Microsoft gives up a

By John Rizzo  |  Posted 2006-08-15 Print this article Print

market"> Even with VMware and Parallels dueling for feature supremacy, most Microsoft watchers did not expect Microsoft to give up a market to competition. For years, Virtual PC was the undisputed leader for running Windows on PowerPC Macs, with Mac OS X integration features that other solutions still dont have. The tight integration with the previous Mac regime may have been Virtual PCs undoing. Microsoft gave as a reason for dropping Virtual PC the large scope of porting the PowerPC code, "due to how closely the product integrates with Mac hardware."
Processor dependencies have caused problems for Virtual PC before. Virtual PC would not run on PowerPC G5 Macs when Apple first introduced the processor. It took a major upgrade to get Virtual PC running with the new processor—a type of processor migration that Microsoft is no longer willing to make.
"The existing code base would need to be largely rewritten for the new environment," said Scott Erickson, director of product management and marketing at Microsoft, in Redmond, Wash. "We felt that the time it would take to bring VPC to Intel especially in light of other options, was too great." But like Parallels and VMware, Microsoft wouldnt have to rely on its PowerPC code since it has Intel code in the form of Virtual PC for Windows. Rudolph said that it took Parallels only 3 months to move their Linux and Windows versions of Parallels Workstation over to the Mac Intel platform. "The Mac OS X back end is very developer-friendly," said Rudolph. However, Microsoft said it ruled out a port of its Intel code. "We did look at that option, but it would have been as much as a significant rewrite of the code base as migrating the PowerPC code," said Sheridan Jones, lead marketing manager for Microsofts Mac Business Unit. In Microsofts official WWDC announcement on Virtual PC, the company said that the effort required to move Virtual PC to Intel Macs was "similar to creating a Version 1.0 release." When questioned, Microsoft said that it was not stating that it would never create a new application for the Mac platform. "No, I wouldnt say that," said Jones. "For Virtual PC, we recognized for a long time that Mac users need to access Windows files occasionally. But there are now solutions available from Apple and other vendors." Jones indicated that Microsofts work on Office proves this point. "Moving Office to Intel is a major undertaking in the same way that moving Virtual PC would have been. Its a big, big job," she said. Yet, with Office, as with Virtual PC, Microsoft does have Intel code at its disposal that it could rely on. "We definitely work with the Windows Office team," said Jones. "But we dont port the code directly from Windows Office. We have a unique version for Mac customers." For users, one of the advantages of Virtual PC is that it is the only virtualization solution that comes with Windows preinstalled, which saves the user from the Windows installation procedure. Microsoft said it would not rule out this possibility with other virtualization solutions. "Microsofts OEM policies are very public and any vendor can apply to be an OEM," said Erickson. "At this time, Apple, Parallels, and VMware are not Microsoft OEMs." For the time being, though, Microsoft is happy to sell Mac users shrink-wrapped copies of Windows XP. The company said in its WWDC statement: "Solutions offered by Apple and other vendors, combined with a fully packaged retail copy of Windows, will satisfy this need." Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news in desktop and notebook computing.


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