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View Full Version : Help, I need details about Virtual PC before buying


3rdKidney
May 29, 2004, 09:47 PM
I'm a tried and true mac user and we have 4 of them in our home/business all currently on os10.28. The company we have developing our web site requires us to use a PC if we want to update our site ourselves (which we do) via their software/server over the net. I really don't want to buy a pc just to run Internet Explorer (PC version) to interface with their software. Thus I'm considering buying VirtualPC Windoze emulation software to run on our macs.

My question is, can I install VPC on an external firewire HD and launch it (along with the associated Windows os) from any mac I connect it to, or will MS licensing cause problems with this? I also have the option of buying the version with Windows 2000 or WindowsXP. I think either will work for me, but I've heard bad things about XP. Any advice, experiences or ideas?

Thanks
3rdKidney

ingenious
May 29, 2004, 10:04 PM
Have you asked them if they have a FTP server you can update to?

Sun Baked
May 29, 2004, 10:11 PM
As long as the machine comes with a NIC, a really cheap PC may work a bit better.

Depending on how much you use it, VPC can be rather painful to use.

Horrortaxi
May 29, 2004, 11:03 PM
It's probably too late, but how committed are you to this firm? There shouldn't be any reason you should have to use IE or a PC to update your website. It worries me that a web design firm would lock you into IE--IE is the enemy of most web designer since it breaks all the rules. A firm that designs <i>for</i> IE will probably end up costing you money when IE is finally forced to catch up to the rest of the industry and become standards compliant. All the things that IE currently breaks will have to be fixed and that'll cost you money.

But that's not what you asked.

Yes, you can install VPC on an external drive and use the latest and "greatest" from Microsoft. IE on VPC is usable--for what you need to do you won't experience the pain of VPC. However, don't buy VPC until after you've tried to update your site with every browser you can find on the Mac. There's still IE on Mac--and there's good browsers too. ;) If you fail, then buy VPC--but consider jumping ship on your designer.

MisterMe
May 30, 2004, 12:08 AM
.... The company we have developing our web site requires us to use a PC if we want to update our site ourselves (which we do) via their software/server over the net....

3rdKidneyLet me get this—you hired them and they give you orders? How messed up is that?

I really believe that your webhosting firm is full of it. Windows allows FTP access. In all probability, that firm is using FTP. Although not all Mac FTP clients enjoy equal access to Windows FTP servers, some Mac clients work great. If the webhost's server require Windows, then HorrowTaxi is right. Virtual PC will serve you well. However, you shouldn't spend money that you don't have to spend. You have the URL. Try to access your website with Fetch, Transmit, or another of your favorite Mac FTP clients.

It is your website and it is your money. Act like it!

york2600
May 30, 2004, 12:29 AM
They're obviously using a content management system. They don't use an FTP site since they're just setting a system for them to add content w/o updating the code and worrying about breaking layout. Lots of web design companies do this.

Horrortaxi
May 30, 2004, 12:44 AM
Lots of web design companies do this.

Sure, but why force people (particularly people using a Mac) into Internet Explorer? That's just bad.

ibookin'
May 30, 2004, 01:51 AM
I really can't see buying Virtual PC at $219 or more when you can get a real PC that will perform a hell of a lot better for $300-400, especially for business use, unless you really only need to use IE on Windows once in a blue moon.

Another thing you could try is to throw their requirement out the door and see if their stuff will work on whatever browser you run.

If it says that your browser is incompatible, there's a neat little program called Safari Enhancer (search for it on versiontracker.com) that will allow you to enable a debug menu in Safari, which will let you make it so the server sees your machine as a Windows box running IE 6. Neat trick, and it might solve the problem.

SuperChuck
May 30, 2004, 02:23 AM
Freaking ASP. Lots of web designers use ASP to build a backend user interface so that their clients can update their sites themselves. For some reason, this often leads to incompatibility with Macs (Could it be because ASP = Microsoft?).

If I were you, I would give them an ultimatum - Make it work for my computer or I'll take my business to someone who will. I work for a Mac-based web design firm and we get calls from people like you all the time. I'm not saying drop your web designer and come to us, I'm saying that this is a widespread problem and it can be fixed by THEM. In fact, it should be fixed by them. If they try to argue the point, remind them that the web page you are using to update your site is no different from any other web page with a form in it, and if they can't design a Mac-compatible web page, then they need to find a new business. One of our competitors lost two huge accounts to us before they got their act together. I hope, for the sake of you and your web designer, that they learn a bit faster.

