Mac users are fearful that Microsoft's acquisition of Virtual PC from Connectix could spell trouble for their platform.

One fifth of Macworld Online voters believe the purchase to be "a bad thing", while a further 43 per cent say it's a "very bad thing".

Just ten per cent of the 864 voters think it is a good move, with a further 20 per cent of users unsure. Eight per cent don't care.

Microsoft acquired Virtual PC in order to get its hands on Virtual PC Server, which lets server administrators run multiple Windows operating systems on a single server.

The new products will be in the care of Microsoft's Mac Business Unit. Responding to the move, Apple's VP of worldwide developer relations Ron Okamoto said: "Adding Virtual PC to its portfolio is yet another example of Microsoft's continued commitment to the Mac. Apple is glad to see Virtual PC go into such good hands."

Industry experts say Apple CEO Steve Jobs is unhappy that Apple needs Microsoft more than it needs them, and the Virtual PC deal means Mac users are now reliant on Microsoft for world-standard application Office, and Virtual PC.

Apple's public are not happy.

"It increases Microsoft's monopoly and puts more control into its hands regarding the use of Windows on Macs, and ultimately over the Mac itself," observed one reader.

Another said: "Microsoft won't go out of its way to make Virtual PC and Windows function as well on a Mac, and any ties to Microsoft means Apple will have its hands tied in one way or another."

One said: "Microsoft's continuing commitment to the Mac? Oh, come on, shouldn't that read commitment to world domination? I just don't trust Microsoft".

Some went further: "This is scary. Virtual PC is a very strategic software company for Apple in terms of the success of its Switcher campaign. Now Microsoft owns it, it can quickly and quietly turn off the ability for Macs to run certain key Windows applications."

With G4 speeds maxed-out at 1.4Ghz, and with no faster alternative processor yet announced, one rumour gaining currency is that Apple has a project called Marklar that can run OS X on x86 processors.

With Marklar in mind, one voter remarked: "It had to happen: Microsoft has finally released Windows for the Mac. This is what it amounts to. If that doesn't force Apple to release Marklar, then nothing will."

Apple watchers warn that the release of OS X for x86 would dent the company's hardware sales, and add that Apple is already committing itself to doubling market share. is already working on taking OS X's Darwin core to Intel.

A number of respondees implore Mac users to look at the history around Connectix: "Sony acquired Virtual Game Station, which is now dead."

Microsoft is hiring the majority of the team involved in Virtual PC development at Connectix. The company's history also shows that, as long as it makes money, it will remain in business.

Some readers see a positive side to the news, which could mean a tighter, slicker, faster Windows emulator for Mac.

"If it means Virtual PC is better integrated with Mac OS X and Office then it's got to be a good thing," a voter said.

Another remarked: "Virtual PC is pretty sluggish at best. If Microsoft can speed it up and doesn't use it as an excuse to cease Mac development of its other software, then this is a good thing."

"Give Microsoft 12 months and see what happens. Our natural instinct is to be suspicious of Microsoft, but it may mean more Windows sales, which makes money for the company. If it stops Virtual PC somewhere, someone else will fill the gap."

The open source community has already created a way to run Windows on Macs, as well as other breeds of Unix. The Bachs emulator is free software that can run Windows on Mac OS. Given that Mac OS X runs on a Unix core, why isn't an emulator already built-in to Apple's operating system, some readers said.

"Apple should have bought Virtual PC years ago and incorporated it into the OS; now it's lost that chance."

Have your say in Macworld's forum space for the discussion of the acquisition.