Running WordPerfect for DOS
on Modern Apple Computers

Copyright 2009-2010, 2014 by Ronald B. Standler

Table of Contents

WordPerfect for DOS in Windows XP
MS-DOS in VMware Fusion 2.0


I have used Apple computers since May 1992, primarily for music composition and wordprocessing.   Since May 2002, I have also used an Apple computer as my principal machine for e-mail and webbrowsing, as a way of obtaining additional protection from malicious computer programs (e.g., viruses and worms) that are prevalent for computers running some version of Microsoft Windows.   The Windows monoculture makes users of Windows vulnerable to a wide variety of malicious programs.

The last version of the traditional (i.e., begun in 1984) Apple Macintosh operating system is version 9.2.2.   My separate webpage on OS 9 mentions my favorite software for this traditional Macintosh environment.

I have a separate webpage on the current OS X operating system and applications software.

The Problem

By June 2014, I have accumulated approximately: When I have tried to use conversion utilities to transfer these old wordprocessing documents to a modern wordprocessor, the formatting is often corrupted. I use a lot of page references, table of contents, table of authorities (i.e., for legal briefs), and these features are often not preserved in translation to a modern wordprocessor. Moreover, WordPerfect for DOS used its own fonts, which are not identical to modern Adobe PostScript fonts.

If I had only a few documents, I would use conversion utilities to get a rough translation and then edit them manually in a modern wordprocessor to restore the original appearance. But with many hundreds of files, manual editing is not a feasible option.

The solution is to run the old wordprocessors (e.g., WordPerfect 5.1 for DOS, WordPerfect 3.5 for Mac OS9) on a modern Apple computers. But that is not easy, as explained in this webpage.

WordPerfect 5.1 for DOS

The computer that I continue to use in July 2014 to run WordPerfect for DOS was purchased in 1997, and it will not last forever. Furthermore, that old DOS machine will not record a CD-R, so all of my backup copies of files are on Zip disks, which are less reliable than a CD-R.

Consider running WordPerfect for DOS on a modern computer. In the 1980s and continuing to about 1995, computers running DOS had a printer connected via a parallel port. Since the year 2000, computers have peripherals connected via a USB bus. To run a DOS program on a modern computer, one needs software that will "connect" the parallel port in DOS to a modern printer connected via USB port. Similarly, the floppy disk drive (A:) in DOS needs software that will "connect" the A: drive in DOS to an external floppy drive connected via USB port.

In March 2009, I tried running DOS in the Fusion 2 emulator in Apple OS X, but, as explained below, the emulator could not support a USB printer in DOS.

Because the Fusion emulator for modern Apple computers does support USB peripherals in Windows XP, I decided to run WordPerfect for DOS in Windows XP, as described below.

WordPerfect 3.5 for Mac OS9

The last version of WordPerfect for Apple Macintosh computer was in August 1997. At that time Apple computers used Motorola microprocessors and either OS7 or OS8. Current Apple computers use Intel microprocessors, which will directly run neither the classic operating systems (i.e., OS9 and earlier) nor programs (e.g., WordPerfect) written in the 1990s for Macintosh OS9 and earlier. I say "directly run" because it is possible to run the old Macintosh operating systems and programs in an emulator on a modern Apple computer.

I continue to use an Apple G4 computer purchased in July 2001 to run WordPerfect 3.5 for the Macintosh. When that G4 computer dies, I intend to try the SheepShaver emulator to run WordPerfect 3.5e on a modern Apple computer. See the webpage here, written by Edward Mendelson at Columbia University.

Windows XP in VMware Fusion 3

First, be sure you have the 32-bit (i.e., Home Edition) version of Windows XP with at least Service Pack 2.

In July 2014, I installed VMware Fusion3.0 on my modern Apple computer, then installed WindowsXP (including Service Pack 2) in Fusion. WindowsXP lets me run WordPerfect for DOS. Also, the current version of WordPerfect for Windows (version X7) will run in WindowsXP.

