Connectix Offers Virtual PC Preview

Long known for its Macintosh products, the Connectix Corporation is now offering a PC version of their key product, Virtual PC. Virtual PC works similar to the well-known VMWare, creating a "virtual machine" that runs an additional operating system inside the one currently running. This Technology Preview is aimed at weeding out last-minute bugs and issues that may arise before the final release. Set to hit the streets at $200 USD, you can download a copy for free right now.

Virtual PC is designed to make it easy to utilize multiple operating systems without the hassle of rebooting or setting up multiple computers. All system information is stored in a single file on the host, while the guest OS handles all network, sound and video features available. Be it Linux, Windows 2000, 98, NT, or Me, Connectix hopes that its technology and experience in the Macintosh emulator PC market will produce a superior product.

BetaNews decided to see how Virtual PC stacked up against the competition and installed the Technology Preview one of our systems (PIII-1Ghz, 256MB-RAM, 40GB-HD PC), with Windows Me and FreeBSD 4.2 as the guest operating systems.

Window Me installed slowly but effortlessly. The floppy boot disk was detected, and booted into DOS; from there we installed Windows Me as if on any other system. As mentioned, the install process was extremely slow, (taking longer then we cared to time) yet it was all worth the wait.

When fully installed, the Virtual OS worked flawlessly; most every piece of hardware was automatically detected. The network, sound, and video aspects functioned as expected from the get go.

Installing FreeBSD was slightly more complicated. Partitioning the disk before install can be quite scary for novice users, as the dialog makes it seem the only partition you can edit is the one Windows is already installed on. On an actual computer, this would destroy all you Windows data and overwrite it. But since this is "virtual" you can only write to the Windows partition because the file that contains the Operating System is on the Windows partition. Would-be UNIX users, do not be afraid to do what you would never do in a non-virtual world.

When FreeBSD booted up, everything worked well, but sadly not X-Windows. It seems the video support for this kind of application is not well supported. As for everything else, network and the like once again worked flawlessly.

The speed of Virtual PC was better in our tests then that of VMWare, and the "Save State" function worked wonderfully. The feature allows you to stop the OS in its tracks so to speak, keeping all programs open so they are immediately available when you turn on that Virtual system again. VMWare also offers a similar feature.

The biggest disappointment by far is that Virtual PC only works on the Windows platform. While this may explain the increased speed, it is really too bad that Linux and users of other flavors of UNIX cannot take advantage of this product.

What are you waiting for? Go ahead and get a copy to try it out yourself and tell us what you think below!

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