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What is Virtualization?

In the realm of computers and software, virtualization is the act of using a virtual version of hardware, software, operating systems, and networks. Virtual versions, as opposed to actual versions, allow for an emulation without losing functionality.

Virtualization on a computer is similar to picture-in-picture on a television: You have two pieces of content running simultaneously on one device (Windows® on Mac®, for example).

What Is Virtualization with Parallels Desktop?

Parallels Desktop® for Mac empowers users with the ability to run Windows, Linux®, or even older Mac operating systems on Mac. This virtualization software works “on top” of the version of the macOS® that is already installed.

Parallels Desktop was the first solution to give Apple® users the ability to run Windows, Linux, or any other operating system. The applications run at the same time as Mac OS X® or macOS applications on any Intel®-powered Mac.

In very basic terms, virtualization uses the existing hardware in your machine to “virtually” run multiple operating systems “inside” the host—allowing you to seamlessly switch between the Mac operating system and the operating systems in Parallels Desktop without restarting the machine.

In more technical terms, Parallels Desktop is a “hypervisor” technology. A hypervisor is a low-level software component that manages multiple operating systems on a single computer system. The hypervisor utilizes the system’s processor, memory, and other hardware resources to allocate whatever each guest operating system needs, all seamlessly, from the point of view of the end user. A guest machine, also known as a virtual machine (VM), is the OS installed on top of the hypervisor. The real power of the hypervisor is that the host OS and the guest OS are both very responsive to user interaction, and each appears to the end user to run at its normal speed. So, for example, the user can run Word 2016 for Windows at the same time Keynote® is running—with no restarting and no slowdown. 

The user really can have it all!

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