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Saturday, January 14, 2006, 05:00 pm PT (08:00 pm ET)

Microsoft working with Apple on future of Virtual PC

Just days after renewing its commitment to develop Office for the Mac, Microsoft revealed that it is also working with Apple to bring Virtual PC to its new Intel-architecture.

According to MacNN, Microsoft said any new version of the Windows emulation application would have to be developed from the ground up for Intel-based Macs because the software is not compatible with Apple's Rosetta emulation environment.

Microsoft reportedly plans wait for receipt of the first shipping machines to better evaluate Virtual PC for Intel Macs as well as determine a release date for Office and Messenger for Intel Macs.

"Virtual PC 7 remains the top emulation software for Mac PowerPC users. However, applications like Virtual PC that are highly dependent on the OS will not run under Rosetta," said Roz Ho, General Manager of Macintosh Business Unit (Mac BU) at Microsoft.

"These types of products require a dedicated team and a lot of work to rebuild them for an entirely new architecture. That said, we know that using Windows-based applications on Macs is important to our customers, and we’re working with Apple to figure out the best way to bring this technology to Intel-based Macs. We’ll have a better idea once we have the new machines and can accurately evaluate just what is required to transition the product."

The company also said that the Universal Binary transition may affect the timing of the next release of Mac Office and Mac Messenger. Although it plans to deliver Entourage and Messenger updates in March, they will not be universal binaries.

"We typically deliver new versions every two to three years, as this timeframe is when the majority of customers are ready for new productivity software. Moving to universal binaries will naturally impact our schedule, but we’re dedicated to bringing Office for Mac and Messenger for Mac to customers and making sure we deliver the highest quality products. We’ll know just how much the schedule will need to shift as soon as we’re able to fully test our current and forthcoming solutions on Intel-based Macs," Ho added.

She said the Mac BU will focus on file format compatibility — the primary conern of its users — by delivering new XML file formats and improving the layout engines and graphics. Additionally, Ho said the Mac BU will work with Apple to identify new technologies that will benefit its customers.

Earlier this week, Microsoft both vowed to deliver new versions of Office on the Mac for the next five years and announced that it has halted development of Windows Media Player for the Mac.