Virtually Unbelievable

It took a few moments to absorb and reconcile the image in my mind. The car ahead of me was clearly a BMW. It had all the markings - the tail light design, the shape, the wheels. A more-conspicuous-than-usual logo was centered on the trunk. It wasn't the expected blue and white checkered quadrants of BMW logo. It was the unmistakable tri-spoke circle of a Mercedes Benz logo. When it hit me, I laughed. I craned my neck to see the driver who had such a sense of humor. The traffic light turned green and the BMW-Benz turned and drove away, yet its funny image stayed in my mind. I don't know how flattering the brand identity-mixing was to either BMW or Mercedes owners who saw this car. The incongruence of a Mercedes logo on a BMW was fascinating to me because, as an admirer of both brands, swapping one's logo for the other seemed wrong -and very funny.

If you've never experienced this sort of "visual dissonance," you may feel it if you ever see a Mac that is running Microsoft Windows. If you are familiar with either Mac or PC, the combination of both on one computer is, frankly, odd. The Microsoft Windows opening chime sounds strange coming from a laptop with a big glowing Apple logo on its lid. I accept it, but I each time I hear it I have to shake my finger and say, "That just don't look right."

I have a client who is crazy for his Mac. Many of his employees use PC's and occasionally he'll ask me to install software that his staff enjoys. Much of it is only compatible with PCs and he seems deflated each time I tell him this.

Last week I hooked him up with a product called VMware Fusion for his new MacBook. VMware is a company that specializes in computer virtualization, which means running one or more computer operating systems on one computer at the same time. Parallels, a competing company, also offers virtualization.

In my client's case, I installed Windows XP as a second environment that runs like a program on his MacBook so he can use Outlook for his email instead of the Mac's more limited email program, Entourage. The installation was easy and took only 45 minutes and a few mouse clicks prompted by simple instructions. Within a day, my client had installed several PC programs that were the perfect supplement to his beloved Mac -all thanks to virtualization software.

If you are shopping for a new computer and long for a Mac, but want the software options of a PC, then there isn't much of a reason to buy two separate computers anymore. Get a computer that meets the minimum requirements (check vmware.com) to "virtualize" another computer and you can have the best of both worlds.

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