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Virtual PC 5 Notes and Reports

Updated September 15, 2008

On this page:

Send us your experiences with Virtual PC 5.

Other MacWindows emulator pages:

Virtual PC:

Windows on Intel Macs:


Other sites of interest:

One more source for the PC 5.0.4 Update. July 18, 2005 -- We've located another source for the old Virtual PC 4.0.2 and 5.0.4 updaters. As of this date, the two links noted below also still work.

Virtual PC 5.0.4 Update available on users' .Mac sites. July 9, 2004 -- Looking for the Virtual PC 5.0.4 Update? We've located three sources of the old Virtual PC 5.0.4 update, which Microsoft hasn't offered since it purchased Virtual PC from Connectix. Both are located on the web sites of .Mac subscribers. We found the first through a Google search:

The second was sent to us by MacWindows reader Martin Totusek:

We've received a steady stream of queries from readers on the availability of this update, which is the most stable version of Virtual PC 5. Connectix used to make updates to older versions of VPC available at its web site. However, Microsoft only offers the updates for VPC 6.x.


Virtual PC 5.0.4 update. June 27 , 2002 -- Connectix posted Virtual PC 5.0.4 as a free download. The company says this update addresses some of the problems with the version 5.0.3 update. (MacWindows readers reported performance degradation after installing VPC 5.0.3 upgrade.) From the readme file:

Addressed performance issue for 32-bit operating systems running in Virtual PC under Mac OS X that was introduced in version 5.0.3. For most users, Virtual PC 5.0.4 restores performance in Mac OS X to be equal to or better than version 5.0.2. Connectix is continuing to investigate and improve the performance of Virtual PC.

Connectix says that the update also fixes a bug that caused Mac OS 9.2.2 to freeze when Virtual PC shared folders and Apple file sharing were being used together. Other changes to the update:

If you've found that v 5.0.4 fixes the performance problem of 5.0.3, please let us know.

Virtual PC 5.0.3 update. Released May 29, 2002 -- Virtual PC 5.0.3 is a free update to the PC emulator for Mac OS 9 and X that is bigger than the version number would indicate. The 10.4 MB download adds minor features and fixes a number of important bugs.

The bug fixes include the following:

Features added include:

However, several readers have reported that VPC 5.0.3 is slower than previous 5.x versions. Version 5.0.4 is supposed to correct this.

Virtual PC Update 5.0.2. Released March 7, 2002 as the Virtual PC Update 5.0.2. It updates the Virtual PC application and the VPC Additions (which get installed in Windows). The readme file notes these improvements in performance:

We installed VPC Update 5.0.2 and found that it does in fact improve the performance of Windows in Mac OS X. The improvement is not large, but is noticeable. VPC is still significantly slower in Mac OS X than in Mac OS 9, as the 5.0.2 update also improves OS 9 performance, though to much less so. We also found Windows 2000 to run faster than Windows 98 in Mac OS X, as Win 2000 gains more from the 5.0.2 update than does Windows 98.

Virtual PC 5.0 for OS X and OS 9. Released December 5, 2001. VPC 5.0 was the first release version to run on Mac OS X, but it also run in Mac OS 9. Among the new features:

Connectix claims that Virtual PC 5 is faster than VPC 4, but that VPC 5 is 25-to-35 percent slower in Mac OS X than in Mac OS 9. In a PDF paper it published at its site, Connect says that "Virtual PC will never be as fast on Mac OS X as it is on Mac OS 9," blaming the layered architecture of OS X, its Unix underpinnings, and preemptive multitasking. Connectix also explains some of this at one of its forums.

Virtual PC 5.0 is currently only available with Windows 98 preinstalled (US $199) or with PC-DOS preinstalled (US $99; free if VPC purchased since Nov. 1). An upgrade is also available (US $79). VPC 5 with Windows 2000 or with Windows XP Home preinstalled will be available later this month and early January, respectively. Connectix OS Packs-- preinstalled versions of Windows operating systems for adding to Virtual PC, are now available for Windows 2000, Windows 98, and Windows Me. Connectix says it will ship OS Packs with Windows XP Professional and Windows XP Home in late December 2001.

Virtual PC for OS X Test Drive 4.0.5 and 4.0.6 (beta). Released in July and August of 2001 with a "4.0.x" version number, the Test Drive was actually the beta for the OS X version of VPC 5, requiring OS X 10.0.4. Test Drive was prerelease software that was free, expiring in January 2002.

(For our VPC 4.0 report page and VPC 3.0 report page for the histories of older versions.)

Performance issues with Mac OS X

Readers respond negatively to slow VPC 5 performance in OS X: Connectix blames OS X. January 7, 2001 -- We've heard from numerous readers regarding the speed of Virtual PC 5 on Mac OS X on a variety of different Mac hardware. Most readers use words like and "very slow, "unsusable" or "almost unusable" to describe the performance of VPC 5 in OS X. Several readers said they will not be using it, and a couple said they would be or had bought PCs to take care of their Windows software needs.

For it's part, Connectix claims that Virtual PC 5 is actually faster than VPC 4, and that VPC 5 is 25-to-35 percent slower in Mac OS X than in Mac OS 9. In a PDF paper it published at its site, Connect says that "Virtual PC will never be as fast on Mac OS X as it is on Mac OS 9," blaming the layered architecture of OS X, its Unix underpinnings, and preemptive multitasking. Connectix also explains some of this at one of its forums.

We have to question some of these claims. We understand that VPC under Mac OS 9 takes some unorthodox steps to "hog" memory and processor time, steps that are not permitted in Mac OS X. However, programmers for BSD, Unix, and Linux know that if you need more processor time in a preemptive multitasking system one can break up the program into a large numbers of smaller tasks.

Additionally, some of our readers say that OS X performance penalty is greater than the 25-to-35 percent claimed by Connectix. These reader reports are presented below.

Connectix says Apple apps get preferential treatment in OS X. January 10, 2002 -- Yesterday we met with Connectix executives to discuss the cause of Virtual PC 5 slower performance in Mac OS X, which we reported on January 7. Connectix claims that some Apple applications don't experience the slowdowns of VPC because of extra access to the processor given to Apple applications. "There's a discrepancy between Apple apps and non-Apple apps." said Director of Product Management Kurt Schmucker.

As we've previously mentioned, Connectix says that VPC in OS X will never be as fast as it is in OS 9. Connectix claims that Virtual PC can't get enough processor power in Mac OS X because of preemptive multitasking. Virtual PC is not "event driven" (using the processor in response to user commands)--but instead needs constant processing power, which preemptive multitasking can't give it, according to Connectix. However, there are other nonevent driven OS X applications that have good performance--iTunes and iMovie, for instance. Connectix claims that Apple applications get access to the processor that other apps don't. "It's undocumented API's that give iTunes and iMovie their smoothness," said Connectix QA Manager Jeff Woolsey.

If they exist, these undocumented APIs are the kind of secret trap doors that Microsoft is often accused of using for Windows applications. However, Schmucker said he did not think Apple was intentionally withholding technology, saying that Apple already has given Connectix help with porting VPC. "Virtual PC exercises more parts of the kernel than any other application," he said. Schmucker also said that Apple is currently working with Connectix to improve VPC performance, possibly incorporating changes in a future version of OS X. We could not contact an Apple representative for a comment.

Another issue for Virtual PC 5 is that it is a Carbon application, which means it is subjected to the processing overhead that all Carbon applications are subjected to. Carbon is the fastest way to port an application to Mac OS X, enabling a developer retain large portions of its code base instead of creating a new application from scratch. (Microsoft Office is also a Carbon application.) iTools and iMovie are also Carbon applications.

News Analysis: Apple contradicts Connectix about OS X speed. January 14, 2002 -- Apple and Connectix are telling opposite stories about the ability of applications to grab enough processor power in Mac OS X. As we reported last week, the Connectix web site says that Mac OS X and preemptive multitasking can't give Virtual PC 5 the processor time it needs. Yet, the old SoftWindows for Unix emulator ran smoothly on a preemptive multitasking Unix system, and Apple itself had a Mac emulator for Unix (Macintosh Application Environment) the worked well. But Connectix says that VPC will always run slower in OS X than in OS 9.

Apple was telling a different story to audiences at Macworld Expo last week. At about 4:25 minutes into a presentation entitled "The Power of X," Apple Senior Vice President of Software Engineering, Avie Tevanian said:

"If an application is really important and needs to get something time-critical done, it can indicate that to the kernel, and the kernel can make sure that gets scheduled appropriately using realtime processing."

Connectix told us last week that Virtual PC 5 uses "more parts of the kernel than any other application," but said VPC still can't get the processing power it needs. It would seem that VPC does not meet Tevanian's criteria of "really important application." Does "really important application" mean an Apple application? Connectix seems to think so, and told us last week that Apple is using unpublished APIs (application programmer interfaces) to speed up Apple applications such as iTunes and iMovie.

What VPC 5, iTunes, and iMovie have in common is that they are all Carbon applications. Apple created Carbon as an easier way to port Mac applications to OS X after developers balked at completely rewriting their software for the Cocoa framework. Carbon lets developers reuse old Mac code, but comes with overhead baggage. Unfortunately, developers of major pieces of software--including Apple--are not yet releasing big Cocoa apps. Most of these non-Apple Carbon applications (such as Microsoft Office) are not showing the promise of stellar Unix performance that Apple was promising before OS X shipped.

