Microsoft Moves Virtual PC from Linux

Microsoft's forthcoming Virtual PC 2004 pulls away from Linux and other operating systems in favor of its own OS family.

When Microsoft Corp. launches Virtual PC 2004, a Linux version of the software wont be along for the ride—at least not officially.

Microsoft confirmed to that an upgrade to Virtual PC—software it purchased from Connectix Corp. in February that enables users to run multiple PC-based operating systems simultaneously on one workstation—is close to being released to manufacturing. However, the new version will no longer offer official support for BSD Unix, Linux, NetWare or Solaris on Intel.

Carla Huffman, a product manager in the Windows Client Division, explained, "Customers will be able to run most variants of Linux, as well as NetWare and BSD, as guest OSes on Microsofts version of Virtual PC. However, Virtual PC is optimized for Windows around key customer scenarios."

In a submission to the independent Microsoft Software Forum Network site, one poster who claimed to have beta-tested the new version reported, "The first thing we noticed was the removal of Linux, BSD, NetWare and Solaris from the Guest Operating System Wizard list." While users will be able to run non-Microsoft operating systems on Virtual PC, but that such use will not be supported by Microsoft.

Instead, Microsoft is focusing on enabling Windows Server 2003 administrators to run Windows NT 4 applications on their updated servers. This, in turn, will help NT users migrate to Windows Server 2003. Technically, Virtual PC officially enables users to run XP, W2K, NT Workstation, 98, 95, ME, Windows 3.1, and OS/2 VMs on XP, W2K, NT 4 SP6 or Server 2003.

This virtual-machine program is the successor to Virtual PC for Windows 5.2, Connectixs last release. Under Connectix, Virtual PC was marketed as a program for technical support, developing and testing software on multiple operating systems on a single machine or running older applications. While some observers said Virtual PC fell short of VMwares VMware Workstation 4, the software was popular with virtual machine (VM) users

According to Huffman, Virtual PC 2004 is scheduled to be released later this year.

Virtual PC has also won the loyalty of Mac business users, who have long used the Mac version of the program to run first DOS and later Windows applications on Macs.

Microsoft has not abandoned its Mac audience. Huffman said, "Virtual PC for Mac is alive and well! Microsoft released its version of the product, Virtual PC for Mac Version 6.1, this past August and will continue to support and innovate around the technology."

However, the Redmond, Wash., software giant has made few moves to market the Mac software. In addition, Virtual PC for Mac 6.1 does not support the latest G5-based Macs. There is no release date for a G5-compatible Virtual PC for Mac. As is, users at such popular Mac sites as Mac Update have said they are underwhelmed by the current version.

Never released by Connectix, Virtual PC for Servers will ship "in the first half of next year" under the name Microsoft Virtual Server, Huffman said. This program has been in beta testing since late spring and is running late. Microsoft Virtual Server will enable users to run up 64 VMs on top of either Windows Server 2000 or 2003.

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