Virtualisation software firm Parallels has released a new version of its Mac desktop client which it claims will allow Mac users to seamlessly run Windows applications.
Parallels Desktop for Mac allows Intel-powered Apple computers to set up virtual machines within Mac OS X which can then run alongside Mac software without the need to reboot.
The latest version allows users to launch Windows applications from the Mac OS desktop, rather than having to launch and navigate through the Windows desktop in a new window.
The software also supports Linux distributions from Red Hat, SuSE and Ubuntu.
Parallels spokesman Benjamin Rudolph told vnunet.com that the performance of the application is "very, very close to native".
Performance on previous Windows-on-Mac programs, such as the now defunct VirtualPC, could often be sluggish, rendering more demanding applications nearly unusable.
"The VirtualPC solution was an emulation, so it was trying to build an entire Intel chipset in PowerPC code," explained Rudolph.
New hardware from Intel, however, allows virtualisation programs such as Parallels to use the hardware on the Mac directly to run Windows, rather than having to recreate PC hardware.
"The only real limitation in Parallels is that we do not support hardware-accelerated 3D," said Rudolph.
This limitation means that Mac users wanting to run the latest high-end games or 3D design programs will still need to use Apple's Boot Camp software to run their computers in full Windows mode.
The lack of support for hardware acceleration also means that Vista's Aero interface will not work in Parallels.
Rudolph estimates that Parallels will introduce support for hardware 3D acceleration sometime around the middle of the year.