Another issue that hints at the possible performance limitations of Carbon is the lack of a Carbonized version of Adobe Photoshop. When Apple had first announced Carbon, Adobe appeared on a Worldwide Developer Conference stage to demonstrate Carbonized Photoshop. The Adobe rep said he had Carbonized Photoshop over the weekend, taking time out from a family picnic. Three years later, Adobe has released almost its entire product line as Carbon versions--except for Photoshop. Why? Sources told MacWindows that Carbon Photoshop just isn't making it performance-wise. This could indicate that Adobe is either waiting for something from Apple--or may be writing Photoshop as a Cocoa app.

Apple says no unpublished APIs; Connectix revises VPC white paper. January 17, 2002 -- In an interview with MacWindows yesterday, Apple denied that it was using unpublished APIs to make its own Mac OS X applications run faster than developers' applications.

"I'm not aware of any services that Apple applications have access to that other apps don't" said Ken Bereskin, Apple director of Mac OS X product marketing.

As we've previously reported, Connectix told us that Apple was using unpublished APIs in applications such as iTunes and iMovie to keep them running smoothly in OS X. Since our previous reports, Connectix officials have said that they don't believe this is intentional, but that Apple simply hasn't gotten around to documenting all OS X APIs.

"Apple has documented those APIs that are most important to the largest number of developers, " said Eric Traut, Connectix chief technical officer and the architect and principle programmer of the original Virtual PC. "We don't believe that Apple is intentionally holding anything back."

Apple denied that lack of documentation is hampering developers. "There are different degrees of documentation," said Bereskin. "But nothing of material impact to the performance of an application."

Rather than hampering VPC, Connectix said that Apple was a acting as a partner. "[VPC is] one of the few apps for OS X that has code in the kernel specifically for it, " said Trout. Bereskin agreed that VPC was an important application for Apple. "Our top engineers are working with Connectix engineers."

White paper revised

Since our last report on this topic, Connectix made changes to the white paper called Virtual PC 5 for Mac -Technical Update that tries to explain why Virtual PC 5 runs more slowly in Mac OS X than in OS X. The revised paper backs off its previous statement that all non-event driven apps suffer in a preemptive multitasking OS. For instance, Connectix removed this statement:

Some programs, like Virtual PC, are not event-driven because they need to use the processor continuously for good performance. These type of programs are referred to as compute-bound. Compute-bound software tends to run better on a cooperative tasking model because it can be as "uncooperative" as it wants.

"That statement was a simplification," said Kurt Schmucker, Connectix director of product management.

This now-deleted statement lead to our inquiries about why other compute-bound applications, such as Apple's iTunes and Final Cut Pro, didn't see the kind of performance drop in Mac OS X as VPC 5 did. This lead to Connectix's claim of undocumented APIs in Apple applications.

The newly updated white paper focuses on the idea that things are different in OS X, instead of saying that preemptive multitasking is a negative feature. "We [developers] didn't know how to schedule in a preemptive world," said Schmucker.

Mitch Cipriano, Connectix vice-president of product management, added "Mac OS X is a new system. The way you optimize an application in OS X is different than in previous Mac OS versions. Developers are just getting up to speed."

Does this mean that Mac OS X applications will some day obtain the "unprecedented performance" due to "industrial-strength UNIX," as Apple claims on its Mac OS X home page?

"We believe OS X apps have the potential to be faster than OS 9" said Bereskin. "We are convinced that application developers can optimize their products for superior performance in OS X."

However, the Connectix white paper still says that "Virtual PC will never be as fast on Mac OS X as it is on Mac OS 9."

When pressed about the finality of the word "never," Cipriano took a less pessimistic tone. "'Never' is probably an overstatement."

Reader Reports

Performance of VPC 5 in OS X

January 4, 2002
Chris Smulian

VPC 5 runs quite a bit slower on Mac OS X (10.1) than VPC 4 did on OS 9. It's faster than the preview version, but that isn't saying much. I find it usable, but just barely. After getting speed boosts with each new version, VPC 5 is disappointing.

January 7, 2001
Gordon Wolford sent us some test he did that show VPC running 35-to-70 percent slower in OS X:

I recently ran a very crude and basic time trial comparing Virtual PC 5.0 speeds between OS 9 and X [time in seconds].

In OS 9.2.2

In OS X 10.1.2

Percentage of OS X Speed in OS 9





Virtual PC 5






Windows 95 (256MB RAM)






Windows 95 Loaded






Windows 95 I Explorer






Windows 98 (256MB RAM)






Windows 98 I Explorer






Windows ME2 (256MB RAM)






Windows ME2 I Explorer






Windows XP (512MB RAM)






Windows XP I Explorer






Total Times






This was run on a QuickSilver G4 733, 1.1 GB RAM, dual monitors at millions of colors with no other applications running except Virtual PC 5 and in full screen mode on my second monitor. All versions of Windows were run from a clean install from the respective Windows CDs except for the system named 'Windows 95 Loaded' which is my working Virtual PC file loaded with my normal PC software. As can be seen, having other processes running (i.e. Spell Catcher, Office Shortcut Bar, QuickShelf) dramatically slows things down.

I'll let the specific numbers speak for themselves, but from this chart, one can see that contrary to Connectix's stated claims that Virtual PC 5 is only 25-40% slower in OS X than in 9, the overall speed of starting up the program itself and then all Windows systems from 95 to XP and then each system's Internet Explorer to the browser's home page is closer to twice the speed (50%) in OS 9 overall than in X. In no cases except opening Virtual PC 5 itself was the speed difference anywhere close to being only 25% slower and those times are too short to be significant.

January 7, 2001
Geoff Smith

It seems I am not alone in finding VPC 5 under OS X painfully slow - about 60 percent of the speed of VPC 4 under OS 9.1.2... Increasing the memory, defragging the hard drive and boosting the system memory seems to make no difference - at least not on a G4 400 PowerBook. Any ideas gratefully received otherwise I'll be back to using OS 9 again.

January 7, 2001
Lou Flemal

Well, after installing the upgrade, I decided to update windows to get everything optimized as much as possible... Saying that running it under OS X is SLOW isn't saying it... Windows (ME) Update continually timed out before the page could load. But what's worse than slow, after quitting VPC 5, just starting VPC again causes a slew of UNIX text commands to scroll across the desktop and locks the system up. Yes - VPC 5 manages to completely crash Apple's new "un-crashable" OS X (or at least on MY system - a PowerBook G4/500 512 MB Ram 256 meg allocated to PC memory)

I'm just glad I have my VAIO PGC-SR17 for when I need to get something done in Windows... (Now if I could only get that $79 back...)

January 7, 2001
John Zurlo

It was with great anticipation that I upgraded to Version 5. I have been disappointed. From my perspective the two main problems are performance and networking. On the performance side, it is very sloooow on my 400 MHz TiBook. The slow performance is apparently a consequence of UNIX and the way processor attention is allocated. In addition, performance is further slowed by the difficulties with networking that are also apparently intrinsic to System X. If you check the Connectix web site customer support section you will see scores of comments discussing these same issues. Connectix has been responsive. They promise a 5.01 update by the second week of January and are working on a 5.02.

January 7, 2001
Kenneth Hamberg

I have noticed the same thing - that the VPC is very slow with OS X 10.1.2. I hope there will be a fix.

January 7, 2001
Chris Little

I have to agree that Virtual PC 5 is slower on OS X than 9. Connectix explains why in this PDF file.


January 7, 2001
Robin Jackson

While I am VERY pleased with VPC 5 and its new functionality, in particular being able to 'wind back' drives its performance under OS X is very disappointing.

I mainly use VPC 5 (Win2000) under OS 9.1 on a 500 MHz Pismo and in general find it useable for most things I need in the office.

However when I run the same configuration on a Cube G4 450 MHz system running OS X it just crawls and I think is almost unusable.

It and the lack of a good Citrix client for OS X are the main things now stopping me upgrading my PowerBook to OS X.

January 7, 2001
William Gillies

I'm so bummed about this. I truly believed I would be getting a speed boost, instead we are dealing with OS X overhead. That just plain sucks. Here's a thread by Connectix addressing these issues.

January 7, 2001
Jeffrey Jolando Sim

I've only been a Mac user for 1 month, just having migrated from the Windows 98 platform. I must confess that I did have initial difficulties getting use to Mac OS. I have faced problems transferring Windows files to Mac. But thanks to VPC 5.0 I was able to solve almost all my initial inconvenience.

I was able to run VPC 5.0 in OS 9.2 and OS X without much difficulty. While I do not have the experience of VPC 4.0 and earlier, I think this product is amazing fast. However, that could be that I am running on PowerBook G4 667 MHz. I have no problem capturing HDD/floppy images at a breeze. Transferring files between Mac & Win environment is just instantaneous Drag and Drop between open windows.

January 7, 2001
Douglas Pocock

VPC on 10.12--In the tank! Rather than force me back into System 9 again (you too Adobe) I bought a PC. My first in 15 years and a less than favorable solution.

VPC 5 slowdown in OS X may be similar to other apps

January 23, 2002 -- Reader Stephanie Nite has sent us test results that show the booting Windows in Virtual PC 5 is slower in OS X than in OS 9, but within the range of the slowdown seen for other native Mac applications. Nite found that Windows booted 25-to-30 percent slower in Mac OS X than in Mac OS 9. This is in line with what Connectix claims for VPC 5 performance, and is faster than a previous reader's report (which you can read on our Virtual PC 5 Special Report page).

