Definition

Virtual PC

Virtual PC is a program that emulates Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows NT, as well as IBM OS/2, or Linux on a Macintosh personal computer, assuming it's equipped with a sufficiently fast microprocessor. With Virtual PC installed, a Mac can show the desktop for the emulated operating system on one part of the display or it can take up the entire screen. You can run any program that will run under the other operating systems on "regular" (Intel microprocessor-based) PCs. Virtual PC works by converting Intel x86 instructions into PowerPC instructions on the fly.

To install and use Virtual PC, the Mac must have the PowerPC 604e microprocessor, or a 603e version that runs at a minimum of 180 MHz. An extra 150 to 300 megabytes of hard disk storage is needed and you should have at least 24 megabytes of random access memory (RAM) with 32 megabytes recommended. Versions of Virtual PC are available that will emulate Windows 3.1 and DOS; these can run with a slower microprocessor and less storage.

Virtual PC may be helpful for Mac users who need to run a Windows program occasionally or in families where some members want to run Mac applications and other members want to run Windows applications. According to a Wall Street Journal reviewer, the emulation appears to be complete, except that the Mac mouse, which has only one button, requires the user to press an additional key when a right-hand click is required.

This was last updated in June 2006
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

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