3rdKidney
May 30, 2004, 07:11 AM
Thanks for your responses everyone, but maybe I stated it all wrong because (almost) everyone misunderstood the actual situation. The problem isn't that they require IE or that other browsers won't work, or even that FTP is an issue. The problem is their custome PC only software used to dynamically update and generate my web site pages. Their entire web package is database driven allowing for quick updating by anyone in my company with authority (and a password) to do so. Some of the web pages are dynamically generated on the spot (not unlike the pages on this very web site), thus they frequently update depending on the users input (for example, to a search or answer to an inquiry) or my pseudo-programmin on their "back end". To do all of this, I must connect to their system via a PC as their software only works with Windows systems. Whether I use IE, Netscape, Mozilla... isn't the issue. It's just that although I prefer Safari on the mac, I do know IE and I really want to minimize ANY fooling around on a PC learning and installing new software, thus I'd use IE.

Now I could buy a PC, but from my experience the hardware is just as problematic as the software. I'd be willing to trade the speed of a hardware PC machine for the simplicity of keeping it all on a mac using Virtual PC. Atleast, that's my thinking. I could be wrong. That's why I'm trying to get insight into Virtual PC.

If I can install Virtual PC and Windows on an external drive and shuttle it around, then that has great benefits for me. First, I don't have to "directly" contaminate my mac's hard drives with Windows os and their apps. Thus if Windows corrupts and I have to wipe the drive (something my pc friends seem to do at least twice a year), I won't loose my mac apps/data. And secondly, I'd be able to move VPC around to any of my mac systems depending on who's going to make changes to our web site that day. I won't be limited to dedicating a single mac system for doing web updates.

So any VPC users out there that can tell me the good, the bad, and the ugly about VPC? I'm still very open to suggestions.

Thanks

matthew24
May 30, 2004, 08:05 AM
Only one remark, you can remove VPC totally without reformatting your HD.

wrldwzrd89
May 30, 2004, 08:18 AM
Thanks for your responses everyone, but maybe I stated it all wrong because (almost) everyone misunderstood the actual situation. The problem isn't that they require IE or that other browsers won't work, or even that FTP is an issue. The problem is their custome PC only software used to dynamically update and generate my web site pages. Their entire web package is database driven allowing for quick updating by anyone in my company with authority (and a password) to do so. Some of the web pages are dynamically generated on the spot (not unlike the pages on this very web site), thus they frequently update depending on the users input (for example, to a search or answer to an inquiry) or my pseudo-programmin on their "back end". To do all of this, I must connect to their system via a PC as their software only works with Windows systems. Whether I use IE, Netscape, Mozilla... isn't the issue. It's just that although I prefer Safari on the mac, I do know IE and I really want to minimize ANY fooling around on a PC learning and installing new software, thus I'd use IE.

Now I could buy a PC, but from my experience the hardware is just as problematic as the software. I'd be willing to trade the speed of a hardware PC machine for the simplicity of keeping it all on a mac using Virtual PC. Atleast, that's my thinking. I could be wrong. That's why I'm trying to get insight into Virtual PC.

If I can install Virtual PC and Windows on an external drive and shuttle it around, then that has great benefits for me. First, I don't have to "directly" contaminate my mac's hard drives with Windows os and their apps. Thus if Windows corrupts and I have to wipe the drive (something my pc friends seem to do at least twice a year), I won't loose my mac apps/data. And secondly, I'd be able to move VPC around to any of my mac systems depending on who's going to make changes to our web site that day. I won't be limited to dedicating a single mac system for doing web updates.

So any VPC users out there that can tell me the good, the bad, and the ugly about VPC? I'm still very open to suggestions.

Thanks
Virtual PC has one feature that makes it better than a real PC - Undo Drives. With this, you can make changes, safe in the knowledge that if you mess something up, you can revert to an older, working state. However, only one state can be preserved at a time. Also, the Virtual PC's hard drive is entirely self-contained within a Mac file on your hard disk, so if you want to reformat VPC, all you need to do is delete the hard drive image and start again - no reformat of the real drive needed!

Horrortaxi
May 30, 2004, 11:36 AM
I completely missed that you have to run their software to update your website. Sorry about that but my feelings about your designer haven't changed. I'd still look elsewhere. They're taking something fairly straightforward and mucking it all up.