Mac OS 9
(Average of 3 trials)
Mac OS X
(Average of 3 trials)
Percent slowdown in OS X

Virtual PC 5.0.1
Booting Windows 95 to desktop




Virtual PC 5.0.1
Booting Windows 98 to desktop




Virtual PC 5.0.1
Booting Windows 2000 to desktop




iTunes 2.0
Rip a song (3:32 long)




Disk Copy -- Mounting and verifying a ".smi" image




Explorer 5 -- Download 8.9MB iTunes over Airport




Finder -- Duplicate 3500-item folder (180MB total)




Duplicate single 150MB file




Nite also tested the performance of certain Mac apps running in Classic, which we did not reproduce here. Nite feels that the performance under OS X is acceptable. Here are some of her comments and her descriptions of her testing:

It seems that lately many of your readers have been complaining about the performance of Mac OS X. I've been using Apple's new OS for a couple of months now, and I have to agree that it isn't as fast as Mac OS 9. But I'm personally willing to trade some performance for fewer crashes. Overall, I'm pretty impressed with the new appearance and the stability. Even though Mac OS 9 is faster, I don't ever plan to go back.

I use many Mac applications on a daily basis - both at work and at home. After reading some of the information recently posted to your web site, I decided to perform some performance tests of my own to see if other readers were justified in their complaints.

I measured a number of common operations with a stop watch. I performed each test three times and averaged the durations for each test. All times are in seconds (smaller numbers are better)...I was careful to run only the test application - no other applications were running, as I understand that can interfere with performance results.

All tests were run on my 400 MHz Titanium G4 PowerBook with 384 MB of RAM. I used Mac OS 9.2.2 and Mac OS X 10.1.2. Both systems were relatively "clean" with very few non-Apple extensions or background applications.

...The Virtual PC tests were also surprising in that they were very different from other performance numbers posted on your web site. Yes, Virtual PC feels a little slower on Mac OS X than on Mac OS 9, but it's still very usable, and the performance difference appears to be much smaller than other readers are reporting.

Linux on VPC 5

RH Linux 7.1 with Gnome on VPC 5

December 10, 2001
Derek Sorrells has been runing RH Linux 7.1 on the Virtual PC 5.0:

Just a short note to let you know the above configuration works fine on my TiPB G4 400 MHz. Not too snappy at this point, but at least it runs.

Red Hat Linux in VPC 5, OS 9.1

January 3, 2002
Harry Reisenleiter was able to get Red Hat Linux running under Virtual PC 5.0 on Mac OS 9.1:

I've successfully (mostly) installed Red Hat Linux 7.2 (KDE) and the new KOffice under Virtual PC 5.0 Machine: PowerBook G4/400, 512 MB RAM, 10 GB Drive, DVD, OS 9.1, DeskJet 870Cse, EarthLink DSL connection.

Everything seems to run smoothly and relatively quickly. There are 2 small glitches (after a couple of problems a missing Disc 2, getting Ethernet configured properly, and getting screen colors to 16 bit), one is getting Linux to print, and the other is getting connectivity to the "Mac side" using my small Intranet and not being connected to the wider Internet world. Other than those, I've been having a ball learning Linux, RPM and Terminal commands.

VPC 5 with Red Hat Linux 6 has no Internet access

June 3, 2002
Gary Leach

I've just recently upgraded from my venerable VPC 3 to VPC 5, and I have to say that the performance in my installation of Red Hat Linux 6 has been markedly improved. The Gnome GUI has benefited especially, and now moves along with enough pep to be usable &emdash; I've even installed and done a few little things in The Gimp.

This improvement in speed has revealed what is now to me a serious problem: I cannot get online through Red Hat Linux 6. Ironically, while the Gnome GUI was sluggish to the point of madness the last thing I wanted to even attempt was getting on the Internet, but now I want that capability. All my efforts to do so, in spite of consulting three separate printed references and searching for online info, have come to nothing.

I go online through an Ethernet LAN to a cable modem in Mac OS 9 and Windows 95 via VPC, but there just doesn't seem to be any way to get my version of Linux to share in the joy. Might anyone have any insight into this quandary?

If you've seen this problem, please let us know.

June 5, 2002
Thomas Koons

Try turning off "shared networking" in the VPC settings for his Linux session. Since Connectix does not make an "additions" pack for Linux, then there are no tweaks to make Linux share the Macs connection as it can with any Windows OS. So he will need to give Linux a different IP address from his Mac as if they where two independent computers.

Virtual Switch bug with OS X 10.1.2

Connectix acknowledges a problem with Virtual PC 5 crashing Mac OS X v 10.1.2 when the Virtual Switch networking option is turned on--this causes a kernel panic--a crash of the entire Mac OS X system.

The Readme file for VPC 5.0.1 says that the 5.0.1 update fixed a problem in Mac OS X 10.1.2, but not for v10.1.2. A note in a Connectix forum says that Connectix will be fixing the 10.1.2 problem in VPC 5.0.2. This forum also provides an AppleScript which "must be run on Mac OS X and will set the permissions properly for the Virtual Switch component."

We have some more descriptions of the problem on our Virtual PC 5 Special Report page.

(Thanks to Paul Crawford and Patrik Häggstrand )

Below are some descriptions of the problem (we have recieved many more reports, but most are saying what the readers below mention).

Descriptions of the problem

January 24, 2002
Per Thörnblad

I am having some trouble with VPC 5.0.1 installed on my iBook 600 DVD/CD-RW 384 MB RAM. Everything installs OK but as soon as I turn on the "Virtual Switch" network and restarts OS X crashes completely. Restarting the system and then turning off "Virtual Switch" makes everything work OK again. I have tried with and without Airport but the problem is the same.

January 28, 2002
J. L. Williams suggests

John - I get a kernel panic with the Virtual Switch every time I am not connected to an Ethernet network. Disabling networking, turning off Virtual Switch, or connecting to an Ethernet network resolves the kernel panic for me.

January 28, 2002
A reader reports

I´m having the very same problem as Per Thörnblad with VPC 5...Never had a problem sharing my Mac connection under VPC 4 or 5 in MacOS 9, but when I use VPC 5 in OS X, it always crash (kernel panic) when using Virtual Switch. I use VPC and those Windows apps a lot, so it´s very frustrating not being able to use them under OS X.

January 28, 2002
J. Witte

I am also experiencing the instant system crash when starting up a virtual machine in VPC and OS X with virtual switch on. Crashed in both VPC 5.0 and 5.0.1. I've got a TI PowerBook, 400 Mhz, 384 MB RAM.

January 28, 2002
Andrew Philipoff

I've experienced this too. I use VPC 5.0.1 (Windows 98 SE disk image) on a PowerBook G4/400, 384 MB RAM, Mac OS X 10.1.2. When I launch VPC it warns me that a NetBIOS client is already running, obviously the Mac OS X SMB client, and urges me use to use the Virtual Switch. When I Virtual Switch and launch VPC I experience a kernel panic. I've submitted this to Connectix already via email but have not received a reply.

Virtual PC 5.0.1 problem with Win 2000 Security Rollup Package.

February 18, 2002
Bradford Pollock found that adding a Microsoft Win 2000 security upgrade in Virtual PC slowed the emulator to a crawl:

I am running Virtual PC 5.0.1 w/Win 2000 under Mac OS 9.2.2 on my PowerMac G4/500 MHz/512 MB RAM with 296 MB RAM allocated to VPC. Everything was fine until I used Windows Update to install a "Critical Update" released by Microsoft - the Windows 2000 Security Rollup Package Jan 2002. VPC slowed to a crawl after that. I removed the update using the Win 2000 Add/Remove Programs control panel and VPC performance was OK again. It might be a critical update, but I can't use it.

VPC 5.0.2: performance in OS X is better

We found version 5.0.2 to improve the performance of Windows in Mac OS X (see above). Readers tend to agree.

March 11, 2002
Ed Dyer

I've been using the update all day and I have to say the screen redraw time for Java applets is definitely faster. Better boot time for Win2K for sure, perhaps not a record, but noticeably faster overall. I haven't tried to compare exact times yet. I haven't tried renicing yet either, which is what I did before the update. Ti 500/Mac OS X 10.1.3/VPC 5.0.2/Win2K/512MB to guest OS/768MB overall.

Problem with full-screen mode in 5.0.2 with OS X

Note: We have not seen this problem.

March 11, 2002
Robin Jackson

I am running on a PowerBook G4 667 MHz with Mac OS X 10.1.3.

VPC is much faster than the old 5.0.1 incarnation however whenever I try to go to 'full screen mode' VPC simply exits, no crash warning or error message it just exits.

If you try to restart VPC you get a warning message that it is already running but the task manager does not list it as a running application so the only course of action is a restart/log out.

As a check I also installed on my G4 Cube, this machine seems to work fine but the G4 TiBook does not.

March 12, 2002
Mark Napier

I find that if I check the box telling VPC to skip the dialog box when going to full screen mode, switching modes WILL crash VPC. This may explain the crashing reported today. resetting prefs to always show dialog boxes eliminates the crash.

VPC not using dual processors evenly

March 12, 2002
Mark Napier

Also, even in full screen mode I seem to be using only one processor (DP 800 MHz) -- I found this by running top from another computer logged in to the VPC box via SSH. LOTS of idle time on one processor. Two obviously VPC processes -- one takes 0.0% CPU.

