After my initial post about Virtual PC and subsequent mailings to a couple of Web dev lists that I am subscribed to, I had a couple of interesting conversations on what this release means and why/if it is important. The question also came up as to whether or not the release is related to Apple’s BootCamp, which I asserted.
I do see a connection to BootCamp and Parallels. Virtualization is a powerful tool for develoeprs on any platform and I think Microsoft has recognized this about a step behind Apple, which has started to push this feature in one of the new commercials.
While Virtual PC won’t allow folks to run OS X software on a Windows box, it will provide a lot of folks the ability to set up a very cheap test environment for multiple operating systems and browsers, which will be important with the coming releases of IE 7 and Vista.
As a developer, I had been pondering the jump to OS X but held off for quite a while as I didn’t want to maintain a PC and a Mac at the same time. Once the Intel-based Macs came out and people started hacking the system to support XP, the need for a separate box for secondary/multiple OSes was gone. Now I can run multiple versions of Windows on my Macbook to test various OS/browser combos in addition to the Mac ones. Ultimately that means that Microsoft, and Windows-centric software makers will get less of my money (I won’t need to buy anything but the OS licenses) and Apple will gain another ardent user who has the ability to ensure his sites are compatible with their software.
This is an interesting battle as Apple sees itself as a hardware company that makes software and Microsoft views itself as a software company that produces products to work on most any “standardized” machine.
This may signal a new front in the war for computer market share; one that I hope will translate into more competition and improved features for all of us.