feels like it was the upgrade. Your unpleasant, but neccesary results may vary.

On a related note, Microsofts purchase of Virtual PC was a predictably smart and evil business move. Does anyone actually believe that Microsoft, will make this a better program? I'm glad that VPC6 was a relatively nice upgrade, I don't expect to see another useful emulator until Bochs on OSX devaporizes...

Why wouldn't MS make this program worse? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5512820)

In an odd turn of face for me I think MS is probably going to keep this one on the level. If you're running VPC, there's a good chance you're going to shell out for a Windows OS license as well, meaning they win twice. Not only do they have you buying Windows for a Mac, but they also have you buying a Virtual PC to go with it.

Win win. What they might do is make it even MORE windows-centric. Right now it's very useful for non-windows OSes as well.

Re:My experience with upgrading from VPC5 to VPC6 (2, Informative)

mkelley (411060) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512930)

On version 5, there were issues with the 9x code that made it slower than a VPC with NT4. I dropped 98 on VPC and used NT4 sp6 instead. Same browsers, but it ran about 30% faster.

98 under version 6 does seem flaster, while Nt screams.

Finally! (1)

psxndc (105904) | more than 11 years ago | (#5513018)

700 mHz iBook with 384MB of RAM

This is what I have been waiting for: Someone to finally post a review with specs that _wasn't_ using a G4. I assume your 700 MHz iBook has the 16MB video? I'm asking because that's the machine I have and I've been on the fence about Virtual PC since 6 came out. When I tried VPC5 on a PowerMac in the Apple store, I thought it was completely unusable so I didn't even try running it on my iBook. I'm not looking to do much: Run Outlook, maybe Visual Studio.NET, and play Magic: Online. Obviously unless you're into all those things you can't give a real assessment, but overall you're happy with it? Thanks.

psnxdc

virtual PC ... (1, Insightful)

SuperDuG (134989) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512711)

... for those who "Switched", but didn't quite realize what they were getting into ...

Personally Virtual PC isn't all that bad, but it is funny to see all the anti-MS mac zealots with a copy of Virtual PC on their computers.

In true honesty I don't really see a need any longer for virtual PC except for Mac users that are used to a PC that want to keep using windows. With OS X I really can't think of anything in particular that I would need Virtual PC for. I would almost keep a *gasp* windows machine around if it were that important to me, OR, I would quit being lazy and learn something new.

Anyways, I remember the "rumors" of a MS Windows Release for PPC and I also remember "rumors" of Mac OS for x86. Kinda makes you wonder what behind closed doors meeting took place to kill these projects. Innovation has been stifled by the almighty dollar on many an occassion, hence why free software is so appealing to so many.

Re:virtual PC ... (1)

Zelet (515452) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512883)

I switched my laptop in the last few months and there isn't anything on my PC that I would need to emulate. I have everything I need on my mac - I have every X11 app and every Mac app... plus the great OS X developer tools.
When I switch to OS X desktop... I am going to miss some games - but I guess I can live without those. I might actually start to become productive. :)

Re:virtual PC ... (2, Insightful)

Twirlip of the Mists (615030) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512901)

Personally Virtual PC isn't all that bad, but it is funny to see all the anti-MS mac zealots with a copy of Virtual PC on their computers.

I don't know any anti-MS Mac zealots. I know tons of anti-MS Linux zealots, but the Mac users I know just prefer their Macs. When the time comes to run Microsoft software, or the occasional Windows program, they're happy to do it.

The Mac community isn't really a good place to find zealotry... unless you count the zealots from other communities who make the trip over here to mock and insult Mac users. We just ignore those people.

Kinda makes you wonder what behind closed doors meeting took place to kill these projects.

When you hear hoofprints, think horses, not zebras. Not everything is best explained by a conspiracy theory.

Re:virtual PC ... (1)

FueledByRamen (581784) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512957)

Anyways, I remember the "rumors" of a MS Windows Release for PPC and I also remember "rumors" of Mac OS for x86. Kinda makes you wonder what behind closed doors meeting took place to kill these projects.
A Mac OS X for x86 does exist - it was available to beta testers until RC1 or RC2, when it was simply put back indoors. All of the OS X stuff obviously was crossplatform - it probably still is.

Windows 2000 for the PPC was killed off, but NT 4 for the PPC exists. Too bad it doesn't have drivers for any Mac hardware, and that it was designed to run on IBM's PPC workstations.

Re:virtual PC ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5512966)

Actually, there was a PPC version of Windows NT [gte.net] for a little while. It was never meant to run on Macs though.

