VirtualRiscPC sneaked onto Mac OS XBy Mark Stephens. Published: 20th Apr 2006, 13:42:59 | Permalink | Printable
The benefits of Apple's Macinteltosh switchBeing able to run RISC OS on Mac OS X would probably be the highlight of 2006 for many of the users who have picked up a Mac to sit alongside their RISC OS machines. When VirtualRiscPC for Mac OS X will arrive is best left to VirtualAcorn, although what we've discovered here might be the next best thing. Riding the coat tails of Apple's switch to using Intel processors, it's now possible to run Microsoft Windows applications on the shiny Mac OS X desktop - and this includes VirtualRiscPC.
When Apple announced that the next generation of their Mac computer would use an Intel x86 chip inside, there was a lot of speculation about whether or not it will allow users to run Microsoft Windows alongside Mac OS X. Windows emulators have not been very successful on PowerPC processor Macs so far because of the need to emulate the Intel chip in software - rather like VirtualRiscPC does for the ARM chip. Unless the processor doing the emulation is much faster than the emulated system, the emulated machine will obviously run at a snail's pace. Having an Intel chip inside the new Macs, and a very fast one at that, means that this is no longer necessary.
Like buses, we have waited with baited breath for a solution to allow Macs to run Windows and now four different solutions have come along at once. One of them is Apple's official BootCamp solution, but this involves an awkward dual-booting process. However, the most interesting approach is a promising new package called Parallels, which not only allows the new Intel Macs to boot up as either a Windows or a Mac machine, but also allows Windows, and indeed lots of operating systems, to run as an application within the Mac desktop; either inside a window or in full screen mode - which is faster. It looks and acts like a proper WinXP box complete with sound, networking, viruses, and so on. Sound familiar to some other software?
So having installed WinXP onto my new Mac with an Intel chip, the next question is whether it will run VirtualAcorn's VirtualRiscPC emulator, followed by the burning question of how fast will it all be. Thanks to lots of help from VA's Aaron Timbrell, I think the screenshots below should answer those questions. The amount of memory and resources allocated to the Parallels software can be configured, and VRPC can be run in full screen mode to hide away WinXP all together.
Parallels is still officially a beta product, which will cost 23 quid - a purchase which is a bit of a no brainer having spent nearly two grand on the fastest, most elegant laptop in town. It turns the Mac into a very powerful multi-platform machine and you can finally run a decent text editor on it. We'll leave the choice of StrongEd or Zap to you.
Update at 17:54 22/4/2006
Don't speak too soon about Mac OS X.
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