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Mac Virtual Machine Close To Final Release

Parallels Inc. on Thursday launched the final pre-release version of virtualization software that lets Intel-powered Mac users run Windows or Linux alongside Mac OS X.

Parallels Desktop for Mac RC2 (Release Candidate 2) boosts overall performance of the operating systems running in virtual machine, improves file and folder sharing between OSes, and does away with a bug that made Windows 98 virtual machines consume 99 percent of the processor's horsepower.

The last preview edition before the final rolls out in the coming weeks, RC2 also integrates a tool dubbed "Parallels Compressor Server" that reduces the size of Windows 2000, XP, or 2003 virtual partitions by 50 percent or more. Previously, Compressor Server was offered as a separate add-on.

Users who place pre-orders for the final can purchase Desktop for $39.99. When Desktop launches, the price will climb to $49.99 for the first 30 days, then jump to $79.99.

The 23MB trial edition of Desktop for Mac RC2 can be downloaded without charge from the Herndon, Va. company's Web site. Desktop requires an Intel Mac running OS X 10.4.4 or later, an activation key that can be obtained by providing an e-mail address, and a copy of any Windows edition or Linux distribution.

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