Parallels updates Windows-on-Mac software

New version comes as competition looms from VMware, which plans to release the latest beta of its Fusion product on Friday. Images: Windows on Mac moves forward

Parallels on Thursday released an updated version of its Parallels Desktop software, which enables users of Intel-based Macs to run Windows and Mac OS X simultaneously.

The software has gained quite a following since the release of its first version last June, quickly finding its way into retail stores and even getting a plug on Apple's Web site.

Version 3.0 of the software adds a number of new features, including SmartSelect, which lets Mac users choose which program opens a particular file type, regardless of whether it is stored in the Mac or Windows desktop. Other features include support for hardware-accelerated 3D graphics, support for Vista Boot Camp partitions and a new file explorer that enables people to view and change the contents of their Windows virtual hard drive without launching Windows.

Unlike a February update, which was free to existing Parallels customers, current users will have to pay $49.99 for the new version. The full list price of the software is $79.99.

Parallels is about to get more competition, however. Virtualization specialist VMware, which has been testing its own Fusion product for the Mac, plans to release a fourth beta on Friday, with a goal of releasing the product later this summer.

The new version of Parallels software is available for download and in trial form from the company's Web site, with retail stores expected to have the new versions on shelves in about two weeks.

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