Mac Scope

PearPC's Slow Mac Emulation - What's the Point?

Stephen Van Esch - 2004.05.26

If your head's been buried in the sand, you may have missed the fact that OS X finally made it to Intel hardware. It's dog slow and buggy as, well, as Windows, but we can't blame that on x86 architecture, because this is just an emulator called PearPC.

I'll admit that I think emulators are pretty cool technology. There's nothing quite like having more than one operating system under the hood without shelling out for an entirely new system.

As much as I like emulators, I'm a little mystified by PearPC. As an exercise in pure geekiness, it makes lots of sense. If a coding challenge presents itself, at least one coder will take a run at it. In this case, the coder is Sebastian Bialla from Germany and this Wired article (OS X Makes Slow Debut on PC) has all the gory details about the Frankenpanther - or whatever it should be called.

Anyway, while it may be an interesting exercise, there hardly seems to be a market for this sort of thing. I mean, really, if you want OS X badly enough to run it in emulation mode, then you should probably just buy a Mac and be done with it.

Also, because most software available for the Mac is available for the PC, running any Mac app in emulation mode seems a bit silly.

Now I know that Apple and other software developers produce amazing applications that are only available for the Mac. However, considering that the average PC user can't seem to find the energy to escape the relentless black hole of Windows, it hardly seems that they will figure out that they can run apps in emulation mode.

Emulation? Isn't that a bird that looks like an ostrich? You get my point.

I'm not suggesting that the current version of PearPC is ready for this audience (or any audience except those willing to risk their data), but even if this was a polished, professional package, it likely wouldn't attract too many people. I could be wrong, though. There are a few Mac emulators out there, including freeware Basilisk and vMac as well as the commercial SoftMac.

Mac users, however, do have enough of a need for certain Windows apps to merit purchasing a copy of Virtual PC. I myself will likely eventually have to pony up for a copy because Adobe discontinued the Mac edition of FrameMaker. But as so many Windows users like to point out, there are a gazillion Windows apps out there, and maybe just one of the rare ones that's really useful hasn't made it to the Mac.

For all those Windows folks who are gussying up Windows to look like OS X and getting excited over PearPC, please just buy a Mac. Constantly pressing your nose against the window and drooling all over the sidewalk is starting to embarrass us.

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Stephen Van Esch is the founder and president of the E-learning Foundry, an online training resource for Mac users. Steve loves the Mac and is doubly bilingual, since he's also fluent in Windows and French.

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