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  • Newsletter #350 Preview: Why the Death of Virtual PC is Another Microsoft Failure

    August 12th, 2006

    When the news was first broadcast that Microsoft had acquired the rights to Connectix Virtual PC in February 2003, I had mixed feelings. You see, Microsoft was notorious for acquiring technologies from other companies, and then killing them.

    But this didn’t make much sense to me, because Virtual PC was a great addition to Microsoft’s product portfolio. It would, after all, sell more copies of Windows, and I had the hope that their Mac Business Unit would somehow eke more performance out of the program, particularly when it came to graphics. As it was, Windows emulation software on the Mac was pathetic, barely usable.

    Of course, the marketing people put the usual positive spin on the transaction. According to a Macworld report at the time, quoting Microsoft’s Tim McDonough, “This is just another sign that we’re committed to the Mac by broadening the products we bring to the platform. This is a product we will continue to offer and improve.”

    Improve?

    I suppose, for a while. I mean the interface got better, and there were minor performance boosts and interface enhancements. But when it took so many months to make Virtual PC compatible with the Power Mac G5, you could see the handwriting was on the wall.

    Story continued in this week’s Tech Night Owl Newsletter.



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    9 Responses to “Newsletter #350 Preview: Why the Death of Virtual PC is Another Microsoft Failure”

    1. Dan Simpson says:

      Gene,
      I can’t wait to see the rest of your story on this. I think you are absolutely right. I think we may be witnessing the death of the mac BU altogether.
      If MS did not see this comming they deserve to lose our business. Perhaps they don’t want it. Surely MS could have beaten a tiny company like Parallels to market if they wanted to. They had Virtual PC for windows, didn’t they??? That runs on x86 hardware, right? How hard could this have been?
      Windows Media Player has been replaced by Flip4Mac. I don’t think Office can be far behind. There is a real nice beta version of NeoOffice out right now that has the Aqua Interface. There are plenty of altternatives to MS products and they are getting better and more plentiful all the time.
      Can you say…GOODNIGHT ROZ!

    2. Matt Carrell says:

      Everybody knew this was coming… Microsoft has no interest in developing for Mac beyond simply eeking out upgrade fees for Office and maintaining the appearance of universality to discourage competition.

    3. Aaron says:

      I always wondered why MS never created a PPC version of windows? Perhaps they have one in the works?

    4. Dana Sutton says:

      Probably Virtual PC deserves to be regarded as a minor miracle because it works at all. Think of all the behind-the-scenes stuff that must be going on! Sure, it makes your Mac behave as if somebody poured a gallon of Karo Syrup into it, but for some limited purposes it has its valuable uses. Case in point: if you are operating a Web site and want to make sure your pages look okay on PC browsers, it’s a whole lot cheaper than buying a PC for that one purpose. But of course about 95% of the credit for it belongs to its original developer, Connectix. The possibility of MS developing its own original concepts from the ground up seems impossible, doesn’t it? A lot of stuff comes out of Redmond, good and bad, but what we never seem to get from MS is ideas. B. t. w., if the next version of iWork really does include a spreadsheet/graphing program, I think I can expunge Office from my hard disk and have a completely MS-free Mac, and I bet a lot of other folks will do the same.

    5. brent lee says:

      I’m so happy it died!

    6. Andrew says:

      MS did have a PPC version of Windows NT back in the day, but it didn’t sell well so they stopped development.

    7. woz says:

      I do feel Apple’s BootCamp must not be left out of this story. Why would Microsoft spend all this R&D money when they’re sure Apple will finish BootCamp and provide it for free with Leopard? How can they beat that? Why would they want to? The BootCamp user, the Parralel-user, they will all order a copy of Windows from Microsoft. In the end, Microsoft still gets what it wants.

    8. LisaHunter says:

      Let’s put it this way, if IE7 for Mac were made available, would you use it? Probably not, knowing that you already have Safari and other non-Microsoft browsers available. The same logic applies here. Perhaps Apple’s big “secret” is Apple’s own PC emulation (not boot camp) which would be going head-to-head with VPC.

      But then again, perhaps Microsoft knows that emulation will never be as fast as users really want it. Thus the best experience can only be achieved with BootCamp. And as some have already pointed out, users still have to buy a copy of Windows; so, Microsoft doesnt really lose out. In fact, Apple is helping by the mere existence of boot camp.

      Suggestion for new topic: “What are Apple and Microsoft really thinking about when it comes to Vista?”. The purpose of bootcamp is to allow people to run windows apps on their Mac (w/o emulation). If Vista is incompatible, then Mac users are stuck with WinXP. This won’t look good on Apple. Also, if this were true, Microsoft couldnt sell additional Vista licenses to Mac users. This is motivation for the two companies to continue working together.

    9. Suggestion for new topic: “What are Apple and Microsoft really thinking about when it comes to Vista?”. The purpose of bootcamp is to allow people to run windows apps on their Mac (w/o emulation). If Vista is incompatible, then Mac users are stuck with WinXP. This won’t look good on Apple. Also, if this were true, Microsoft couldnt sell additional Vista licenses to Mac users. This is motivation for the two companies to continue working together.

      I have little doubt that, when Leopard is released, Boot Camp will offer will support for Windows Vista installations. There would seem no logical reason not to offer it, as it would defeat the purpose of having that dual-boot capability. I don’t believe in secret plans to force Mac users to be restricted to Windows XP.

      Certainly, Parallels Desktop will also provide Vista support at the appropriate time.

      Peace,
      Gene

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