by Steve Siercks, Jordan Streiff, & Chris Rogers
computer news with the teen perspective
Working With Windows On Your Mac
by Chris Rogers
June 29th, 2000
Sure, everyone has been in a predicament that makes them have to use a PC some time in their Mac lifetime. I have had to use a PC to work on an audio track with Acid, and for opening fonts (until I got a PC to Mac font converter). More likely than not, you've had to use one too. Sometimes it's easier for us to just bite the bullet and get a PC, sometimes we just get something that will get us by. For those with powerful PCI Macs, both VirtualPC and Orange Micro PC Cards are great options. For those of us who only have a Quadra 605, you're gonna have to borrow a PC.
I had my first brush with actually wanting a hardware PC not too long ago. Actually, I didn't want it, but I just got a DOS Compatibility Card (DCC) for free from a friend. This card is the NuBus 486DX2 running at a super speedy 66MHz. I was "smokin'' the competition with this beast. Actually it was kind of cool. For no cost I turned my old 6100 into a PC "powerhouse." Powerhouse or no powerhouse I was cross-platforming baby!
OK. To be honest, it sucked! I had the most difficult time trying to get the stupid PC card working. Maybe it was Apple's side, maybe not. I personally like to blame it on the PC side. I had no trouble installing the software for the DCC, but when trying to use a drive image as my PC disk like with Virtual PC I got exactly nowhere. The card would simply beep and my screen would be dim. Yeah! fun inset it? As I later found out, what you really need is a dedicated hard drive partition or actual PC hard drive. Yay! I get to spend money on PC hardware! This is not exactly what I planned on...
I acquired a 500MB Mac HD that I was going to use as a PC Disk. Simply reformat it somehow, right? No, believe me, that didn't work either. If anyone knows how to reformat a Mac HD into a PC/DOS format with a Mac, E-Mail me!! I tried everything, but by the time I stopped, I realized there is no point in using it if I'm going to spend hours chasing my own tail only to end up in the same part of the yard, thirstier than when I started. Please don't send me e-mail saying my analogies are stupid, just go with it.
VirtualPC, a friend to us all!
Virtual PC (VPC) is by far the easiest to work with. Run the installer, make sure you have at least 64MB of RAM and double-click the application. Wow! Winblows right in front of you on your Mac. The one drag with this program is that it's slow and not considered a 100% PC Compatible machine. It works great for that occasional application or accessing the PC network at your cubicle. Personally, I think VPC is easier to use and less of a hassle.
If you are looking for maximum compatibility for your Mac in a PC environment, the best choice is a new PC Card from Orange Micro. From what I have heard about these cards lately, they are more reliable that Microsoft Windows, which really doesn't say much. Actually, I have heard good things about the PC cards of today. Orange Micro builds some of the best connectivity solutions for the Macintosh. If you are looking for the occasionally PC application, VirtualPC from Connectix is a great choice as long you have a super speedy G3 or G4. If you need 100% compatibility then the PC Card is the only way to go. If you go this route, be careful.
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