Apple's Boot Camp has made headlines by allowing Windows XP to boot on Intel Macs, but it's hardly an optimal solution for users wanting to run Windows and OS X apps side-by-side. To fulfill this need, a company called Parallels has launched Desktop for Mac, a virtualization app that runs Windows XP inside MacOS X.
Long-time Mac users may shrug at the idea, since solutions like Microsoft (previously Connectix)'s Virtual PC have essentially allowed the same thing for nearly a decade. Parallels' software brings a major innovation to the table, however: it isn't emulated. Desktop for Mac lets x86 Macs run Windows code natively, and it harnesses Intel's hardware Virtualization Technology available with Core Duo and Core Solo processors to improve speed. According to third-party tests, Desktop for Mac provides performance within 1-2% of Windows PCs or Intel Macs running Windows via Boot Camp.
On top of that, Parallels' app may even prove a more attractive solution than Boot Camp to some users. It's available and fully supported right now, whereas Apple's Boot Camp isn't expected to make it out of Beta until the next version of MacOS X ships in late 2006 or early 2007. Desktop for Mac isn't free, though; users will have to cough up $49.99 for the full version, and that price will climb to $79.99 next month.
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