Just in time for the Macworld trade show next week, Connectix will offer updated software that allows Macintosh users to run Windows-based programs with better performance and increased compatibility.
Connectix's Virtual PC 2.0 will offer 25 to 40 percent faster performance compared to the first version, according to the company. Other new features include the ability to drag and drop files and data between the Mac and PC desktops. When Windows 98 appears later this year, Connectix says that Virtual PC 2.0 will be able to run the new operating system and associated software as well.
Also, compatibility with Microsoft's DirectX has been enhanced, the company says. DirectX is a collection of controls which programmers use to communicate with PC hardware and are important for applications such as games that Mac users may want to run.
Virtual PC supports all the hardware functions of a standard MMX Pentium-based PC. It does this by making a PowerPC-based computer pretend to be a PC, instead of making the Mac OS pretend like it is Windows 95 or DOS. The Windows 98, 95, or Windows 3.11 operating system itself is actually installed on the Mac, and third-party programs are actually running in Windows, unlike other emulators.
Connectix says that because the software emulates PC hardware, it will also enable Macs to run Windows NT, Windows 3.1, OpenStep, and OS/2 operating system software.
The first version of the program has proven to be quite popular with users, who often find that new programs such as Web browsers are being released for Windows systems anywhere from weeks to months ahead of Mac OS-based programs. Vendors such as Umax Computer and Newer Technologies have bundled Virtual PC with their new hardware, too, in order to offer users access to a wider array of software.
Like its predecessor, Virtual PC 2.0 will offer Sound Blaster Pro support, Ethernet networking, and peripheral support for CD-ROM drives, modems, and printers.
Even with the claimed improvements in performance, users will still need to have relatively powerful systems to see acceptable levels of performance with Virtual PC. This is due to the fact that the Virtual PC has to continuously act as an interpreter between Windows and the Mac hardware.
Connectix says that the minimum system requirements for Virtual PC Windows 95 version, which comes with Windows 95, are a 180-MHz PowerPC processor or better and at least 24MB or more of memory.
The company is also selling a Windows 3.11/DOS version of Virtual PC, which requires at least a 100-MHz PowerPC or better and 20MB of memory or more.
Virtual PC 2.0 with Windows 95 will have a street price of $149 and is slated to ship in February, according to Connectix. The DOS version will be priced at $49 and the Windows 3.x version will be priced at $99, while upgrades from the first version are expected to be priced below $50. Users who purchased Virtual PC 1.0.1 on or after Jan 1, 1998 will be eligible for a free upgrade, the company says.