Commercial Virtualization hits the Mac

Just because there haven't been enough stories about running XP on your Macintosh, here's a new one: Parallels of Herndon, VA (that's right down the street) has announced availability of a beta version of Parallels Workstation for the Macintosh, available today. Unlike the solutions to date, this is a commercially supported virtualization (not dual boot) solution and supports the Intel VT-x instructions in the processors in the Intel Macs.

Also unlike the other solutions, I'm actually giving this one a whirl! Installation from DVD appears to be impossible (some kind of problem with their DVD handling), but an ISO image (which I happened to have lying around) was sufficient to get me going with XP.

The install was zippy and the machine was usable (within reason, if you consider that I/O was being slammed) while the install was going on. It logged in and created a machine entry in my OD domain, which makes sense, since I haven't had problems doing that with either a real machine or VM using VirtualPC. However, the install stalled out when trying to reboot the VM.

Otherwise, the install went pretty much without a hitch and I now have a running XP system inside of my Mac. Now, I wouldn't be looking at this for a gaming solution most likely, but it seems to be working well for running applications that need to be run under windows, without having to give up huge hunks of disk space or needing to reboot between sessions.

So, for $50 plus the cost of the OS (did I mention you can also run FreeBSD, Linux, and even OS/2 in it), it's not bad. We'll see how the beta progresses.

One big Warning though is that the software uses some instructions that might be able to crash the Mac. I've seen at least one of these reports on the net, and although I haven't had it happen, the software is to be run with care.