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Not So Virtual PC

I still think a virtual PC - one that lets you switch back and forth and share data amongst two operating systems - is the best way to go. But for now, Apple lets you install and boot Windows XP on your Mac with Boot Camp.

BTW, what happens if a nasty virus on the PC side hoses things? Can it cross over and screw up the Mac OS, even though Windows won't do HFS+?

I think it's unlikely many people at all will buy Mac hardware to run Windows more than half the time. This scratches a small niche itch.

11 Responses to "Not So Virtual PC"

  1. I definately agree, virtualization is the way to go.

    The best part about a Virtual PC is that it is just a volume image. When a virus/worm/malware hits it, just delete the image and make a new copy from your backup.

    What I would like to see is virtualization in OS X. Somewhat like Solaris's zones, but with the ability to throw an virtual Mac between two different computers, depending on which one I want to use.

    I imagine the worst thing that could happen is the Window's malware could trash the Mac's boot mechanism. Depending on how the how it boots Windows, that might not even be a vulnerability.

  2. I agree, but I'm having one heckuva time getting Q running on my core duo mini... I'm sure it's user error. I really look forward to having Virtual PC available for my Intel box.

  3. I'd imagine that a Windows virus could screw up the mac side of things (i.e. what's to stop a Windows program from just writing zeros to the non-NTFS/FAT partitions on connected drives?)

  4. i saw this earlier today and i totally agree with you, erik. i'm not giving up my virtual PC.. it is definitely a smarter solution, for me anyway.

  5. I think we're all waiting for Darwine. Most people probably just want to use productivity apps and games on Windows, not the integrated Viral Explorer with ActiveX Worm plugin.

  6. Yeah, but that niche is named "University IT" so its in Apple's interests to address that. Now, instead of split Mac/PC computer labs they can consolidate, which is a bunch of money for Apple and helps to address perennial space problems endemic to basically any mature University.

  7. A virus couldn't "cross over" per se from Windows to OS X since, as you remarked, it won't be able to read or write the OS X partition (the necessary code for "raw" HFS+ writing would bloat the virus "somewhat" ;-))

    Nonetheless, if a virus decided to erase your partition table, you might be screwed. Virtualization is the way to go.

  8. Oh, I dunno. Virtualization is neat, but I doubt it'd do well for games and the like.

  9. The problem with virtualization is that you can't virtualize a video card. So anything that heavily uses the video card is going to be slow. I don't know how this would affect most programs except games, but Vista is supposed to be very graphics-card heavy, so you may not be able to run it with any performance using virtualization. Microsoft is focusing on this, so they must have a solution, but so far everything they are doing is at the OS level, not the hypervisor level.

    Darwine would fair better, because it runs programs at the OS level, but Vista could still cause some serious complications and [Dar]Wine is never going to be a great general purpose solution. For specific applications and non-mission critical data, it will be fine, but I wouldn't use it in my business.

  10. A more interesting thing than Apple's Boot Camp might be Parallels Workstation. They are reportedly going to post a timebomb but free Mac beta tomorrow (can be found here.

    Parallels uses the Vanderpool hardware virtualization features of the new Intel CPUs and lets you run Windows and Mac OS X at the same time. As this is only going to cost around 50 USD and probably fast enough for most things (I don't care about games at all) because it has CPU virtualization support, this will be the route I'm going to take. I won't reboot to launch an occasional Windows app.

    (No, I'm not affiliated with them in any way. I just wanted to tell you all in case you are interested because I'm really excited about such a solution).

  11. Boot Camp

    Everyone has blogged about Boot Camp. Give it a rest