Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Codeweavers honors the great Lame Duck giveaway

From Jeremy White's blog,

Wednesday the 28th is the one year anniversary of our Lame Duck giveaway special, in which we gave away 650,000 copies of CrossOver, melted down our servers, and destroyed the US economy.
We're choosing to celebrate the anniversary in a variety of ways. First, we're going to launch a 'CrossOver is NOT Free' promotion starting on Wednesday.

Next, in honor of the Lame Duck, we have given our next two upcoming releases code names. 'Snow Mallard' is the upcoming version of regular CrossOver and 'Zombie Mallard' is the upcoming version of CrossOver Games.

Snow Mallard represents a radical departure for us. For the first time, we're going to embrace the reality that CrossOver runs many applications, rather than just a limited number. Instead of a fixed number of applications supported by CrossOver, CrossOver will be able to use 'Application Installer Profiles', which can come from us, or from the broader community. This should make it easier for our Advocates to bake tips and tricks right into an installation recipe.

Snow Mallard also includes a complete rewrite of the client engine, so everyone, particularly Linux users, should see a dramatic improvement in behavior.

Zombie Mallard will continue to build on the great games we support now, and add support for Left 4 Dead 2, once it's available.

The marketing guys also tell me we'll have a new video out tomorrow, something to do about the Lame Duck as well. But they won't tell me what it is; some kind of surprise...


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

CodeWeavers CrossOver Mac Pro 8

Sometimes, what is possible it not always practical. Some users, such as those who absolutely must run a legacy Windows application, have found it's possible to load Windows on a Mac. Not for the faint of heart, the process involves booting into Windows--you'll need software such as Apple's Boot Camp (free)--or running Windows within a virtual machine application such as Parallels ( Macworld rated 3.5 out of 5 mice ) or VMware Fusion ( Macworld rated 4.5 out of 5 mice ).

A slicker option is CodeWeaver's CrossOver Mac Pro 8.0, an application that runs a virtual environment so you can run Windows applications on your Mac. (We tested the Pro version, which supports both apps and games.) With CrossOver 8 installed on your Mac, you can insert a Windows installer disc such as the one for Microsoft Office 2007 or Quicken 2009 for Windows, install the program, and run it without actually running Windows. This saves time, because you never have to boot the Windows OS. And, theoretically, it should make Windows apps run faster on your Mac.

CrossOver Mac Pro 8 is a smart application; it relies on the open-source Wine application for running Windows apps and streamlines the install process. However, since the CrossOver 7 ( Macworld rated 3 out of 5 mice ) release last year, the new version only adds support for one major, new Windows application (Quicken 2009) and tweaks Office 2007 compatibility. CodeWeavers has not addressed my chief complaint, which is that the application does not provide any guidance as to whether an application will work at the time of install, and relies instead on an online user forum. So, CrossOver 8 is smarter, but still not smart enough.

Application testing

Of course, the real strength of CrossOver 8 is whether it will work for the applications and games you want to run, not any interface issues. For example, I know of a design agency that still uses Adobe FrameMaker 7 to access an extensive archive of page layout documents. In some other cases, you might need to run a Windows program such as Microsoft Word 2007 because that's the version dictated by your company. Fortunately, CrossOver 8 has tweaked support for Office 2007 and now runs more reliably and faster, and adds support for features such as inserting clip art. That said, on my MacBook with 2GB of RAM and a 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo processor, Office 2007 still crashed to the Desktop at least once per hour.

CrossOver 8 supports some of the more popular--but still not the very latest--PC games, such as Left4Dead. That game in particular is important because it ranks up there with World of Warcraft ( Macworld rated 5 out of 5 mice ) as a popular multiplayer game without a Mac version (yet). Left4Dead actually ran quite smoothly and even worked for a multiplayer co-op match.

I also tested Internet Explorer 7. After a few "dry runs" the app finally installed. Sites rich with ActiveX components, such as, ran quite well. Quicken 2009 never crashed, although parts of the program (such as the start-up screen) have noticeable graphical glitches. Accessing these apps is easy: CrossOver puts icons for Windows apps in a folder, a nice touch, and you can even drag them to the dock for easy access.

