Software

VirtualRiscPC gets an overhaul

No longer throws toys out of pram if Windows’ User Account Control is enabled.

New versions of VirtualAcorn‘s range of RiscPC emulators for are now available, which are “designed to better support Windows 7 and Windows 8.

It seems that VirtualRPC-AdjustSA saw an update earlier in the year, which brought greatly expanded documentation to the product, in the form of a “complete RISC OS bookshelf” covering everything from BBC Basic to the Programmer’s Reference Manuals. In addition there were “several improvements based on customers feedback” and the software was changed to better support Windows 8.

Since then, similar improvements have been made to VirtualRPC-SE and VirtualRPC-SA and, with all three aligned, they have been updated further, and benefit from over 200 improvements “when compared with ‘silver’ CD versions” – apparently, the software was originally shipped on CDs with a silver background, and the latest (and future) versions will ship on CDs with a white background.

A selection of those new improvements are:

  • The software now functions correctly with Windows’ ‘User Account Control’ enabled on Windows Vista, 7 and 81.
  • Problems have been resolved with ATAPI components causing start-up or shut-down errors on PCs lacking optical drives.
  • Support for all icon sizes up to ‘extra large’ on Windows 7 and 8.
  • Fireworkz and Pipedream are now included in the package as standard.
  • The User Guide has been overhauled, and large sections have been rewritten.
  • Printing to PDF using Printers+ is now enabled by default.
  • The product installers have been upgraded, making it easier to differentiate between the different VirtualRPC products.

For those customers who have the original silver CD versions, an upgrade to the latest version of the same product costs £15 plus £3.50 P&P – you’ll need to return your original CD, and the new white CD will be sent out once both payment and that old disc has been returned.

Those who have purchased (or already upgraded to) the more recent version of VirtualRPC-AdjustSA (which was supplied on a white CD, and has a serial number of 732400 or above) can update to the latest version for notably less; simply return the disc, along with a payment for the return postage, and 3QD will send out the latest version.

For those looking to purchase the software for the first time, the prices are:

  • £49 plus P&P for VirtualRPC-SE, which offers RISC OS 4.02, ARM 710 emulation, and 128MB RAM.
  • £59 plus P&P for VirtualRPC-SA, which offers RISC OS 4.02, optional ARM 710, ARM 7500 or StrongARM emulation, and 128MB RAM.
  • £79 plus P&P for VirtualRPC-AdjustSA, which offers RISC OS 4.39, optional ARM 710, ARM 7500 or StrongARM emulation, and 256MB RAM.

There is also a version of the last of these suitable for G5 or Intel Apple Macs running Mac OS X 10.4.0 or later, also priced at £79 plus P&P.

!ReadMe

  1. Windows’ User Account Control – UAC – is a security feature of Windows that attempts to make the system more secure. Windows applications are normally run with ordinary user privileges and, as such, are unable to perform certain tasks; data cannot be written to important locations on the computer’s hard drive, for example, such as anywhere below C:\Program Files – unless the computer’s administrator elevates its privileges.
     
    This has always been a problem for VirtualAcorn’s emulators, because the installer puts the RISC OS hard drive image – into which the user (or the software they are running) will want to save data – as a subdirectory of the location in which the emulator has been installed, which is usually in Program Files, or Program Files (x86) on more modern hardware. It also stores configuration information in its installation directory, which means that, too, can cause conflicts with UAC.
     
    Ways around this problem include disabling UAC, or installing the software elsewhere on the computer, but these have never been ideal – better would be for the installer to put the RISC OS disc image elsewhere, preferably somewhere of the user’s choosing, and to store configuration data somewhere set aside for the purpose.
     
    Presumably, then, that’s what the new versions do.