Okay, VPC: There are 2 things that make VPC run better. Put it on a fast Mac and don't give it much to do. Unlike the Mac OS, Windows gets slower with each release if you keep it on the same hardware. On my dual 1 gig G4 VPC will emulate a 666mhz Pentium 2. Windows 98 is usable and fairly zippy. Windows XP is a dog. Get the oldest version of Windows that will run your software.

The good: It gets you out of jams like this where you need Windows. It also keeps your Windows installation as 1 big file so you don't have to partition your drive or anything. It's very easy to walk away from when you're done.
The bad: It's expensive and slow.
The ugly: You shouldn't need it. Microsoft is going to own us anyway, so why go willingly? You should not need a particular OS to update a website--even in a group environment.

janey
May 30, 2004, 01:25 PM
speaking of VPC... ;)
call me insane, or whatever you want. Mind you, the only non-Windows OS I installed was Gentoo, the others, like Debian, were hard drive documents from other people. And the Fedora one is screwed up, doesnt want to work. And the Windows XP install is crawling so much I dont think I'll finish installing it.
http://applegoddess.org/files/vpcwindow.jpg

btw, has anyone tried getting Windows 2.0 to work in vpc ;)
seems ike an interesting thing to try.

Back on topic: just get a PC. i got a p3 POS from someone for like $80 or something...came with XP preinstalled too, cheaper than VPC and faster as well.

3rdKidney
May 31, 2004, 04:29 PM
Unlike the Mac OS, Windows gets slower with each release if you keep it on the same hardware...Windows 98 is usable and fairly zippy. Windows XP is a dog. Get the oldest version of Windows that will run your software.

...The ugly: You shouldn't need it. Microsoft is going to own us anyway, so why go willingly? You should not need a particular OS to update a website--even in a group environment.

Thank you for the great insight. With this news about the speed, I have more to consider. I need to make a few calls to my (only) pc friend and see if I can get my hands on an older os. He actually wants to sell me his old machine but it's taken me 4 years to weed out all the PCs in my immediate and extended family and "others" involved aren't as pro mac as I am.

Thus the minute a pc enteres my home "everyone" will want to download software to it, fool with it's settings, connect this and that to it etc. I don't have that problem with our macs. PC people are afraid of macs and just retreat disappointedly once they realize they can't (and don't need to) add all of their junk to it to make it a "functional" computer. In the long run, it's better I keep the pc hardware out of my home. I'll spend a lot less time fixing it.

The point about "it's wrong that I should have to go to pc" is well taken. If I knew of an outfit offering the same level of features and expertise for putting together my web site, and was mac friendly, I'd jump and never look back. But I don't know of any and I think I've fallen into what I call "Steve Job's market share illusion". SJ quickly remindes us that Mercedes and BMW are less than 5% of the auto industry market share and the world at large doesn't care. BUT SJ neglects to say that "if these cars were only allowed to drive on roads that were compatible with their car" then BOY THE CAR OWNERS WOULD CARE! The government would look at the cost of making and maintaining roads and highways and say "these guys are only 5% of the cars out there. Forget them and concentrate on the other 95%".

So this is the very situation we find ourselves in as mac users. We must accept the fact that a lot of niche business software will NEVER be ported to the mac because we live in that 5% group where it doesn't pay to do so. Even with all of this, the scale for me still overwhelmingly tips in favor of owning a mac. Just means at some point in our adventures, we'll get zapped by the 5% rule and have to buy VPC and not complain (too loudly). I just personally don't like our commandering chief, Steve Jobs, tries to bolster the troups by saying "it doesn't matter that we're only 5%" when clearly at times it does.

Thanks again.

Awimoway
May 31, 2004, 04:45 PM
Well I feel your pain about the difficulties of weaning your family from PCs. Nevertheless, I think the best solution would be to get a PC and use it through your Mac with Microsoft's free Remote Desktop Connection (http://www.microsoft.com/mac/otherproducts/otherproducts.aspx?pid=remotedesktopclient). Don't even hook up a display to the PC, just use your Macs as windows (heh heh) to the PC. The way I see it, the hardware of a real PC, no matter how unreliable, is surely better than emulating Windows on a processor not designed for it. And I say this as one who, with a dual 867 PowerMac G4, finds WindowsXP on VPC 6 to be quite usable. It's surprisingly fast and mostly stable. But a dedicated, genuine PC would be far faster and much more stable.