Virtual PC for Mac Delayed

The delay of the next major update to the Windows emulation program for Mac OS X leaves Power Mac G5 users without access to Virtual PC until later this year.

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Virtual PC 7, the next major update to the Windows emulation program for Mac OS X, has been delayed until the second half of the year. The delay means users of Apple Computer Inc.s Power Mac G5 systems, which are incompatible with previous versions of Virtual PC, will have waited over a year for the chance to run the product on their machines.

In an interview with MacObserver, Jessica Sommer, product manager at Microsoft Corp.s Mac Business Unit, confirmed the delay. According to Sommer, the delay was caused by changes in the way the product was developed and tested after its acquisition by Microsoft from original developer Connectix Corp. "The developing, testing and bug fix cycle with Virtual PC is longer than that of Office, and the testing is more vigorous than previous versions of Virtual PC," she said. "Because of this, we have adjusted our release timing to match a more realistic schedule."

The delay of the release of Windows XP SP2 has also affected the release date of Virtual PC, as the product comes with Windows XP bundled. "We are waiting for the release of Windows XP SP2 in order to offer the most recent, most secure version of Windows XP to our Virtual PC for Mac customers," Sommer said. "The Windows XP SP2 release has moved to the end of July, which has impacted our schedule as well."

The change in schedule for Virtual PC 7s release will mean that owners of Power Mac G5 systems will be forced to wait for a version that is compatible with their machines. The current version of Virtual PC, 6.1, uses a feature of the PowerPC G3 and G4 series processors, known as pseudo-little endian mode, that is not present in the PowerPC 970 used in the Power Mac. The reliance on this feature has meant that Microsoft has had to rewrite parts of Virtual PC from scratch to make it compatible with the G5.

Microsoft bought Virtual PC from original developer Connectix in February 2003, along with Virtual PC for Windows and Virtual Server. The product emulates an Intel-compatible PC, allowing users to run Windows as an application on their Macs.

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