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VMware Fusion beta for Macs goes public

Test application lets the Windows operating systems run in a virtualized environment on Mac OS X.

VMware has made available a public beta of its desktop product that lets Windows operating systems run in a virtualized environment on Mac OS X.

The release of the product, code-named Fusion, was noted in a VMware blog by the company's director of product management and market development, Srinivas Krishnamurti. It was first publicly demoed at Apple Computer's developer conference in San Francisco last August.

In his posting, Krishnamurti says the company talked to a lot of customers about their needs "and zeroed in on the fact that most customers simply wanted to run some PC applications on a Mac so they can either get rid of the PC occupying space on their desks or avoid having to buy or even use a PC." With that in mind, says Krishnamurti, VMware built a clean native (Cocoa-based) user interface from the ground up for Mac users.

The Fusion beta has support for Intel's Virtualization Technology (Apple only uses Intel processors, not those from Advanced Micro Devices), can assign two CPUs to a virtual machine, can access USB 2 devices from within a virtual machine and offers support for isochronous devices like Webcams. A virtual battery feature passes notifications into the Windows virtual machine to indicate battery life even when running Windows in full-screen mode, says Krishnamurti.

VMware said that virtual machines created with VMware Workstation, VMware Server or VMware Infrastructure will run seamlessly in Fusion with no need to re-create libraries.

Although VMware is the best-known software virtualization company, it has been beaten to the Mac desktop by Parallels, another provider of virtualization products. Gold code of Parallels Desktop for Mac for some months has offered features such as support for Intel VT, shared networking which lets multiple IP addresses appear as one on the network, and an installation wizard that automatically installs and configures hardware drivers for Windows.

Fusion is available from VMware's site.

Matt Loney of ZDNet UK reported from London.