Windows XP is obsolete

Let me emphasize that WindowsXP is an obsolete operating system. The last big set of updates to XP was Service Pack 3, which was released in May 2008. Microsoft stopped selling WindowsXP in 2008, and Microsoft discontinued support for XP on 8 April 2014. This means that WindowsXP could contain known defects which hackers can exploit on the Internet or in e-mail. However, such defects are not important if you only use WindowsXP for wordprocessing.

If you use WindowsXP you should have (1) current firewall software and (2) a modern webbrowser. Although I suggest avoiding using the Internet in WindowsXP (and also avoiding e-mail in XP) because of exposure to malicious software and attacks by hackers, you will need an Internet connection to register XP at Microsoft and to register WordPerfect X7 at Corel, as well as to download any updates from trusted websites (e.g., Microsoft and Corel).

Before I connected to the Internet in XP to register software, I used a webbrowser in Macintosh OS X to download ZoneAlarm Pro firewall and the Opera webbrowser for Windows, copied the .exe files to CD-R, and then installed them in Windows XP.

Check the software vendor's system requirements to be sure that the software will run under Windows XP, because some software vendors are discontinuing support for Windows XP. When I wrote this webpage in June 2014, Chrome and Firefox webbrowsers were also continuing to support Windows XP. After vendors discontinue support for Windows XP, one can still find old versions of webbrowsers on the Internet available for download, and some of those old versions will run on XP. Any webbrowser released since the year 2010 is better than the Microsoft Internet Explorer contained on the XP installation disk!

I repeat that it is a bad practice to use Windows XP for e-mail or websurfing. However, the fact that XP is obsolete should not stop you from using XP to run WordPerfect for DOS. While WordPerfect for DOS is also said to be "obsolete", WordPerfect 5.1+ for DOS is a stable, powerful, and easy-to-use wordprocessor that does almost everything I need in a wordprocessor. The principal reason I am running XP is to obtain an environment to run WordPerfect 5.1+ for DOS. To avoid having multiple versions of Windows on my Apple computer, I also run WordPerfect X7 for Windows in XP.

Installing Fusion3 in Apple OS X

First, I optimized my hard disk drive in the Apple computer, so that fragments of Fusion and Windows XP files would not be scattered around my hard disk drive.

I did a custom install of Fusion3, with
  1. No McAfree Virus Scan
  2. No tools for Linux
  3. No tools for Solaris
  4. No tools for FreeBSD
  5. No tools for Netware
Omitting those items saved about 266 megabytes of hard disk space.

Installing Windows XP in Fusion3

Run VMware

use Easy Install

choose "more isolated" (i.e., no access to Apple files from Windows XP)

customize name of virtual machine = WinXP2002.vmwarevm

install Windows XP Home Edition (32-bit) with Service Pack 2.

WordPerfect for DOS in XP

For details about how to run WordPerfect for DOS under Windows XP, see the webpage, written by Edward Mendelson at Columbia University.

For other suggestions about how to run WordPerfect for DOS on modern Apple computers with an Intel microprocessor, see the webpage here, written by Edward Mendelson at Columbia University.

MS-DOS in VMware Fusion 2

In March 2009, I installed MS-DOS 6.22 in a virtual machine running under VMware Fusion2.0.   Fusion prefers to boot an operating system from a CD/DVD drive. Fusion apparently can not boot from a floppy disk in a USB floppy drive attached to an Apple computer. Because most computers in the early 1990s (when DOS6.22 and WfW3.11 were in widespread use) did not have the capability to record a CD-R disk, it is difficult to make a bootable CD-R with DOS on it. For that reason, I have posted my notes for how to install MS-DOS 6.22 in Fusion2. VMware has posted its MS-DOS installation instructions in their KnowledgeBase Article Nr. 1004063.

Note the following limitations of DOS in Fusion2:
On a Mac mini with an Intel Core2Duo microprocessor at 1.83 GHz with 2 GBytes of RAM: Norton Utilities for DOS version 8, System Information, reports that the virtual machine runs 6.0 times faster than a Pentium 66 MHz microprocessor, for an effective speed of a Pentium microprocessor at approximately 400 MHz.

This document is at
created 1 June 2010, modified 28 June 2014

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