Skip to Content
Skip to Table of Contents

← Previous Article Next Article →

ATPM 8.02
February 2002






Download ATPM 8.02

Choose a format:

Review: Virtual PC 5.0

by Gregory Tetrault,


Developer: Connectix

Price: $99 (with DOS); $199 (with Windows 98); $249 (with Windows 2000); $79 (upgrade).

Requirements: G3- or G4-based Mac with Mac OS 9.1 or Mac OS X 10.1. See for detailed RAM requirements.

Recommended: As much RAM as possible.

Trial: None.


Virtual PC (VPC) emulates Intel Pentium-based hardware. For Mac OS 9 users, version 5 is only a minor upgrade from version 4 (see my review of VPC 4). It adds almost no new features and is no faster than version 4. The reason for the version number increase to 5 is that native support for OS X is provided. VPC 5 runs under OS X where version 4 did not run at all (even in Classic). Don’t get too excited, however. VPC 5 under OS X is about 30% slower than under OS 9.1.


Virtual PC 5 Family


For OS 9 users, a new VPC 5 installation simply requires you to launch the Virtual PC Installer on the CD. You designate a location for the installation, select “Easy Install” or “Custom Install,” then click the Install button. When you first launch VPC, you must enter your name, organization, and the lengthy VPC serial number. The Windows 98 version opens Windows, which then requires you to enter the lengthier Windows 98 product ID key. Windows then looks at your “hardware” configuration and completes its installation process. Installation under OS X is just as easy. OS X users who wish to run VPC 5 under OS 9 or OS X should install the program in OS X. It will be available to OS 9 if you reboot into that OS.

A new feature of VPC 5 is that you can upgrade a previous version of VPC using the full version. (With VPC 4 you needed to use an upgrade version, not the full version. This was annoying to someone like me who had VPC 2 with Windows 95, and purchased the full version of VPC 4 with Windows 98. I couldn’t upgrade my VPC 2 Windows 95 setup.) You must eliminate any saved VPC states before upgrading. The VPC Installer works as described above. It adds your previous version’s set-ups to its list of “virtual machines.”

New Features Compared With VPC 4

  • Support for Windows XP.
  • Ability to completely undo a Windows session.
  • Ability to change video resolution of the Windows virtual machine by resizing its window.
  • Support for DVD-ROM (not DVD video).
  • Native support for OS X.

Using Virtual PC 5

This is essentially the same as under VPC 4. You assign RAM and other properties to each virtual machine.


VPC Settings Window

VPC 5 can run as a resizable window or in full screen mode. (The key command to toggle this has changed to Command-Return.) You can always view Mac OS menus and the VPC 5 toolbar by holding down the Command key. VPC 5 continues to offer extensive AppleScript support, including recordability and the ability to launch Windows programs.


VPC 5 Toolbar Icons at Lower Right of Window


VPC 5 List Window with Two virtual Machines

Speed Benchmarks

Under OS 9, VPC 5 has nearly identical benchmark scores as VPC 4 when testing with PassMark Performance Test 2 under Windows 98. Connectix claims that users running Windows 2000 will get better performance from VPC 5 compared with VPC 4. Benchmark speeds under OS X are 20-35% slower than with OS 9. Connectix has provided information on why VPC 5 is slower under OS X. Connectix hopes to work with Apple Computer to get around the performance problems caused by preemptive multitasking.

Virtual PC 5 Problems

I encountered almost no problems with VPC 5 under OS 9. Bugs that affected VPC 4 have been fixed. OS X users have encountered more problems, which isn’t surprising since this is the first VPC version for OS X. Besides the slow speed, OS X users reported crashes and freezes related to inserting CDs or DVDs, waking PowerBook computers, and using certain USB devices. The first two problems were fixed with the 5.0.1 update. The USB problem will be addressed by updating OS X to 10.1.2.


VPC 5 Help Window Showing Major Topics


VPC 5 ships with a skimpy 28-page printed manual (also included on disk as an Acrobat PDF file). VPC 5 (like its predecessor) includes the Apple Guide file “Virtual PC Guide.” However, this file (accessed from the help menu of VPC) actually launches a Help Viewer document, not an Apple Guide document. The Help Viewer document contains information that is not in the printed manual, but it is no substitute for a good manual. VPC 5 does not even include the PDF-based AppleScript dictionary that came with version 4.

Technical Support

Connectix offers free phone (toll call), e-mail, and Web-based technical support. Updates can be downloaded from the Web site.

Strengths of Version 5

  • Easier to upgrade from previous versions.
  • Support for Windows XP.
  • Can run in native mode under OS X 10.1.
  • Same strengths as VPC 4.

