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VMware, a virtualization software maker, has released the beta version of its desktop product, which will allow Microsoft’s Windows operating system to run on a Macintosh.

The Palo Alto, Calif., company first announced it would offer a desktop version of its virtualization software for Macs at Apple Computer’s Worldwide Developers Conference in August. The actual release of the beta was first noted on a VMware company blog.

The beta version, which goes by the code name Fusion, is available now as a free download, according to VMware. This will enable Windows to run on a virtualized environment on the Mac OS X.

“We have a holiday gift for the Mac community–the public beta for our new desktop product for Mac, code-named Fusion, is now available,” Srinivas Krishnamurti, director of product management for VMware, wrote in a posting dated Dec. 21.

VMware has been in competition with Parallels Software International, another virtualization provider, to provide virtualization technology for Mac users. The companies offered competing products at the August WWDC, and Parallels released an updated version of its Parallels Desktop for Mac on Oct. 11.

Since previewing the software at WWDC, Krishnamurti wrote that more than 70,000 users preregistered for the beta version of Fusion.

Click here to read more about the Mac OS X.

In his blog posting, Krishnamurti wrote that VMware developed a “clean native (Cocoa-based)” interface for Mac users.

“We 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 that is occupying space on their desks or avoid having to buy or even use a PC,” Krishnamurti wrote.

The beta software uses Intel’s Virtualization Technology – Apple does not use Advance Micro Devices processors in the Mac – and will allow users of the Mac OS X to support 32- and 64-bit PC application, assign two CPUs to a virtual machine and have access to USB 2.0 devices. The beta also includes a “virtual battery” feature.

In addition, virtual machines that have already been created with VMware Workstation, VMware Server or VMware Infastructure can run in Fusion without creating new libraries, according to Krishnamurti.

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