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Speed-up and usage tips for IE6 in VirtualPC Apps
If you create web pages, for fun or professionally, it's imperative that you test in Internet Explorer 6 -- a Windows-only (thankfully!) browser, of course. And if you're on the road, and you don't want to carry an extra PC around (or you don't own one at all), your only solution to this problem is to run IE6 on Virtual PC (VPC). Of course, VPC runs slowly -- so you search and search and search to find tips and tricks and advice on which OS to install, how to tweak it for better performance, etc. I've been down that road, and it wasn't much fun. So, in the interest of saving everyone a ton of time, here are some non-geek-centric "real world/real life" tips and tricks:
  1. When it comes to running an OS in VPC, XP outruns them all. Yes, even Windows98. It doesn't seem right, but trust me, it's true. I installed them all, and XP either outperformed or tied them all. XP, at least when testing websites in IE6, outperformed every other OS. Bizarre but true. However, there is a method to this madness. But luckily, it only requires one app to tweak XP -- a piece of trialware called TuneUp 2004. And given it's trialware, and you only need to run it once, it's basically free. And once XP has been tweaked with this utility, it zooms (well, as much as anything in VPC zooms).

  2. You can build sites locally on your Mac and test them in XP -- just like on your Mac. Same address, same everything. If this isn't a shock to you, then you've never tried it before. Normally, this does not work. VPC doesn't normally play nice with your Personal Web Server. But once you install Apple's Rendezvous for Windows XP [5.3MB download] -- bam! A miracle occurs. Everything works -- no crazy coding required. And Rendezvous for Windows doesn't even install on Win98. But that's okay, because it doesn't run any faster than XP anyway.
So there you go. I'm a web developer, not a geek. I searched the internet for days, installed just about every OS on VPC, tested them all, and these are my real-world results, testing on a shiny new 1.2 Ghz G4 icebook. If I could have found this information anywhere, it would have saved me countless hours of testing, tweaking, and generally wasting my time trying to find a solution to the madness of making certain my sites display correctly in the world's most popular (and I believe, worst) browser.
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Speed-up and usage tips for IE6 in VirtualPC | 26 comments | Create New Account
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Speed-up and usage tips for IE6 in VirtualPC
Authored by: bcamp1973 on Jan 31, '05 10:23:39AM

Exactly what i've been looking for! However, does anyone know of a way to "force" Win2000 to see the Mac's web sharing? I'm running older versions of IE on Win2000 and IE 6 on XP so i can test back to IE 5.0...however, the Win2000 machine won't see the Mac web server...



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Speed-up and usage tips for IE6 in VirtualPC
Authored by: rotaiv on Jan 31, '05 10:54:40AM

As one who has installed every version of Microsoft's operating systems from Windows 1.01 to Windows Server 2003 in "virtual" environments, I can tell you that in my opinion, the leanest and most efficient OS to run is NT 4.0. The worst, without a doubt, is Windows Me ;) I also concur that Win XP runs way better than Win 98 virtually.



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NT 4 within VPC
Authored by: demmons65 on Jan 31, '05 03:07:51PM

I concur with rotaiv that NT 4 seems the fastest of all Windows under VPC. The company I work for tested 98, NT4, W2K, and XP Pro for speed. We're accessing an ADP Windows-only payroll solution and NT4 seemed to be the most repsonsive of the 4. The fact that licensed NT 4 was about $25 per seat didn't hurt either.

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d a v e

http://www.hostwerks.com/~dave/



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Speed-up and usage tips for IE6 in VirtualPC
Authored by: pukupi on Jan 31, '05 08:36:25PM
See my hint here for connecting to a local web server from Virtual PC. You can ignore the note at the end if you are running the latest version of Virtual PC as this network bug has been fixed.

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IE5 as well as IE6 in VirtualPC
Authored by: jeffh1 on Feb 01, '05 05:49:04AM

Slightly off-topic; does anyone know whether you can install both IE 5.0 or 5.5 as well as IE 6 on XP? I don't want to have to set up two Windows installations under VPC, but I have heard I should be checking my sites under both IE 5.x and 6.

Thanks
Jeff



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IE5 as well as IE6 in VirtualPC
Authored by: graemeaustin on Feb 01, '05 12:29:03PM

I did a lot of reading around this about six months ago, but I am a bit hazy now.

The bottom line is no: in order to do that (& developers do) you need to be real careful that you don't end up overwriting shared folders.

Whoever told you to test against IE 5.x and IE6 was absolutely right: they are independent builds and can produce some very different results, especially if you rely on css type style sheets.

Good luck.



