Microsoft has decided not to move forward with a version of Virtual PC for the Intel-based Macintosh, and will also be discontinuing support of Visual Basic scripting in the next version of Office for Mac, the company said.
As Virtual PC for Mac was originally developed on the PowerPC platform, the amount of time that it would take to bring it to Intel would be roughly equivalent to creating the product from scratch, Scott Erickson, director of product management and marketing for Microsofts Macintosh Business Unit, told eWEEK Aug. 7.
“We felt that was not an acceptable time frame for customers in light of the other options that are available in the market. By streamlining our efforts, we can focus on Office and our other core productivity applications,” he said.
The move comes as Apple Computer CEO Steve Jobs unveiled details of its latest operating system, Leopard, at the companys Worldwide Developer Conference in San Francisco Aug. 7.
Apple will continue to provide technical assistance for Virtual PC to existing customers, while the product will continue to be sold to customers running PowerPC machines, he said.
The decision to discontinue support of VB (Visual Basic) scripting in the next version of Office for Mac was related to the time it would take to bring VB to the Intel platform as well as the move to increased support for Apple-based technologies like AppleScript and Automator, he said.
“Although this move will require additional work for some developers who have created VB scripts in Office, we feel that the longer-term solution and support of Apple technologies is worth the effort,” Erickson said.
As cross-platform compatibility remains a top priority at Microsoft, Erickson says that as the company develops the next version of Office for Mac, the files will continue to be compatible across platforms, including with the 2007 Microsoft Office System for Windows.
However, VB macros within files will not be accessible and users will not be able to view or modify them. However, the files themselves can be edited without affecting or changing the macros.
Erickson said its research showed that VB usage was very low and developers were beginning to embrace other scripting languages on the Mac—like AppleScript and Automator—and .Net-based scripting languages on the PC.
The Mac BU was also working to ensure that resources were available to help developers make the transition, he said, adding that while it was too early to talk about the features that would be in the next version of Office for Mac, “We will be creating and posting online resources for developers as they transition from VB to AppleScript. Were meeting with many customers here at Apples Worldwide Developer Conference and Web resources will be posted to our Web site.”
Erickson also said that as Apple completed its transition to Intel-based Macs, the Mac BU had made progress in gradually moving to the new platform and in providing Mac customers with solutions to meet their needs.
Tens of millions of lines of Office code have been transitioned to Xcode on the road to a Universal version of Office for Mac, while free, downloadable converters will also be provided to allow users of current versions of Office for Mac to read the new Microsoft Office Open XML formats following the availability of Office for Windows, he said.
The Mac BU will also release Microsoft Messenger for Mac 6.0 later in 2006. The Universal application will include new features like federation between Messenger for Mac and Yahoo Messenger, customized emoticons and spell check.
“We are also developing a new, free, Universal version of the Remote Desktop Connection Client for Mac that allows Mac users to access Windows-based computers on their network. The next version of RDC will be released as a fully supported free product,” Erickson said, adding that further details will be shared closer to launch.