After a series of delays, Microsoft Corp. has started to ship a version of Virtual PC that is compatible with Apple Computer Inc.s G5-based systems.
Virtual PC 7 is a complete emulation of standard PC hardware, and is capable of running any application compatible with the Pentium processor, allowing users to run a full version of Windows and Windows applications in a virtual machine on their Macs.
The previous version of the product—Virtual PC 6.1—was incompatible with G5-based Macs. According to Microsoft, the product took advantage of a feature of G3 and G4 processors, known as "pseudo little-endian mode," which was not present in G5 chips. Because of this, much of the product had to be rewritten from the ground up for G5 compatibility.
Microsoft officials said the product addresses one of the chief complaints about previous versions of Virtual PC—its speed. Scott Erickson, group product manager at Microsofts Macintosh Business Unit, said the product clocks in at between 10 percent and 30 percent faster than its predecessors. "Applications overall are quicker to respond, helping users maximize their time," he said.
Virtual PC 7 also offers easier installation, automatic printing to the Macs default printer with no additional setup, and significantly increased graphics speed, Erickson said.
Virtual PC 7 is available both as a stand-alone product with a client license for Windows XP Professional for $249, and as a bundle with Office 2004 for Mac for $499. There isnt yet a version of Virtual PC for Mac available without an operating system, which would allow users to create their own system running Linux. According to Microsoft, the company will make an OS-free version of the product available "over the next few months." Pricing has not been set.
Microsoft acquired Virtual PC from Connectix Corp. last year, hiring many of the programming team that had developed the software. Although Microsoft largely focussed its attention in the acquisition on the Virtual Server product, which it has positioned as a way of easing the migration path from Windows NT 4 to Windows Server 2003 for corporate customers, it committed to continuing development of the Mac product as part of the portfolio of its Macintosh Business Unit.
However, release of the product was pushed back after continued delays to Windows XP Service Pack 2, as well as the introduction of a new testing and bug-fix system.
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