Reader warns: don't use VPC to update iPaq ROM

April 10, 2002
Adam Goldstein

Under VPC 5.0.2 on OS X I was finally able to see/sync my iPaq 3650, but, that was only good for syncing and reading the ROM. After thinking it was working well enough, I tried to update the ROM on the iPaq. Bad idea. The iPaq is now dead with a corrupt ROM and no ability to re-load even from real Windows machines.

Yes it will sync, but, no don't update anything important on it.

VPC 5.0.3 update: slower than before

[Note: upgrading to 5.0.4 fixes this problem]

June 7, 2002
Mikael Olsson reports that the recently released Virtual PC update 5.0.3 is slower than previous 5.x versions:

I have used Virtual PC 5.0 and have just upgraded it to 5.0.3. I'd like to delete it and upgrade it with 5.0.1 and 5.0.2 which I had before. 5.0.3 with Windows XP works very slowly. But where can one find 5.0.1 to download? No luck yet.

We also noticed that a user at the Connectix forums has mentioned slower performance.

June 11, 2002
Anderson Lam

I have also noticed a slow down with VPC 5.03. I am running Mac OS X 10.15, quicksilver 733, 768 MB of memory with 256-302 MB dedicated to the emulated OS. I have tried both XP and 2000, and both seem slower than before.

June 11, 2002
Paul Crawford

I found it unusable as did many others in the Connectix Forum. I reinstalled 5.0.2 by starting with 5.0 and upgrading. Then I found that my disk image still seemed to have a problem (slow). So I got a backup image that was pristine. It seemed to bring back most of the original speed. I have no solid benchmarks so it is a little hard to tell. I have a typical setup 500 MHz Pismo with 768 MB RAM running Win2K with 192 MB RAM. My feeling is that Connectix did a poor job of QC'ing this latest version and they have upset a lot of people especially ones like me that use VPC for business. I really hope they get a proper fix soon.

June 11, 2002
Daniel Morales

I'm experimenting with VPC on my Starmax 3000/180 with 300 MHz Vimage G3 card. It worked reasonably well before the 5.03 update....After update it takes minutes for things to happen. What a horrible update, for me at least.

Wonder if any way to back track without starting from scratch.?

June 11, 2002
Jody Hewell:

I would like to also state that VPC is very slow. 5.0.3 is by the far the slowest. They seem to get slower each release...I tried it with XP and it is absolutely useless. Some apps take minutes to launch--I mean "minutes"! ...So I basically don't use it. I've even considered finding a cheap PC laptop on eBay. It can't be any slower.

(We remind readers that our own tests have shown that the fastest Virtual PC 5.x configuration is Mac OS 9 running Windows 2000. VPC 5.x runs slower on Mac OS X than on Mac OS 9, and that VPC running Windows 98 is much slower than VPC running Windows 2000.)

VPC 5.0.4 restores 5.0.2 performance, but still slower than 4.x.

July 8, 2002 -- Our own experience with the recently released Virtual PC 5.0.4 update shows that it does fix the performance problems of version 5.0.3, as Connectix claims. However, version 4.x (not available for OS X), was still faster.

Reader Fritz Ankerf also found that 5.0.4 addresses the performance issues of VPC 5.0.3, but had another problem in Mac OS X:

The 5.0.4 update killed Windows Explorer...Explorer won't load properly (taking nearly 100 percent of processor time and a good chunk of memory. I don't have a start menu, don't have my task bar, can't get into any folder, or access my SOHO network.

I then reloaded the whole program. After a few hours, and even a kernel panic, I fixed it.

Word of warning, do not have the fixed drive in save mode. I don't recall the warning during the update the first time. But, I'm almost sure I had the disk in save mode when I updated the first time. Major problems...Anyway, it's working quite well now. Much faster.

If you've tried the VPC 5.0.4 update, please let us know.

Windows XP can crash in VPC 5.0.2

July 10, 2002
A reader named John points out a message on the Connectix discussion forum that warns users that Windows XP can crash with Virtual PC 5.0.2. The message, from Connectix VPC Engineer Andy Nicholas, advices Win XP users to upgrade to the latest VPC 5.0.4. The message also comments on the performance problems of VPC 5.0.3 that were fixed in version 5.0.4. Some excerpts:

5.0.4 is safe to use. 5.0.3 is safe, but slower than 5.0.4. 5.0.2 is fast, but definitely not safe for Windows XP...

In 5.0.3, we turned off a feature of the synthetic Pentium called "global pages" in order to work around a problem which caused random, frequent crashes on Windows XP. This change fixed the problem, but disallows the use of global pages by the Windows XP and Windows 2000 kernels...

5.0.4 fixes the root cause of the Windows XP random crashing problem....

5.0.4 fixes the performance problem introduced in 5.0.3 by re-enabling the "global pages" bit and making sure that the CR4 behavior is proper as described by the Intel manual. The code in question existed before the 2001 Intel manual was written.

So, 5.0.4 should be both "safe" for Windows XP -- no random crashes -- and "fast" because the global-pages feature is turned on again

VPC 5.04 and Classic crash
July 10, 2002 -- Meanwhile, Jan Suhr reports a problem with crashing problem with Mac OS X Classic:

I have tried VPC 5.04 and it is quicker than previous versions, this is on a PowerBook Ti 677 with 512 Mb RAM.

I have encountered a problem twice which makes me worried. If VPC is running and I start an Classic application the Mac totally freezes up. Shutting down on the power button is the only way to get it going again. First time it happened the VPC partition was damaged so Win 2000 wouldn't start. Only way to fix was a reinstall of VPC and all Windows programs.

It happened again today and this time the VPC disk luckily was not damaged.

February 13, 2003
Miguel Rosado

I am running on a g4-450 upgraded computer, running OS 9.2.2. 352 RAM. I was able to use VPC 5.0.4 until recently, when I experienced the same problem as you reported. The launch of Windows gets to the desktop but right before it loads all of the icons, Windows freezes up and I lose control of the Macintosh. I end up having to Force Restart the computer.

If you've seen this problem, please let us know.

Service Pack 3 prevents Windows 2000 from booting

August 6, 2002 -- We've had a large number of reports of Service Pack 3 preventing Windows 2000 from booting in Virtual PC. We can identify several trends:

There is also a lack of consistency in other ways. For instance, one reader could find no fix, the tried installing SP3 on a backup version of his VPC disk image. On this second try, the problem was not present.

Below are some of the reader reader reports we've received. We've organized these into these categories:

Tim Daniels
August 5, 2002

I installed Windows 2000 Service Pack 3 on my Virtual PC Windows 2000 machine and am no longer able to boot Windows. I get a "User Interface Failure" error that states "The Logon User Interface DLL msgina.dll failed to load. Contact your system administrator to replace the DLL, or restore the original DLL." The only choice is a button to restart the computer.

Microsoft support has a knowledge base article (Q164486) that might shed some light on the problem. It does not reference Windows 2000, but rather NT 3 and 4. The issue is that "Winlogon may fail if third-party gina.dll file is missing or corrupted."

I wonder if Virtual PC Additions replaces the msgina.dll? If so, possibly the Service Pack 3 installer removes the DLL, causing the machine to be unable to boot. There doesn't seem to be any mention of this issue on the Connectix support site. The problem is that I cannot reinstall the additions, because Windows 2000 won't boot.

My configuration is as follows:

August 6, 2002
Tim Daniels (who first reported the problem) found the problem disappeared after multiple shutdown/restarts:

Interesting follow-up: I restarted the Win 2K Virtual PC over and over. Each time it reported the same "msgina" error. On about the fifth or sixth reboot, the error stopped happening and now everything seems fine! Displaying System Properties on the system show Service Pack 3 is installed. Not the first time that repeated restarts has solved a strange Windows problem.

August 6, 2002
Ethan Mesmer found that one shutdown/reboot fixed it:

I received the same error, and restarts did not help. But after I "Shut Down" Win2K in VPC, and restarted, it booted fine and shows Windows 2000 SP3 in the System Properties Window.

I am running VPC 5.0.4 on OS 10.1.5, Dual Processor 1 GHz G4 and 1.5 GB RAM.

August 6, 2002
Doug Reith-Hart

I experienced the msgina.dll problem as well. However, after trying the restart a few times, it does boot properly (go figure). I reinstalled the additions, and the problem appeared again - a few restarts of Win 2000 and it works fine again. Very inconsistent. However at least in my case, it does eventually start.

August 6, 2002
Robin Jackson

I also had this 'feature'.

The system rebooted fine the first time after install but today came back with the dll error message

I pressed the restart button and it has worked perfectly every time since, I have tried about 6-8 reboots from closed down to just restarting and have not managed to make the dll error appear again.

Problem also occurs on real PC hardware

August 6, 2002
A reader named Dave says the problem occurs on some PC hardware, as well as on some Macs running VPC:

I installed Win 2000 SP3 on my Pismo running OS X 10.1.5 and VPC 5.06 without problems. But as I was upgrading the local Windows IT guy came running in, telling me to stop! My machine would be unbootable after the update. I let it continue and it appears to be OK. The Windows guys have had the same problem some, but not all PC's. He said a call to Microsoft indicated that they were aware of the problem.

August 6, 2002
Paul Thurrott had no problem with VPC, but saw the problem on actual PC hardware -- it disappeared after a shutting down and rebooting:

It works fine here on two Macs, a G4 iMac and a 2001 iBook (albeit slowly). However, I actually saw the error message (msgina.dll) occur after the SP3 upgrade on a standalone PC this weekend. We shut the machine off, turned it back on, and it worked.

