Power Mac G5 owners hunting for a way to emulate x86 and Pentium operating systems such as Windows on their Macs can get WinTel 1.2 for OS X, one of the first software packages known to have been optimized for G5s using IBM's recently released suite of compiler tools.

WinTel 1.2 for OS X fills the gap left by the current inability of Microsoft's Virtual PC to function on G5 processors. The software is available from OpenOSX.com, and consists of an "easy-to-use solution for configuring and utilizing the included open source software package, Bochs."

The solution will function on Macs running OS X 10.2 or later. This version offers "increased performance on Power Mac G4 and G5s", has new features and is more stable than before.

New features include: a virtual Network Interface Card, USB support and 32-bit colour SVGA video. This version has been successfully tested with Windows 95, 98, 2000, NT 4.0 and XP Professional. A tutorial for installing Windows systems using the software is available for download.

Mac improvements in WinTel 1.2 include: "The Mac OS X Finder may be used to copy files between the emulated PC and the Mac OS X host operating system. In addition to other improvements contributed to the Bochs project, OpenOSX developed the Mac OS X CD-ROM driver for Bochs, providing CD-ROM support. Disk images created with 'Disk Copy' and 'Toast' may be used as a CD-ROM in the emulator. Users may transfer files from the Microsoft Virtual PC product to a WinTel disk image by using the Mac OS X Finder," the developers say.

Initial comparative application performance tests conducted between G5s, G4s and other platforms called Apple's initial claims that G5 Power Macs were the world's fastest personal computers into question. This was because the applications themselves were not optimized to run on the new processor architecture.

IBM released its XL C++ Compiler toolkit earlier this year. OpenOSX used these tools to build the version of Bochs carried in this release. It claims this means a 25 per cent performance improvement over the official Bochs and a 30 per cent performance hike in comparison to previous versions of WinTel. Significant performance improvements are visible on G5 and G4 processors, the developers claim.

The product costs $30 (on CD) or $25 (for download). Upgrades from previous versions cost $15 (CD) or $10 (download).