Parallels breathes sigh of relief after Jobs' talk

Company was pretty sure Apple wouldn't usurp its Windows-on-Mac approach, but staff is relieved when Steve Jobs reiterated that.

SAN FRANCISCO--While most of the crowd at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference keynote address was eager to hear about all of Leopard's new features, Benjamin Rudolph was only interested in one.

Rudolph, who is the head of corporate communications for Parallels, was tuning in to what Steve Jobs would say about the new Leopard operating system's Windows-on-Mac abilities. When the Apple chief finally got around to discussing Boot Camp--the sixth of 10 features he demonstrated--Rudolph was hanging on every word.

In the end, Jobs announced little new on that front, saying that the final version of Boot Camp would work just as Apple has been testing it--that is, allowing users to boot into either Windows or the Mac OS, but not support running both operating systems simultaneously. For that, Jobs touted software like Parallels, which uses virtualization technology to allow Windows and Mac software run side by side.

"We love these other things and we're helping them as much as we can," Jobs said.

Rudolph, sitting in an overflow room for the keynote, breathed a huge sigh of relief.

"We had it on pretty good authority that there wasn't going to be virtualization in Leopard, but it is Apple, so you never know," Rudolph said, grabbing a soda at the Metreon after Monday's keynote. "There was a little bit of me that was terrified."

Last week, Parallels introduced an updated version of its Parallels Desktop software. The Renton, Wash.-based company has sold about half a million copies of its product since the first edition went on sale last June. Version 3 adds a variety of new features, most designed to improve compatibility and make Windows programs running on a Mac look more like native Apple programs.

Although Parallels doesn't face direct competition from Apple, it is getting a well-heeled rival. Virtualization specialist VMware has been testing its product for months and plans a final version for later this summer. On stage, VMware got nearly equal billing from Jobs, though Parallels did get mentioned first.

VMware said late Monday that it plans to sell the final version of Fusion for $79 and that it should be ready in August. The company said that it is taking pre-orders for the software for roughly half price, $39.

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