The addition of the Vista support feature gives IT managers the ability to test how applications will perform on the operating system while still maintaining a Windows XP environment for users.
Available starting today, the software can be downloaded only by beta users from Microsoft's Connect Web site.
"Virtual machines can carry applications that aren't ready to be brought on to the new [Vista] OS," said Brian Gammage, analyst with Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner Research Inc. "The sticker for many IT organizations during an upgrade is testing all the applications. Until that last one is ready to move, they won't move to Vista. That's what Virtual PC really is, a lubricant for Vista adoption," he said.
Virtual PC was introduced by Microsoft as a free software download in 2003 and was developed through the acquisition of Connectix's Virtual PC technology that same year.
The 2007 release candidate includes support for Intel and AMD hardware virtualization technology as well as support for a preboot execution environment. With this feature added, IT managers can remotely boot a guest operating system through the network.
The RC also addresses a few fixes for installing Vista from DVDs and re-enables virtual networking on wireless adapters.