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Speed up VirtualPC by using Windows NT 4 Desktop Apps
I have used Virtual PC 5 for a while now and have always been disappointed with the slowness of it all. I have used Windows 98, and Windows XP and found basic things like window redraws and the opening of "My Computer" etc to be really slow. Out of curiosity, I installed a copy of Windows NT 4 Desktop, and was shocked by the improvement. Windows redraw immediately, and clicking on any panel gets me the panel as fast on a real PC. Even clicking the Start button gives me an immediate menu even on my iMac 333.

While I haven't actually checked to see if programs run faster, just having all the windows and menus acting like normal menus makes it all worthwhile. And NT 4 is basically Windows 98, except that it is way more responsive.

[robg adds: I don't have VirtualPC so I can't vouch for this one, but I figured it was worth sharing -- anyone else have any direct experience with NT4 on VirtualPC?]
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Speed up VirtualPC by using Windows NT 4 Desktop | 29 comments | Create New Account
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NT4 is NOT Win98
Authored by: Wayne_S on Feb 26, '04 11:18:29AM
NT4 is what most Windows users consider the first usable and stable version of the NT kernel. That kernel is used for NT4, Win2000, and XP I believe. On the other hand, a different kernel is shared among Win95, Win98, and WinMe. 98 is essentially 95 with some GUI kludges. Win Me supposedly changed more, but I do not know what was changed from 98.

If you are forced to operate in the Windows world for anything, and want a version with any hint of stability, use one of the NT-based kernels.

Off topic comment: one of my favorite acronym redundancies is on Windows boxes that read "with NT technology" - NT stands for New Technology.

Every rule has an exception. Especially this one.

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NT4 is NOT Win98
Authored by: jocknerd on Feb 26, '04 11:59:27AM

Actually NT 4 was less stable than NT 3.51. The biggest reason for this was that the graphics subsystem (GDI) was not part of the kernel in 3.51 but was added to the kernel in 4.0 in order to speed up the graphics.

NT 4 was a decent desktop OS. Much more stable than the DOS-based Windows 95, 98, and ME. The problem with it was with drivers and lack of game support. It was pretty much a business only OS. I ran it for a while at home right after I sold off all my OS/2 software and just before I got into Linux. Now, I'm pretty much using Linux for my servers and OS X for my desktops.

OS X 10.2
Apple Styling, Unix Power

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NT4 is NOT Win98
Authored by: swedentom on Feb 27, '04 09:25:22AM

No, I think Win 2000 is WinNT 5, and XP is 5.1.

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NT4 is NOT Win98
Authored by: Anonymous on Feb 28, '04 12:58:21AM

Actually, NT used to stand for the Intel NT processor for which it was originally going to be developed for.

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Speed up VirtualPC by using Windows NT 4 Desktop
Authored by: raider on Feb 26, '04 11:30:20AM

NT4 not only is *nothing* like Windows 98 (except in name and appearance), but it is also old and outdated - with little support for much of anything useful.

Windows NT 4 was meant mostly for servers and had very little useful for the average desktop person.

Windows 2000 is essentially what you should be using if you want NT at all.

Just be warned, that many things that work in 95/98 will *NOT* work in NT4. Especially, it may be hard to find drivers or support for some things that weren't built with the "Enterprise" work environment - NT4 was designed for offices and as such many commercial home oriented apps or products won't work well with it. Just because it says "Windows" doesn't mean it will work for what you need.

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Speed up VirtualPC by using Windows NT 4 Desktop
Authored by: helicine on Feb 26, '04 11:46:39AM

WinNT4 Workstation was a great desktop OS if you were not heavy into gaming (but many games still ran just fine under it) and not a Server OS. At the time, if you needed a secure multi-user setup, WinNT4 beat the pants off of 98 or 95.

That being said, I'd stick w/ Win2k since it is more stable and far easier to maintain.

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Speed up VirtualPC by using Windows NT 4 Desktop
Authored by: stingerman on Feb 26, '04 01:41:38PM

NT 4 is still used as the OS for 40% of Micrsoft's installed server base. Go figure. I wouldn't throw it away just yet.

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Speed up VirtualPC by using Windows NT 4 Desktop
Authored by: macubergeek on Feb 26, '04 11:59:59AM

It is not being patched anymore by Microsoft.
If you try to apply what patches still exist for it, you will easily have to download 500-600 megs of patches.