Re:virtual PC ... (1)

dsouth (241949) | more than 11 years ago | (#5513008)

Unfortunately, there are still cases where having MS Windoze is necessary.

For example, my wife is a Mac user, but owns Virtual PC because a few of her upper level psychology courses use home-brewed simulation software that only runs under Windows. She avoids MS products like the plague, but the couses were degree requirements, so the options were:

  1. Change majors.
  2. Spend lots of time in the computer lab.
  3. Suck it up, purchase VPC, and run the software on her laptop while sitting out on the deck wirelessly surfing over 802.11b in another window.
Which would you choose?

VPC 6 & FreeBSD - Sound, yes; X, no; clock, wo (3, Insightful)

nsayer (86181) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512720)

I use VPC for Windows on occasion too, but I also have tried a few times to load FreeBSD as a guest. But it has some issues.

In the past, sound didn't work, but it appears that is fixed in 6.0.2. The usual sound configuration (ISA SB16, port 0x220, irq 5, dma 1 & 5) works.

X has never worked. It aparently works for Linux, but every time I try and start the X server under FreeBSD, I get a crash loading the int10 module. Nobody in the world seems to know why or how to fix it.

The clock (gettimeofday()) runs at almost double speed while the guest is running. The fix for this is to run a little daemon that syncs the guest to the host. This daemon is on Connectix's FTP server somewhere. It uses a pair of asm blocks with invalid (on a real CPU) instructions to ask VPC what the date and time are, and syncs the clock up on a periodic basis.

Of course, it's mostly pointless to run a FreeBSD guest under VPC on a mac, since MacOS X is already very much like FreeBSD (because, of course, a lot of it came from FreeBSD). It's mostly a curiosity thing.

Platform Specs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5512729)

What are the specs of the platform you're running on? Or did I miss them? "Too slow" on an iBook might mean there's hope on a G4....

Powerbook G4 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5512796)

"I have a Kyocera QCP 3035 cell phone. I am going to be on the road some this summer, so I wanted to use it as a modem for my PowerBook G4/867"

Not just for Windows obviously (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5512758)

VirtualPC is invaluable to me for prototyping the FreeBSD servers I run. Obviously it doesn't emulate the hardware exactly, but I can get a good idea of what i'm going to face during an update, and I can create a trial run plan before I move on something.


And the "Virtual Switch" capability is neat.

Microsoft (2, Interesting)

Hellraisr (305322) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512761)

Maybe now they'll actually port it to PC so I can emulate a Mac on my PC. By the way, why hasn't anyone done this yet? If you can emulate PC on Mac, it only makes sense that you could emulate Mac on PC.

Mac emulator for PC (3, Interesting)

RolandGunslinger (597069) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512817)

I should would like to know about this. I'm a Mac lover from way back, but I'm stuck in a Windows world. I'd love the opportuntity to run Mac emulation on Win XP! Anybody know anything about this?

Re:Mac emulator for PC (3, Informative)

FueledByRamen (581784) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512906)

The main reason that I know of, preventing PPC on X86 emulation, is that PPC has so many more registers than X86. Most of them would have to be mapped to memory, instead of using on-CPU registers. This would slow down any program using lots of registers (all of them?) by a HUGE amount.

Microsoft owns this now (2, Interesting)

JudgeFurious (455868) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512772)

And so I cannot in good conscience upgrade my existing VPC5. I cannot condone their business practices so they get none of my money. Disney's in the same boat with me.

Besides I just got finished telling the kid (13 year old son) that he could pick from GameCube or Playstation 2 but no X-Box was entering our home so I guess it's time for me to back that up.

It's a shame, I really enjoyed VPC too.

gee (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5512773)

And I don't want to ruin it by running Windows on my Mac unless I have a need to.

No wonder you mac people are described as faggots, you really are. Gee, I bet you have xenophobia attacks too....

hmm (2, Funny)

B3ryllium (571199) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512779)

Does it come with a lightgun?

If I'm gonna play VirtuaPC, I need a lightgun so I can shoot all those stupid Windows applications ... and watch them recoil in 3D blocky splendour!

Woo! VirtuaFighter!

Erm, I mean, VirtuaPC. ;-)

So does it like *work* this time around? (1)

quantax (12175) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512794)

About 4 months ago i tried setting up my friend's OSX titanium (no special hardware) up with VPC and windows 2000 (using the cd that comes w/ vpc). Without fail, it would blue-screen and then eventually cause OSX to kernel dump. After reinstalling vpc, windows 2000 several times and encountering the same results, I said screw it. My other friends who have tried the same have also said windows was impossible to get configured using VPC. So hopefully this time around, their software will work as advertised.

