Parallels for Mac now plays 3-D graphics

VMware is introducing a product that enables users to run Windows on a Mac

Parallels is upgrading its desktop virtualization software for running Windows on a Mac computer, adding, among other things, 3-D graphics capability.

Parallels Desktop 3.0, which became available Thursday, allows a Mac desktop user to run the Windows OS from Microsoft, or Linux or other operating systems, alongside the Mac OS X from Apple without having to reboot.

By supporting the OpenGL and DirectX graphics libraries, version 3.0 makes popular Windows 3-D applications available to Mac users, including such graphics-intensive games as "Quake," and "Half-Life 2." It can also run Windows-based 3-D computer-aided design programs. Parallels hadn't supported 3-D graphics previously.

Among the 50 or more improvements in 3.0 is "SmartSelect," which lets people use OS X or Windows applications to open any file type, regardless of whether that file is on the Mac or Windows desktop.

The upgrade also includes an improved security feature that takes a virtual snapshot of the computer's memory, hard disk drive and various settings to revert back to in the event of a system malfunction. It's also useful for installing temporary beta versions of new software, Parallels said.

The list price for Desktop 3.0 is $79.99, or $49.99 for customers upgrading from previous versions, and can be downloaded from Parallels' Web site or purchased at several retail stores. Parallels introduced its first desktop product in June 2006.

Virtualization industry leader VMware is introducing a product that also enables running Windows on a Mac. VMware said it will be releasing the latest beta version of its VMware Fusion on Friday and will provide details on availability and pricing next week.