The future of Virtual PC appears cloudy, despite a new five-year agreement between Apple and Microsoft.

The two companies last week revealed a deal that means Microsoft Office for Mac will remain available to Apple's platform for at least five years.

However, Microsoft will not continue to produce Internet Explorer or Windows Media Player for Apple's computer platform.

It's possible Virtual PC may also bite the dust, at least on Apple's new Intel processors.

In a statement released last week, Roz Ho, general manager for the Macintosh Business Unit (Mac BU), explained: "The Mac BU recognises the need for the product and believes it is the best virtualisation solution for PowerPC users, so it is committed to providing Virtual PC to new and existing PowerPC customers."

Ensuring Virtual PC works on Intel processors will require a complete rebuild of the application, it seems.

"Microsoft is still discussing with Apple the feasibility of bringing Virtual PC for Mac to Intel-based Macs in the future and has not made any announcements about if/how the product might work on the new machines," Ho added.

There may be a solution.

Repeated statements from Apple executives across the last few days have stressed that while the company won't permit Mac OS X to run on machines other than Macs, it will take no steps to prevent users installing copies of Windows on Macs.

This opens the possibility that Mac users who need to use Microsoft's software may install both systems on their Macs.