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About Virtual PC


What is Virtual PC?
Program Tour
Virtual PC Major Versions
Virtual PC Updates

What is Virtual PC?

Virtual PC is an application program for MacOS and Windows that emulates the hardware of a PC. It allows users to run PC operating systems such as Windows 98, Windows 2000 and Linux within a virtual machine environment. For Mac users, this opens up a world of software that is otherwise unavailble for the MacOS. For Windows users, Virtual PC allows for prototyping, testing, and “sandboxing” within a virtual machine environment. In both cases, Virtual PC allows users to run multiple operating systems concurrently on one machine.

Virtual PC™

Virtual PC Program Tour

Here are some screen shots of various portions of Virtual PC.

The PC List is the main “control panel” of Virtual PC. It provides a summary of the state for all configured PCs (whether they’re running, saved, paused, shut down, etc.). From this location, you can create new PC configurations, delete existing configurations or start/shutdown PCs.

The PC Video Window represents the video contents of the PC. You can also enter “full-screen mode” in which case the PC’s video contents are displayed on the Mac’s entire screen, not in a window.

The PC Settings Window allows you to control all of the parameters for the PC — from memory to hard drive settings.

The Virtual Disk Assistant allows you to create, examine and modify hard drive image and floppy image files.

Virtual PC Major Versions


Connectix has released four major versions of Virtual PC for the Mac.

1.0 — Introduced Virtual PC, quickly displacing rival emulator Insignia SoftWindows. The first version introduced the general PC settings user interface that has appeared in all subsequent versions. It also introduced MMX emulation, SoundBlaster Pro emulation and a full-screen mode. It came with one of three guest operating systems: IBM PC-DOS, Windows 3.11 for Workgroups, or Windows 95.

2.0 — This version added a number of new features including SoundBlaster 16 support, sound input, an upgraded video controller (Trio 64 card), integrated VESA 2.0 support for DOS games, drag and drop support between the Mac and the PC, and added emulation performance (roughly 20% according to CPU benchmarks). It shipped with three guest operating systems: IBM PC-DOS, Windows 95 OSR2 and Windows 98.

3.0 — This version added AppleScript recording and playback, USB support, “shared IP” networking (allowing the Mac and PC to share a single IP address), and a configuration mechanism to allow switching between different PC configurations. Support for Voodoo 3Dfx cards was added for gaming support. It shipped with five guest operating systems: IBM PC-DOS, Windows 95 OSR2, Windows 98 (second edition), Windows 2000, and RedHat Linux.

4.0 — This major rewrite of the core emulation engine resulted in major emulation performance gains (100% or more, according to CPU benchmarks). It also introduced support for multiple, simultaneous PCs, and dynamically-expanding drive images. A new “PC Setup Assistant” was integrated to assist in creating new PCs, and a “Virtual Disk Assistant” was added to aid in the creation and management of floppy and hard disk image files. A number of limits were expanded: support for hard drive images up to 128GB in size and PC memory settings up to 512MB. Integrated help was also added. It shipped with three guest operating systems: IBM PC-DOS, Windows 98 (second edition), and Windows Me. Connectix has also announced the availability of “OS Packs” that will provide support for additional guest operating systems.

5.0 — This version introduced support for Mac OS X. It also provided new features like Undo drives, DVD support, key mapping and dynamic video resizing. A new “get info” window provided a way to view statistics about a running VM.

6.0 — This version provided a substantial performance increase for Mac OS X users. It also introduced integration features like Dock icon integration and a dock-based Windows Start Menu.


In June, 2001, Connectix is scheduled to release Virtual PC 4.0 for Windows 2000, NT and Me.

4.0 — This is the first version of Virtual PC for Windows. It provides all of the features of the Mac version (with the exception of USB support). It also introduces some new features such as “undoable” drives, differencing drives, direct access to host volumes & drives, a flexible “virtual switch” for networking between virtual machines and the host.

5.0 — This updated version featured major performance increases - especially for Windows 2000 and XP guests. A new motherboard chipset and BIOS were included. Security lockout and increased RAM support (up to 1GB per VM) were also added.

Virtual PC Updates

Connectix periodically releases updates of Virtual PC on their web site. Check here for the latest available updates.

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