VMware, Parallels Face Off In Mac Desktop Virtualization

On Tuesday, with Apple's World Wide Developer Conference under way in San Francisco, VMware, the Windows virtualization market leader, announced that its Fusion Macintosh desktop virtualization product will be available in August for $79.99. The software lets Macintosh users simultaneously run Mac, Windows, Linux, NetWare and Solaris-based applications without rebooting, the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company said.

VMware Fusion has a palette for launching Windows XP and Vista applications from the Mac OS X desktop and integrated support for Mac keyboard shortcuts and the Mac Expose feature. The software also offers snapshot utilities and support for virtual SMP so users can leverage dual-core processors, dual processors per machine and 64-bit platforms.

At the conference, VMware announced Beta 4 of Fusion and a special promotion price of $39.99 for customers that order before the product launches later this summer.

Meanwhile, Parallels, which has taken a lead in the Mac desktop virtualization market, last week unveiled version 3.0 of its namesake desktop virtualization application and this week said it plans to offer a server product for the Mac OS X operating system.

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Parallels 3.0, which went live earlier this month, is the first major upgrade of the product since its introduction last June. It offers more than 50 new features, including accelerated 3-D graphics support, a security manager, Vista Boot Camp support and Parallels Explorer, which lets users view and modify the content of their Windows virtual hard drive without launching Windows.

In additon, Parallels 3.0 offers Snapshot security and backup features, as well as a key new feature called SmartSelect that allows Mac OS X or Windows applications to open any file type, regardless of whether the file is on the Mac or Windows desktop.

Parallels 3.0 costs $79.99 for the full version and $49.99 for current users who upgrade. Users also can download a free 15-day trial version.

Renton, Wash.-based Parallels also said that later this week, it will hold a public demonstration of the alpha version of Parallels Server for Macintosh, which lets users run Windows and Linux in virtual servers on Apple's Intel-based Xserve rack-mount server with Mac OS X Server.

Parallels didn't give a release date for the server product but said it would ship soon.