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Leopard Recognizes Windows Executable Format, Virtualization in the Works?

An interesting observation was noted on the Wine mailing list. As it turns out, new in Leopard is the ability to load and understand Windows Portable Executable (PE) files which is the common format for Windows applications and libaries. Understandably, the author raises a number of questions about the discovery:

So this leads to the question. Whats going on? Is this a hold over from EFI which is PE by default? Why would the OS need to load the EFI files? Maybe just for easy of development and testing? Or is something else going on? Is Apple going to be adding a win32 compatibility layer to OS X? Is having a loader of any use to us?

This, of course, leads some to the most dramatic conclusion: that Apple may be integrating Windows virtualization into Mac OS X itself. Of course, rumors of this possibility had been circulating for the months prior to Leopard's official release.

One developer we had contacted about this finding thought it was very unlikely and felt that this parsing of PE files may simply be the product of Apple's ongoing work with Safari and iTunes for Windows. He also noted that simply parsing PE files is a far step from being able to actually run Windows applications.