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Virtualization: Windows on a Mac

In 2006, Apple began to use Intel CPUs in its Macs. Because of that switch, we’ve been able to run Windows (and other operating systems) natively (without using emulation) on our Macs ever since. In fact, that flexibility is one of the Mac's most significant competitive advantages over Windows PCs.

But in order to run those other OSes side-by-side with OS X, you first need to install virtualization software on your Mac. There are three leading virtualization apps: Parallels Desktop, VMWare Fusion, and VirtualBox. Each of them was updated in 2009; each of those new versions introduced some kind of significant new functionality. And so, while I compared the three of them just over a year ago, I decided I needed to take a look at these latest editions and compare them once again.

In the pages that follow, you’ll find the results of my testing and evaluation. In addition to individual reviews of the software, I've assembled a buyers’ guide to explain which of these apps will work best for different uses. So whether you need to run Windows apps for work or want to play the latest Windows games, I think I can help you find the virtualization program that’s right for you.

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