RealTime IT News

Windows on Mac is Virtually Possible

In Apple's recent TV campaign, a Mac user assures a hapless Windows user there's a place for him on the Mac.

But Herndon, Va., startup Parallels is rolling out a much better welcome mat than Apple's.

Following the conclusion of a beta program it said some 100,000 testers participated in, company has released the commercial version of Parallels Desktop.

Parallels differs from Apple's Boot Camp solution (still in beta), which lets Mac users run either Windows or Mac software but not both at the same time.

Intel-based Macs running Boot Camp must be restarted to switch operating systems.

But Parallels said it has developed virtualization software that lets users run both Windows and the Mac OS. Windows must be purchased and installed separately to take advantage of either Boot Camp or Parallels.

"The core market for us is anyone with an Intel-based Mac," said Ben Rudolph, marketing director at Parallels told internetnews.com.

"We live in a Windows world, but there's been this barrier for Mac users. This knocks that down so there's not to run Windows software."

But one barrier for consumers is the additional cost of buying Windows.

"It sounds great for the cognoscenti and power users, but I don't see it as the kind of thing everyday users will want to go," Stephen Baker, analyst with NPD Group, told internetnews.com.

"It's a lot more elegant solution to just buy another PC and, oh by the way, it's not that much more expensive than buying a full copy of Windows at retail for $200. Also, for a family, a separate PC let's more than one person use the computer at a time."

Rudolph conceded Parallels really sees its most immediate opportunity in the corporate market where Windows site licenses are common.

"Now you can give your employees who use Macs whatever software they need to be most productive," said Rudolph.

Parallels also offers more than Windows.

The software will allow Mac users to run Linux, FreeBSD, Solaris, OS/2, eComStation and (a scary thought for Mac users), good-old MS-DOS, the character-based operating system first that preceded Windows in the early 1980s.

By having both OS' in play, users can cut and paste data between Windows and Mac programs.

Parallels said it was able to turn the dual Mac OS/Windows trick by developing its own virtualization engine and taking advantage of Intel's virtualization technology included in the new Intel-based Macs.

The software will sell for $79.99 but is being offered for $49.99 for the next 30 days.

The first company to offer the ability to run Window on a Mac was Connectix with its Virtual PC software.

Ironically, Microsoft purchased Virtual PC and another product, Virtual Server, from Connectix in 2003.