|The Mac Observer was treated to a sneak peek of Virtual PC 3.0 by Kathy Westergaard, Product Manager at Connectix. Here's the lowdown on important new features in this update, which is slated to ship late September 1999.
Unlike version 2.x, which required setting up a separate dialup or dedicated network configuration for the PC environment, 3.0 allows the PC environment to share a network connection and configuration established in the Mac environment. No more need to double your efforts in order to access network services from the PC environment. Network performance has also been improved.
USB device support is included with Virtual PC 3.0. This is especially good news for owners of the iMac and G3 Blue and White, neither of which offer the older modem and printer serial ports. Printers, scanners and other USB devices can be used in both environments. Connectix will offer a list of USB devices which have been tested.
Despite the resurgence of gaming on the Mac platform, there may be some PC-only titles that you'd like to run under Virtual PC. The previous Sound Blaster Pro compatibility has been upgraded to Sound Blaster 16, for a richer audio experience.
Printer emulation has also been improved, with a maximum possible resolution of 1440 dpi versus the 360 dpi resolution offered under 2.x. Performance of the virtual hard disk has also been enhanced. Good news for those who use disk intensive applications, such as development tools.
An exciting feature that makes the Virtual PC 3.0 environment more useful than the real thing is support for AppleScript. After starting the Script Editor, we were able to perform tasks in the Windows environment, and they were dutifully recorded as a script. This opens up new possibilities for automating operations in the PC environment.
For maximum flexibility, a Configuration Manager will allow you to maintain multiple sets of preferences and saved PC states. To help shield Mac users from some of the horrors of configuring the PC environment, a new Setup Assistant will guide the user through the process.
Still lacking is direct support for SCSI devices, and the maximum amount of RAM available to Virtual PC is still 128 MB. In light of the other enhancements to the package, these will be relatively minor concerns for most users.
The expected pricing will be $179 for the Windows 98 version, $149 for the Windows 95 version, and $49 for the DOS version. Upgrade pricing is $45 for the owner of any 1.x or 2.x version. More information on VirtualPC is available at the Connectix web site, though version 3.0 is not yet represented as it is not released.