Microsoft has released a long-awaited update to Virtual PC, the emulation software acquired from Connectix over a year and a half ago. Virtual PC 7, which is available as a standalone product or as part of Microsoft Office Professional, boasts faster performance, better integration with the Mac's fast graphics processors, easier printing from Windows to the Mac's printer, and, perhaps most importantly, compatibility with the Power Mac G5.
That Virtual PC was incompatible with Apple's flagship Power Mac G5 desktops gave a black eye to both Apple and Microsoft, so the mere resolution of this problem makes Virtual PC 7 newsworthy. The G5 was announced at Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference in June 2003, and Microsoft released Virtual PC 6.1 in September 2003 (and rolled it into an Office Professional bundle) with the known limitation that it wouldn't work on a G5.
Microsoft claims performance improvement of 10 to 30 percent for Virtual PC 7, which will be a welcome boost for users on the lower end of the system requirements curve. (Virtual PC requires a 700 MHz or faster PowerPC G3, G4, or G5 computer and at least 512 MB of RAM.)
Available now in English editions are a $250 Virtual PC 7 with Windows XP Professional, and a $500 Microsoft Office 2004 Professional Edition, including Virtual PC. An upgrade edition of Office Professional is available for $330. The company says French, German, Japanese, and Swedish editions will be available in the months ahead, as will Virtual PC versions featuring Windows XP Home or Windows 2000 Professional, and standalone (without an OS) and upgrade editions.