The problem with needing both a Windows or MacOS computer system as well as a RISC OS one is space – two computers take up more valuable space on your desk than just one. A good emulation of one that works on the other is a neat solution to this, because it means you can have just the one computer, but reap the benefits of both platforms.
This has always been where VirtualRiscPC has shown its worth, offering a very strong and just about seamless emulation of the RiscPC computer. R-Comp have long since recognised this, and provide Windows computers with the emulator installed and ready to use as standard, in the form of their RISCube range.
However, the underlying operating system on these systems – Windows – has itself been undergoing some changes in recent years. The latest version is Windows 10, with which users are much more limited in their abilities to control updates – whereas with older versions of Windows, more control was available, including the ability to skip certain updates altogether.
Why would that be necessary? Sometimes an update can cause problems, whether for the entire computer, or for particular programs running on it – and R-Comp’s Andrew Rawnsley reports that there have already been some issues for people emulating RISC OS computers on systems running Windows 10. These, he says, can be bypassed or worked around, but such approaches can result in missing functionality somewhere else – and the next update can result in things going back to how they were, with the problems back again.
The ideal solution, therefore, is not to run Windows 10 as the host operating system, and to stick to one of the older versions. Windows 7, in particular, is a popular option because it still has a reasonably sane user interface.
Microsoft’s official support for Windows 7 doesn’t end until January 2020 – that’s still a few years away, but new processors from both Intel and AMD aren’t as well supported by versions of Windows before 10, though there are ways to get around this.
What this means is that time is running out on the ability to purchase a RISCube from R-Comp with Windows 7 as the host operating system1. The company says it still has a stock of compatible processors and motherboards, but they can’t guarantee they’ll be able to source such components for much longer.
Therefore, if you are considering a new RISCube – or thinking about replacing an older one – and would prefer the stability of Windows 71 rather than the constantly moving target that Windows 10 seems to be, you are urged to contact R-Comp sooner, rather than later.
- Andrew Rawnsley notes that he does – and while I don’t (usually2) run a computer with VirtualRiscPC installed, I too much prefer Windows 7. For that reason, just before Windows 7 computers became unavailable last year, I made a point of buying a new laptop and a new desktop PC, both with Windows 7.
- I have two copies of VirtualRiscPC. One is installed on a (Windows 8) laptop that I don’t use, and the other is installed on an old WindowsXP laptop – this one does get used, but only at RISC OS computer shows.