Weaknesses of Version 5

  • Slower under OS X.
  • Same weaknesses as version 4, except serial printer bugs were fixed.


VPC 5 is the best way to run Windows on your Macintosh, unless you play 3D games in Windows. (You have to stick with VPC 2 or 3 for 3dfx hardware support.) Installing and running Windows on your Macintosh computer using VPC is much easier than on a PC. (Unfortunately, it’s much slower.) Mac OS 9 users who have VPC 4 will gain very little from upgrading to VPC 5. The new features are not compelling unless you need to run Windows XP or need to use DVD data disks on a VPC virtual machine. Mac OS X users of VPC 4 will benefit by upgrading to VPC 5. VPC 5 is compatible with OS X and allows you to run VPC in native mode. Although VPC 5 under OS X is slower than under OS 9.1, you gain the advantage of not having to reboot under OS 9 to use VPC. If you need the extra speed you can reboot under OS 9 and still use the same VPC set-ups.

Reader Comments (43)

Fred Kelder · February 3, 2002 - 08:56 EST #1
Hope it works in the long run. I had difficulty closing VPC 4 on OS 9.1/iMac. It said: "Could not close because another version of VPC still active," which was utter nonsense. I Tried to get help. but as is practice with most software providers, they left me out cold in the desert of unworkable products. Others include MacAlly and several game producers. Any idea?

Regards, Fred Kelder
Catherine von Dennefeld · February 3, 2002 - 22:32 EST #2
Hi Fred. I picked up VPC 4 at the January '01 San Francisco MacWorld Expo as a brand-spanking new version over VPC3 to install on my G3 (Mac OS 8.6, then 9.1) on its own partition, etc., with 710 MB of RAM for the system and, therefore, plenty of RAM to allocate to VPC. IT NEVER WORKED PROPERLY.

Customer support only suggested many times to re-install, which is great if you don't need the program or don't count on its functionality to help you do your "due tomorrow" homework.

I lost 3 precious weeks, smack at the beginning of a packed semester. I yanked it off my system, in despair.
It still sits on my shelf, still brand-spanking new.

Do you think I should request a refund? Are any of the good souls at Connectix reading this? ;-|

Is there a lemon law for absurdly non-functioning software?

Kind regards,

Vicki Williams · February 4, 2002 - 13:50 EST #3
I had the same frustration when I first bought VPC 4. On a G4 with plenty of RAM, Win98SE would freeze up and I'd actually have to reboot the Mac each time to get out. I couldn't use anything requiring going online without freezes, couldn't use the system maintenace tools. I tried reistalling, checked the settings, and still had the same problems. I called Customer Support and the guy I talked to admited there had been some problems and advised an upgrade. So I'm currently using 4.0.2 and the upgrade actually did work. I do think it needs more memory than they tell you to work optimally--over 100 MB per virtual machine. Still, the reality is that the older version was a lemon and no libility for Connectix.

Good luck,

Gregory Tetrault (ATPM Staff) · February 4, 2002 - 19:39 EST #4
I agree with Ms. Williams. VPC 4.0 had numerous bugs with variable effects (depending on your hardware and installed software). Nearly all the bugs were fixed with the 4.0.2 update, so you should download it and install it immediately after reinstalling VPC 4. I've been running VPC 4 for months on a beige G3 running OS 9.1 and then OS 9.2. I had almost no problems except the known bug with Epson printer drivers that was fixed by updating to 4.0.2.
anonymous · February 20, 2002 - 11:45 EST #5
VPC 5 is SLOW AS MOLASSES on my G4 867 under the most current OS X. Almost unusable. I felt kind tricked by the upgrade. I hope they can fix it.
anonymous · February 20, 2002 - 13:33 EST #6
You have two choices under OS X. Run VPC normally, and very, very, slowly. Or, kill every other app that's running and run VPC5 alone. Then it's nice and usable. But kind of defeats the purpose of OS X to not be able to run other apps with VPC.
Mark T. · February 20, 2002 - 13:50 EST #7
I've played with VPC 5.0 on a dual 1GHz Power Mac and it was so slow that I would never ever buy it. The colors for VPC were even set to a minimum and it still did not help.

Why doesn't Connectix write VPC so that it could be run in Darwin? There are less layers when in Darwin so it should be much faster.

I think OS X may be getting too complicated with all these layers running. I just want a UNIX OS that is easy to use and looks halfway decent. I think OS X may have gone overboard.
Mike Schienle · February 20, 2002 - 15:30 EST #8
I've seen a bunch of these comments about it being unuseable with OS X and wonder if my requirements are so low, or is there something else going on.

