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VMware beta ups multiprocessor abilities

Workstation 5.5, due out later this year, lets one computer simultaneously run several operating systems.

VMware on Monday released a test version of its next workstation software that's able to run 64-bit and dual-processor virtual machines.

VMware Workstation 5.5, scheduled for final release by the end of the year, lets one computer simultaneously run several operating systems. Each OS is called a virtual machine. The feature is handy for programmers testing crash-prone prototypes or simulating the interaction of several servers.

With the current workstation product, though, each virtual machine can use the resources of only a single processor. The 5.5 beta version gives operating systems experimental dual-processor support, said VMware, an EMC subsidiary. It's a feature that so far has only been available on VMware's high-end ESX Server product.

VMware Workstation runs atop a host operating system, either Linux or Windows, and lets a computer run a larger variety of guest operating systems. The current product can run 64-bit host operating systems, but version 5.5 adds support for 64-bit Windows, Linux and Solaris.

In addition, the software now has support for FreeBSD 5.3 and experimental support for version 5.04 of Ubuntu Linux.