By Anne Chen  |  Posted 2004-10-11 Print this article Print

Microsoft Corp. may have acquired Virtual PC from Connectix primarily for its Windows versions of the software, but the latest Mac version makes it even easier for Apple shops to kiss PCs goodbye.

Intended mainly to allow Mac users to run Windows applications, Virtual PC for Mac Version 7 is the first Microsoft-developed version of the software. The updated version includes improvements such as support for the G5 processor, better performance, faster screen redraws, expanded preferences and more responsive graphics than previous versions.

Virtual PC for Mac 7, slated to ship this month, costs $249 when bundled with Windows XP Professional or Windows 2000 Professional. For organizations that already have licenses for an operating system to run on their virtual machines, a Virtual PC for Mac license is $129. Users of Connectix Virtual PC 5, Virtual PC 6 and Microsoft Virtual PC for Mac Version 6.1 are eligible for a $99 upgrade.

Prior versions of Virtual PC for Mac were incompatible with Apple Computer Inc.s Power Mac G5s due to changes made to the G5 architecture. Virtual PC for Mac 7 offers support for the processors used in Apples Power Mac G5 and iMac G5 systems, with the exception of the Xserve G5.

To address the performance issues of previous releases, Microsoft has increased the system requirements for Virtual PC for Mac and is developing solely for the Mac OS X platform. The software requires a 700MHz native Power PC G3, G4 or G5 processor; 3GB of hard disk space; and 512MB of RAM.

eWEEK Labs installed Virtual PC for Mac 7 with Windows XP Professional on a G4 machine running OS X Version 10.3 with a 733MHz PowerPC G4 chip set and 512MB of RAM. Installation was easy, with a wizard that guided us through the installation of Virtual PC for Mac 7 as well as the configuration of Windows XP.

One feature we found especially handy is the addition of the Virtual PC start menu to the Apple dock at the bottom of the screen. This enabled us to easily toggle between Windows and Apple applications and tasks.

We installed Corel Corp.s WordPerfect Office suite on a virtualized Windows XP machine without a hitch. In the virtualized machine, we were able to conduct all our usual Windows-centric tasks.

With virtualized machines, we were limited only by the amount of RAM and disk space available to us. Even with a slower test machine, we found performance of our emulated Windows machine to be satisfactory.

It should be noted that Virtual PC for Mac was rewritten to run on the G5 processor and, as a result, is optimized for newer hardware. However, we were disappointed to face a PowerPC failure message when we tried to install Virtual PC for Mac 7 on our dual-processor 2.4GHz G5 Xserve device.

The software will not run on the server version of Mac OS because Virtual PC for Mac 7 supports only the G5 workstation and iMac.

Senior Writer Anne Chen can be reached at anne_chen@ziffdavis.com.

Check out eWEEK.coms Macintosh Center for the latest news, reviews and analysis about Apple in the enterprise. And for insights on Macintosh coverage around the Web, check out eWEEK.com Executive Editor Matthew Rothenbergs Weblog.

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As a senior writer for eWEEK Labs, Anne writes articles pertaining to IT professionals and the best practices for technology implementation. Anne covers the deployment issues and the business drivers related to technologies including databases, wireless, security and network operating systems. Anne joined eWeek in 1999 as a writer for eWeek's eBiz Strategies section before moving over to Labs in 2001. Prior to eWeek, she covered business and technology at the San Jose Mercury News and at the Contra Costa Times.

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