Connectix has announced Virtual PC 4.0 – the newest version of its Windows emulator for Mac.

The product accesses Windows networks and runs PC applications from a Mac. Mac and Windows systems can run concurrently, and text and data can be drag-&-dropped between the two operating systems.

The new version has improved performance and an enhanced user interface. It can also run multiple operating systems, according to Connectix. The company claims its product can run twice as fast as previous versions, and the software offers Velocity Engine support for G4s.

Memory Version 4.0 allows the allocation of additional memory (up to 512MB RAM) to the operating system inside Virtual PC, without quitting the application. The Windows disk-image appears as a virtual hard disk on the Mac hard drive. It only uses the disk space it requires, rather than a preset amount, so it's possible to run a number of different virtual operating systems on one hard drive – though this is limited by RAM.

Virtual PC OS Packs are also supported - you can add a new operating system as easily as copying a file to the Mac hard drive, according to the company. This is the first time the product has become expandable in this way.

You can drag items from the Mac Finder to the window of any open operating system and vice versa. Windows can also be resized for the first time.

Interface improvements Other user interface improvements include scrollable windows and support for three-button mice and scroll mice.

System requirements for Virtual PC 4.0 are a Power Mac G3 or G4, Mac OS 8.5 or later, 50MB RAM (64MB is recommended), and a CD-ROM drive. Two versions are available – an upgrade version, and one with Windows 98 pre-installed. PCDOS and Windows Me versions are promised soon, with supporting updates for other operating systems also planned.

Virtual PC with Windows 98 and Virtual PC Upgrade cost £159 and £75 respectively from Connectix online. The product doesn't support Mac OS X public beta. Kurt Schmucher, director of product management at Connectix, told MacCentral: "We're making progress on Mac OS X support, but it's a major deal. We have to get low into the operating system and low into the hardware, and do major revisions to Virtual PC. We're working with Apple to make it as seamless as possible. We'll have Virtual PC for Mac OS X shortly after the finished version of the OS ships."