Microsoft Virtual PC for Mac Version 7

Virtual PC 7

Microsoft Virtual PC 7
Manufacturer: Microsoft
Retail Price: $249.99

Microsoft's Virtual PC for Mac 7.0 is a Windows emulator. The last time I used Microsoft Virtual PC was with versions 4 and 5. I lost interest when many of my grandchildren's games would not run, performance was slow, and I couldn't print documents. I was curious as to how Microsoft's Virtual PC for Mac 7.0 had improved and whether or not it would be a viable program for Mac users.

The installation was easy. You first run the Microsoft's
Virtual PC for Mac 7.0 installer, then restart, and install Windows XP Professional. You can even install multiple versions of Windows, if you own them, by setting up several virtual machines. You can then choose which virtual machine to start from.

Launch Microsoft Virtual PC for Mac 7.0, and you're greeted by a standard Windows XP desktop, which you can run in a window or in full-screen mode. Within a separate Virtual PC Settings window, you can modify the virtual level of RAM and VRAM, the virtual machine's networking settings, and more.

I wanted to run three items to test Microsoft's Virtual PC for Mac 7.0, a Microsoft based software for my phone, games and/or children's programs, and a Microsoft native application such as Microsoft Office for Windows.

My VTech 5.8 GHz phone, model i5857 came with additional images and ring tones for the phone but the installation was a PC based CD-ROM. The Image Editor did install in Windows XP Professional and I was able to see the additional images I could import to my phone. I then connected my phone to the computer with the included USB cable. Microsoft's Virtual PC for Mac 7.0 would not recognize the USB connection giving me the "phone not connected" message. I checked the contents of the CD to see if there were any USB drivers that needed installation but saw none. I activated all the USB drivers available in Windows XP to no avail. When I unplugged the phone USB cable from the computer I got a kernel panic. I disconnected the USB cable and restarted my machine and gave up. I never got to hear the additional ring tones.

For the next test, I bought my grandchildren a math program that was Windows/Macintosh compatible called "Math Missions" from Scholastic. I had a lot of problems installing it on Windows XP. When I finally succeeded, I tried to run the program and got a very pixilated spastic window. Quake 3 wouldn't even install. I installed the Mac version on my Macintosh G5 and it ran beautifully. There was a cocoa version of the program. The game filled most of my 23" Apple Monitor a very welcomed feature.

I tested another game, an old game requiring Windows 3.x and Windows 95, nothing higher listed. It did install okay with MIDI rich sounds but it ran too slowly to make it enjoyable. It also did not display menus very well.

I then went to the Microsoft site to download a free 60-day trial of Office. I wrote a letter and printed it. Printing was seamless-just click Print and Virtual PC uses your Mac's default printer. This was my best experience with Microsoft's Virtual PC for Mac 7.0.

Even my experience with Internet Explorer on the PC side left a lot to be desired when the latest Java plug-in failed to install properly. I had a site that required Java and I couldn't view it. Microsoft's Help and Support for Microsoft's Virtual PC for Mac 7.0 had no answer or work-around to this problem.

Microsoft's Virtual PC for Mac 7.0 Web site offers email support, newsgroups, a knowledge base of helpful answers to support questions, and troubleshooting. Live technical support includes two free toll calls and two free emails; after that any additional help will cost $35 per request.

Microsoft's Virtual PC for Mac 7.0 is only one of many Windows emulators for the Mac but it's the only one I've experienced. Since it's the one I've used I have followed its growing pains. A long time ago, I tried SoftWindows from Insignia Solutions but that's long gone. There are other emulators like Darwine, Bochs, Wintel, iEmulator, and GuestPC.

700 MHz native; G3, G4, or G5 processor;
OS X 10.2.8 or OS X 10.3;
CDROM Drive;
512 MB RAM;
3 GB of available hard disk space;
1024 x 768 or higher resolution monitor displaying thousands of colors

Review by NCMUG member Maria O. Arguello