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IE5 as well as IE6 in VirtualPC
Authored by: tibbeecreek on Feb 02, '05 03:37:29AM

Not to argue - again, I'm not a tech guy - but you can test concurrently with IE6 on the same machine.
Just do a search on Google for IE 5.1 Standalone - or check the Microsoft page - you can download and install both 5.1 and 5.5 while retaining 6. But again, they MUST be the standalone versions.
Another oddity, though, is that the 2 standalone versions are ACTUALLY IE6 - they've just been modified by M$ to mimic the behavior of the older browsers.

---
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John Mallery
Creative Director
Tibbee Creek Interactive
http://www.tibbeecreek.com



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Speed-up and usage tips for IE6 in VirtualPC
Authored by: mania on Jan 31, '05 11:14:52AM

I also found that if you go to control panel > system > advanced > performance you can speed thiings up a bit. also turn off desktop picture and screen saver under display and make sure you are using 16bit color not 32 bit color.

you can also view your local web server without rendevous if you use your local IP in the IE address bar.



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How to Use TuneUp?
Authored by: SWCarson on Jan 31, '05 01:10:55PM

"it only requires one app to tweak XP -- a piece of trialware called TuneUp 2004... you only need to run it once..."

Alright, I've downloaded it and there are a zillion things you can do in TuneUp 2004. What is it specifically that you are recommending that you only need to do once? My best guess is "Accelerate downloads and Internet surfing" and "Optimize your computer configuration". Is there more that you recommend?



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How to Use TuneUp?
Authored by: tibbeecreek on Feb 02, '05 03:32:09AM

Sorry, I've been busy for the the last couple of days - didn't even know this hint had been posted.

When you open up the app, there's a control that simply allows you, in one click, to optimize the system for your needs. It runs a "wizard" that asks you how you use your PC - so I told it to optimize for fastest performance, while still allowing for internet connections.

Other than that, you can optimize the registry and make a few other tweaks (like optimizing for broadband) - and then you're done.

But I'm guessing that, by now, you've already figured all that out. Sorry I didn't get to this sooner.

---
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John Mallery
Creative Director
Tibbee Creek Interactive
http://www.tibbeecreek.com



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Speed-up and usage tips for IE6 in VirtualPC
Authored by: dcoyle on Jan 31, '05 08:35:23PM

I don't know if I've posted this before on MacOSXHints, but I have found a way to speed up VPC dramatically. If you ordered VPC with XP Pro, as I did, or another version (such as 2000 Server) that includes Remote Desktop Server, you can enable Remote Desktop and connect with Remote Desktop Client for Macintosh, available free from MS. Rather than try to emulate a video card on a Win host, Remote Desktop Server uses optimized routines to write video and audio to a network connection. I've seen tremendous speedups using this scenario.

Aside from the speed boost, this also allows you to use XP (or whatever) from remote locations or as another OS X user on the same machine. I had no issues if I used "Virtual Switch" networking in VPC to connect via my router. I only tried "shared networking" for a little bit and didn't have much success - it may be doable, however.

If you try this, make sure you go through all the options on the Mac Remote Desktop Client, particularly the parts that indicate what form of connection you have - the default is 56 kbit modem.

I'm trying the hints provided here and thank the author for providing the links. We'll see how it turns out.

Dan



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Speed-up and usage tips for IE6 in VirtualPC
Authored by: chris_on_hints on Feb 01, '05 08:25:43AM

VPC is good, if you really need it....

But, I agree with dcoyle that a much faster option is to have an old pc to run XP on...

I have a 400MHz celeron machine (with about 300MB RAM) hidden behind a sofa in my house, connected to my network via ethernet. There is no monitor or mouse connected (it does need a keyboard) and I use the MS remote desktop app to use it. Its WAY faster than Win98 running on my 800MHz G4 (probably no suprise there).

This system even works well over Wifi (b or g) on my local network. A 400MHz PC is plenty fast enough to run XP, as long as it has plenty of memory (just like OSX).

So people, dig out those old PC boxes and fill them with cheap memory and put them in a cupboard (where they deserve to be)... reusing is better than recycling!!



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Speed-up and usage tips for IE6 in VirtualPC
Authored by: chris_on_hints on Feb 01, '05 10:06:23AM

sorry dcoyle, i mis-read your post... i thought you were talking about putting XP Pro on a different box, rather than running it in VPC...

... do you 'turn off' the VPC monitor output, or just minimise the window or what? it sounds like a good idea to run VPC like this, as the Remote desktop is quick even over broadband internet connections.... and it gets the mac to do all the drawing

(in fact, i like your idea so much, i think it could be a hint in itself!)



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Speed-up and usage tips for IE6 in VirtualPC
Authored by: shavenyak on Feb 01, '05 03:40:14PM

In my (limited) experience, XP Pro blanks the screen or displays a simple 'you can't log in, someone else is using the machine' type message while you're connected to it by Remote Desktop. So you probably wouldn't need to worry about it; the emulated graphics card isn't going to have any work to do anyway.

