Microsoft shelves its Virtual PC for Mac

Please go to our rivals for Windows virtualization, it says. So what about Office for Intel-based Macs? Images: Messenger 6.0 for the Mac

Microsoft is putting a halt to a version of its Virtual PC software for Intel-based Macs.

The move comes after start-up Parallels introduced its own virtualization software for running Windows on a Mac, and VMware said Monday it plans to provide a beta version of Mac virtualization software later this year.

Messenger 6.0 for Mac

Apple also has its Boot Camp software, still in a beta testing version. Boot Camp allows Intel-based Macs to run either Windows or the Mac OS, but not both simultaneously.

In a statement on Monday, Microsoft said it "has made the decision not to move forward with a Universal version of Virtual PC at this time."

The software maker acquired the Virtual PC for the Mac line as part of its 2003 purchase of Connectix' Virtual PC and Virtual Server products. It still offers Windows virtualization products, though it has made the desktop version of Virtual PC for Windows a free download.

Because of how closely virtualization software is tied to an operating system, Microsoft said that moving Virtual PC to the Intel-based Mac would be "similar to creating a version 1.0 release."

"The (Macintosh business unit) still recognizes that customers need access to Windows applications from their Intel-based Macs and feels confident that alternative solutions offered by Apple and other vendors, combined with a fully packaged retail copy of Windows will satisfy this need," the company said.

Microsoft is moving ahead with its effort to bring a native version of Office to Intel-based Macs. It said that tens of millions of lines of code have been transitioned, but did not say when the product would be ready. It did say it would provide a free converter that allows the current version of Office for Mac to read the new XML formats being employed by Office 2007 for Windows, due to arrive early next year.

The company said the next version of the Mac Office will discontinue support for Visual Basic scripting. However, it will add better support for Mac scripting methods such as AppleScript and Automator.

Microsoft's first native software for Intel Macs is planned to be Messenger 6.0, set for release later this year. It will allow people using the instant-messaging software on the Mac to talk with those running Yahoo Messenger--a feature that has been added to Windows Live Messenger, but is currently not an option for Microsoft's Mac IM users. People will be able to share a message with buddies, as well as show which song they are listening to in iTunes.