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It’s been not quite nice to know you, PC.

Is there any reason left to use a PC? With the new ability to run Windows off a Mac, you might as well clear a place in the attic for your PC.

Questions over the Mac’s place in the business office have persisted for years. About 10 years ago, when the Macintosh appeared destined for the museum, those questions were justifiable.

But thanks to the evolution of the Mac OS and the buzz the iPod created around the Apple brand, the situation today is unquestionably different. The Mac doesn’t have to remain a mere symbol of rebellion or a cute machine that makes good props for TV sitcoms.

Today’s Mac is not just for graphics. It can sit securely in any office environment. And thanks to innovations by virtualization software companies Parallels and VMware, as well as by Apple itself, it now even provides access to Windows-only applications previously out of reach to Mac users.

These innovations are significant because with them come flexibility and choice. Users who have grown accustomed to the easy-to-use interface and reliable operating system of a Macintosh they use at home may now have the option of using an Apple machine in the office, so long as they can persuade their employers to let them.

For channel companies, having these new options is a plus. It’s easier for their customers to standardize on a Mac platform, or at least allow the use of Apple machines in their environments.

VMware introduced its application to the market on August 6. Called Fusion, it sells for $80 retail. Testers, including eWEEK Labs’ Jason Brooks, report they were pleased overall with the application’s capabilities.

Click here to read eWEEK Labs’ review of VMware Fusion.

Fusion competes with another third-party application, Parallels Desktop for Mac, which also sells for $80 and has been in the market for about a year. Apple’s own Boot Camp is available as a free download from the vendor’s site and will be included in the next Mac OS release, slated for October.

The ability to run Windows off a Mac surely helps Apple. In its most recent quarter, the vendor reported record sales and strong profits. And while the iPod contributed to the enviable results, it was computers that took the lead. The company reported that sales of Macintosh computers grew at 33 percent, compared with 21 percent iPod sales growth.

Even though VMware’s official release of Fusion was August 6, the vendor reported that since the beta version was introduced in January, it has been downloaded 250,000 times.

The VMware numbers alone point to a real hunger among computer users for the ability to run more than one operating system on the same computer.

When you really think about it, it’s senseless to force a user to switch machines because one or two applications he or she needs are not available for the Mac OS.

As more people become familiar with Fusion, Parallels for Mac and Boot Camp, sales of Apple computers are sure to continue surging. That’s good for Apple of course, but the vendor had better be prepared to handle the increased numbers of service and repair requests that are likely to accompany the sales growth.

A good start would be to provide better support to its channel partners and give them the ability to handle certain repairs that needlessly now go to the Apple service center, a practice that slows down repair turnaround time and frustrates users.

Pedro Pereira is editor of eWEEK Strategic Partner and a contributing editor for The Channel Insider. He can be reached at