Dances With Wolves in Sheep's Clothing
October 4, 1998
I had contemplated for some time on the issue of emulation between Macs and PCs. This was after an earlier article I wrote in which I had erroneously suggested that while there were software emulators for Macs, none existed for PCs. My mistake was promptly pointed out to me by a handful of considerate readers (four, actually), but apart from them, the absence of a mass response seemed to suggest that not many were aware of my oversight. I decided then that, for what it was worth, I would share my new discovery with other readers; if not for anything else, at least it would bring to light the fact that just as there are PC emulators for the Mac, there are also Mac emulators for PCs. It was just the matter of doing the necessary product research on the Web and deciding when to sit down and write the article. Having had the displeasure of reading Hiawatha Bray's recent article on the emulation issue, I thought now would be a good time to revive the subject, and hopefully put things back in perspective.
While there could be others that I don't know about, among the most established software emulators for the Mac are SoftWindows 98 and RealPC by Insignia Solutions, and Virtual PC by Connectix Corp. SoftWindows was singled out by Mr Bray in his article, so I've included the other two for you to read up on in your own time. But it suffices to say that all three products, used in accordance with the developers' recommendations, should work fine. David Every of MacKido has already done an eminent job of categorically silencing all of Bray's hee-hawing, so I won't want to add too much to that. I'll just get to my point about the emulation issue.
Over at the Wintel camp, PCs have their share of Mac emulators too. It's a pity that they're a little behind the times, though. I've listed out four such products below, which were brought repeatedly to my attention by the few readers who emailed me. The last time I checked, only 68k Mac emulation was supported. I emailed the companies for information on possible future upgrades to PPC-emulation, but have received no replies so far. While I don't mean to discredit the developers of these products (and I sure as hell don't know the technology behind software emulation), it is nonetheless evident that these emulators fall far short of their Mac counterparts when it comes to handling the demands of today's computing environment. In fact, these products are disadvantaged by their inherent limitations from serving the very purpose for which they were designed in the first place: to avail PC-users of the most efficient use of contemporary Mac software - by emulating a contemporary Mac hardware environment. It simply means that if some company were able today to release a software product that can enable a Wintel PC to efficiently emulate a G3 PowerMac, the rest can pack up. But that's precisely what Connectix and Insignia have been able to do - allow PowerMacs to emulate Pentium IIs running on Windows 98, no less.
So what is the whole point of Hiawatha Bray's article besides the obvious intent to discredit once again the iMac, and Macs in general?
If Mr Bray wants to write about software emulation, he ought to tackle the subject in its entirety, and not mix doses of it here and there with his concocted scenarios as a sorry excuse to berate the iMac that the Boston Globe was naive enough to get him. Instead, he should compare the products that Connectix and Insignia have with similar products in the Wintel market, so that readers are presented the complete picture. By carefully crafting his words and embedding subtle innuendoes between his lines, he does a great disservice to readers, especially those less gullible than he thinks they are. Worse, he disgraces the peers of his profession.
I thought that having been shown up once before, that the opportunistic columnist would spend some time hiding in the woodwork to ruminate his folly, particularly since the computer he had predicted would flop miserably has been doing pretty well so far. (OK, so I wasn't exactly right.) Let's hope it will eventually dawn upon him that getting people to read his columns as he writes them now is irresponsible and downright despicable. But then again, I wouldn't hold my breath.
Finally, here are the software emulators for PCs I had talked about. Maybe Mr Bray would like to repeat his mind-boggling experiments by installing these emulators on his 120Mhz Pentium-powered PC and then try running a Mac-based browser and some Mac games, perhaps? I would sure look forward to reading the results in one of his future columns.
Fusion - by Microcode Solutions, US$129.95
- Runs in MS-DOS only
- MacOS and ROM required (not provided)
- 68k emulation only, according to product information (dated June 20, 1998).
- However its feature comparison table states that it is PowerMac-upgradable.
Gemulator 98 Pro - by Emulators Online, price unknown.
- Runs on Windows 95/98/NT.
- MacOS and ROM required (ROM provided, but with conditions attached)
- 68k emulation only.
- (Information dated July 17, 1998)
Executor - by ARDI, US$150.
- Runs in DOS, OS/2, and Windows 3/95/NT
- MacOS and ROM not required.
- 68k emulation only.
vMac - by vMac.org, price unknown
- Trust me, you don't want to know about this one - unless you want to emulate a Mac Plus!
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