Re:So does it like *work* this time around? (1)

RocketScientist (15198) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512969)

Hmm...I'm running VPC6 on my 667Mhz PB. Works like a champ. The only thing I need it for is Query Analyzer, and it works great for that.

Of course, I didn't have a problem with VPC5 either. I'm thinking you may have acquired some bad media?

But it doesn't run my favorite application! (1, Funny)

callipygian-showsyst (631222) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512801)

For some reason my favorite application, Partition Magic, doesn't run on it!

x86 emulation (2, Interesting)

rf0 (159958) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512803)

Looking over the site it looks like a nice program but can it run other x86 Operating System like Linux or FreeBSD. It would just be nice to know as I'm thinking about a powerbook and would like to know my options. Of course I know OS-X is BSD based but just wondered about other flavours of *NIX

Rus

Re:x86 emulation (1)

david614 (10051) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512941)

Most pc-based operating systems can work on virtual pc. OS Packs are available with linux. Or, if you already own a distribution, just try an install after setting up a new install volume. Very simple, and documented on the virtual pc web site. D

Re:x86 emulation (1)

RocketScientist (15198) | more than 11 years ago | (#5513001)

Before the buyout they used to sell a version that was boxed with RedHat. Pretty much any OS that you can install can be installed, it supports booting the virtual machine from a CD. Of course, some features may not work, like another poster pointed out about FreeBSD (Sound works, X doesn't).

The great mac irony (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5512811)

Mac users religiously praise and push the Mac way of life, constantly bashing PC users. They feel it is their calling to show PC users the "light". Yet here Mac users are.... struggling to emulate the lowly PC.

There is no market for PCs to emulate a Mac. I wonder why. Perhaps it's because no PC user cares about Macs?

The righteous Mac struggling to emulate a PC is like interfaith. Do Mormons try to emulate Jehovah's Witnesses, too?

Sigh... I'm so sick of Mac advocates that push it like a religion.

Re:The great mac irony (-1, Troll)

L0stb0Y (108220) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512877)

Too true, too true. Don't even joke about a MAC, or you will be monkey-stomped by the MACheads...

(Who for the most part appear to be ACs~ hehehe)

Re:The great mac irony (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5512908)

> Yet here Mac users are.... struggling to emulate the lowly PC.

No, here are Mac users who need to run Windows for a few specific Win-only tasks, but who don't want to waste money or space on a second machine.

> Sigh... I'm so sick of Mac advocates that push it like a religion.

Then you must be no doubt sick of people who bash Macs religiously as well. Oh wait, of course your not. Ironic, that.

Will it run Visual Studio.NET? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5512858)

I sometimes need to fire up VS.NET (boo!) and that's the only thing that's stopping me from buying a Powerbook. Anyone know if VPC supports VS.NET?

UNIX emulator (0)

AnimeRulez (621583) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512888)

Why all the excitement over a Windoze emulator? Someone should start a free software project to emulate UNIX on Mac OS X. Now that would be a great addition! AR

MIDI Ports? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5512903)

Nice review! Thanks..

Does anybody have further info on hardware compatibility when running VPC? I've got some MIDI equipment that runs only under Windows. I'm hoping I'll be able to use VPC with a USB MIDI interface (as long as it's got Windows drivers)

Have any of you tried this?

Hmmm...something's missing (2, Redundant)

xonker (29382) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512912)

Note the complete absence of any mention of Linux on the Connectix site? They used to support Red Hat and sell copies for their virtual machine. Guess those days are GONE now that Microsoft took it over.

Printing (3, Informative)

Sho0tyz (147844) | more than 11 years ago | (#5512974)

It seems like the reviewer made it too difficult for himself. Why not just choose the "print to file" option in Windows and drag the postscript file over to the Mac disk to print it. It takes a few extra seconds, but surely it's easier than moving the printer around.

I don't get it. Why an emulator? (0, Redundant)

brocktune (512373) | more than 11 years ago | (#5513040)

Why deal with running an emulator when it's far less hassle and only a little more expensive to buy a Windows machine? A perfectly adequate Windows machine can be had for $500, less if you shop on eBay. Granted, you don't have the cool factor of running the emulator, but other than that, what's the attraction?

I run Linux and Windows and have machines for each.
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