Microsoft's Mac Business Unit in the UK has confirmed that Virtual PC 7 for Mac has been released to manufacture, following the release of Windows XP SP2.

The company has also began manufacture of Microsoft Office 2004 for Mac Professional Edition, the top-of-the range version of its widely-used productivity package, which ships with Virtual PC. Both products will be available in stores in October.

This version of the PC emulation package for Mac is compatible with G5 processors, which previous versions of Virtual PC were not.

New, improved and feature-packed

Microsoft claims other improvements in this release: users are promised better performance, better graphics handling and a Fast Save feature, which means the PC state is saved in the background, so users can move on to other tasks.

The product also integrates a new set-up assistant, designed to make it easier to install the software; printing has also been improved - Mac OS X 10.3 users won't need to install printer drivers to work from within Windows emulation, as files will print using the Macs default printer, with no set-up required.

Sounds, toolbars, shortcuts, memory and Dock inclusion are all now controlled from within the Virtual PC application preferences.

October sees the release of Office 2004 for Mac Professional Edition and Virtual PC with Windows XP Professional. Virttual PC with Windows 2000. Home, and Standalone and Upgrade editions will be available a few months later.