The update, from utilities vendor Parallels, enables users of Leopard, also known as Mac OS X 10.5, to launch both Linux and Microsoft Windows on Intel-based Macs without rebooting by adding a virtualization layer to the OS.
The existing version of Parallels' Desktop for Mac 3.0 software supported virtualization on Leopard to an extent -- but many users reported problems.
The update, which has been in beta testing for the past several weeks, resolves the performance issues, according to Parallels. It's available as a free download or as part of a new suite that Parallels launched Wednesday called Desktop Premium Edition.
In addition to the Leopard virtualization update, Desktop Premium Edition includes the Kaspersky Internet Security Suite for malware and virus protection, Acronis' True Image Home for disk backups, and the Acronis Disk Director disk management tool. The bundle is priced at $99.99.
Virtualization offerings such as Parallels could help Apple gain share against Microsoft in the operating system market as they allow Mac users to use Windows applications -- which far outnumber native Mac apps. They also let Mac users to turn their computers into virtual Linux machines.
In addition to third-party offerings, Apple has built a feature into Leopard called Boot Camp that, while not strictly a virtualization engine, lets users run Windows on their Mac desktops.
Apple is also encouraging virtualization on the server side. The license for the server version of Leopard allows users to run the OS in virtual partitions -- a first for Apple.