New Virtualization Software Lets Mac OS X and Windows Share Desktop

The Mac OS X version of Parallels Workstation 2.1 will let users run Windows XP or Linux together on the desktop of an Intel-based Mac. The low-cost software may send Apple's Boot Camp Assistant on vacation.

Coming on the heels of Apples announcement of Boot Camp Assistant Beta, virtualization vendor Parallels said it will begin testing on April 6 a Mac OS X version of its Parallels Workstation 2.1 software.

The low-cost virtualization product will let Mac users run Windows XP or Linux together on the desktop of an Intel-based Mac.

According to Benjamin Rudolph, marketing manager, the software is based on the companys virtualization engine.

The Mac OS X port of Parallels Workstation 2.1 will let users build secure, "self-contained virtual machines running any version of Windows—all the way back to 3.1—Linux, FreeBSD, Solaris, OS/2 and DOS ... directly on your OS X desktop," he said.

Parallels Workstation 2.1 will require Mac OS X v10.4.4 and an Intel-based Mac, Rudolph said. The software will cost $49.99 when its released. The trial version can be downloaded from the company.

The general release of the software is expected by the end of April, the company said.

Unlike the Apple Boot Camp Assistant Beta, which lets users boot into either Mac OS X or Windows XP, Parallels virtualization product will allow each operating system to run concurrently on the Mac desktop. The virtual machine will have its own window on the desktop.

/zimages/1/28571.gifWhat shape is Apples Boot Camp Assistant Beta in? Click here to read the review by eWEEK Labs.

Rudolph said theres no shared folder support between the virtual machine and the OS X system.

However, the package comes with a "clipboard synchronization tool" that lets users cut and paste data between Mac applications and Windows apps running in the virtual machine.

"At the moment [the virtual machine] is isolated. If users really want to share files back and forth, they can network the two machines," he said.

In addition, Rudolph said Workstation 2.1 also supports the Macs handling of multiple monitors. Customers can place the virtual desktop on one monitor and the Mac OS X desktop on the other.

Workstation 2.1 takes advantage of the virtualization technology included in new Core Duo chip set, he said.

At the same time, Virtualization for Linux and Windows in client-side computing was a major topic under discussion at the LinuxWorld Conference & Expo.

On April 5, Dell Chief Technology Officer Kevin Kettler said in his keynote address that up to this point, most of the development of virtualization technology has centered on the needs of server users. He said that Dell wants to change that situation.

"What we see is an opportunity to really drive virtualization, and the capabilities of Linux as well, into the client."

On April 5, Apple announced a beta version of Boot Camp, a utility that lets Intel-based Macs boot Microsofts Windows XP.

Prior to this, hackers contested for home-brewed ways to get Windows up and running, but their solutions did not include many drivers and required the use of a Windows-based PC.

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