Virtualization is the trick of masking physical computing resources from the end user or from the client operating system. The term, once an electric buzzword in the IT marketing world, has been around so long it's now loosely used for almost any computing work that involves an abstraction of resources.
But the topic of virtualization is seeing a revival, and from a corner at which lots of eyeballs are pointing: Apple Computer. And all because of a tiny Parallels upgrade called the Parallels Beta Build 3036 for Mac OS X.Parallels' Mac Beta Build 3036 boasts up to five virtual network interfaces. It also includes:
* Centralized Virtual Machines Catalogue, which is handy for people who have multiple Virtual Machines
* A resizable desktop window, and screen resolution auto-adjust - two functions that will make Parallels less of an obstruction when open
* Drag-and-drop between Windows and Mac, and vice-versa -- a particularly impressive feature that promises to make working between the two interfaces much more intuitive
* Capabilities that streamline work between BootCamp and Parallels, though there are still a few functionality bugs with these features -- you can't suspend Virtual Machine with BootCamp running, for example, and running BootCamp via VM would require a reactivation of your Windows XP installation
* Up to 50% improved graphic performance, depending on what apps you're using
* Bundled Transporter Beta, which means you can migrate your Virtual PC VMs or Windows PC onto Parallels
* A Coherency feature. This feature is particularly neat because it floats Windows apps on the Mac platform, practically marrying the two seamlessly. This means you don't have to switch between Mac and Windows when trying to use apps from both worlds
Considering Apple has no plans to add virtualization to Leopard OS X, which comes out around springtime atop the new Intel-based Xserve servers, there's time to get to know the new Parallels.
Well-founded speculation suggests at some point Apple will create a virtualization software that blows competition out of the water, particularly after they've filed out all these interesting ways to improve the user experience.
Parallels software costs $85 and will slow your computer down ever so slightly. But depending on how you use your machine, the benefits to the free upgrade to Beta Build 3036 (binary download) may offset the cost. Plus, it's SUPER annoying to have to reboot your computer every time you want to switch from Mac to PC.
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