MWNY: Virtual PC for Mac OS X ready for a Test Drive

During Apple CEO Steve Jobs' Macworld New York keynote yesterday, Kurt Schmucker, Connectix's vice president of Product Manager, demoed a "technology preview" of Virtual PC running on Mac OS X. Schmucker showed AutoCAD, an engineering application not available for the Mac, running in VPC on Mac OS X.

Registered users of Virtual PC 4.0 can download the Virtual PC Test Drive for Mac OS X from the Connectix Web site.

The Virtual PC Test Drive is a timed-out early preview of Virtual PC 4.0 running on Mac OS X that will expire on Jan. 31, 2002.

"The Test Drive demonstrates our strong commitment to the Mac market and to our Virtual PC customers. Its goal is to allow Virtual PC customers to prepare for their migration to Mac OS X," said Mitchell Cipriano, Connectix vice president of marketing, "By providing these early Mac OS X users with the VPC Test Drive and the user forum for feedback and discussion, these users will influence the future direction of Virtual PC and Connectix will be able to deliver a better product for Mac OS X."

Like Virtual PC for Mac OS 9, the Virtual PC for Mac OS X Test Drive runs almost all PC-based operating systems, including Windows 98, Windows Me, Windows 2000, Windows 95, Windows NT, DOS, and several Linux distributions.

VPC users who take Test Drive for a, well, test drive can use existing VPC drive images and saved states from VPC 4, Cipriano told MacCentral.

The Virtual PC Test Drive also maintains the seamless integration with the Mac OS that has made Virtual PC one of the best selling Mac applications, Cipriano said. For instance, the cursor changes from a Windows cursor to a Mac cursor when it moves from one operating system environment to the other.

However, some features of Virtual PC 4.0 are limited or not yet implemented in the Virtual PC Test Drive. There is not yet full USB implementation. Any USB devices that require drivers won't work under Test Drive. And while Shared IP is implemented for networking, Unique IP Address isn't. Both of these will be ready by the finished version, Cipriano said.

Virtual PC Test Drive lets you boot and use existing disk images and save states in Virtual PC under both Mac OS X and Mac OS 9. Users can easily add additional Windows operating systems with the Connectix OS Packs in both Mac OS X and Mac OS 9.

Virtual PC Test Drive requires a Mac G3 or G4 and Mac OS X 10.0.4 with 10MB of hard disk space for Test Drive itself and a CD-ROM drive. Virtual PC with DOS requires 160MB. Virtual PC with Windows 98/Me requires 192MB of RAM. Virtual PC with Windows 2000 requires 256MB.

Cipriano said that porting Virtual PC to Mac OS X wasn't too difficult. About 80 percent of the Carbonized version has the same code as the previous version.

"We're working to get it to run fast and make it integrate the way customers expect it to run," Cipriano said. "That's the hard part."

There's no timetable set for the finished version, though Test Drive is a very stable product. Connectix is still awaiting some APIs (application programming interfaces) from Apple. Plus, the next version of VPC will have new features in addition to Mac OS X native support. But Cipriano said it would be worth the wait.

"Mac OS X has the opportunity to be very fast," he added. "We just have to learn how to use it and get those remaining APIs from Apple."

This story, "MWNY: Virtual PC for Mac OS X ready for a Test Drive" was originally published by PCWorld.

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