Microsoft has released the latest version of its Virtual PC desktop virtualisation software as a free download.
Virtual PC 2007 is the first Microsoft virtualisation offering to support the hardware-based virtualisation technology that AMD and Intel have built into their processors. AMD's Pacifica and Intel's VT technology boost performance for virtual systems.
The software is also the first to run on 64-bit versions of Windows XP and Vista, but does not support 64-bit guest operating systems.
Virtual PC 2007 allows users to install multiple operating systems on a single physical computer.
It can clear compatibility obstacles for new operating systems, for instance, by allowing Windows XP software to run as a virtual system on a Windows Vista computer.
Microsoft has recommended Virtual PC 2007 to users looking to run Internet Explorer 6 on Vista systems.
Vista only supports Internet Explorer 7, but many internal enterprise applications have not yet been adapted to support the new browser. Running IE6 as a virtual image allows the software to run on Windows Vista.
Virtual systems can also offer easier testing for developers and security engineers because a single system can run multiple operating system versions ranging from Windows to Linux.
A beta version of Virtual PC 2007 has been available since October.
Microsoft acquired the product in 2003 when it purchased Connectix. The software at the time offered Mac users the ability to install Windows on their systems.
In response to Apple's decision to move to Intel processors, Microsoft said in August 2006 that it would discontinue the Mac version of Virtual PC.
VMware is currently the largest software provider in the virtualisation market. The company offers a similar products with its free VMware Server and VMware Player software.
Microsoft unveils Virtual PC 2007
By Tom Sanders on Feb 21, 2007 10:56AM