I'm on a Pismo (G3/500 PowerBook with 640 MB RAM), and did my small corporate taxes over the weekend using TurboTax Business on Windows 2000. It was a breeze, except for the part where I had to enter about 100 assets and each one required a recalculation, which took about a minute per asset. Six hours later, I printed directly to my HP 990 over USB, since it didn't print the forms correctly over the standard "through the Mac" printer setup.

I typically use VPC to verify web site designs using Win 98 and Win 2000, and to contact a client through Checkpoint's SecurID VPN over Win 2000. I then use Timbuktu or Telnet to work on the client's systems. I've found it extremely useful and don't have any major complaints about the speed. My network to the outside world is a 384K/384K DSL line with a static IP for the Mac as well as static IPs for each of the PC flavors. Transferring files through VPC is just as fast as using the Mac directly.
Kristi · February 20, 2002 - 17:28 EST #9
Does anyone have benchmarks on VPC5 on OS X? I'd like to switch from PC to Mac, but I need to know how practical it is to use a Mac with VPC.
Mike Schienle · February 20, 2002 - 17:35 EST #10
Check out the MacWindows site for a lot of discussions about VPC. I wouldn't rely on a benchmark for VPC to make your decision.
Mac User · November 17, 2002 - 17:11 EST #11
I just purchased VirtualPC Win 2000. I'm using Mac OS 9.1 and it takes about 5-10 minutes to be useful after startup. After that, it works slowly, but pretty good. I hope Connectix makes some improvements.
Gregory Tetrault (ATPM Staff) · November 17, 2002 - 19:48 EST #12
Mac User - VPC 5 with Windows 2000 should not take 5 minutes to load unless you are running OS 9 on a very old, slow Macintosh (Connectix recommends at least a 400 MHz G3).

Another possible reason for slow response is inadequate RAM assigned to VPC. VPC with Windows 2000 needs lots of RAM--at least 192 MB on your Mac with at least 64 MB allocated to Windows 2000 (and 128 MB recommended).

If you have adequate hardware and RAM, then you may have an extension conflict or some other problem. Try starting your Mac with minimal extensions and see if VPC loads more rapidly. If so, then check to see if any of your extensions is on the Connectix conflict list. (Information is available on their web site.)

Finally, you do not have to perform a full Windows 2000 startup each time. Just Quit VPC and save your current state. The next launch should take only around 30 seconds.
Friendly Reminder · February 25, 2003 - 18:33 EST #13
Just so you Mac users know, Connectix has been bought out by Microsoft! I'm a PC user, but don't get me wrong. I think they are going to ruin a good company. Most likely they will try to kill the backward compatibility of VPC in using DOS, Windows 3.1, and OS/2 since it's IBM. What's more, I think they'll try to make it crash more on Macs. As I recall, didn't Virtual PC start off as a Mac emulating an IBM machine? I just started using this program yesterday and it runs pretty slow even on a 1GHz PC. I'm reading all these Mac users complaining about how slow it is on OS X and I'm scratching my head wondering.

Well, at least it does a half-decent job emulating DOS. I haven't tried emulating another Windows operating systems in it yet, but judging from the speed of running an old very basic DOS game, "Prince of Persia," from one of my favorite game companies, Broderbund Software, which has gone extinct, :-( it runs pretty slow. The Sound Blaster emulation is way off and I'd say the game speed is comparable to running it on a 386/16 MHz. Oh well, at least it allows you to fool around in another environment. I'm going to try and find a really old version of Red Hat Linux and hope it doesn't crawl.

The good thing is you can just uninstall it and never worry about it affecting your hard drive partitions or boot sectors that 3rd party software deals with.

For the Mac users who want to emulate Windows, don't try to use Windows 95/98/98SE or ME. Since these operating systems normally crash often and you're running an emulator on top of that, why take the chance of doubling the headache? They all blow compared to Windows 2000's stability. Don't go to XP. It's just Windows 2000 with a goofy, cartoony interface that wastes a lot of time and computer resources.
Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · February 25, 2003 - 18:51 EST #14
Here's a clarification to this "Friendly Reminder." Microsoft did not, as a matter of fact, purchase Connectix. Microsoft only purchased the Virtual Machine technology which includes Virtual PC.
Ache · February 26, 2003 - 19:56 EST #15
I have a quick question. Is there any way to upgrade the video on VPC 5 so that I can at least play a game like Half Life? It will run the program, but it's incredibly slow. Any suggestions would be wonderful. Thanks.
Gregory Tetrault (ATPM Staff) · March 2, 2003 - 23:56 EST #16
Ache: No. The only way you can play games that require a video accelerator card is to drop back to VPC 2 or 3. Those older versions support Voodoo (3dfx) accelerator cards. Read my VPC 4 review to find out why support was dropped.
Kirk Lorenson · October 19, 2003 - 23:18 EST #17
To make VPC 5 work, you need at least a 500MHz machine and least 1 gig of RAM. You should install the PC versions of printer and scanner software and set up VPC to operate through the LAN--not USB--except for the printer, scanner, and drives if the CD and drives are USB. If not, it can recognize firewire through the Mac via the LAN. I used Windows 2000 and set the memory at 256 megs. If OS X makes things slow, don't use it for this app.
Avinash Maddy · November 5, 2003 - 15:41 EST #18
I am planning to get the 15-inch G4 PowerBook, but the last obstacle I need to resolve before buying is the VPN connection. I want to be able to connect to my work VPN. My company uses Checkpoint Firewall/VPN. However, there is no VPN client for Mac from Checkpoint.

