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Tuesday, September 21, 2004, 11:00 am PT (02:00 pm ET)

Xbox team joins Virtual PC development

Microsoft's Xbox team has been assigned to the development of Virtual PC's native graphics card support, sources tell AppleInsider.

Feeling pressure from both Apple and G5 customers, Microsoft this summer cut several key enhancements from its Virtual PC 7.0 Windows emulation software in order to deliver a G5 compatible solution without further delays.

One of the features reportedly shelved until a future release was native graphics card support. But precisely what is delaying this feature remains a mystery to even some members of the Virtual PC team, as they are not the ones responsible for the implementation.

According to sources, Virtual PC's native graphics card support is being handled exclusively by Microsoft's Xbox team. Though not expected for several months, the feature will reportedly demand a graphics card that meets the same level of graphics sophistication required for Apple's Core Image and Video technology.

For Macintosh systems that sport a compatible ATI graphics card, future versions of Virtual PC will emulate an original Radeon with up to 32MB of virtual video memory. Likewise, for Macs equipped with a compliant Nvidia graphics card, sources said that the emulated chipset will be a Geforce 3 with up to 32MB of virtual video memory.

The performance and speed of Virtual PC's emulated graphics will depend on the speed of the host machine's graphics and the number of available processors, sources added.

In February, Microsoft released the Software Development Kit (SDK) for its forthcoming Xbox 2 video game console. Since the Xbox 2 will utilize IBM processors similar to the ones used in today's Macintosh systems, the SDK was seeded to developers on dual Apple Power Mac G5 systems running a custom Windows NT Kernel.