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Microsoft has released its Virtual PC operating system virtualization software to manufacturing.

Virtual PC 2004 is the new version of the operating system virtualization software Microsoft acquired in February 2003 along with Connectix. It is due to be generally available by the end of the year and Microsoft is concentrating on highlighting the use of the product in reducing the cost and complexity of operating system migrations.

The successful launch of Virtual PC 2004 is particularly important for Microsoft as it attempts to encourage Windows users to move to the latest version, Windows XP Professional. However, assisting with operating system migrations is not the only use that Virtual PC can be put to. The product also allows users to emulate one hardware environment and hence operating system from within another.

In this way the software is generally used for software testing across multiple versions of operating systems with multiple hardware configurations.

Although the product is still capable of emulating non-Microsoft operating systems in the virtual machine environment, the likes of Linux and Unix will not be supported by Microsoft, and this capability is being underplayed by the software giant.

Instead the company will use the product as a tool to encourage users to migrate to the latest version of its operating system, highlighting the fact that users will be able to emulate older applications during a migration to Windows XP Pro.

Recent research from desktop systems management vendor On Technology indicated that a quarter of businesses have not migrated any of their desktops to Windows XP, while only 11% of companies have completed a migration to Windows XP.

In a recent interview Janet Gibbons, Microsoft Windows product and solutions marketing manager, agreed that companies have put off large-scale migration or upgrade projects due to financial considerations, but she also maintains that companies are moving to the latest version of Windows.

"XP deployment is happening," she said. "The problem is that a lot of the recent research was talking about companies fully migrated to Windows XP. Very few large companies migrate everything at any one time."

While that might be true, according to On's research, only 24% of companies have migrated over half their desktops to Windows XP, almost two full years after the product was officially launched.

Source: Computerwire/Datamonitor

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