Accordance under Emulation

Posted by on September 29, 2008 in Blog/Article Watch, Review | 4 comments

Mark Vitalis Hoffman has posted the first installment of a Review of Accordance 8 on a PC. He has not covered Accordance as such yet (except for some preliminary installation issues), but he makes some comments on the installation and setup of the emulator Basilisk II.

There is one very important point I feel I should make up front. I have always thought that running Accordance under emulation is always better than not running it at all, but if is unfair to Accordance for the simple reason that the emulator is far from perfect.

Mac users can choose between different commercial and freeware emulators that allow them to run the latest versions of Windows or Linux at basically native speed. The user experience is the same, and applications can be used just as they would on a PC box. Unfortunately, this is not the case with Mac emulators on the Windows side. Basilisk II is probably the best emulator available, but it pales in comparison with running a real Mac computer. To put things into perspective, running Accordance 8 under emulation would be roughly equivalent to trying to run Logos or BibleWorks under Windows 3.1. In other words, you can run Logos or BibleWorks on a Mac as your production machine and you won’t be missing anything. But when you run Accordance on a PC you are missing out. It is not Accordance’s fault, it’s the emulator’s, and that’s why I said at the beginning that is wasn’t really fair.

By all means, do try Accordance on a PC under emulation if you want to, but keep in mind that Basilisk II has a number of limitations, and it does not run Mac OS X. The documentation provided by OakTree software is very clear and thorough, but it is often the case (as Mark tells us) that you need to reinstall the emulator in order to get it just about right. This requires some effort and patience, and by the time you reach that point you may feel a bit frustrated (again, nothing to do with Accordance). That’s why I always recommend running the program on a real Mac.

I look forward to what Mark has to say about Accordance, but sadly (for PC-only users, that is) what he has already experienced with the emulator shows that Windows and Linux virtualization on a MacIntel is light-years away from Mac virtualization on a PC. So please keep that in mind.

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  1. This topic is an important and interesting one. Yet, I found virtually no substantive information within your post. Over and over again you state that Accordance PC users will be “missing out”. Yet it is not at all clear how this manifests itself, if at all.
    Is the feature set any different? (I don’t think so) Are there queries that will not return the proper result on the PC? (I don’t think so) Will the speed be slower on the PC (Perhaps, but I know that on my Pentium 4 Accordance is blazing fast; thus, even if the queries run a few microseconds faster on the Mac, the difference would be insignificant).
    The only real point to which your post actually relates is the difficult of installation. Clearly, it goes without saying that installing a product within an emulator is more complicated than installing the product in its natural environment. That’s why it is so important to have writeups like Hoffman’s which provide helpful advice on how to get through the installation stage.
    However, installation is a one-time event, and has no bearing on the day-to-day use of the program. The real question is as follows: Once the program is installed, are there any functional disadvantages to using Accordance within the PC emulator as opposed to using it on the Mac? As far as I can tell, the answer is no.

  2. What I had in mind when I used “missing out” was the full Accordance experience. There are certain things that the emulator does not support (like Apple Help or the latest version of Acrobat Reader), so you have to use workarounds to access Accordance Help or read the most recent manuals in PDF format. Other workarounds are necessary in order to work with Unicode fonts, etc. You can also see the emulators’ manual (section on Troubleshooting Tips) for more information on workarounds. Other features, like the 3D Atlas windows, are completely lacking under emulation. For more information see this page.

    In my opinion, all of this amounts to “missing out.” Mac users, on the other hand, can run Windows applications under emulation on their Macs just as they would if they were using a PC. I hope you realize that my post was meant to be a sort of “caveat,” not a detailed list of the issues involved in running Accordance under emulation.

  3. OK, I’m glad that we have cleared this up. I felt that your original post was likely to unjustifiably deter PC-users from purchasing Accordance altogether, since it used unqualified terms like “a number of limitations” and “missing out”, and thus the reader was likely to think that the program would not be able to perform adequately within the emulator. Instead, it is important to stress that in terms of features and speed, users of the program under PC emulation will find virtually no differences from their Mac counterparts, with the exception of the four relatively marginal items listed on the Accordance site at the link you cited.
    In terms of your claim that Macs can perform PC emulation better than PCs can emulate the Mac, some further explanation and clarification is in order. As you note, for a number of years now Mac users have been able to run Windows programs fully and at almost native speed; however, this is not because their emulation software is better, but rather because they are not using emulation at all – they are instead using virtualization, while they run the Windows code natively on their host processor. In short: when a program compiled for one processor is run on a different processor, it must undergo a costly emulation procedure, which greatly slows down the code and potentially leads to bugs and imperfections. However, if the code can run natively on the host processor, it can run at full speed, and all that is needed is virtualization software to allow it to run within its own virtual space within the host operating system.
    The turning point which allowed Macs to run PC software at full speed was the introduction of Intel microprocessors onto the Mac motherboard. It was this move which allowed Macs to run PC code natively, *without* emulation. Hence the incredible boost in performance and capabilities which you note.
    At the same time, however, please note that the turning point in the opposite direction has now been realized as well. Relatively recently, Apple began compiling Mac OS X to run natively upon the Intel processor. This has opened the door to allow PC users to similarly run Mac OS X natively on their PCs, without any emulation (instead using virtualization provided by VirtualPC or VMWare). And thus, just as Mac users “can run Windows application just as they would if they were using a PC”, currently the reverse is true as well.
    In summary, while it still may be true, as you state, that Basilisk is the best Mac emulator for the PC, it is no longer necessary to use an emulator at all; rather, one can run OS X virtually, without emulation, on any PC. Although the process for doing so is not currently endorsed by Apple, there is already ample documentation on the web to allow anyone to purchase and install OS X within a virtual window on a PC. With time this direction will only become more and more popular, paving the way for a new generation of Accordance users.

  4. As you said, “…the process for doing so is not currently endorsed by Apple.” That’s the key point. It may be possible to do it properly in the future, but not now. I blog about the current situation, and cannot endorse what Apple itself doesn’t. On the other hand, what you say about virtualization versus emulation is quite right.

    One final thing: I wish every PC user could try Accordance, but knowing that there are some limitations when the program is run under emulation. You call them “marginal.” Fair enough.

    Thanks for your comments.

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