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Beta app virtualizes Mac OS X in Windows; first VM to support DirectX 9

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Software that can run a Mac OS X virtual machine in Windows XP is being demonstrated at VMworld in San Francisco this week. Redwood City startup Moka5 is previewing a public beta of Moka5 Engine, software that creates virtual machines and deploys them on multiple PCs over a network. The company is demonstrating Mac OS X 10.4.3, Linux, and Windows running in Windows XP SP2 at its booth at the tradeshow.

Virtualization vendors such as VMware and Parallels have said that they don't facilitate running Mac OS X in their products because it would violate Apple end user license agreement. Apple requires users to run Mac OS X on Apple hardware.

[Note: Apple is now permitting users to virtualize multiple copies of Leopard Server, though they still must run on Apple hardware.]

Moka5 Engine creates virtual machines on an administrators PC via a simple graphics user interface. Windows XP, Linux, and Mac OS X appear in a drop-down menu.

Moka5 Engine then copies the virtual machines to multiple users computers. Maka5 refers to its virtual machines "LivePCs" because Moka5 Engine will automatically update the virtual machines/LivePCs as the admin makes changes. Moka5 Engine also checks for modifications to the LivePC every time it is booted. If it detects software modifications, such as malware or unauthorized software installed by the user, Moka5 Engine resets the LivePC to the system's original state when the LivePC is rebooted. User documents are retained.

The LivePCs that Moka5 Engine creates run in VMware's free VMware Player on the users' PCs. (VMware Player can run virtual machines, but can't create them.) In order to run Mac OS X, the PC must have a processor that supports the SSE3 instruction set, which is common today. (The free CPU-Z utility can determine if the processor in a PC supports SSE3 instructions.)

Unlike VMware's Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, the virtual machine/LivePC resides on the user's computer, not a server. This means that Moka5 Engine can be used for notebook computers.

Another notable feature of Moka5 Engine is that it is the first virtualization product to support DirectX 9, 3-D graphics acceleration. VMware Player does not have DirectX 9 support, but Moka5 Engine adds some virtualization of its own to the LivePC virtual machine. Moka5 founder and principle engineer John Whaley said that Moka5 accomplishes this by working with graphics hardware at the DirectX API level instead of at the driver level.

Whaley said that the Moka5 started as a project he worked on as a student at Stanford University.

The public beta of Moka5 Engine can be downloaded at Moka5.com.

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