Putty for Mac
Putty for Mac

VMare Fusion 3 Allows Even More Windows 3D Games To Run on Macs

Today VMware announced the latest release of its virtualization application for the Mac VMware Fusion 3. VMware Fusion allows Windows and Windows apps to be installed and run on Macs. While the release of the third official version of Fusion--with its "more than 50 new features"--might seemingly be meaningful to only a small group of Mac owners who need access to a handful of specific Windows applications, there is an aspect to this release that might have a much larger appeal to gamers: VMware Fusion 3 now includes DirectX 9.0c Shader Model 3 and OpenGL 2.1 support.

One of the reasons why the Mac hasn't had anywhere near the same market share as Windows systems is that the Mac has never really been considered a gaming system--at least not for games with high-level 3D graphics. (This is neither the primary nor the only reason--Mac OS licensing availability, or lack of it, has more to do with this than just about all other factors.) There are still far more 3D game options for Windows systems than there are for Macs; but ever since the Mac platform switched over to using Intel processors, a slowly-growing momentum has been building of Windows games being ported to the Mac--or Mac versions of Windows games being released around the same timeframe as their Windows counterparts.

Windows OS and Mac OS running at the same
time with VMware Fusion 3

It is the switch to Intel processors that opened the door for another possibility for the Mac: to actually run the Windows OS on a Mac--either natively or via virtualization. If you run Windows natively on a Mac (via Apple's Boot Camp tool), then you get the full benefit of all the features the OS has to offer--such as DirectX 10 Shader Model 4 with Windows Vista, or DirectX 11 Shader Model 5 with Windows 7.

Another option the Intel processor brought to the table for the Mac is support for the Intel processor's integrated virtualization features. By using a virtual machine, the Windows OS can run on top of the Mac OS--giving you access to both operating systems at the same time. This is not a native solution, however, so the Windows OS will not behave precisely as it would if it was installed and run natively from its own partition--performance won't be quite as good and some features, such as full DirectX or OpenGL support, might not be enabled. That said, other than full 3D gaming support and a slight performance hit, the Windows OS experience via virtualization with the current application offerings should be almost identical to running the OS natively. Fusion even adds a number of features that help foster moving data back and forth between the Mac OS and Windows, as well as migrating a physical Windows system over to a virtual Windows Machine on a Mac.

VMware Fusion 3 supports Aero and Flip 3D

The previous version of VMware Fusion, as well as its primary competitor, Parallels Desktop 4.0 for Mac, include support for DirectX 9.0 Shader Model 2. Parallels also includes support for OpenGL 2, while VMware Fusion 2 didn't have OpenGL support. VMWare Fusion 3 ups the ante, however, by now including DirectX 9.0c Shader Model 3 and OpenGL 2.1 support. This won't be earth-shattering news to longtime Windows users, who are long-used to DirectX 10 and now DirectX 11; but it does at least update the Windows graphics capabilities of VMware Fusion from circa 2002 up to 2004. And it is important to note, that despite the existence of DirectX 10 and DirectX 11 (as well as OpenGL 3.2), the vast majority of 3D games out there are still DirectX 9 and 9.0c and OpenGL 2.0 and 2.1 titles--or at least Direct X 9 and 9.0c compatible (meaning that some graphics features are turned off when a DirectX 10 title is running in DirectX 9 or 9.0c mode). This means is that more Windows games will run on VMware Fusion, and many games will now have more quality settings supported by VMware Fusion.

Intel Macs owners actually have a number of other options for running Windows apps on their Macs. One is the free, open-source Wine project, and another is a commercial-implementation of Wine: CodeWeavers' CrossOver Mac. CodeWeavers also has a special version of CrossOver, made exclusively for running Windows games on the Mac: CrossOver Games. CrossOver Games currently supports DirectX 9 Shader Model 3 and OpenGL 3.x. Unfortunately, the Mac OS presently supports only up to OpenGL 2.1, so you won't be able to run any games that demand OpenGL 3.x. A CodeWeavers representative tells us that DirectX 10 Shader Model 4 support is currently in development and "will likely be ready next year."