Problem did not occur with a second try

August 6, 2002
Glenn Armstrong gave up, then applied SP3 to a backup of his disk image, with success:

I had the same problem with my installation of SP3. Fortunately I tried it on a backup image first. I received the same message. I then pressed the F8 key on Windows restart and went to the last good configuration choice in the menu. I was able to get past the logon interface error message on the next start but, when I got to the desktop I received a reoccurring message that my WinMgmt.exe had a problem and it would quit. It kept happening over and over. The short of it is that I played around for a while trying to troubleshoot without any luck and then reverted to my previous untouched image. I again made a duplicate and applied SP3 to it. This time everything went OK. I followed the same procedure as last time but it upgraded with no problems.

My configuration is as follows:

  • Macintosh G4 933, 1 gig RAM, OS X 10.1.5
  • Virtual PC 5.0.4
  • Windows 2000 virtual machine, 256 MB RAM, Windows 2000 (5.00.2195, Service
  • Pack 2)

Readers who didn't find a fix (except to resort to pre-SP3 backup)

August 6, 2002
Rick Zeman finds one reboot to work, but the problem reappears later:

I've been plagued by this since the mid-betas of 5.03, with the exception that in my case it's the NWGINA (Novell's msgina replacement; I'm running SP2 with various versions of NetWare clients.). Connectix hasn't been any help; I reported it during the beta cycle and posted in the forums to see if anyone else had that problem.

If Tim boots into OS 9 and runs VPC he'll find that it runs perfectly. HOWEVER, if his experience is like mine, the first time he runs it again in X it'll work perfectly. After the first restart, boom, dead again.

Since I'm in X 99.9 percent of the time, VPC is useless for me.

August 6, 2002
Stuart A. Cooke, Jr. solved his problem by "backgrading" to a previous version of Windows 2000:

I've had the same problem after installing the Win2K SP3 update. Can't load Windows. I can boot into a Win 98 VM and then mount the corrupt Win2K drive as the e: drive. I have run scan disk to no avail. I have tried to boot into Win2K safe mode but it won't let me do that either. My only saving grace was that I had backed up my Win2K volume just prior to the SP3 upgrade. Whew!!!! So I just trashed the corrupt drive image and created another virtual machine with the backed up image.

My setup is as follows:

TiPB 800/60GB/1Mb/10.1.5

VPC 5.0.4/Win 2000/406Mb

August 6, 2002
Rich White

Ditto on that problem with Virtual PC and Windows 2000 SP3. I've tried it several times with a couple of different drive files with the same result.

"The Logon User Interface DLL msgina.dll failed to load. Contact your system administrator to replace the DLL, or restore the original DLL."

One of the drive files was a "virgin" install of Win2K - no updates or VPC additions were applied. SP3 still broke it.

August 22, 2002
Josh Brown

Just saw your post about Win2k SP3 causing a msgina.dll failed to load error...well I applied Service Pack 3 today and guess what: on the SECOND reboot, I got this do you think? Let me know if you find out anything...I'm glad I have a spare partition with XP loaded.

Readers who don't see the problem

August 6, 2002
Peter Lindsay

I am running Win 2000 Pro on Virtual PC 5.0.4 on my G4 500 and recently installed service pack 3 with no serious problems at all.

One noticeable difference is that my version number is not the same as Tim Daniels' (5.00.2195, Service Pack 2). After the install, my version reads 5.00.2195 Service Pack 3.

The only issue that I have is when I change the resolution in Win 2000 - actually it happens when I launch the Display Control Panel in 2000 - VPC announces that it has shut off display sync between the Mac and the Guest PC. I don't understand this yet but it does not cause any instability or problems.

August 6, 2002
Mark Allen:

I installed the service pack and not only have I not had any problems, Windows 20o0 seems to run faster now using VPC.

August 6, 2002
Robert Tweedy

I have downloaded/installed Win2K SP3 for VPC 5.0.4 on my Pismo 500 and have experienced no problems. This doesn't help anyone who's having difficulties with SP3, but maybe others will be more at ease if a user has installed it and all seems to be well.

August 6, 2002
Steve Gilmore doesn't have the problem with this configuration:

I don't have the problem. On my QuickSilver G4 Dual-1 GHz running 10.1.5, this is my Windows 2000 "get info":
  • Windows 2000 Professional 5.00.2195 Service Pack 3
  • VPC Additions 008041
  • Pentium II MMX
  • SVGA 800 x 600 16 bit
  • PC RAM 256 MB

One additional thing about my setup: my Virtual PC came with Windows 98; the Windows 2000 was a separate install of Win2K (not a Connectix "OS Pack" but a shrink-wrapped retail copy of Windows 2000 Professional).

Further suggestions:

One reader reports that the multiple-rebooting strategy fixed the problem only temporarily. Below his message are other suggestions for fixing the problem.

August 8, 2002
Ken Porter

I also experienced the problem with the Windows 2000 SP3 and VPC 5.0.4, Build #2404. My Windows machine is configured with undoable drives.

I tried the reboot process as some had suggested and amazingly it worked. After each msgina.dll error, I went to the Virtual PC list window, and used the "Shut Down..." button to kill the Windows machine. I selected the "Turned Off" option and the "Carry forward undoable changes" options and then hit the Turn Off button. I then shutdown the VPC program, and restarted it and the Windows machine. It took about 4 or maybe 5 attempts before I got the Alt-Cntrl-Del dialog and was able to log into the Windows machine.

A couple of times on startup, the Windows machine did a chkdsk probably because of the way I turned off the PC, but I don't know if that did anything to fix the problem.

So, after poking around my Windows machine a bit, I shut it down, committed the changes to disk, and then shutdown VPC. I then restarted VPC, started the Windows machine and bomb, I got the msgina.dll error again! Argh!

August 8, 2002
Rich White

I've tried the following several times with repeated success:

I changed VPC's Foreground CPU usage (found under Preferences...) to "High" and booted into Windows 2000 SP3 just fine. I then restarted and tried with CPU usage set one notch lower and it didn't work (same error message as before). Changing it back to the highest setting fixed it again. It must be some kind of timing issue...

Also, trying to boot while VPC was in the background resulted in the same error even though Background CPU usage was set to "High".

My setup is: PowerMac G4/867, VPC 5.0.4, OS X 10.1.5

August 8, 2002
An anonymous reader

  1. Booting into safe mode may work. it worked for me with windows 2000 advanced server demo.
  2. I was able to replace the msgina.dll from safe mode by renaming it and then copying one from another temporary installation of the demo CD. you may be able to extract it from a file on the CD but I didn't try that.
  3. If you can boot up from the windows 2000 pro CD you can enter console mode and repair the system that way.

    Replacing msgina.dll allowed me to boot into ms Windows as usual. I would sometimes get errors messages indicating that a program was not responding when I tried to shutdown. this would sometimes be more than one program. I don't remember if they were the same programs when it occurred. I don't know if it was related my replacing msgina.dll. Reinstalled SP3 after replacing msgina.dll and so far no ill effects, but I haven't used extensively.

September 23, 2002
David Sweet

I am having the same problem your readers have described. After some research it seems that the msgina.dll gets 200 microseconds to load by default. If the dll doesn't load within that time the dialog box stating msgina.dll failed to load and your only option is to reboot. SP3 apparently made a change to msgina.dll and now it takes a little longer to load. On hardware Windows systems this is not usually a problem, but when emulating a Windows box with Virtual PC things take longer. VMware, a product to VPC for Windows, has a way of extending the timeout. With their product you can set "MAGICBOOT1" to a value higher then 200 in a configuration file.

I am unable to find a similar solution for VPC.

If you can find a way to make Windows start up faster then you won't see the problem:

  • Only have VPC running
  • Set CPU usage to high in the VPC preferences
  • Use VPC in full screen mode

Non-VPC using Windows users solve this problem by replacing the msgina.dll with a pre-SP3 version of it. This seems like a kludge to me but what do you expect from Windows users. I want whatever fixes that are in the new version of msgina or I wouldn't have gone to the trouble of downloading it and installing it.

HASP USB dongle: works with VPC 3, but not v.4 and 5

July 25, 2002 -- Virtual PC has never done well with hardware dongles -- devices used by some Windows software manufacture to make sure that purchased software isn't used by people other than the owner. However, Olivier Caputo reports that while the HASP USB dongle from Aladdin Knowledge Systems (no relation to the Aladdin Systems of StuffIt fame) does not work with Virtual PC 4 and 5, it does work with Virtual PC 3.

I have no problem with VPC 3, but with VPC 4 and 5, it is impossible for me to use software which is dongle-protected ( by the Aladdin USB HASP product).

I already had a contact with Aladdin tech support that finally said USB Hasp keys are unsupported [on Virtual PC].

August 8, 2002
Eric Sohn

Tried it first with Win XP Home, now with Win 98. No dice. Connectix has been no help. Will try to get a VPC 3 copy, because I have *one* lousy application which needs USB HASP support.

If you've seen this behavior, please let us know.

Virtual PC slowdown in Jaguar

September 19, 2002 -- Connectix recommends the OS X 10.2.1. We have reader reports on the effect of 10.2.1 on VPC below, which does seems to improve the problem. A reader also sent an interesting theory (below) as to what happend with 10.2 to cause the problem.