If you want to run windows, buy a pc. PC's are dirt cheap these days...just be sure to get one with a minimum of 512megs of RAM

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Speed up VirtualPC by using Windows NT 4 Desktop
Authored by: MacDork on Feb 26, '04 12:18:55PM

If you want to run windows, buy a pc. PC's are dirt cheap these days...just be sure to get one with a minimum of 512megs of RAM

So how do I get that cheap pc into my Powerbook so that I can carry it around? Don't be so quick to judge: VPC has a TON of valid uses.

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Speed up VirtualPC by using Windows NT 4 Desktop
Authored by: g3ski on Feb 26, '04 03:15:37PM

Another box in my office, another powered item, another keyboard, another mouse, another monitor or a KVM, more cable clutter? Long boot times, intalling and maintaining another system, more hardware to deal with?

Sure a new or used PC running at 2Ghz+ is pretty cheap and blows doors on VPC's performance, but it's not free.

VPC launches *very* quickly and is great for periodically testing or viewing web sites, or the occasional use of one windows app.

Plus VPC is so easy to install and maintain, compared to setting up a new PC.

"I want my two dollars!"

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NTFS and VPC 6
Authored by: Sophrosyne on Feb 26, '04 12:59:59PM

I was playing around on Windows XP using VPC6 and I noticed the drive was fat32, I decided to convert it to ntfs and I believe I've noticed a slow-down in performance. Does this make any sense? or am I just imagining things?

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NTFS and VPC 6
Authored by: nlemac on Feb 26, '04 04:48:40PM

Maybe its uses default fat32 because it wount mount it if its ntfs? I dont know, but that might be the issue?

About the performance ntfs is a much more advanced fs and that could be the cause of the slowdown.. Im just guessing here :)


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NTFS and VPC 6
Authored by: raggamuffin on Feb 26, '04 07:57:49PM

NTFS isn't as fast as FAT32, because of the way it clusters files. It's rather an old system and though continuous reads can burst faster than FAT32, random read/writes access can be considerably slower. Also, because of larger cluster sizes (in some cases), NTFS users may end up using more disk space. However, I use NTFS on my Windows 2000 laptop (the only Windows version worth using, and that was before I discovered Panther) primarily because it's infinitely more stable than FAT32. With a FAT volume, any minor loss of integrity can lead to a major corruption (particularly on laptops, where physical damage is more common owing to shaking about). NTFS on the other hand is relatively easy to rescue after a file system crash/corruption. It also has far better security (on-the-fly encryption and compression that would break FAT32 in a second). I have VirtualPC on my PowerBook running Win2k and it's reasonably fast (1ghz g4, 512mb ram). I don't use it very often but it's actually faster than VNCing to my Win2k box.

Further VPC-related tip: when installing, it'll ask for username/password, as most Mac apps do. For ages it rejected my password and as a result, didn't finish the install so I had a semi-functional version. I finally tried using a short username instead of the one it had inserted by default into the Username box (my full name/long username) and hey presto, it worked. Most password boxes can accept either but this one seemed to only take my short username.

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NTFS and VPC 6
Authored by: tsikendu on Feb 27, '04 03:36:05PM

Performance decreases because of the added permission schemas that are found in NTFS, FAT32 had no security.

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Speed up VirtualPC by using Windows NT 4 Desktop
Authored by: Makosuke on Feb 26, '04 01:08:48PM

I too have used NT4 in VPC, and found it to be reasonaby responsive, all things considered. It is indeed old, nearly useless for gaming, and lacks drivers for a lot of newer stuff, but those things are much less of an issue on VPC than a hardware PC--most games are unplayable anyway, and it's not like you're installing any new (internal) hardware, either.

Most general-purpose applications have a version that runs on NT4, and I'm still using it on several physical machines in a real production environment, without issue. And though it may be technically unsupported, a lot of businesses are still using it, and MS is still releasing patches for severe vulnerabilites.

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Speed up VirtualPC by using Windows NT 4 Desktop
Authored by: terceiro on Feb 26, '04 04:51:59PM

Amen to that. Driver support? Security? Games?! I don't care!

I've got Win98 on VPC right now which I use only occasionally, and then for specific reasons. It's more a utility for me than a viable alternative OS experience. When I want to play with another OS I'll boot into my linux partition.

Happily, I've got a set of NT4 CDs in my desk... I think I'll try upgrading my VPC OS and see if it makes a difference. It honestly hadn't even occured to me that NT4 might be faster than the (in my mind) wimpier Win98. Pretty much anything would be better than what I'm doing right now (which is on a 700 mhz iBook).

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Speed up VirtualPC by using Windows NT 4 Desktop
Authored by: vonleigh on Feb 28, '04 02:08:17AM

I unfortunately have to test websites using WinIE (is it me or are they trying to breaking every standard?).