This is a cool idea; luckily I haven't yet found a need for VPC because I do my IE testing on my daughter's 500MHz AMD FrankenPC. Good thing, since my iBook is still at the stock 256MB Ram.



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Speed-up and usage tips for IE6 in VirtualPC
Authored by: dcoyle on Feb 01, '05 08:20:07PM

Shavenyak has it right. I've only got the Administrator account created on my VPC XP install. When you log in via RDC, the VPC window goes back to the login prompt, so there is really nothing being written to the PC "screen". I would imagine that if VPC was logged in to a second user, that screen would stay functional, with the net effect of slowing down VPC. I haven't tried this so I really don't know.

I just tried this as a lark, but was blown away by how much faster the RDC connection was. MS really got this feature right. The XP hosted system (obviously) doesn't make any DirectX calls or anything that uses video hardware when serving to a remote connection, which is via ethernet (real or simulated). The VPC session thus loses all the overhead of graphics calls while the RDC client is fully Mac-native and paints screens with zero effort.

Dan



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Speed-up and usage tips for IE6 in VirtualPC
Authored by: tibbeecreek on Feb 02, '05 05:09:25AM

Dan,

I sent you an email - but not sure whether you'll get it.
I can't get RDC to cooperate with VPC. I'm on a wireless LAN, via Airport Express - so maybe that's the problem?
I'm really psyched to see what effect this would have on speed.

---
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John Mallery
Creative Director
Tibbee Creek Interactive
http://www.tibbeecreek.com



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Speed-up and usage tips for IE6 in VirtualPC
Authored by: ms_t_rie on Feb 02, '05 11:18:27AM

Same here, I can't get RDC to work with Virtual PC at all via Wireless, and when wired (at work) it almost connects, then fails. (that may be my setup though, since I have Novell Client 32 involved) I use RDC to connect to other computers without problems, even over the Wireless and VPN, but it doesn't want to talk to the Virtual PC.

I'd love to get Virtual PC running fast, since I have to do a bit of work in Office XP and Novell (IPX unfortunately isn't available in an OSX flavor) and the poor Virtual PC crawls, especially when trying to scroll down in Word or Excel.

Rie



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Speed-up and usage tips for IE6 in VirtualPC
Authored by: cutia on Feb 03, '05 02:02:28AM

I too would love to get this working on an airport network. If anyone has had success please let me know. Thanks



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Speed-up and usage tips for IE6 in VirtualPC
Authored by: dcoyle on Feb 02, '05 09:04:02PM

Thanks for all the replies on this. One of the questions is why this isn't the default for VPC. The answer is that only a few versions of Windows offer the Remote Desktop Server. XP Pro, 2000 Server, 2003 Server, and NT 4 with Terminal Services are all that I know about.

Victory's comments were very interesting as I've only done very limited stopwatch-type testing. I'm running a 2 MHz dual-G5, but otherwise have an identical setup. What I noticed was about an average 2x speedup on opening apps, though individual timings varied quite a bit. I suspect a lot depends on which apps and what you are doing.

I was hoping that installing Rendezvous would enable connecting to XP on VPC by computer name, but no joy so far. For those interested, you enable the RDC server by right-clicking "My Computer" and selecting "Properties". From there, select the "Remote" tab and check the box in the Remote Desktop section. Since I haven't been able to connect by name so far, I've been using the IP address issued by my router. To get this, open a command prompt in Windows and type "ipconfig" (without the quotes).

For those unfamiliar with Windows, you get to the command prompt by going to the Start Menu, then to Programs, then to Accessories and select "Command Prompt". Alternatively, go the Start Menu, select Run, and type "cmd" (again, without the quotes).

If you want to automate this, create a batch file in your Windows Startup directory. In my case, I am only using the Administrator account, so the path would be C:\Documents and Settings-Administrator\Start Menu\Programs\Startup



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Speed-up and usage tips for IE6 in VirtualPC
Authored by: dcoyle on Feb 02, '05 09:09:06PM

Here's the rest of the post. Don't know why it got clipped.

Name it something like "Show IP.bat" and insert the following two lines:
IPCONFIG
PAUSE

Now when you start XP or whatever, you'll get a DOS box displaying your IP address.

In the RDC client, just enter the IP address of your hosted Windows computer and connect. For those using wireless connections to your router, I don't know what to tell you. I am using a wired connection and don't have any issues at all. Maybe someone out there knows the answer.

If anyone else gives this a shot, please write in and let the rest of us know what kind of results you get. I'm kind of cramped for time and can't really do much in the way of benchmarking right now.