August 30, 2002 -- Connectix has confirmed our August 27 report (below) that Virtual PC is significantly slower in Mac OS X 10.2 than in v10.1.5. The company is working on an update. Connectix also suggested turning off the PC sound and closing the PC List to improve performance:

Connectix has recently been made aware of a new performance issue between Virtual PC for Mac version 5.0.4 and Jaguar (Mac OS 10.2). The problem does not seem to exist with Virtual PC version 5.0.4 running on either Mac OS 9 or Mac OS 10.1.5. Connectix is actively working with Apple to find a solution to the problem. In the meantime users have found the following two workarounds helpful in improving Virtual PC's performance under Jaguar.

1. Disable sound

Open the global Virtual PC Preferences from the Virtual PC menu. Select Sound and choose "Disable all PC sounds". Restart Virtual PC for the change to take effect.

2. Keep the Virtual PC List closed or minimized when it is not in use."

Teresa Mahler
Product Line Manager, Mac products

Descriptions of the problem

August 27, 2002
John Zurlo

I am writing to let you know of problems between VPC 5.0.4 and Jaguar. Lots of people have written to the Connectix online forum complaining that their processors become bogged down, as can be seen in CPU monitor, when VPC is being run. The result is slow performance, jerky mouse movements and some crashes. I have experienced the same problem. Connectix is apparently aware of the problem and promises a fix fairly quickly.

August 27, 2002

Overall VPC 5.0.4 is no longer usable in 10.2, it was somewhat usable in 10.1.5. I switched to OS 9 and VPC and PocketMac connects to my PocketPC fast without any problems via USB... Based on other comments on good performance 10.2 with G4s and my bad experience, I would not have upgraded my G3 400 to 10.2.

August 30, 2002
Ralph Muse

I have just upgraded to OS X 10.2 and VPC 5.0.4. Now the VPC (running Windows 2000) hogs then CPU and is constantly accessing the disk. Process Viewer shows readings of 60 percent to 90 percent for CPU and memory:

Virtual 351 MB
Actual 284 MB

I can still use the computer but everything has slowed down to a crawl. VPC has always worked great before.

August 30, 2002
Stuart Thayer

Just want to confirm the VPC problems in Jaguar. My speed difference is about 50 percent.

August 30, 2002
Lee B. Neuman doesn't see the problem

I am running VPC 5.04 on a Quicksilver 1 GHz DP with 1 GB of RAM. I have had no problems with VPC and Jaguar. Processor usage seems to be less under Jaguar. VPC loads at least 30 percent faster under 10.2 than with 10.1.5. I run Classic and at least 10 applications as well as VPC.

Reports of OS X 10.2.1

September 20, 2002 -- Several reader wrote to say that the recently released Mac OS X 10.2.1 upgrade does work better with Virtual PC, as Connectix claims. Jim Pereira found that the 10.2.1 upgrade fixed a VPC problem with cursor freezes:

After just completing the OS X upgrade, I returned to a project that I am working on that requires the use of AutoCAD 2000LT. Prior to the upgrade, I was experiencing cursor freeze up very frequently. My progress was slowed to the point where I eventually quit and put off the work until I returned to my central office PC.

Now, with the upgrade in place, VPC and AutoCAD 2000LT are running flawlessly. Very fast!

September 20, 2002
David Stock is less impressed with performance:

Using VPC 5.0.4 on OS 10.2.1 has significantly improved the startup/shutdown process as well as not locking up the machine when the VPC shuts down. No significant speed improvements of the speed of the PC while running, though.

September 20, 2002
Kevin Wojniak notices some performance increases:

I have noticed that Loading and Saving the state in Virtual PC 5.0.4 is much faster. Also, performance has increased slightly, but it is noticeable.

September 20, 2002
Jeff Pollard report that SMB browsing works better:

Mac OS X 10.2.1 is perfect so far: Web pages definitely load faster, Entourage doesn't crash and sputter under a load, and (best of all) SMB browsing finally WORKS! I can see all of the PCs on my subnet in the Connect to Server window. Very nice update--Snappy, even.

September 23, 2002
Daniel Foshee

I have noticed that the startup times are faster; shutdown times are unaffected. However, overall I have seen a drastic decrease in performance. For example, when using Network Associates' Magic Help Desk (a so-called "browser-based" solution that nonetheless requires you to use a PC, because it apparently uses Visual Basic, and not too well; horrible, horrible piece of software), queries take longer, Windows take longer to refresh, open and close. It was bad with VPC 5.0.4 and OS X 10.1.5, but this is much worse.

I don't think that this is ENTIRELY Magic's fault, as I've noticed decreases in our custom apps, Office 97 and Acrobat 4; Magic's glacial speed is by far the most dramatic, though.

Theory as to why Jaguar runs VPC slower than does OS X 10.1.5

September 23, 2002 -- To discover the cause of the great slowdown that Virtual PC has when run in Mac OS X 10.2, Henrik Thorburn turned to the Unix top program in the OS X Terminal application. Based on what he saw, he speculates that Apple made a change in the way Jaguar caches files from previous versions.

I just read some of the discussion going on at MacWindows about the slowdown in Virtual PC 5.04 on Mac OS X 10.2...I think the CPU is not the bottleneck in this particular case, but instead the hard disk (and RAM) is. At least so is my theory.

If you run Virtual PC and "top" in the Terminal app you can see a few interesting things. First the CPU load is hardly ever at 100 percent, which means the CPU has idle time and cannot be the bottleneck. Further, you can see that the kernel is swapping quite a lot .

I recently upgraded from 512 to 1024 MB of RAM just to solve this problem, but that didn't do the trick either. The reason for this is that the Jaguar kernel caches the Virtual PC file system (the file) in main memory (RAM) to allow faster access. This is standard UNIX procedure, since it will heavily increase performance due to relaxing of disc access. But when a file is very large (several Gigabytes), it is not so "very smart" to cache it. i.e,.. if the file is larger than the RAM size, then the file will be cached onto the "swap", i.e. back to the disk. This whole procedure generates loads of disc-access, which generates the slow performance in Virtual PC.

So my guess is that Apple changed the file caching policy from 10.1 to 10.2, and for some reason configured the kernel to cache even very large files.

We would like to point out that an easy way to run the top program in Mac OS X 10.2 and later is to open the CPU Monitor Utility, go to the Processes menu, and select Open Top. This will launch Terminal, type in the appropriate commands and launch the top monitoring program.

Suggestion for workaround based on this theory

September 25, 2002
Henrik Thorburn adds to his theory of why Virtual PC slows down with Mac OS X 10.2 with a workaround, which he says has to do with disc caching. He suggests creating a VPC disk image of fixed size, install Windows on it, then access all Windows apps on another disk image, shared via VPC's network mapping feature. Thorburn's report:

I did some additional tests last night, I installed Windows 98 on a 500 MB fixed size-disk in Jaguar. Performance was great, no swapping, no freezing etc. So I conclude that my theory is correct.

There are a few "workarounds" possible for the eager mind. One is to install the Guest OS on a small fixed-size disk (must be smaller than the total available RAM), and then install and run programs over the network, like mapping the "Dropbox". That means that "C:" will contain only Windows, and all other data will be accessed over the "network," directly to the Jaguar file-layer. Significant improvement guaranteed.

Also avoid using dynamic resize disks, since that will generate more disk access.

A last resort is to add a huge amount of RAM. Please remember that Jaguar should have at least 384 MB of RAM for itself, so if you want a 1 GB disk for Windows, you need 1.5 GB RAM.

If you try this approach, please let us know how it works out.

Problems with a Jaguar USB connection to PocketPC

August 27, 2002

I installed OS 10.2 over 10.1.5 on a B&W G3 400 MHz with Sonnet ATA100 (2.2.3 firmware) and 2x40gb drives. Overall speed is the same as 10.1.5 but the feel is better. Major problems with USB connectivity with my PocketPC via VirtualPC or PocketMac, it no longer works. Seems to be an OS X / OS 10.2 problem.

Looks like several fixes are needed and for me the first is USB speed and connectivity.

BTW: PocketMac and PocketMac Pro are excellent connectivity software for the PocketPC.

August 30, 2002
Brad Wilder

I was relieved to hear that I'm not the only one who has met with disaster when upgrading to 10.2. PocketMac stopped working completely. VPC 5.04 does the same temporary cursor freeze; and it does it even with VPC in the background.

I have talked to the PocketMac people several times over the last week regarding the 10.2 problem and the fact that after PocketMac is installed, ActiveSync will not work in VPC. They said that they have had no problems with 10.2 and have never tried to use PocketMac and ActiveSync via VPC on the same machine.

November 1, 2002
Nono Kusuma has a problem using Virtual PC in Mac OS X 10.2 to sync a Clie hand held to Exchange Server:

As other readers have problems with Pocket PC syncing in VPC 5/Jaguar, I have a similar problem syncing my Clie to the Exchange server from my TiBook. Currently, I can sync my CLIE to Exchange under VPC 5/OS 9.2 without any problem. Under Jaguar, though I enable USB in Win 2000 setting, the hotsync in Win2K did not response at all when I press sync on my CLIE (though the Palm Handheld shows up under USB detection). It seems that VPC 5/Jaguar does not handle USB syncing well.

On the same TiBook, I successfully tested my CLIE syncing to Mac Palm Desktop running in Jaguar via MissingSync. So it's definitely VPC 5-Jaguar-USB combination.

If you can verify this problem or offer a fix, please let us know.

