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Virtualization firm Parallels updates software

New features of the updated version of the Parallels Desktop software include upped speed, better keyboard support.

Virtualization software company Parallels has released a new beta version of its signature Parallels Desktop software, which allows Intel-based Macintosh users to run any of several other operating systems--from Windows XP to Linux--out of a window on the Mac's desktop. The announcement, which was made at Apple Computer's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), comes only a day after virtualization company VMware announced the release of a potential rival to Parallels, and Microsoft halted development of its own version.

The updates to Parallels, mostly designed to speed up the efficiency of the software, include the option to switch off the computer's hard drive cache to improve performance, better keyboard and USB (universal serial bus) support and some bug fixes. Current Parallels users can download the new beta version for free; new users are able to try it for 15 days before forking over the regular price of $79.99. The updated Parallels software is expected to make the transition from beta to full mode in several weeks.