If you are a Mac user, Parallels Desktop may be a known name. The software allows you to run virtual machines. This means that you can run Windows on a Mac at the same time. There are times when you may need such a configuration. For example in order to run Microsoft Office natively in a “Windows window” (the virtual machine) on a Mac.
Parallels Desktop costs a lot of money. Not only that, their upgrade behavior is not fair in my eyes. Every time there is a new Mac OS X version or a new Windows version, you are forced to buy an upgrade of Parallels. This will be the case every year. The software itself costs 79,99 € and an update costs 49,99 €. I’m not willing to pay 49,99 € every year.
But there is hope: VirtualBox is a virtualization freeware by Oracle. Oracle is one of the biggest software developers of the world, known for their database solutions. It works like a charm and is getting better every version.
Where are the limits? It is not as shiny as Parallels and may look more complex (but it isn’t). Also -as far as I know- you can not start from an bootcamp setup. For me it is doing a nice job an I do not see the need to upgrade my Parallels version. I can not do it anyway, because my license is too old to be able to upgrade. Like paying 49,99 € every year would not be enough…
BTW: You can find the latest beta version of virtualBox in their download directory: http://download.virtualbox.org/virtualbox/
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