I would like to know if I get Virtual PC with Windows 2000, will I be able to connect to my office VPN? The Windows-based client is Checkpoint Next Generation Feature Pack 4 (NGFP4). Can I run NGFP4 in Virtual PC to connect?

If you can provide any information about this, it would be great. Thanks a lot, in advance.

Adam Megalli · November 23, 2003 - 10:23 EST #19
How do I uninstall Virtual PC and all the PC applications? OMG, it's so slow. I don't like it at all. Please tell me how to uninstall it. I have a G4 with OS X 10.2.8. Thank you so much.
Arnold Monteagudo · December 9, 2003 - 21:56 EST #20
I'm using a Mac G4. I bought VPC 5 in Singapore. I installed it and, upon authentication, it does not accept my administrator name and password. Can you help me solve this problem? I don't know what administrator name and password VPC wants. Thanks. I hope you can help solve this.
Docraven · December 16, 2003 - 17:02 EST #21
Arnold, I had the same problem. I quit the application and it worked after a restart (of VPC--not the computer).
Mestres · January 14, 2004 - 14:25 EST #22
Docraven, how do you do that? I dont have the admin name and password.

Maureen Mulligan · February 29, 2004 - 18:47 EST #23
I have been trying to install VPC 5.0 for two days now. I have a four-month-old 800MHz G4 iBook with 640mb of RAM. I see that slow is normal, but I started installing it yesterday and have yet to see a Windows screen. Every few hours, it completes another step, I answer a question, click Next, get the hourglass, and go watch the snow melt. The Connectix link from the About menu doesn't even work. I got the program with an eMac I bought a year and a half ago. I wish I had done some research on it before I purchased it. I got it "just in case." I would consider the upgrade to 6.0, but since I have never REALLY needed it, I am just too ticked off to give Connectix any more of my money. Now, its Microsoft's baby. Hopefully, it will get better.
thera_pee · April 17, 2004 - 18:11 EST #24
i just bought vpc sealed on ebay.. i have a dual 2.0 g5... i hope it works.. and by the way.. the g5 is WONDERFUL. very pretty.. :D
Gregory Tetrault (ATPM Staff) · April 18, 2004 - 19:50 EST #25
Thera-Pee: You might need some once you discover that none of the available Virtual PC versions works on a G5 Macintosh. We're still waiting for Microsoft to release a G5-compatible upgrade.
eoo · April 22, 2004 - 15:27 EST #26
I also bought VPC-5 at ebay. And I will resell it emediately! In fact you don't have windows on your Mac, because you will need a day (in minimum) to start it and another day to shut it down. - So no way to work with it...
IMac-TFT-800, 17"

