Long gone are the days when your PC was restricted to running just one operating system.
Nowadays, you can run several different editions of Windows plus others such as Linux simultaneously thanks to virtual environments. And perhaps none does it better than Parallels Desktop, one of the market leaders for this task.
Setting up Parallels Desktop is a breeze. You'll either need a copy of Windows on CD to install it or an ISO image will also suffice. Note that also, Parallels Desktop lets you import virtual machines created with other programs such as VMWare and VirtualBox. Parallels will then install a copy of Windows or Linux in about the same amount of time that it would take to make a fresh install of Windows on a PC.
The Transporter feature guides you through the whole setup process, asking you if you'd like to be able to share files between different operating systems and use external devices amongst other things. It also makes sure that the virtual machine is setup correctly for the operating system you are installing thanks to pre-configurations that have already been set.
One thing to note is that by running an operating system in a virtual environment such as Parallels, you don't have to worry about viruses as much. Any viruses will be restricted to the virtual environment that Windows operates in and won't affect your machine in any way. However, it's still a good idea to install a virus monitoring tool to keep your virtual environment clean but if you do encounter serious problems, you can simply reinstall Windows at any time.
When you've installed a new operating system, Parallels Desktop will ask you which version you want to launch when you start it. It also allows you to change settings such as the amount of RAM allocated to Parallels, hard disk space and hardware acceleration to keep the balance right between your real and virtual desktops.
If you need to run multiple operating systems on your PC, you can't go far wrong with Parallels Desktop.
Parallels Desktop supports the following formats
Windows 3.11, 95, 98, ME, 2000, NT, XP, Server 2003, Vista, Server 2008, 7, Debian 5.0, Fedora 11, Mandriva 2009, OpenSUSE 11.1, RHEL 5.3, SLES 11, Ubuntu 9.04, CentOS, Xandros, FreeBSD, OS/2, MS-DOS, Solaris