Desktop virtualisation specialist Parallels has launched a Windows and Linux virtualisation product that matches the existing version for Apple Mac

The Parallels Desktop 4 for Windows and Linux can be installed on top of a Windows or Linux host operating system and then used to run any combination of guest Windows and Linux OSs at the same time on one PC.

According to David Abramowski, Parallels director of product marketing, said that the idea had been to make desktop virtualisation available for a wider audience. "We've seen a big take-up of the technology by the experienced user - the developer community for example - we're looking to make it easy for the power user.

We're already seeing a wider audience interest. For example, we're seeing some home users looking to take up the technology, particularly in families where parents want to set different desktops for children."

Abramowski said that Parallels had concentrated heavily on improving this user experience. "We've introduced more than 50 major enhancements - the upgrade took over a year to build. We've developed a whole new GUI for the machine to run in, making it easier for the person who doesn't understand the technology in-depth. That's a big change as the previous version was much more technical focused."

Among the new features are the ability to create sandboxes for test and development; USB management, using a directory of USB devices; the ability to rollback quickly to a standard image; the ability to share desktops between virtual machines and the ability to simulate a cloud computing environment. The new product also offers a directory of different applications, for example, making the install process easier, said Abramowski.

The other area where Abramowski sees some interest is in Windows 7 upgrade. One feature that the new software offers a Transporter feature that allows users to capture a physical machine to a virtual one, offering the ability to hold a Windows XP desktop on a single USB." While this is a feature that can be used for Windows 7 upgrades, the company does however have another launch planned for Windows 7.

Parallels Desktop 4 for Windows and Linux is available now and costs UK £54.99 per user.