There is a big caveat here that bears mentioning. Despite all this software support for DirectX and OpenGL, there is limited hardware support for these features on many of the Macs that are presently in owners' hands. Many iMacs and MacBooks have GPUs that simply lack the necessary support and horsepower for games that use DirectX 9 and above and OpenGL 2.1 and above. For instance, Apple has a matrix on its Developer site that shows the OpenGL support for the different GPUs found in its systems--some of the GPUs support only up to OpenGL 2.0, and one supports only up to OpenGL 1.4. As Apple embraces gaming more and more for the Mac platform, however, some higher-end GPU options have been slowly becoming available.

In addition to updating its 3D graphics support capabilities, VMware Fusion 3 also adds compatibility for Snow Leopard (Mac OS X 10.6) and officially supports Windows 7, including Windows Aero and Flip 3D. (VMware Fusion 2 identifies Windows 7 as Windows Vista, while Parallels 4's Windows 7 support is considered "experimental.") Starting today, VMware Fusion 3 is available for pre-orders from the VMware site, the Apple Online Store, and Amazon, for $79.99. VMware Fusion 3 will start shipping on October 27. On this date, users of previous versions of VMware Fusion can also upgrade to the new version for $39.99 via the VMware site.

Putty for Mac
Putty for Mac

A year later CodeWeavers urges free CrossOver users to pay up

Once upon a time, about a year ago, a company called CodeWeavers ran a promotion allowing customers to download and install their software fore free. CodeWeavers suite of Crossover apps basically lets users run a number of Windows games and utilities including PhotoShop, Office, and World of Warcraft on Mac or Linux machines. The programs usually run about $40 to $70, but thanks to a heck of a lot of publicity, CodeWeavers wound up giving away an estimated $45 million dollars worth of software in one day.

On the one hand, the promotion wound up boosting CodeWeaver's customer base by 400% (although I'm certain some people downloaded the application without ever getting around to installing it). On the other hand, a huge number of people who might otherwise have paid for the software over the last 10 months might have decided there wasn't much reason to do so.

Now that the 1 year anniversary of the big promotion is coming up, CodeWeavers is sending out emails to the roughly 650,000 people who downloaded the free software asking them to consider paying for ongoing support. The company is also planning on releasing a new version of the software in December, meaning anyone who pays for support will get the update, while those who let their 1 year subscription expire will have to pay full price for the new version.

Do you need support in order to keep using the software. No. But even if you don't need the updates or customer support, you might want to think about taking pity on a company that wound up giving away a ridiculous amount of software in one day last year at the risk of dramatically decreasing revenue for the next year. Last December, the company explained that sales were down 25% since the October 2008 promotion, but I'm not sure what the impact has been since then.

Putty for Mac
Putty for Mac

Monday, October 12, 2009

Windows 8 to be 128 bit operating system

Microsoft is planning to make Windows 8 an 128-bit operating system, according to details leaked from the software giant's Research department. The discovery came to light after Microsoft Research employee, Robert Morgan, carelessly left details of his work on the social-networking site, LinkedIn.
"Research & Development projects including 128-bit architecture compatibility with the Windows 8 kernel and Windows 9 project plan"

The senior researcher's profile said he was: "Working in high security department for research and development involving strategic planning for medium and longterm projects. Research & Development projects including 128-bit architecture compatibility with the Windows 8 kernel and Windows 9 project plan. Forming relationships with major partners: Intel, AMD, HP and IBM."
Morgan's LinkedIn profile has now been pulled down, but a version remains in the Google search cache.

A move to 128-bit support would be a bold move for Microsoft. Many outsiders were urging Microsoft to make Windows 7 64-bit only, but the company continues to offer a 32-bit version of the forthcoming OS.

Microsoft has said very little publicly about Windows 8, although on a visit to the UK earlier this week, CEO Steve Ballmer denied rumours that Windows 7 would be the last major client OS the company produced. Ballmer admitted that planning was underway on Windows 8, although it's highly unlikely that the OS will arrive until 2012 at the earliest.
Morgan's talk of planning for Windows 9 supports Ballmer's claim that the company thinks there is plenty of life left in Windows yet.

