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August 12, 2006

Apple’s WWDC and Microsoft

Posted by David Hunter at 7:03 PM ET.

Last week’s Apple WorldWide Developer Conference (WWDC) was light on news pertaining to Microsoft aside from the usual Apple snarking about Vista. There’s nothing more likely than that to excite geeky passions and while it’s not out of place at an event dedicated to rallying the developer troops, perhaps more relevant were the following:

Apple has completed the transition to Intel hardware with new Mac Pro desktop systems and new quad core Xeon Xserve servers. More important, they “are offered at price points well below the PowerPC-based systems they replace. ” Apple also cut prices on their Cinema displays. They’re still a flea bite on the Wintel market, but they’re trying.

Of course, the shipping hardware may have changed, but Apple still has the baggage of existing users on the old Power PC Macs and existing Power PC software as well. In that regard, Microsoft had a mix of news for Apple users. First, Microsoft’s Mac Business Unit reported progress on converting their Power PC software to Universal binaries that will run on both hardware architectures:

“Tens of millions of lines of code have been 100 percent transitioned to Xcode on the road to a Universal version of Office for Mac. The Mac BU also will provide free, downloadable converters to allow users of current versions of Office for Mac to read the new Microsoft Office Open XML formats following the availability of Office for Windows,” wrote a Microsoft spokesperson.

Microsoft Messenger for Mac 6.0, a new version of Microsoft’s instant messaging application, is coming “later this year,” according to the company. It will include features such as federation with Yahoo! Messenger, customized emoticons and spell check. Users will also be able to display personal messages or what song’s playing in iTunes.

Microsoft is also developing a new version of its Remote Desktop Connection (RDC) client software, which enables Mac users to access Windows PCs on their network. “The next version of RDC will be released as a fully supported free product and details on this release will be shared closer to launch,” stated Microsoft.

There’s still no timeframe for release of the new Office for Mac. Microsoft also completed the assessment they had promised in January and decided not to provide an Intel version of Virtual PC for the Mac:

What has been a foregone conclusion for many Mac users has finally been confirmed: Microsoft’s Virtual PC is dead. In a statement provided to BetaNews Monday, the company said its Macintosh Business Unit has decided not to go forward with a version of the software native to the Intel platform.

“Developing a high-quality virtualization solution, such as Virtual PC, for the Intel-based Mac is similar to creating a version 1.0 release due to how closely the product integrates with Mac hardware,” a Microsoft spokesperson said.

She added that the need for virtualization should be satisfied through alternatives provided by Apple and others.

That’s certainly true enough. In addition to Apple’s Boot Camp dual booting support, VMware announced they were bringing their virtualization technology to Mac OS X, as previously had startup Parallels. Another startup named TransGaming has developed a “portability engine” for Windows games called Cider that is claimed to have been adopted by a number of top tier games publishers to provide Mac compatibility.

Filed under Apple, Coopetition, Hardware, Intel, Microsoft, OS - Client, Office, Office for Mac, Virtual PC, Virtualization, Windows Vista

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