Kernel panics with Virtual PC 5.0.4 on Jaguar

November 1, 2002
Dennis Hill

On a G4 733, Mac OS X 10.2.1, 1 GB RAM, the kernel panic message ("You need to restart your computer") appears awakening from sleep after every VPC session (Win2K allocated 512 MB RAM). Following are the details from /Library/Logs/panic.log:

panic(cpu 0): 0x300 - Data access
Latest stack backtrace for cpu 0:
0x0008598C 0x00085DBC 0x00028B8C 0x0008F688 0x000926F8

Proceeding back via exception chain:
Exception state (sv=0x202FCC80)
PC=0x210CE540; MSR=0x00009030; DAR=0x00000000; DSISR=0x40000000;
LR=0x210CE540; R1=0x190BBDF0; XCP=0x0000000C (0x300 - Data access)

0x0002E6D8 0x00204CB0 0x00204C74
Exception state (sv=0x1FF19280)
PC=0x00000000; MSR=0x0000D030; DAR=0x00000000; DSISR=0x00000000;
LR=0x00000000; R1=0x00000000; XCP=0x00000000 (Unknown)

I really like the VPC implementation of Win2K for OS X and it runs fast enough for what I need. But until I can get this kernel panic figured out, I have to reboot OS X after each VPC session.

Kevin Spencer
February 19, 2003

I've lately experienced kernel panics while using Virtual PC 5.0.4 running with Virtual Switch active Windows 2000 and Windows XP. When I turn off the Virtual Switch, things are OK except that VPC becomes useless to me--I cannot authenticate my PC environment to the domain or use VPN software installed there. Recently, when I last experienced this, Classic was running, but so were a few other Mac OS X applications. Classic wasn't running during the earlier panics, but a few other applications were.

This is a recent development. Before things started to go awry, I installed the Netlock Contivity VPN client for Mac OS X, which uses a kernel extension, as well as a demo of Extensis Suitcase 10. I found the Netlock client to have stability issues and it caused kernel panics when applications were in full screen mode and had network access.

My system was connected by normal Ethernet and not using the VPN at the time of the crashes. I'll have to uninstall the VPN software to see if Virtual Switch kernel panics remain to make it my prime suspect. As a precaution, I switch off other apps such as Microsoft Entourage, Internet Explorer, and Safari beta before using VPC in hopes this avoids conflict. However, aside from the point that Virtual Switch is definitely the catalyst in the kernel panics with VPC, I haven't a pattern. I am definitely wary of applications that add kernel extensions like Netlock and Norton Utilities 7.

Michael Cowdroy
February 19, 2003

I'm running a G4 dual 1 GHz MDD and I've had Virtual PC 5.04 crash running Windows 98 and Mac OS X (10.2.3) after I save all and Quit. After VPC quits the Mac freezes. The only way to restore is to Shut down by continually pressing the Start Up Button. This has happened twice in about 3 weeks.

Suggested fixes

February 19, 2003
Robert de Bie offered a fix:

I had the same problem before. I solved the problem by rebuilding the disk via the VPC menu.

October 27, 2003
Steve Maratea reports having a problem with Virtual PC 5 crashing with Mac OS X 10.2.6. He says Mac OS X 10.2.8 fixed the problem:

Being a regular reader, I have not seen any comments regarding the compatibility of VPC 5.0.4 with OS 10.2.8. Like many other readers, I had the crash issue with VPC and 10.2.6. I have recently performed a clean install of 10.2.8 (on a QuickSilver Dual 1 GHz with 1.5 GB RAM) and then installed VPC 5.0.4. I've been using VPC regularly for over 2 weeks now (no OS X reboots required, as usual) with no crashes. In my case, the most recent Apple update solved the 10.2.6 kernel panic / crash issue when quitting VPC.

November 24, 2003
Simone Dell'Agnello

I had a dynamically expanding hard drive. Via di VPC Drives menu I turned it into a fixed size disk (2GB). Since then I didn't have any crash like before.

Also, turning off virtual memory in Win 98 speeds things up. Now it's usable.

Network connections dropping in Virtual PC 5.0.4.

January 29, 2003
Daniel Foshee

We're seeing a problem four users running Mac OS X 10.2.3 and Virtual PC 5.04 with Windows 2000. At least twice a day the users (who have mapped drives in Windows 2000) get errors about the connection being terminated. This mainly happens in custom apps that require a mapped drive, but also with Windows Explorer. The error messages:
DataWindow Error
Select error: ct_cmd_alloc(): user api layer: external error: The connection has been terminated.

Program Error
NAble.exe has generated errors and will be closed by Windows. You will need to restart the program.
An error log is being created.

An error occurred while reconnecting F: to \\tysona\pdflables
Microsoft Windows Network: The local devices name is already in use. This connection has not been restored.

We have one user (also on a Mirror G4, same config) who's still on OS 9, with VPC 5.04, and she doesn't have this problem.

The network connections and the cables themselves check out fine, as does the Mac hardware. Since I'm unwilling to let the users have root user access or use Pseudo (per Connectix's Knowledge Base Article #4670), I can't use Shared Networking; the Virtual Switch is my only option. FWIW, the Macs use a static IP, while the VPC uses DHCP. This connection drop-off happens whether I use the Default or Built-in Ethernet setting in VPC's Preferences.

My best guess at this point is that either the server (also a Win 2000 box with Services for Macintosh) or the OS X clients are disconnecting due to inactivity. My NT guys are claiming it's the OS X and that I should get an XServe. I'd love to get one, but I'm not sure that would solve the problem; it seems to me that if multiple people are having the same problem, same errors, then it's server-based. Thing is, short of getting in the Terminal, I don't know where you would modify that in OS X, if you even could. For that matter, I'm not sure where you'd modify that on the server.

Problem occurs on three Mirror/Wind Tunnel 1 GHz G4s, 1 GB RAM and one DP 450 MHz Graphite G4.

February 10, 2003
Locatel Sabana Grande responded to our January 29 report of Virtual PC 5.0.4 with Windows 2000 dropping network connections. This reader sees one of the three error messages:

Regarding the error "Windows An error occurred while reconnecting F: to \\tysona\pdflables Microsoft Windows Network: The local devices name is already in use. This connection has not been restored"

I am having the same problem, but I am running a Windows 2000 Pro PC Pentium III, with a Windows 2000 server. PC vs PC, no Mac installed. It has nothing to do with OS X. I have not found the solution to this problem.

February 13, 2003
Daniel Foshee report about broken network connections in Virtual PC 5. Other users have reported seeing the same problem in real Windows PCs. Here is Foshee's update:

This is an update to the problem I originally posted. I hesitate to call it either a solution or a workaround, though. In talking to the users, preparatory to re-creating the image, I noticed that they were leaving their Virtual PCs up and running 24/7; I had told them to leave their Macs on during the night so that they could do that OS X maintenance thing at 3-4 am.

My theory (at the time) was that there was some sort of timeout was going on while the VPC was on in the wee hours, and the Win2K server disconnected the VPCs after a period of inactivity. I advised the users to shut down the VPC every night and keep the Mac running. It's been a little over a week and so far no errors on any of the machines.

February 13, 2003
Bryan Walls is another user who see this on a real Windows PC:

I see this all the time on my Win 2000 system on a Wintel box. Sometimes it won't happen for days, sometimes I'll have 40 dialog boxes piled up. Having one or two over night seems common. Have figured out the cause.

February 26, 2003
Dan Warne

In reference to your report of disconnected network drives, I have seen this too, on my Windows 2000 machine at work (real PC).

It mainly seems to happen when I leave the machine on overnight, so I can only assume that the network disconnects network clients overnight for some reason. It's a bit hard for me to find out since we are a very large company with a huge computer network -- not easy to know the right person to ask.

If you've seen this problem or can help, please let us know.

Tip: turn off Win VM to improve VPC speed

June 16, 2003 -- Joshua Braun found a way to increase performance for Windows 98 running in Virtual PC 5 on Mac OS X:

I have an interesting tip for Virtual PC (v5.0.4) and Windows 98 that seems to speed things up quite a bit for me on my PowerBook FireWire (G3 400 MHz). I got to thinking about the memory usage and how it seems silly to have two virtual memory systems going at once. When both Window's virtual memory system and the Mac OS X's virtual memory system are running they are using more resources than necessary--even fighting for them on my machine where I have only 396 Mb of RAM. I decided to try switching off the Windows virtual memory system and have noticed a significant improvement in Windows 98 SE.

As far as Virtual PC settings--I have upped the allotted memory to just below where it indicates that there will not be enough resources left for the Mac OS. (In my case 228 Mb.)

I've only tried this on my own computer.

June 23, 2003
Al Pawlowski

Turning off VM in Win 98 SE speeds my VPC up also. In OS X and VM off, it is just about as fast as when running OS 9. Turning VM off in OS 9 also seems to speed VPC up under OS 9 (not Classic), but not nearly as much as in OS X.

I run a 700 MHz iMac with OS 9.2 and OS X v10.2.6. I only do OS X for testing now, but a Win 98 app that I run regularly runs fast enough with VM off to make me seriously think about switching to X full time; if it (X) supported my older USB Dock (for SCSI Zip and StyleWriter) and USB/IDE drive box (LS120 super drive), it would be a sure thing. OS X is nice, but it sure dropped a lot of legacy I/O support and its printing interface is much slower and harder to use than OS 9's Chooser.

June 23, 2003
Jim Pace told us:

Yeah, it seems to speed things up a bit. Im running VPC on a 933Mhz G4 with 1024 MB of ram and 384 mb ram set up in Windows 98 SE.

If you've tried this on your computer, let us know it works for you.

