The following is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman.
This week I found myself facing a quandary: I needed a Windows computer and didn’t have one. I want to write software reviews for a number of genealogy programs for Windows, Macintosh, Android, iPad, and cloud-based systems. I have all the computers I need to run those programs except for a Windows system. Actually, I do own a Windows 8 laptop, but I left it in my winter home when I went north for the summer. My error. I started evaluating my options.
I certainly could buy a new Windows computer, probably a laptop. However, that costs more money than I happen to have in the checkbook at the moment. Besides, it seems silly to purchase an expensive piece of hardware that duplicates something I already own but neglected to bring with me. I probably could borrow a Windows system from a friend, but I really need to keep it for several weeks, possibly for 2 or 3 months. I also expect to be traveling during that time (I’ll be in Scotland two weeks from now) and wasn’t sure that any of my friends were in a position to lend me a computer to take on extended, international trips. It also needs to be a rather recent computer, not an old clunker. To be blunt, I am reluctant to ask.
A third option would be to fly south and retrieve my own laptop. However, the round-trip airfare would cost almost as much as a new Windows computer. Another option is to install Parallels or VMware Fusion or VirtualBox and also purchase a copy of Windows to install into my Macintosh laptop. That would allow me to run both the Macintosh operating system and Windows at the same time on one computer. However, the hard drive on that system is already getting full. Also, purchasing a copy of Windows plus a copy of Parallels or VMware Fusion is still a significant expense. (VirtualBox is a free virtualization program, but I still would need a legal copy of Windows.) In fact, the required software would cost almost as much as a new, low-end Windows laptop. I wanted a cheaper solution.
I decided to try a different method: I leased a virtual PC. I must say that my experience was a “mixed bag.” That is, I was very happy with some of the results and very disappointed at some other things. I also had a couple of pleasant surprises when I realized it had capabilities that I had not thought about earlier. But I am getting ahead of myself.
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