Lets Pretend Its Hardware

 
 
By Peter Coffee  |  Posted 2002-01-21 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Connectix's Virtual PC 5.0 enables concurrent sessions of as many operating systems (including different versions of Windows, OS/2 or Linux) as your hardware can handle—and runs those sessions on a Macintosh.

In 1989, I reviewed Prowares $50 PC-MIX (Multitasking Interactive Executive), which brought astonishing concurrent capability to 8088-based DOS PCs. It created virtual machines that provided even more usable memory than bare-metal DOS on a 386 with memory management software. Thirteen years later, modern utilities finally offer even greater control of both personal and enterprise computing.

Connectixs Virtual PC 5.0 enables concurrent sessions of as many operating systems (including different versions of Windows, OS/2 or Linux) as your hardware can handle—and runs those sessions on a Macintosh. You can drag and drop files between desktops or copy and paste data between Mac and Windows applications. A session that goes bad can be killed, restoring the state of the previous session: Now thats an Undo command.

Some people go over the top about Virtual PC, saying things like "Even a PC is better when it runs on a Mac." Reality check, please: When I ran a CD-based Windows game on a top-end Macintosh laptop, the opening narration was almost incoherent. The Windows version of Adobe Photoshop LE 5.0 runs half as fast in a Win98 session on that 667MHz G4 as it does on a 400MHz AMD K6. Technology is still distinguishable from magic.

But Photoshop LE is at least as reliable in the virtual session: I havent crashed it yet, an all-too-common occurrence on my Presario. If further testing does crash the Win98 session, I can run Windows 2000—on the same Macintosh.

On Wintel hardware, Virtual PC 4.2 for Windows or VMwares Workstation 3.0 likewise enable concurrent sessions with different operating systems. VMware also has heavyweight server products. Sun promises virtualization in Solaris 9—and at Danish ISP Telia Net, IBMs VM operating system runs 1,500 virtual Linux servers on one 12-CPU IBM S/390. Telia Net can deploy a new server in 90 seconds and buy its computing by the ton, instead of in far more costly single-serving containers.

Virtuality is a virtuous proposition.

Tell me what virtues you find in short supply at peter_coffee@ziffdavis.com.

 
 
 
 
Peter Coffee is Director of Platform Research at salesforce.com, where he serves as a liaison with the developer community to define the opportunity and clarify developers' technical requirements on the company's evolving Apex Platform. Peter previously spent 18 years with eWEEK (formerly PC Week), the national news magazine of enterprise technology practice, where he reviewed software development tools and methods and wrote regular columns on emerging technologies and professional community issues.Before he began writing full-time in 1989, Peter spent eleven years in technical and management positions at Exxon and The Aerospace Corporation, including management of the latter company's first desktop computing planning team and applied research in applications of artificial intelligence techniques. He holds an engineering degree from MIT and an MBA from Pepperdine University, he has held teaching appointments in computer science, business analytics and information systems management at Pepperdine, UCLA, and Chapman College.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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