So I'm wondering, what versions of IE run on nt4?

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Speed up VirtualPC by using Windows NT 4 Desktop
Authored by: cynikal on Feb 26, '04 01:13:44PM

I used to use NT 4 under VPC however i ran into a hurdle when i wanted to sync my pocketpc.. namely, no usb support in NT4.

So i migrated reluctantly to win2k thinking no other o/s could be as fast, but as it turns out, win2k is actually pretty fast also.. i posted a pre-installed image i installed with all the service packs and extra software goodies on bittorrent and a lot of people found it useful it seems..

i still have the nt4 image, but it's been superceded and i don't even have it on my hard drive (it's archived somewhere).

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Speed up VirtualPC by using Windows NT 4 Desktop
Authored by: schmitt on Mar 01, '04 07:22:06AM

I am interested in your w2k disk image. Can you give me some details about where I can find your file. Obviously I have to install bittorrent first and then search for your disk image. Nicer would be if I could directly go there after the installation. Regards.

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Speed up VirtualPC by using Windows NT 4 Desktop
Authored by: chrismalanga on Feb 26, '04 04:26:32PM

This is a GREAT HINT!

I have tried all flavors of Windows on Virtual PC (95, 98, 2000, XP) and they all were too slow for my liking. Today, I installed Windows NT 4 and WOW, what a difference. I am experiencing the same fast response as the hint author. Apps run faster, and the GUI is really fast on a Powerbook G4/550.

Thanks for this hint!

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Speed up VirtualPC by using Windows NT 4 Desktop
Authored by: BradMacPro on Feb 26, '04 06:04:51PM

I was always under the impression that Windows 2000 Pro was the most efficient under Virtual PC, but never really tried NT4 as I associated it with server usage, not for applications. Looking forward to VPC7. I have a G5 now.

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Use TweakUI to turn off screen animations
Authored by: firestarter on Feb 26, '04 08:27:25PM

Sounds like you get a slowdown for most of the screen redraw operations. These are the things that Microsoft has added extra eye-candy to on its later operating systems (which won't exist on NT4).

Have you tried the tweakUI utility (Microsoft writes this - check out their site)? Run this on the later operating systems and turn off all the windowing animation.

This may bring other OSes up to the same speed as NT4.

Personally I wouldn't run NT4 - I'd go for W2K.

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Speed up VirtualPC by using Windows NT 4 Desktop
Authored by: gavinque on Feb 26, '04 08:37:01PM

My goodness, once I read the reply thus far I was shock and dismayed by the lack of knowledge of Windows by individuals that use Virtual PC.

Please verify your information. I'm not sure what "Windows NT 4 Desktop" is as the OS name is Windows NT 4.0 Workstation.

As for the responsiveness of the OS with VPC, it due to the graphics requirements (they are different than Windows 2000 and XP to an extent which is very important to VPC performance) and processor issue.

Windows NT 4.0 is was not completely dropped by Microsoft, true that no patches (or enhancements) are planed for release unless significant security risk is involved as stated by Microsoft when they issued statements about Windows 98 support changes and other "end of life cycles" of their products.

Windows NT 4.0 is NOT used only for server use or anything of the like it's not a single use product. Windows NT 4.0 is far more used in large and small corporations on the desktop for end users and servers in the form of Windows NT 4.0 Server Edition and Windows NT 4.0 Workstation which has more life than Window 2000 Advanced Server Edition as it has stability issues, also many find it too costly to upgrade from Window NT 4.0 Server. Microsoft has problems convincing many CIO's to move to Windows 2000 Advanced Server. A bit off the point, sorry I just had to clarify this point. I don't like Microsoft however, lets get our facts straight when using their products including VPC.

VPC version 6.1.0 (particularly with Windows NT 4.0 Workstation):
From extensive testing with most Apple configs users of VPC and G4 processors 450 MHz (dual will preform better) to less than 1 GHz would fair very well with Windows NT 4.0 Workstation + patches. VPC and G4 greater than 1 GHz performance is very good with Windows 4.0 Workstation, 2000, and XP( classic style gui ). All require the use of Quartz Extreme is best for architecture reasons ( but will function without QE with possible bouts of kernel panics which increase in frequency as you move down the MHz scale ). VPC and G3 500Mhz is possible though Microsoft should drop support as it's performance can be questionable and lack of Quart Extreme (on some configs) impacts refresh rates of VPC. Lastly the G5 is not supported due to G5 chip design changes by IBM, so we can't blame Microsoft for this.