VPC 5 crashing problem fixed with 10.2.8

October 27, 2003
Steve Maratea reports having a previously reported problem with Virtual PC 5 crashing with Mac OS X 10.2.6. He says Mac OS X 10.2.8 fixed the problem:

Being a regular reader, I have not seen any comments regarding the compatibility of VPC 5.0.4 with OS 10.2.8. Like many other readers, I had the crash issue with VPC and 10.2.6. I have recently performed a clean install of 10.2.8 (on a QuickSilver Dual 1 GHz with 1.5 GB RAM) and then installed VPC 5.0.4. I've been using VPC regularly for over 2 weeks now (no OS X reboots required, as usual) with no crashes. In my case, the most recent Apple update solved the 10.2.6 kernel panic / crash issue when quitting VPC.

Panther Problems with VPC 5

Several dozen readers report that Virtual PC 5 has severe problems with Mac OS X 10.3. There are also some suggestions below. An issue with permissions seems to be the root of the problem and some suggestions are reported below.

(There are also some reports of Panther problems with Virtual PC 6, but they are not as severe.)

October 27, 2003 -- Dennis Hill says the Windows emulator freezes:

Installed Mac OS X 10.3 on a G4 733, 1 GB RAM. Everything runs fine except VPC 5.0.4 with Win 2000 Pro. At the Windows startup screen the system freezes hard. There's no elegant egress: ctrl-alt-del and CMD-Q are dead. Any other reports of this? Or fixes? Any success with VPC 6 and Panther? It was working fine in Jaguar.

Markus Guske saw a similar problem:

I just installed Panther as an upgrade and it works really great, but Virtual PC 5.0.4 doesn't.

After launching VPC the whole systems crawls. Starting a Win 2K installation took as long as 15 minutes, so I just quit VPC.

November 3, 2003
Daniel Stone

I have version 5 and it is unusable as of Panther on my PBG4 667.

November 3, 2003
Michael Leckman

I installed Mac OS X 10.3 on a 15" Titanium PowerBook G4 1 Ghz w/768 Mb RAM last Saturday and so far all applications are working fine, except for VPC 5, which either freezes on start up or goes so slow that it is unusable, then freezes. The whole system locks up, the mouse disappears or freezes, can't quit from within the application, can't log out, and I can't force quit from the finder. The only way out is to reboot using CMD-CTRL-Start button.

November 3, 2003
Jim Clark:

I, too, cannot run VPC 5.0 under Panther. It gets to the splash screen and nothing else happens. This is not good as I have never found VPC 6 stable in that it has often crashed on "save all and quit" or just when quitting VPC. After that I can never launch VPC 6 again, until I first run VPC 5, save and quit, then launch VPC 6 and discard the saved state left by VPC 5. So when VPC 5 won't run, I am toast. However, somehow I did get VPC to start up in DOS mode (I am using Windows 98 -- I don't know how I did that), I had the option of safe mode etc. (which did not work either) and just used the startup in DOS option. Anyway, after saving the state from DOS, I am able to (temporarily) use VPC 6 -- at least until the next crash.

November 3, 2003
Kevin James Kelly : We ran into the same problem with VPC 5, but VPC 6 fixes the issue.

November 3, 2003
Petr Siemens does not have these problems: "Although it's sluggish, I found it worked with VPC 5.04 and Windows 98"

November 3, 2003
Tom Cody also doesn't have the problem:

I Installed Panther and I have no issues with VPC running Windows 98. It starts up in about 10 seconds. In fact yesterday I installed about 30 MB of MS patches to 98 directly from the VPC window via my Macs DSL Internet connection.

Suggestions for fixes

November 3, 2003
Kenneth Schunk thinks it was a permissions problem:

My new iBook G4 exhibited the same behavior with VPC 5 -- until I ran Disk Utility and verified all permissions. Now Virtual PC seems to be working fine.

January 5, 2004
Justin Lamkin

I concur with Kenneth Schunk's suggestion: after running the disk utility, my VPC V5.0 is installing (I tried twice before and it did not work, although I might add that it was slow as molasses to install on my Dual 450/Panther 10.3/1 Gig Ram). One must wait for the black screen to 'go away' while the install is completing after Windows starts for the first time - this can take many minutes - patience and a 4 am morning are the key. I will now try to upgrade to 6.0 and then 6.1. RAM settings chosen during Install Process: 196 MB

All seems to be running OK on preliminary basis.

January 5, 2004
A reader who wishes to remain anonymous reports a fix for getting Virtual PC 5 to run in Mac OS X 10.3:

I'd like to confirm a thread on Apple Discussion boards.

After reinstalling Panther 10.3 from scratch, applying the 10.3.2 update, and installing VPC 5 and its 5.0.4 upgrade (precisely in that order), VPC 5.0.4 is working great for me, a bit slower than under Jaguar and barely noticeable, but still very usable on my G3/500! I also haven't applied *any* Apple updates - they might break VPC 5.0.4 (again!)!

I'm running VPC 5.0.4 with PC Additions & Windows 2000 SP4 with all available critical updates.

Hope this helps ... please keep it working, Apple!

Suggestion for speeding VPC 5: disconnect DSL. July 27, 2004 -- John Symons reports that disconnecting DSL increased performance with Virtual PC 5.0.4:

On my iMac (OS X 10.3.4) I could not get beyond the initial startup screen with VPC 5.0.5 (Windows 98 SE). I tried disconnecting the network. This made no difference.

I noticed that while it was attempting to do so it was interrupting the clock. It would stop for a few seconds and then catch up again. I checked out all the permissions, and corrected as appropriate, but to no avail.

I then disconnected my ADSL connection, and tried again. This time, Bingo! Everything loaded as required, first Windows 98 SE and then Office 2000. The Office applications run OK, speed about the same as my OS 9.2 iBook, perhaps a little faster.

I then powered down, and reconnected the ADSL modem. Back to square one, so very, very slow. I disconnected using the software, but with no avail. It looks as if the Internet connection has to be physically disconnected.

Tony Paton

I can confirm that there does appear to be an improvement in performance when the computer is physically disconnected. (Mac OS X 10.3.4 on PowerBook G4 1.5 GHz ) The only problem is that being disconnected isn't going to suit anyone who wants online capabilities. How do we get round that?

August 2, 2004
Jason Froikin offers a theory:

It's quite possible that's caused by an UNPATCHED copy of Windows and an un-firewalled DSL connection. Us Mac users are spoiled and hardly suffer any obvious ill effects from plugging into an unprotected Internet connection. Windows, on the other hand, will find itself bombarded with various requests from viruses and worms, and even on a PC will start to display strange symptoms.

If you've seen this

VPC 5 works with Tiger

Despite incompatibities with Panther, VPC 5 seem to run well in Tiger.

"Red Shift"
May 23, 2005

On my 2 G4s (an iMac and eMac) I had given up with VPC 5.04. It had worked under 10.2 Jaguar but under 10.3 Panther it was clearly broken beyond redemption: ultra-slow with frequent crashes.

However once I had installed 10.4 Tiger on a whim I decided to give it another go. To my surprise apart from an initial moan that the Virtual Switch kernel extension could not be loaded (and therefore Virtual Switch networking was unavailable), it has run flawlessly. Windows 2000 Pro is booting in under 90 seconds on a G4 1.25GHz. I am really impressed!

June 2, 2005
Vince Cammarata:

Virtual PC 5.04 indeed does work on Tiger. After having to boot into OS 9 for the few times I needed to convert some embedded Kaleidagraph files in Word docs, I find that I no longer need an OS 9 boot volume. Tiger runs VPC just fine. I wonder what got "fixed?"

June 2, 2005
Rob Rohan:

Yes, VPC 5.0.4 works well in Tiger. I run XP, 98 and Debian on it and it works surprisingly well. I've also just got VPC7 which works too (aside from the non Virtual Switch, which is a pain).

September 19, 2007
Ken Cluff

I bought a copy of VPC5.0 from eBay. Installed it on a Dual 500 G4 PowerMac, Gigabit of RAM The Power Mac is running 10.4.10. Virtual PC runs without a hitch. I'm running Windows 98 to keep the RAM requirements down and the Windows overhead as light as possible. I get a network kernel extension error of some type when VPC starts, but since I'm not interested in networking the virtual machine, it's a non-issue for me.

Not bad for a piece of virtual machine software that hasn't been tested for Mac OS X in half a decade. Virtual PC 5 is incompatible with the PowerPC G5 processor (and any Intel processor), but works with the G4. The current version of Virtual PC, 7.0.3, is still sold by Microsoft for PowerPC Macs.

If you've tried to run Virtual PC 5.0.4 in Tiger

Forward into the Past: running VPC 5 on Leopard

Monday, September 15, 2008

Ken Cluff reports success running the old Connectix Virtual PC 5 on Leopard (on a PowerPC Mac). Virtual PC 5, released in December 2001, was the first version of the PC emulator to be compatible with Mac OS X. Cluff reports:

I'll cut to the chase here: Virtual PC 5 runs on Leopard!

Here are the details:

  • Dual 500 MHz PowerPC G4
  • RAM 1.25 GB
  • After market CoreImage capable video card
  • Leopard 10.5.4

Virtual PC 5.0.4 is running Windows 98 as the guest OS. As you might guess from the host CPU, it's rather slow, but it runs. It's too slow to develop on, but for making sure the software I write runs on Windows, it's enough.

No version of Virtual PC runs on Intel Macs.

For more on this old emulator, see our Virtual PC 5 Reports page.

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