Fred Winston Roemflstoss · August 7, 2004 - 11:37 EST #27
Tried to install a VPC 5 on the newest iBook 1.2 Ghz. VPC 3 was much (!) better on a G3 250 mhz with Mac OS 9.2! Total waste of time, too slow. Forget it.
Jimmy Bowens · December 15, 2004 - 20:14 EST #28
Well, I personally think the Virtual PC 5.0 for Mac is exceptionally wonderfull, compared to the other versons. I can do a lot more things than what I limited to in the other versions. I am glad that I made the sacrifice to purchase this programe. And it is worth every penny.
Mitchell Weissberg · July 13, 2005 - 06:56 EST #29
I am running Virtual PC 5.0 under Panther and it freezes upon booting,
will a patch or update fix this?
Mitchell Weissberg · July 13, 2005 - 07:09 EST #30
O, and where can I download it, Virtal PC Upgrade 5.0? Their seems to be no stable web page.
ATPM Staff · July 13, 2005 - 11:06 EST #31
Mitchell - Virtual PC was acquired by Microsoft from Connectix quite some time ago, and it's a pretty safe bet that no incarnation of version 5 will work for you. Version 7.02, however, is fully Tiger (and Panther) compatible:
Gabriel Ella · August 6, 2005 - 13:34 EST #32
Early this year, I bought a used copy of Virtual PC 5.0 with Windows 98SE, in its original box with user manual and Microsoft 25-digit product key. On installing it the product key did not work; however, upon calling
Microsoft support (in India), I was provided another
key that worked like a charm. I was able to use VPC for 5 months until I had a problem with my computer and had to reinstall the software. This time the product key
would not work and I'm stumped as to what the problem
could be. Any help or ideas out there would be much
appreciated. (iMac DVSE 400, 640 RAM, OS 9.2.2)
Karl Cartlidge · September 25, 2005 - 12:43 EST #33
I'm using VPC 6.0 on a 512Mb iBook G4 1.2ghz.
It's not the world's fastest Mac, yet Windows 2000 Server runs perfectly fine. It took around 3 hours to install, but starts up as quick as my old Pentium 2.
In operation there's the occasional pause as applications switch in and out within Windows, but even with Office *and* Visual Studio 2002 *and* Delphi 5 running simultaneously in the 192Mb I've given it, all works fine. Slower to compile due to disk access, once started my apps work at normal Windows speed.
Other than the memory upgrade to 512Mb it's a standard off the shelf iBook with only 5Mb free hard drive space.
I don't understand why others are getting problems, but maybe it's because the Server versions of Windows are less 'fancy'?
Jimmy Stone · October 11, 2005 - 09:36 EST #34
I have a brand new copy of VPC for Mac version 5it is boxed with manuals etc but have lost the serial code. I spoke to Microsoft in Ireland and said i needed to tell them the part number what is it???
Dennis Haack · February 5, 2006 - 04:24 EST #35
anyone have an inead how to uninstall virtual pc--iI have the ancient 3.0 version,and need the space on my old machine.
ATPM Staff · February 5, 2006 - 10:07 EST #36
Dennis - I found instructions for removing version 5. Maybe it'll help:
Steve Graff · March 5, 2006 - 12:10 EST #37
I have been a VPC 5 w/Windows 98 SE user for some time. Recently, I decided to upgrade to XP and didn't think to read the VPC documentation before doing it inside the Windows environment like a regular PC user.

It seems quite a bit slower than 98 was. Is it really better to create a new image and start all over? If so, is there a way to move all the programs and data from the first HD image to the new one?
Jorge Ovando · May 10, 2006 - 23:46 EST #38
Hi there!
I'm a Mac G3 -350 MHz user, running OSX 10.3.9 and want to run VirtualPC, if any for this configuration.
Anyone knows where to download VPC 5 to make a trail??
Thank you everyone who can help me!
ATPM Staff · May 11, 2006 - 09:22 EST #39
Jorge - Microsoft—who now owns VPC—doesn't make this older version available in any form, so your only legal option is to find a copy for sale—eBay or whatever means suits you.

As a reminder, ATPM will not permit links to software offered under the concept of "abandonware." ATPM does not believe in "abandonware" in the terms most people believe.
Pen Helm · May 11, 2006 - 17:43 EST #40
What version of Virtual PC do I need to run it on my Mac mini under OS X 10.4.6?
Chris Ratliff · July 28, 2006 - 10:56 EST #41
Pen, look on ebay, I would say probably version 7 of Virtual PC, but ask the person selling it first. They normally would give the specs for it.
ATPM Staff · August 7, 2006 - 17:39 EST #42
Note to all Virtual PC customers. During the 2006 WWDC, Microsoft announced that it will discontinue development of Virtual PC.

In light of advances with the Intel architecture of the newest Macs, this news is not surprising. It's far better to run a real copy of Windows XP through Boot Camp or some form of virtualization than to use the emulation-based Virtual PC.

ATPM would like to point, however, that this news does not mean that VPC is now free to distribute. It is not. And unless Microsoft posts an announcement and a link allowing free downloads of it, ATPM will not permit download links and installation codes to be posted to our site.
zak · March 18, 2009 - 21:29 EST #43
I purchsed this mac power pc imac g4 a couple of years on ebay and never used it til now. I also bought this virtural pc 5 with win xp sometime last week on ebay. Someone gave me a copy of 3 with Win ME but wouldn't work on this machine. From reading what many people say I have to agree. This program runs slllllow. I have better chances of crossing the street in congested traffic. Hope the powers that be read this and do something about it...thanks

Add A Comment

 E-mail me new comments on this article