run old versions of Windows on your machine – Virtual PC for Windows

Reviewed by Roger Frost (for Times Educational Supplement 2000)

Better known on Apple machines where it lets Mac devotees run software for Windows, this Virtual PC is a mind-bogglingly useful tool. It lets you run another copy of Windows on your PC desktop. Strange as that is, it offers formidable advantages for both teachers and techies. In class, you can run old software that doesn’t work on current systems, or you can do as they do in East Lothian schools, and train people on different operating systems. What’s more, you can set the Virtual PC so that should the student wreck havoc upon it, viruses included, the original PC can be restored very easily.

By having a spare machine on their machine, technical users gain a test bed where they can try out software without spoiling and needing to rebuild your machine. They can compare different versions of Word or different Internet browsers in ways that might need a separate set up. And they will surely stare agog as you run Windows 2000; Win 95; Linux and OS/2 on the same screen. That I was able to install a pile of software on such a ‘PC’, and copy the package to a laptop machine, takes this tool from being handy to being a godsend. What’s needed is a souped-up, though not necessarily costly, machine – to run two operating systems at once you need twice the memory and hard disc and then more for more as you’d expect. If machine performance isn’t 100%, the advantages on offer will more than fascinate. 

Virtual PC for Windows: street price £149 + VAT; favourable education prices through education outlets such as LT Scotland. Web: www.connectix.com

Features 5*

Suitable 4*

Ease of use: 4*

Ease of set up: 2*

Value 3*

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