This Slashdot comment raises some interesting points:
"Most 64-bit processors provide 40 or 48 bits of address space; they ignore the other two or three bytes of the address (often they support a larger virtual address space than physical, but even then it's usually less than 64-bit). I've yet to see a consumer-grade machine with more RAM than PAE (36-bit addressing) could address. That said, memory is not the only place where the number of bits is important. Hard drives are typically addressed by 512-byte blocks, so 32 bits gives you 2TB, which is a single disk these days. 64 bits gives you 8ZB, which is quite a lot, but it's not a completely unreasonable amount; some people , are going to find that constraining in the next few years, which is why ZFS uses 128 bits. It's not that 128 bits are necessary, so much that 65 bits are and 128 is the most computationally-convenient size after 128. Making sure everything in the kernel supports 128-bit filesystem offsets is an important for long-term project."

Seems to me the future of Wine is going to also have be 128 bit to remain relevant and run the future 128 bit Games and Office tools that are geared for the future Windows OS. Possibly by the time of Windows 8 this will be when they finally kill off 32 bit support and release 64 bit and 128 bit versions of Windows. Looks as if the ground work for 128 bit computing is being set now and therefor a future 128 bit release of our favorite Windows re implementation Wine.

Putty for Mac
Putty for Mac

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

q4wine 0.113 has been released

Finally, after many months of development, testing and bugfixing a new version of q4wine has been released. q4wine is a wine configuration and management utility written in QT.
General features are:
  • Can export QT color theme into wine colors settings.
  • Can easy work with different wine versions at same time;
  • Easy creating, deleting and managing prefixes (WINEPREFIX);
  • Easy controlling for wine process;
  • Easy installer wizard for wine applications; (Not yet. Wait for v. 0.120)
  • Autostart icons support;
  • Easy cd-image use;
  • You can extract icons from PE files (.exe .dll);
  • Easy backup and restore for managed prefixes.
  • Winetricks support.
  • And more..
New features avalible in the 0.113 release are:
  • Added q4wine-cli console utility for wine applications and prefixes management.
  • Added libq4wine implementation;
  • Added embeded q4wine-mount (This is a copy of fuseiso + RH path);
    Note: use this if you too lazy to compile fuseiso from SF and apply pathes;
  • q4wine now remembers 8 recent mounted images;
  • q4wine now remembers 8 recent runned binaryes via Run dialog;
  • QtSingleApp integration. Now you can run only one instance of q4wine-gui;
  • Online documentation;
  • Now q4wine save last user selected prefix and dir;
  • Added "open directory" menu items via xdg-utils;
  • Added "open directory" menu items via winefile;
  • Added xdg-utils support (note: now it is in the depends list)
  • Added translation file for Portuguese (Brazil) by Marcio Moraes;
  • Added *.xpm filter to icon import patten;
  • Added http proxy support for winetricks;
  • Improved icon display widget;
  • Added Drag & Drop support;
  • Added Drag support q4wine icons export;
  • Added Drop support for wine .exe and .com files;
  • Added Drop support for wine .bat files (Now autoadd wineconsole binary args);
  • Added splitter for programs and icons lists;
  • Added command line option for q4wine (See q4wine --help for details);
  • Linux: Improved wine process list build (thanks to Sergey Kishchenko (tilarids));
  • Cleanup q4wine tmp directory on exit;
  • Some fixes for q4wine.desktop (thanks to Eugene Pivnev);
  • Fixed GUI bug: Text fields size, on some desktop configurations, are too small to edit;
  • Fixed a lot of English spelling errors (thanks to Sergey Kishchenko (tilarids));
  • First steps for source code documentation via Doxygen....;
  • Total code reorganize;
  • Database engine rewrite;
  • Many fixes for q4wine.desktop file (thanks to Kyrill Detinov);
  • Fixed compilation with Qt-4.4.X (thanks to Kyrill Detinov);