I was reading Roughly Drafted’s recent piece on Leopard and the History and Future of Mac OS X on PowerPC and it really pointed out to me, via some tangential identification, of just how badly Microsoft missed the Mac OS X virtualization market opportunity.

Parallels and VMWare now own a market that a measly two years ago, they had zero presence on and that Microsoft had all sewn up. Microsoft officially discontinued Virtual PC for Macintosh on August 7, 2006 (just about 14 months ago) and since then it appears the Mac virtualization market exploded once it was clear that Microsoft would have no product to offer on Intel-based Macs. There was no company better positioned to deliver a high-quality and highly-performant virtualization solution for Windows, but Microsoft had trouble seeing through the internal rationalization process of creating a product that would discourage the use of a physical Intel PC to run Windows and in fact, largely alter the method by which Windows is virtualized. Would Microsoft have ever implemented a feature like Coherence or Unity and refined it so well, that it made the Windows desktop and Start Menu an afterthought?

I wonder what MacBU management thinks of the decision to drop Virtual PC a year later — would they still make the same decision?