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VMware Touts Mac Virtual Machine

VMware on Monday announced virtual machine software for the Mac that will run any x86 operating system -- including Windows, Linux, and Solaris -- beside Apple Corp.'s Mac OS X.

The as-yet-unnamed software will release to beta testing "later this year," VMware said, and is based on its existing virtualization technology that lets Windows users run multiple operating systems in a single box. This is the first time the Palo Alto, Calif. developer has moved on the Mac market.

Unlike Apple's own Boot Camp dual-boot solution, a virtual machine allows users to switch between Mac OS X and other operating systems without rebooting. Traditionally, virtual machine software has been pitched to software developers and help desk representatives who need immediate access to several OSes. With the debut of Apple's Intel-based Mac systems earlier this year, however, interest in virtualization has ballooned as sales of the new computers has increased.

At best, VMware will be second to the Mac. In June, Parallels Inc. shipped its namesake, Parallels Desktop. Since then, Apple has endorsed Parallels, both on its Web site and by stocking it in its retail stores.

VMware may have an advantage, however. On Monday, it promised that virtual machines created with any of its products will run on Intel-based Macs; non-Mac OS X virtual machines created with Mac virtualization software will also run on the latest versions of other VMware titles.

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