Dan



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Speed-up and usage tips for IE6 in VirtualPC
Authored by: missinglina on Mar 16, '06 11:34:36AM

Dan, I know this post is old, but I just found it. I wonder why I can't connect the way you can. I can see the virtual pc in my Finder>Network,
I can browse on the virtual pc running Windows XP Professional just fine. I ran the ipconfig to find out its ip address. I enter that address in the remote desktop connection. In virtual pc settings, virtual switch is set to built-in ethernet. It gives you 2 choices: default or built-in ethernet. They both word as far as getting connectivity in the virtual pc. I'm using virtual pc 7 by the way and I'm on a dual G5.

I notice when I run the ipconfig that the default gateway is different from my router address, and the ip address is completely different from the mac's. The mac's starts with 172. XP' starts with 192. Is this the problem? Thanks for any help.



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Speed-up and usage tips for IE6 in VirtualPC
Authored by: TicToc on Feb 06, '05 07:42:41PM

I hope this isn't repeating info elsewhere, but there is a "gotcha" to avoid - in the VPC PC/PC Settings dialog, make sure you have Networking set to "Virtual Switch". I couldn't get this tip to work using "Shared Networking". Obvious in hindsight, as the latter puts another NAT step in place, with no way to route incoming RDC requests through it.

Hope this helps.



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Speed-up and usage tips for IE6 in VirtualPC
Authored by: tibbeecreek on Feb 02, '05 03:42:41AM

Man, this SHOULD be a hint all on its own. You should submit that - I'm about to go try it out right now.

---
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John Mallery
Creative Director
Tibbee Creek Interactive
http://www.tibbeecreek.com



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Speed-up and usage tips for IE6 in VirtualPC
Authored by: hamarkus on Feb 02, '05 10:13:13AM

If this really is much faster, why doesn't Microsoft make RDC the 'official' front-end for VPC by integrating the two apps?

Or are there some drawbacks like lower resolution or slower refresh rate (not that the refresh rate with VPC on anything but the fastest hardware would be great to begin with)?



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My results
Authored by: victory on Feb 02, '05 02:30:01PM

I just thought I'd chime in with my experience with the aforementioned tip (using the native Mac RDC client to talk to a WinXP/2K host under VPC session running on the same machine).

I agree that the reasoning behind the argument sounds compelling -- it's an accepted fact that Microsoft's RDC uses a highly efficient protocol (that probably relies on sending Windows UI events rather than screen-painting with chunks of image data) to provide extremely responsive remote connections.

However, in my casual experiments using a 1GHz 17" PBG4 w/ 1Gb RAM, I didn't notice any significant speed increase. (More on this in a moment). My test environment includes VPC7 running WinXPPro on a 2Gb FAT32 drive container with guest PC settings: 256Mb RAM, background CPU usage set to full, and networking in 'virtual switch' mode.

I also messed with the connection speed settings under the RDC properties (WinXPPro) as well as various screen resolution/depth settings on both the client/host side. (e.g. set WinXPPro desktop to 640x480x256, but connect using a full 800x600x32k for the RDC terminal session, etc)

Regardless, I didn't get any overall better performance than a regular VPC session. It was interesting and a bit amusing to see it all working, but I doubt I'll be using this technique for the following reasons:

- As stated, I really didn't see any performance improvement. However, I'd like to suggest that I didn't really do extensive testing. Perhaps VPC on a G5, or increasing the RAM for the VPC session, or some other tweak, may improve the situation.

- If you're running any type of emulated server in a PC session and expect to connect to it from 'outside' VPC, you must use the 'Virtual Switch' network setting and manually set up the emulated OS as a separate network client on the same subnet that your Mac is on. That way OSX apps running alongside VPC are able to make network connections that loop back into the VPC session as if it were a separate host. The big downside is that it generally DOESN'T work if you're using a wireless connections as your primary network interface (a dialog box in VPC7 warns you if you try) and requires that you have a live Ethernet connection to a hub or switch. [on another VPC-related newsgroup, someone once suggested using RJ-45 loopback plug to achieve the same effect. Sounds like a terrible kluge to me] So while I did get it working, it wasn't exactly the most elegant solution since my PowerBook quite often has to change network addresses/interfaces when I go from site to site.

..

Anyhow, apologies for the long post and thanks to dcoyle for introducing the idea. I hope others have better luck with this technique. Clearly all of us are interested in anything that may improve VPC's performance.



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My results
Authored by: dcoyle on Feb 02, '05 11:59:46PM

I think results can vary wildly depending on the application. Probably the best indication of things speeding up for me was audio. Within VPC, hardly anything sounds good. Usually there is a very awful stutter that seems to be about the same rate you would expect from lots of VM paging. I've got 1GB of RAM - maybe not enough. Anyway, over RDC everything sounds smooth - about like VPC 1.0 ran on OS 9.
Dan



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