FWB axes RealPC, calls OS X version 'vaporware'

FWB Inc. has discontinued its RealPC emulation product, according to a statement posted on its Web site. The news dashes the hopes of Mac users looking for an emulation alternative to VirtualPC, Connectix's virtual machine emulation technology now owned by Microsoft.

Back in June, FWB indicated to MacCentral that a Mac OS X-native version of RealPC was on the way. The development had briefly stopped to straighten out some trademarking issues with Microsoft Corp. itself, according to FWB's then-vice president of sales and marketing Mark Prewitt.

Prewitt also told MacCentral that RealPC's OS X incarnation would incorporate the ability to utilize hardware-based 3D graphics acceleration, reviving hope that running Windows games and other demanding 3D software might once again be a possibility through Mac emulation -- VirtualPC users haven't seen such ability since the days of 3Dfx's graphics cards.

Prewitt sketched in rough details FWB's plans for a release: The company would beta-test the software in July and perhaps have the software on store shelves as early as August. Users who bought RealPC since April would get a free upgrade, and others upgrading from previous versions would only pay $20.

Alas, none of these things have come to pass. Within a few weeks of Prewitt's interview with MacCentral, FWB saw tumultuous management changes that, at one point, caused the California courts to intervene to force the company's former management out.

After the changes, new President Mark Hurlow and CEO Marko Kostyrko noted that they were "investigating the claims recently made by the previous management as to the status of [RealPC]" and promised updated news as soon as possible. They also apologized to software developers Tri-Edre and Prosoft Engineering for "the confusion caused by the continued distribution of [FWB BackupToolkit] against their wishes."

Now the other shoe has dropped. In a statement, Kostyrko condemned FWB's former management for purveying "vaporware."

"After more thorough investigation and interviews with the previous staff, we have found that the development had not formally been started, and it appears not a single line of code has been written," said Kostyrko. "FWB has not to date even received the source code upon which any development would use as the foundation to build a new RealPC for OSX. I am sorry to have to admit that apparently the company has been a party to vaporware when it comes to the claims regarding RealPC."

FWB added that development costs for RealPC included licensing fees "that made the project unattractive." As a result, FWB is dropping development of the software. The company plans to focus on development of disk utility software instead -- its current library includes Hard Disk Toolkit, RAID Toolkit and other utilities.

This story, "FWB axes RealPC, calls OS X version 'vaporware'" was originally published by PCWorld.

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