Hot on the heels of Apple’s release of Boot Camp, Parallels.com has released a public beta of Parallels Workstation 2.1 for Mac OS X. Parallels Workstation is virtualization software for the Mac and it promises to make emulation software like VirtualPC obsolete. And, according to early reports, it will eliminate most users need to dual boot their Macs into Windows.
Virtualization software is the future of computing for users who need access to more than one operating system. It eliminates the need for multiple workstations as well as the need to dual boot a computer between OS’s. Virtualization lets us open up virtual computers within the main computer’s desktop and access entirely different self-contained virtual computers.
Prior to Apple’s transition to Intel based processors, in order for a Mac to run a similar virtual environment it was necessary to first emulate an x86 based processor. This was something that PowerPC processors were not well equipped to do. The emulation of a single x86 clock cycle took multiple clock cycles on the PPC chip. This mean that no matter how well written the virtual environment code was, it would always suffer from severe performance degradation due to the hardware emulation.
Since Apple is now in the process of transition to Intel based processors, the playing field has been leveled. Macs, Windows boxes, and Linux boxes all run on the same hardware so there is no longer a need to emulate another processor architecture. This means that there is no performance loss to hardware emulation. This also means the end of products like VirtualPC and the beginning of a bright future for virtualization.
Parallels Workstation is virtualization product for Macs running on Intel based processors. It is capable of running a dizzying array of alternate operating systems within a virtual window on the Mac. And while the product was just released as a beta, initial performance reports are amazing! Check out the video below. It was recorded by one user running Windows XP on a MacBook Pro with 256MB of VRAM 1.5GB of RAM.
Be sure checkout Parallels.com for more information on this amazing new product. It can run Windows 2003 Server, XP Pro, XP Home, 2000 Pro, 2000 Server, NT4, as well as Windows 98… just to name a few operating systems. A wide variety of Linux distributions are also supported. Check out this link for a complete list.