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Dell eyes PCs running Linux, Windows at same time

Boston, August 8, 2007

Dell is developing  consumer PCs that can run multiple versions of Windows and Linux software at the same time.

The personal computer maker's chief technology officer, Kevin Kettler, said users of the new Dell PCs would be able to simultaneously run multiple, software-generated computers on one machine, using an increasingly popular technology known as virtualization that allows greater flexibility and computing security.

One virtual machine might run Windows Vista and handle every day computing tasks, while another could be used only to browse the Internet, limiting any security threats to the parameters of the virtual machine -- which could be deleted.

A third virtual machine might run a version of Linux that is compatible with programs on the user's work computer. And a fourth virtual machine might run Windows XP software that is not compatible with the Windows Vista machine.

Such PCs could go on sale as early as next year, Kettler said in an interview by telephone while attending the LinuxWorld conference in San Francisco.

He declined to say whether the machines will be able to run Apple Inc's OS X software designed for its Macintosh computers, whose sales are growing faster than the overall PC market.

'I can't speculate on that,' Kettler said. 'Virtualization is very powerful. It's an environment that would allow many different operating systems to co-exist. You can interpret that however you would like.'

Mac computers are able to run Windows software using virtualization programs, including SWsoft's Parallels and VMware's Fusion.

Dell is developing the machines with help from several partners, including EMC Corp's VMware unit, which is expected to go public through an initial public offering next week and privately held SWsoft, he said.

The technology is already being used in consumer PCs, although so far it is not heavily marketed by personal computer makers other than Apple, which uses the same kind of microprocessors from Intel in its Mac computers that are used in many PCs that run on Microsoft Windows.

A virtualization software package known as Parallels from privately held SWsoft is one of the top-selling programs for Macintosh computers.

SWsoft, EMC Corp's VMware unit and Microsoft Corp sell similar software for PCs, consumers have yet to embrace those products.

While Dell is still hammering out its plans for the new PCs, he described the company's general plan for the product. The PCs would either ship with several virtual machines loaded on them, just as Dell currently offers PCs preloaded  with operating systems and other software. Or the company may simply choose to sell PCs that are virtualization-enabled, he said.

Whichever approach it takes, the user will end up with a computer capable of running several operating systems at once. - Reuters    




Tags: Dell | Linux | Window | Virtualization |

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