VMware Fusion for Mac Due Aug. 6

VMware's Fusion for Mac beta has had 250,000 downloads since December.

VMwares Fusion software for Apples Macintosh will hit the market Aug. 6, after months of testing and beta releases.

The software, which allows a number of operating systems including Microsoft Windows, Linux and Sun Microsystems Solaris to run on the Mac, has had a total of 250,000 downloads since the Palo Alto, Calif., company released the first beta in December.

Fusion will support both 32- and 64-bit operating systems.

When the software becomes generally available on Aug. 6, for a price of $79.99, it will be available through VMwares Web site, the Apple Store and various retailers.

Since Apple introduced its first Intel-based Macs in January 2006, several companies have started to offer new virtualization software that will run Windows and other operating systems on the Mac. Besides Apples own Boot Camp software, Parallels offers a product called Desktop for Mac. On June 8, Parallels announced version 3.0 of the software, which has additional security features and enhanced integration between Windows and the Mac OS X.

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VMwares Fusion works with Intel-based Macs and uses a Cocoa-native user interface that allows either Microsoft Windows or another x86 operating system to run side-by-side with the Mac OS X operating system. (Cocoa is Apples application programming technology for Mac OS X.)

Fusion offers Mac users a number of features, including automatic Boot Camp integration and support for USB 2.0 ports and three-dimensional graphics. In addition, the virtualization software includes a tool that allows users to take a "snapshot" of their virtual machine configuration and then return to that configuration at any time.

At Apples Worldwide Developers Conference in June, VMware introduced a new feature called Unity, which integrates Windows XP applications with Mac OS applications and allows users to save Windows applications to the Mac OS X dock.

Pat Lee, a senior product manager for VMware, said the companys engineers were looking into Apples new operating system, Mac OS 10.5 "Leopard," to see if they need to make any adjustments to the Fusion software.

One Fusion user who has been impressed with the virtualization software is Matt Lydy, who, along with his wife, owns Matt Lydy Photography, a small photography studio in Columbus, Ohio.

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In an e-mail, Lydy wrote that he has been using Fusion software with his Mac Pro desktop—3GB of RAM—since the early beta versions of the software were released. For years, he had only worked with PCs and only recently switched to the Mac. The Fusion software, he said, helped him make the transition easier.

"I generally have a virtual machine running almost all the time now depending on what Im working on at the moment," Lydy wrote. "It is great not having to have multiple PCs running under my desk anymore. I have enough machines sitting around as it is, not to mention the energy savings I get by not having multiple PCs running."

Lydy added: "I use virtual machines to run my accounting software [Microsoft Office Accounting Professional 2007] as well as some smaller photo-related applications that are not available for the Mac OS. I generally run Windows XP Professional and have one Vista virtual machine that I have been testing with."

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