VMware is looking to put its own stamp on one of the hottest properties in the computer market—the Apple Macintosh.
In an announcement that will coincide with the Apples Worldwide Developer Conference in San Francisco, VMware will announce June 12 that its Fusion virtualization software is set for a full release in August.
VMware Fusion, which the Palo Alto, Calif., company first introduced as a beta Dec. 21, enables users to run a number of different operating systems on Intel-based Macs, including Microsofts Windows, Linux, Novells NetWare and Sun Microsystems Solaris—along with Apples Mac OS—without rebooting.
“A lot of VMware customers have been asking us to bring our virtualization software to the Mac for a long time now,” said Pat Lee, senior product manager for VMware. He said that while the majority of customers are looking for Windows support, a vocal minority—about 10 percent—have been looking for virtualization software that supports a broad array of Linux operating systems, too.
Since the introduction of the 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 Apples computers. In addition to 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.
These developments come as the field of desktop virtualization is starting to open up and virtualization technology is moving beyond the data center. In addition to companies like VMware and Parallels, chip makers Intel and Advanced Micro Devices are offering more virtualization capabilities at the processor level.
Chris Wolf, an analyst with the Burton Group, said that while the virtualization software from VMware and Parallels each has its own benefits, Fusion offers more tools for enterprise workers, IT administrators and ISVs. Specifically, Wolf pointed to Fusions support for 64-bit operating systems and for virtual SMP (symmetric multiprocessing).
Despite some of the new products coming into the marketplace as of late, Wolf said it will still be some time before the Mac becomes more fully integrated into the enterprise space.
“I think there is still some work to do,” Wolf said. “There has been some growth of the Mac in corporate America. That being said, I still think there are some advanced capabilities that are needed to fully bring the Mac into the work force, but these virtualization tools are helping to provide a platform for those applications, and I think that will help fuel growth for the Mac in the workplace.”
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.)
In addition to Windows, the Fusion software can support other 32- and 64-bit operating systems such as Linux and Solaris.
Fusion also offers Mac users a number of other 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.
Just before the start of Apples WWDC, VMware released its final Fusion beta update on June 8, which included an additional feature called Unity. This feature integrates Windows XP applications with Mac OS applications and allows users to save Windows application to the Mac OS X dock.
VMware customers who preorder Fusion can buy the software for $39.99. When the software is released to the general public in late August, it will retail for $79.99, according to the company.