VMware offers Fusion for running Windows on Macs

VMware offers its version of software that lets Windows run on Apple's Mac computers

VMware gave startup Parallels some competition Monday by releasing the first version of its software that lets Windows applications run on Apple's Macintosh computers.

VMware Fusion enables Mac users to simultaneously run a full version of Windows or any other x86 OS on x86 Mac hardware, which includes the latest Apple computers that run on Intel chips, according to the company. The software is similar to desktop virtualization software already available from Parallels, which also lets Mac users run Windows on the Mac OS.

Monday marks the first time VMware has released software based on its virtualization platform for the Mac, though the beta of the software has been available since December 2006. According to VMware, there have been 250,000 downloads of that beta.

Fusion allows Mac users to run both 32- and 64-bit OSes, and they can toggle back and forth between Windows and the Mac OS without having to reboot, according to VMware.

When Apple released Macs based on Intel-based chips in January 2006, it became possible for Microsoft's Windows OS to run on Apple computers, which previously only used the proprietary Mac OS. Parallels, a small company in Renton, Washington, became the first to offer virtualization software to let Windows run on Macs with its Parallels Desktop for Mac. The company said it has since sold more than 600,000 copies of the software. Still, even with its headstart, Parallels should expect some stiff competition now that long-time virtualization software vendor VMware has entered the space.

VMware Fusion is now available online on the VMware Web site for the same amount that Parallels offers its Desktop for Mac, US$79.99. Other online retailers include the Apple Store, Amazon.com, Buy.com, Fry's, Microcenter and CompUSA. The software soon will be available at Apple's retail stores as well as other retail outlets.

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