Parallels Desktop for Mac adds Google Chrome OS support

Mac virtualization software allows users to run Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, and now Google Chrome side-by-side

Parallels, a provider of cloud services automation and virtualization software, recently concluded its Parallels Summit event in Miami. The company made a number of big announcements during its show, including the launch of a bare-metal hypervisor virtualization platform for Apple's Xserve hardware.

Parallels had yet another announcement hidden up its sleeve for the Mac virtualization market, but chose to break the news after the conclusion of the Summit. The company recently announced that it has added support for Google Chrome OS as a guest operating system for Parallels Desktop 5 for Mac.

[ Read the InfoWorld review of running Windows on a Mac with Parallels Desktop 5 for Mac, VMware Fusion 3, and Sun VirtualBox 3.1. | Make sure to keep up with the latest virtualization news with InfoWorld's virtualization newsletter. ]

Parallels Desktop 5 for Mac was launched in November of last year, and the company billed it as the fastest desktop virtualization platform available on the Mac, reportedly running the 64-bit version of Windows 7 with speeds up to 22 percent faster than on VMware Fusion.

Running Windows, Linux, and even Mac OS X in a virtual machine on a Mac computer makes a lot of sense, but this announcement of support for such an early version of Google Chrome can certainly be categorized as unexpected. Unexpected, not because of any disrespect to Google's Chrome OS, but because it seems pretty uncommon to have a major vendor make such a bold announcement of support for a guest operating system that is still in the early stages of beta and hasn't yet made it to a 1.0 release. Considering the long beta cycles of Google applications in the past and the possible number of beta builds that Parallels will need to support along the way to a final release, that could take a large amount of effort by team Parallels to keep up with support. A publicly available stable release of Google Chrome OS isn't expected until sometime in the second half of 2010.

So why the announcement?And why the support of Google Chrome as a guest operating system?

Kim Johnston, vice president of marketing for consumer, business, and online at Parallels, said, "There is already a huge amount of interest in Google's new OS, even though it's still just in beta, so we want to make sure our customers can try it out on their Macs without impacting their primary work environment on Mac OS X."

Johnston added, "It's important to us that we continue to innovate to meet our customers' needs, giving them the ability to use the broadest range of applications possible, whether on Mac, Windows, Linux, or Chrome operating systems."

From a marketing perspective, I suppose it's always nice to announce support for something first, whether people are really beating down the door to get it or not.

To be sure, the Google name will ensure quite a few people attempting to at least "try" the new operating system out. And what better place to try something than within a virtual machine where it can do little harm?  So I say good for Parallels.

This story, "Parallels Desktop for Mac adds Google Chrome OS support," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in virtualization at InfoWorld.com.

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