Updated May1, 2006

Make Your PC Think
It's a Classic Mac!

But OSX emulation isn't ready for primetime

ABOUT THESE COMPUTERS: Here's my Windows XP desktop running the amazing BasiliskII,
running my favorite programs on my BYOB with 3.06 Pentium 4 and 768 MB RAM. It surfs too!

By Bill Condie
The first time I heard the Mac chime on my PC screen and saw Aaron's smiling face, I almost fell off my chair with astonishment. It was impossible. It was a miracle.

But there it was, the free demo of Fusion, the strangely named first Macintosh emulator, which ran in DOS. Later versions ran in Windows, a major breakthrough.

Getting the DOS version to run was not for the faint-hearted and Tech Support from owner Jim Drew (top left) was all but non-existant most of the time. So I reached out to the Web for help and launched the Unofficial Fusion Support Center in September, 1998. It had 7098 visitors who posted 3301 messages in the first year. Times have changed. The emulators are now old hat and there's not much to report on the forums devoted to them, including mine. Fusion and rival Softmac from Darek Michocka (bottom left) merged, then went out of business. They've been supplanted by freeware Basilkisk II which is much better than either of them ever were.. All are non-PPC, and while PowerPC emulator PearPC running OPSX was looking good last year, nothing has happened for months.

But Basilisk, which can run up to OS 8.1, is far from being a slouch. It gives you the Windows My Computer icon on its desktop for instant cross-platform file exchange. To make a Mac CD, Toast4 has no problem. Depending on how fast your PC is, and how much RAM you can spare, all three knock the spots of a real Quadra900. Word, WordPerfect, Quark and even Photoshop are fast.

The only drawback is with browsers. Being non-PPC, you're stuck with earlier and slower version of Netscape and Explorer -- but there's also a Macs-only browser, iCab, which knocks spots off them. B2 also lets you share your internet connection with your PC using DSL, LAN, Cable modem, or dialup.

The emulators are fun. But the main practical use is giving you the ability to read a Mac floppy, Zip, or CD while on your PC and be able to transfer its files to Windows with copy and paste or saving to My Documents

All three require a software ROM obtainable from a real Mac, and emulators have been known to buy, borrow, beg, download, or "steal" such an item. There's a fourth way to run Mac programs, but it's not really an emulator and doesn't require a Mac ROM.

[There's always a hot debate somewhere on the legality of using these archaic ROMs, and Apple hasn't said a word on the subject. So before the self-appointed ROM Police get after me, I must point out that I got mine LEGALLY from the Performa 460 I bought 'way back when. I'm also the founder of the fast-growing FREE THE ROM movement.]

BasiliskII was developed by Christian Bauer (photo left), a student of physics at the University of Mainz, Germany. The Windows version is constantly being fine-tuned by Lauri Pesonen, (right) a software engineer in Finland. There are also SBeOS, Linux and Amiga versions.

So why is such potentially best-selling software free, I asked Lauri Personen by email.

"Why not?" Lauri emailed back. "Money isn't everything. I'm not really rich, but I have everything I need. Besides, I could not sell B2 even if I wanted to, because it's GPL'd [General Public License]. I started working with the Windows port for selfish reasons. It was meant to be for my own use only, not to be distributed on the 'net. Things got out of hand pretty quickly though. But it has been fun."

email me with any questions or comments

Mac downloads from the University of Victoria

History of Apple

History of Browsers


Everything Macintosh       

MacWinDOS Forum       
Jim Watters Downloads Page
Basilisk2 Forum       
Mac Emulation Forum

Apple Pi 

HFV Explorer


Christian Bauer's Home Page

Lauri Pesonen's Basilisk2 for Windows

FastCounter by bCentral