February 20, 2003: Microsoft Buys Virtual PC

by Chris Seibold Feb 20, 2011

No hardcore Mac user will ever admit that Windows is better than OS X for anything, but denials aside, there are times when even the most loyal Mac user is forced to use a Windows only program. The remedy of choice in such a situation is Virtual PC, a program that let users run the execrable Windows OS on their Mac.

Virtual PC isn't the fastest way to run Windows. Still, if you just need a tiny bit of Windows to get by, the solution is more than adequate and, in fact, is an absolute necessity for some. Hence, when Microsoft announced that they would be buying Virtual PC, a significant number of Mac users were suddenly very scared. Rumors swirled that the Redmond giant was buying Virtual PC to kill it e ntirely or to hobble it so that Windows apps wouldn’t run faster under emulation on the G5 processor than the apps ran on Windows boxes.

The rumors were baseless. Microsoft was actually interested in Virtual PC for running virtual servers, but the actual reasons don't matter when an archenemy is buying the only thing keeping a lot of Mac fans from becoming Wintel customers. Mac users felt their paranoia rising to previously unimaginable levels for no good reason on February 20, 2003.


  • No good reason?  Might want to update this entry, As MS *did* kill of VPC.

    jcbeckman had this to say on Feb 20, 2007 Posts: 1
  • Actually, from my experience, the rumors aren’t completely “baseless”. I’ve been a VPC user since v4. I kept up with it to v6, the last version Connectix made, using both Win98 and XP builds, on a 1.5ghz G4 PowerBook. v6 integrated with XP extremely well, and I was really pleased with the performance.

    After Microsoft bought the property, I tried a v7 upgrade on the office machine - a dual 2.0 ghz G5 tower. Unsurprisingly, it didn’t run as well as v6 on the home laptop. As always, when the Borg assimilate something, they take what isn’t broken and “fix” it, in order to put their stamp of ownership on it. They usually fail miserably, as in this case.

    When I finally traded in the G4 for a MacBook Pro last month, I decided to make the move to Parallels. I’ll never look back. The performance of Parallels astounded me, far surpassing the v6 Connectix build I relied on for years. As I only use Windows when forced to, concepts of “brand loyalty” are meaningless. Microsoft, by it’s inaction in this realm, is sending a clear signal that they really don’t care about the consumer desktop - they wanted to get their hands on some virtualization technology they could apply in the server farm - something they couldn’t do themselves. It’s not in their long term economic interests to enable their OS to run effectively on alternate platforms. With the success of Parallels, they can now claim VPC is irrelevant and let it die.

    I never forgave Connectix for selling out to Microsoft, as they made great products that would subsequently be ruined by their new owners.

    tao51nyc had this to say on Feb 20, 2007 Posts: 45
  • From my point of view, the role of “software” and “virtualisation” is grossly overrated here.

    In reality, VPC’s performance always more than sucked. It never delivered anything CLOSE to the real thing. I couldn’t even use it to enter some simple guitar tabs.

    So, from my viewpoint, I believe that affordable fast PC hardware became the true enemy of VPC.

    For maybe less than about twice the amount of money that VPC cost, you could buy a reasonably fast, un-sluggish, real PC that allowed you to do not only Windows, but Linux as well; some time later, you’d get them with multimedia and TV all built in, delivering a stable performance as well.

    Counting all the hours that VPC fiddling cost, and the unacceptable performance, I’d guess that most serious computer users just got themselves PCs instead of eternal-wait-software that wouldn’t perform well.

    I bought an Acer Veriton 3500 back when I started to require Windows and Linux software after realising that VPC would never get anywhere; in the meantime, I upgraded that machine to a more recent Acer pizzabox model, and there’s no looking back.

    swisswuff had this to say on Feb 21, 2007 Posts: 8
  • I still use VPC7 on a dual-2.0 ghz G5 I have at home - but only because VMWare is Intel-only.

    tao51nyc had this to say on Feb 23, 2009 Posts: 45
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