Company Offers Windows in Mac OS

While Apple has given its users an option to choose between Windows or Mac OS X at startup, other companies are working to give Mac users the ability to run Windows from directly within Apple's operating system using virtual machine technology.

Herdon, Va.-based Parallels said Thursday that it would begin a beta test of its Workstation product for Intel based Macs that would not only allow users to run Windows, but also Linux, FreeBSD, OS/2 or just about any other operating system with the Mac OS X environment.

Apple's switch to Intel processors has made better and faster virtualization possible on its machines. The transition also opens up the possibility that the computer maker could broaden its user base beyond the consumer and into the enterprise market as well.

The Cupertino, Calif., company seems to realize this, touting virtualization as one of the major new features of the next-generation OS X operating system, code-named "Leopard."

Parallels said its support of Intel's virtualization technology would result in almost native performance of the operating system, while not interfering with other virtual machines that may be running.

"This release underscores our commitment to building solutions that anyone, regardless of budget, technology savvy, or operating system can use to improve productivity and platform flexibility," Parallels Marketing Manager Benjamin Rudolph said, adding that his company's software allows users to keep the usability and familiarity of their Macs.

Each virtual machine would act like a separate computer, the company said, with its own virtual hardware, including RAM, hard disk, processor, I/O ports, and CD/DVD-drives.

The company also produces a similar product for Linux and Windows machines, which costs $49.99 USD. No announcement was made as to the expected cost of the Mac OS X version, although Parallels plans to release a final version within weeks. A beta download of Parallels 2.1 for Mac OS X is available now.

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