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Parallels Virtual Machine Loads Windows, OS X On Intel Macs

Just a day after Apple Computer unveiled its Boot Camp dual-boot program, on Thursday a Herndon, Va. company launched virtualization software that lets users run Windows and Linux alongside Mac OS X.

The beta Mac OS X port of Parallels Workstation 2.1 can be downloaded as a free 30-day trial, Parallels Inc. announced on its Web site. The software works only on Intel-based Macs, and when it goes final later this month, it will cost $50 per system.

"Workstation for Mac OS X gives Mac users a viable virtualization solution that will let them embrace widely-used operating systems like Windows and Linux without having to give up the power, usability, and familiarity of their Macintosh,” said Benjamin Rudolph, the company's marketing manager, in a statement.

It is the first commercial virtual machine software for Intel Macs; Microsoft's Virtual PC works only on older PowerPC-equipped systems, for instance, and all other options come from open-source projects.

According to Parallels, the virtual machine program supports Intel's Virtualization Technology, which is included in the Core Duo chipset that powers the new Macs. "[This] ensures that virtual machine performance is close to near-native, and that each virtual machine is stable and completely isolated from other virtual machines and the host physical machine," the company said Thursday.

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