I'm sorry if this seems a bit mean spirited. I had to set things straight about Windows NT 4.0 Workstation as it's one of the better releases of Windows and paved the road to Windows 2000 which add fluff for VPC users using PowerPC computers, XP was just a needless release.

VPC for the most part in my opinion is a true performer with Windows NT 4.0 Workstation for VPC Mac users as Windows 2000 adds fluff and many technologies that you cannot take advantage of such as FireWire, USB and others reliably or at all on the Mac version.

If you don't like what I've posted you can just "kiss my kernel". I'm just kidding.

I hope this helps you and other who read the original post with getting the most from Virtual PC for Mac OS X.

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Speed up VirtualPC by using Windows NT 4 Desktop
Authored by: bakalite on Feb 27, '04 02:46:32AM

Thanks for the hint. I haven't tried it, but if it does I'll be very happy. I only use winblows once in a blue moon, but when I do I am always aggravated at how long everything takes on VPC. As you have pointed out, if you are running windows on vpc you probably don't need a lot of fancy stuff, you're running a basic app that is not available on the mac (in my case, SCUBA planning software such as decoplanner).

Now for the difficult question. Is NT4 still commercially available? It doesn't sound like it, from what I'm reading here, and I for one don't have old copies of windows sitting around (I do have system 6 though, if someone is running a MacSE30). Soooo, where would one get NT4 to try out this hint?

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Speed up VirtualPC by using Windows NT 4 Desktop
Authored by: IvanX on Feb 27, '04 08:48:48AM

If you know someone who has an MSDN membership (which is a pretty good deal IMHO) and a PC, you can probably download NT 4 from the MSDN subscribers site.

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Speed up VirtualPC by using Windows NT 4 Desktop
Authored by: tsikendu on Feb 27, '04 03:44:45PM

You seem very angry. I will make sure not to mistake NT Workstation with NT Server. NT 5 is better than NT 4.

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Speed up VirtualPC by using Windows NT 4 Desktop
Authored by: paulsomm on Feb 27, '04 01:53:19PM

Without getting into a debate on Windows OS's, part of your slowness issue is you're using Virtual PC 5.

Virtual PC 6.1 has had a lot of tweaks since 5 to aid in performance. Having used VPC to QA products under Windows 98, NT4, Win2k, and Win XP, I can say that, at least under 6.1, Windows XP with service pack 1a with all the networking-related services set to "disabled" is by far the most responsive Windows OS under VPC. I was shocked to find it much more responsive than Windows 98 or NT 4.0.

Note, I do not mean disabling networking, just the following:
- Server
- Workstation
- Computer Browser
- TCP/IP NetBIOS Helper
- Automatic Updates
- Fast User Switching
- IPSEC Services
- Messenger
- Network Location Awareness
- Remote Registery
- SSDP Discovery Service
- Secondary Logon
- Themes
- Upload Manager
- Wireless Zero Configuration

As I use Panther and the Finder to connect to our Windows network, I don't need my VPC XP to do windows networking. However, if you do need to surf a network from your VPC XP machine, leave Workstation, Computer Browser, and TCP/IP NetBIOS Helper running (IPSEC as well if your network is Windows 2000 ADS or higher with IPSEC required for inter-server communication).

Having all these services disabled does not affect most usage. I now regularly use XP under VPC to use Outlook 2003 for email. Note, you may also find the following will give you a significant increase in UI responsiveness:
1. Go into the "System" control panel
2. and to the "Advanced Tab"
3. click "settings" under "Performance"
4. choose "Adjust for best performance"

This turns off the annoying fade and shrink/grow effects as well as disables themes (though you should still disable the Themes service).

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Hot diggety dog!
Authored by: terceiro on Feb 28, '04 05:49:46PM

Just for fun, I installed WinXP (which was previously unusable) and tried tweaking it by turning off themes and setting the performance as listed this comment. I'll be jiggered if it didn't make a *huge* difference. XP was too slow for even test porposes before, but now (classic UI, performance set for "better performance") it's now quite usable. I'm not going to switch to it full time, but for my once-a-month stuff, this is great.

Of course, I don't have anything installed yet. I'll have to toss QuickBooks (for work) and Office (just in case) and my Topo software (the *real* reason I have it at all) and see how they work. Still, I'm impressed.

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right on
Authored by: alec kinnear on Apr 05, '04 06:44:38PM

NT 4 under VPC is brilliant. I had been running Windows 98 before and found it horribly sluggish.

NT just rips along.

Thanks to the original poster for his suggestion. The only trouble is finding a copy of NT. But it's worth it.

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